People who prefer to employ an anthropological, cross-cultural approach to tarot, often appreciate the inclusion of biblical virtues as guiding principles upon which to base a tarot icon. Among the virtues that appear in most tarot decks are; Temperance, Fortitude (Strength), and Justice. But within The Numerical Tarot there is no Temperance card. There is also no Fortitude card. And there is no Justice card! What gives? Because I am not a theologian, or a scholar of any kind, I am not going to try and give an expert analysis of biblical sins and virtues - as they pertain to traditional religious beliefs and ideals. But, at the same time, even to an uneducated eye like mine, a quick survey of what's out there will reveal that there are many more sins and virtues to be known than the three that most current tarot decks have chosen to illustrate. What gives?
Many people consider Temperance, Fortitude and Justice to be three parts of four Cardinal Virtues that include as their fourth (or some would say first) the virtue of Prudence. Some people consider the Hermit card to be an intended representation of Prudence, despite not being named as such. Others, depending on exactly how we interpret the meaning of Prudence, think that The High Priestess or Popess card is an intended representation of Prudence, despite not being labeled as such. People make these assertions so that all four of these Cardinal Virtues will be present within the form of any tarot deck. That's great. But, as stated, Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice are not the only virtues out there. They are just the four Cardinal Virtues. What about all those other virtues that are out there? And what about The Seven Deadly Sins - why are they missing from the tarot? Where is the balance? What gives?
Ultimately, The Numerical Tarot is not that interested in the inclusion of virtues and sins... as icons of tarot. But make no mistake, that does not mean that the virtues and sins embodied by these iconic, anthropomorphised Virtues and Sins are not there! The Numerical Tarot covers a lot of ground, so rest assured that every concept put forth by any list of virtues and sins you can imagine, has a place on the grid matrix of trans-cultural patterns put forth in this deck. The reason this deck does not utilize virtues and sins as illustrated, anthropomorphised icons is because the numerological eye of this deck sees too many of those virtues and sins as redundant expressions of a select assortment of numbers, making it impossible to utilize them all by spreading the them out through the deck into places where they - numerologically - wouldn't belong.
The other reason this deck does not utilize virtues and sins is because of the lack of any clearly defined opposites for many of the virtues and sins out there. People who make a practice of mitigating the bad influences out of the cards of tarot might not mind this lack of logical opposition within the realm of sins and virtues (see Fluffy Bunny Tarot vs. Blind Oracle elsewhere on this site). It seems obvious enough that people devoted to mitigating the bad out of any tarot deck would not miss the absence of sins, and be completely satisfied with a deck that is all virtue and no sin. But The Numerical Tarot is different. The Numerical Tarot is devoted to things like contrast and balance! (see The Spine of Tarot, elsewhere on this site). So before any virtues could ever be utilized by this deck, a set of contrasting sins would also need to be invented.
The Seven Deadly Sins
Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice do not have the problem of redundance between each other, but they do have the problem of no clearly defined opposites in the way of contrasting sins. There are, however, a few virtues out there that do have opposites, they would be the ones that oppose The Seven Deadly Sins:
Pride or Vanity
Anger or Wrath
Greed or Avarice
As classic Sins and Virtues, these key words of wisdom have been handed down through the ages as sacred utterances. But... if examined against the template of wisdom being handed down by the All Things Are Numbers approach to tarot, there is a lot of redundancy, as well as ambiguity to be found within the essence of these sins and virtues. I will not attempt to explain here the complete analysis of WHY I see certain words as redundant. This essay, like all essays on this site, are only here to pique your interest in the hopes that you will pursue the ideas put forth in the book All Things Are Numbers further. So I will be painfully brief and horribly incomplete!
