This hefty tome is a research source of such value! For each card, you will discover how astrology, mythology, alchemy, the elements, and Qabalah contribute to the cards’ overall meanings. One aspect many of us aren’t as well versed in is the Qabalah. Each Major Arcana card corresponds to a path on the Tree of Life. Chang and Meleen help us understand how the paths shape the card meanings. Here is an example from the Lovers card.
The Lovers’s path extends from Binah to the “heart” sephira, Tiphareth. As the “Children of the Voice,” they carry the “voice” of the supernals straight to the heart, through the mercurial art of divination.
The Hebrew single letter of the Lovers is zayin, meaning “weapon” or “sword.” As the letter vav resembles a nail, the letter zayin resembles a sword—and indeed, zayin is described as a “crowned vav.” Vav brings the light of God to the human world; zayin is said to return it. A flaming sword stood between Eden and the exiled Adam and Eve after their fateful act of free will. The abyss (Da’ath, “knowledge”) stands between humanity (in Tiphareth) and heaven (Binah). For the soul to return along the path of the Lovers, it must traverse this sword.
The sword concept also plays a role in understanding the Lovers as a card of choice. The Lovers, joined in their alchemical marriage, may be male and female. But they may also be twins (Gemini). Like so many twin stories, theirs involves sacrifice and redemption. To achieve integration, the soul must first differentiate; it must divide by the sword (the solve of solve et coagula) and see its shadow, then choose to sacrifice the ego to become whole.
As the seventh letter, zayin holds numerical mysteries as well—seven represents the astrological house of the Other, the day of the Sabbath (when sex is holy), and the combination of matter (four) and Spirit (three). Zayin’s letter attribute is Smell, reminding us that Gemini is an air sign, and that the air element carries both scent and sound (the “voice divine”).