What is common between a tarot card without a number (The Fool), a tarot card without a name (Death) and a constellation without a place on the Zodiac ‘plate’ (Ophiuchus)?
In older decks you can find that The Fool had had not number. Later, Zero number had been assigned to this card. However, where to place this card, in the beginning of the Major arcana or in the end, is still a question for some tarot scholars who doubt an idea of Fool’s Journey introduced by Eden Gray in the XX century. The next ‘suspicious’ card is Death numbered the thirteenth what makes the situation even worse because of its ‘unlucky’ label. At first glance, there is nothing common between these two cards. Though, they have a connection. Don’t worry. The Fool will not fall off the cliff to meet Death. In this article we are going to discuss how these two cards are related to the 13th Zodiac constellation Ophiuchus (Serpentarius).
Let’s start form the thirteenth Zodiac constellation’ nature. The ‘normal’ year of the Bible-Prophecy Calendar was 360 days (12 months x 30). Yet, as we know, the year consists of 365.24 days. So, the above system has required some adjustment. Thus, a leap month has been added at regular intervals, making a year having 390 days (13 months x 30). There is a complicated system of inserting and removing the 13th month to the calendar for a period of 4000 years in total to adjust the 360-day year to the true 365.2422 day-year. What a wandering month they had, sometimes it brought them extra time; sometimes it left them short of time. This additional month, in fact, is the thirteenth constellation, and it has a name, Ophiuchus, unjustly omitted by tarot-astrology-Hebrew-alphabet commentators. . It has a correlation with the the 13th Hebrew letter Mem which has a numerical value 40. Curious minds will easily find that 40 and 13 correlate. It is not a coincidence that an insertion of the 13th month to the Bible-Prophecy Calendar had been based on 40-year pattern – 40-year based cycle when the 13th month is inserted six times every 6th year and then the seventh time in the fourth year (6×6 + 4×1 = 40). This pattern is repeated 100 times, making the whole period of 4000 years, then in the last the 4000th year the leap month is removed, the leap year is made ‘normal’. The final judgement!
“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone…” (Psalm 118:22). To understand how the number 13 works in the Tarot system we put first thirteen Major Arcana cards (numbering adopted in the Marseilles Tarot) in the Tree of Life, and then we put the rest of trumps in the Tree of Knowledge as it shown below. Not a surprise, why death has such a strange place in the tree of life, and the fool in the tree of knowledge, a joke from medieval tarot creators.
The thirteenth card, Death, is hidden in the center of the Tree of Life, in the “wilderness, 40, Mem,” out of the Zodiac circle. From the very beginning of the Tarot history, the card No 13 was assigned to the definitions of destruction and rebirth. In the cosmic sense, it is a position of the thirteenth constellation of Ophiuchus, also known as Serpentarius. In Greek mythology, Ophiuchus was identified with the healer Asclepius who was able to bring the dead back to life. It is a symbolic “death” that means physical or spiritual transformation or transition from one natural state to another, giving new life. It is like a seed which dies in the ground, creating a new plant. The thirteenth letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the letter Mem (ם) has the meanings of primordial water (the oldest pictogram of this letter looks like waves) or flood, as well as a mother with the implied sense of fertility, as well as a core of life.
In the Tree of Knowledge, the zero card, the Fool, is hidden in the center of the tree. Taw (ת) is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet with complicated meanings including “mark” (it is the mark of the turning point to move inside the Zodiac circle). This letter also has definitions of “cross” (the image of the Fool is a caricature image of Jesus, carrying his cross). A couple of extra meanings include “seal” (the circular way of “experience-to-knowledge” is sealed for the Fool), and “pain” and “vehicle of sacrifice” (gave rise to the New Testament story of Christ’s sufferings).
We can see now why the Fool is the card without number, Death is the card without a name (in former times), and Serpentarius has no own permanent place. It is all about the number 13 in which is nothing ominous but an abyss of hidden meanings.