To me, Gluttony, Lust, Greed and Avarice are all expressions of the same number - the acquisitive, augmenting, aggrandizing nature of a 6! (see Significant Signature of Nature elsewhere on this site) Lust, after all, is just Gluttony for sex instead of food. Lust and Gluttony both require a certain amount of Greed (an acquisitive nature in excess). Having defined that numerical essence, we could even toss Envy in there as another expression of someone with a "desire to acquire" - a desire to acquire what other people have, which requires a certain amount of Avarice. Thus it is, to me anyway, that these words are all viewed as subtle variations of the same numerical essence! But then... given how highly social the number 6 is within the spectrum of numbers on the number line, it is not really all that surprising to find a list of sins with an abundance of ideas that center around the greedy, "getting" and "taking" half of relationships. Those are concepts that are important to all highly social animals (see Consider the Source elsewhere on this site).
Equidistant on our number line of numerology from that of a 6 is the number 4 (also a very social number). In this arrangement, I see the sins of Anger and Wrath as expressions of the masculine power of a 4 (to excess of course). People who are angry often bang on the table, puff out their chest, and flex their muscles - they pick a fight. In contrast, the sin of Sloth represents someone with no fight, no ambition, and no muscles! You might even say that in some respects, Anger and Sloth are opposites along a spectrum of possibilities that center around the core abstract concept of power and strength, and the over vs. under utilization of that core concept.
Lastly, we have Pride or Vanity. They say that "Pride goeth before a fall." I say also, that "Pride cometh after a fight." And that pride (in the sense of vanity), being the pinnacle of conceit, puts it right at the center of the number line - at the number 5. The fight that goeth before pride comes from the Anger of a 4. The fall that cometh after Pride, is the addiction of Gluttony, Lust, Greed and Avarice that drives the prideful to greater and greater heights of conceit... from which they eventually fall.
This is how I would arrange these seven deadly sins upon the archetypal armature being used through this study of tarot and numerology. Thus, we can see how, out of Seven Deadly Sins, we have only managed to cover three numbers! We associated Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Envy and Avarice with the number 6. And we associated Anger, Wrath and Sloth with the number 4. Then we associated Pride or Vanity with the number 5. This, then, is why I have not attempted to utilize these particular sins as iconic names or titles within The Numerical Tarot - too much redundancy.
Sins and Virtues
Redundancy is why this study of tarot does not utilize The Seven Deadly Sins as anthropomorphised icons. But what about the virtues? If we were to combine a contrasting set of virtues, along with The Seven Deadly Sins, we would have seven more virtues to consider, in addition to the four Cardinal Virtues of Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice mentioned already. In fact, why not inclcude some other popular groupings of virtues, like: Love, Faith, Hope and Charity? These are all great virtues too, but what of their opposites? (see The Spine of Tarot elsewhere on this site). What are the contrasing, balancing opposites to all these virtues? In the chart below, I decided to invent some opposite sins, to go with these unmarried virtues.
Pride or Vanity
Anger or Wrath
Greed or Avarice
Doubt or Disbelief?
Greed or Avarice?
Ignorance or blindness?
Bigotry or Prejudice?
Personally, I find most lists of virtues to be a hodgepodge of indiscriminate ideas - all good ideas, but in my opinion, not well organized into any kind of system of analysis that would reveal an underlying, archetypal structure of organization. And as revealed above, many of them repeat the same essential meaning. I think if I was going invent a religion, and hand down a decree of my own to the masses concerning sins and virtues, I would want that list to cover the same spectrum of ideas that are covered by the grid matrix of ideas found within the Major Trumps and Minor Suits of The Numerical Tarot deck. I would want it to have the same "Spine of Tarot" contrast and balance between sin and virtue as the iconic names mentioned elsewhere on this site. Let's see... what might that list look like?
The Spine of Tarot
Now there is an arrangement of sins and virtues I can get behind! By utilizing the idea of extremes and inbetweens, found elsewhere throughout this site, we not only augment our appreciation of sins and virtues, but are able to better understant their essence by associating them with the numerological essence of the theoretical model of existence being put forth everywhere on this site! Try comparing this arrangement with every other "Spine of Tarot-like" arrangement of extremes and inbetweens on this site. I think it will be seen that each sin and virtue jibes with every other number line description put forth on this site. In other words... this is not just an arbitrary arrangement, it is an arrangement of sins and virtues that has been carefully crafted to express the fundamental parameters of existence put forth by the book All Things Are Numbers, and everywhere else on this site. With this in mind, It might also be beneficial to compare this arrangement to existing tarot icons! I think if such a comparison is made, it would reveal a lot of interesting coincidences there as well. Like:
The Magician and Awareness
The High Priestess and Balance
The Empress and Love
The Emperor and Fortitude
The Hierophant and Respect
The Lovers and Tenacity (a.k.a. Desire)
The Chariot and Piety
Justice as card 8 and Justice The Hermit and Wisdom... or Prudence, if prudence be interpreted as wisdom Justice as card 11 and Reflection The Hanged Man and Brutality... or Austerity if you tend to mitigate extreme cards Death and Cowardice... or Forbearance if you tend to mitigate extreme cards
The Devil and Animosity
The Tower and Profanity The Moon and Confusion... or Emptiness of you tend to mitigate extreme cards
In the chart above, I tried to use as many of the existing sins and virtues as I could. But if they didn't work out well as an extreme or inbetween to something else, they got tossed. For those who can't stand the absence of existing tarot virtues, we could replace humility with Temperance. I think of Temperance as a 5, because of the idea of moderation and the taking of a middle ground. But in some ways, as an opposite to the idea of indulgence, it might be more accurate to consider it as a 6! Indulgence is definitely a 6, being yet another variation of Greed, Lust, Gluttony and Envy. All of which are summed up on this chart under Avarice.
In the chart above, the Virtues of Charity and Liberality are combined into Generosity. But inasmuch as Charity, Liberality and Generosity mean the relinquishing, giving away, or giving up of something, Abstinence and Chastity could just as well join them. Unless we consider Abstinence as a complete non-beginning or non-doing, in which case we might want to place it under the number 1.
Faith is replaced with Tenacity. As an opposite to Generosity, Tenacity is the holding on to what is good - which is pretty much the same core concept behind Faith, except that Tenacity seemed to fit better within the Avarice, Generosity, Animosity set. If I had used Faith, then Doubt or Disbelief might have been its contrasting opposite, in place of Animosity.
Sloth didn't make the cut, replaced instead with Cowardice - a more natural opposite to Fortitude, Fortitude being somewhat redundant to Diligence inasmuch as these all represent effort or force being applied or not applied in good and bad ways.
Hope and Despair didn't make the cut either. But I encourage you to look elsewhere on this site for evidence of Hope vs. Despair, or words to that effect, falling under the number 8... the same number as The Star card of traditional tarot, which is often renamed Hope by people looking to incorporate missing virtues into their deck design.
When all is said and done, some might view the elimination of Temperance, Fortitude (Strength), and Justice as a crime against tarot! Personally, I see it as an improvement! And here's why. In addition to contrast and balance, the other most important quality put forth in The Numerical Tarot is consistency! In my opinion, tarot of today is not nearly as well organized as it could be. The Numerical Tarot says, if you want to discuss sins and virtues, bring it on! Let's map them out, according to how they are able to describe this one fundamental, abstract, trans-cultural model of existence. If you want to discuss anthropomorphized icons from various cultures let's do the same there too. If you want to differentiate between icons who influence like Gods vs. icons who represent those being influenced like Mortals, we can do that too (see New Iconic Names elsewhere on this site). If you want to mix them together as one, that's fine too - as long as we all understand how each one says the same thing about the other, by way of expressing these same archetypal patterns of a universal form. The universal form I'm referring to is described in painfully exact detail in the book All Things Are Numbers.
Great specificity can be achieved with the All Things Are Numbers approach! Providing unrivaled clarity of communication.
There are a lot of Virtues out there. If you would like a more detailed account of how some of these fit into the archetypal structure being put forth everywhere on this site, continue on to any one of the following essays: