The Tarot and the Decans

Following is a comparison of the decan descriptions from Henry Cornelius Agrippa's Three Books of Occult Philosophy (2nd volume) and the divinatory meanings of the minor arcana cards to which they are attributed in Book T.

Decan Agrippa's Description of the Decan Card Book T Meaning of the Card
Aries I

A black man, standing and cloathed in a white garment, girdled about, of a great body, with reddish eyes, and great strength, and like one that is angry; and this image signifieth and causeth boldness, fortitude, loftiness and shamelesness;

2 of Wands
Dominion

Strength, domination, harmony of rule and of justice. Boldness, courage, fierceness, shamelessness, revenge, resolution, generous, proud, sensitive, ambitious, refined, restless, turbulent, sagacious withal, yet unforgiving and obstinate.

Aries II

A woman, outwardly cloathed with a red garment, and under it a white, spreading abroad over her feet, and this image causeth nobleness, height of a Kingdom, and greatness of dominion:

3 of Wands
Established Strength

Established force, strength, realization of hope. Completion of labour. Success after struggle. Pride, nobility, wealth, power, conceit. Rude self-assumption and insolence. Generosity, obstinacy, etc.

Aries III

Figure of a white man, pale, with reddish hair, and cloathed with a red garment, who carrying on the one hand a golden Bracelet, and holding forth a wooden staff, is restless, and like one in wrath, because he cannot perform that good he would. This image bestoweth wit, meekness, joy and beauty:

4 of Wands
Perfected Work

Perfection or completion of a thing built up with trouble and labour. Rest after labour, subtlety, cleverness, beauty, mirth, success in completion. Reasoning faculty, conclusions drawn from previous knowledge. Unreadiness, unreliable and unsteady through over-anxiety and hurriedness of action. Graceful in manner, at times insincere, etc.

Taurus I

A naked man, an Archer, Harvester or Husbandman, and goeth forth to sow, plough, build, people, and divide the earth, according to the rules of Geometry;

5 of Pentacles
Material Trouble

Loss of money or position. Trouble about material things. Labour, toil, land cultivation; building, knowledge and acuteness of earthly things, poverty, carefulness, kindness; sometimes money regained after severe toil and labour. Unimaginative, harsh, stern, determined, obstinate.

Taurus II

A naked man, holding in his hand a key; it giveth power, nobility, and dominion over people:

6 of Pentacles
Material Success

Success and gain in material undertakings. Power, influence, rank, nobility, rule over the people. Fortunate, successful, liberal and just. If ill dignified, may be purse-proud, insolent from excess, or prodigal.

Taurus III

A man in whose hand is a Serpent, and a dart, and is the image of necessity and profit, and also of misery & slavery.

7 of Pentacles
Success unfulfilled

Promises of success unfulfilled. Loss of apparently promising fortune. Hopes deceived and crushed. Disappointment, misery, slavery, necessity and baseness. A cultivator of land, and yet a loser thereby. Sometimes it denotes slight and isolated gains with no fruits resulting therefrom, and of no further account, though seeming to promise well.

Gemini I

A man in whose hand is a rod, and he is, as it were, serving another; it granteth wisdom, and the knowledge of numbers and arts in which there is no profit:

8 of Swords
Shortened Force

Too much force applied to small things: too much attention to detail at the expense of the principal and more important points. When ill dignified, these qualities produce malice, pettiness, and domineering characteristics. Patience in detail of study; great care in some things, counterbalanced by equal disorder in others. Impulsive; equally fond of giving or receiving money or presents; generous, clever, acute, selfish and without strong feeling of affection. Admires wisdom, yet applies it to small and unworthy objects.

Gemini II

A man in whose hand is a Pipe, and another being bowed down, digging the earth: and they signifie infamous and dishonest agility, as that of Jesters and Juglers [jugglers]; it also signifies labours and painful searchings:

9 of Swords
Despair and Cruelty

Despair, cruelty, pitilessness, malice, suffering, want, loss, misery. Burden, oppression, labour, subtlety and craft, dishonesty, lying and slander. Yet also obedience, faithfulness, patience, unselfishness, etc. According to dignity.

Gemini III

A man seeking for Arms, and a fool holding in the right hand a Bird, and in his left a pipe, and they are the significations of forgetfulness, wrath, boldness, jeasts [jests], scurrilities, and unprofitable words:

10 of Swords
Ruin

Undisciplined, warring force, complete disruption and failure. Ruin of all plans and projects. Disdain, insolence and impertinence, yet mirth and jollity therewith. A marplot, loving to overthrow the happiness of others; a repeater of things; given to much unprofitable speech, and of many words. Yet clever, eloquent, etc., according to dignity.

Cancer I

A young Virgin, adorned with fine cloathes [clothes], and having a Crown on her head; it giveth acuteness of senses, subtilty of wit, and the love of men:

2 of Cups
Love

Harmony of masculine and feminine united. Harmony, pleasure, mirth, subtlety: but if ill dignified --- folly, dissipation, waste, silly actions.

Cancer II

A man cloathed in comely apparrel, or a man and woman sitting at the table and playing; it bestoweth riches, mirth, gladness, and the love of women:

3 of Cups
Abundance

Abundance, plenty, success, pleasure, sensuality, passive success, good luck and fortune; love, gladness, kindness, liberality.

Cancer III

A man a Hunter with his lance and horne, bringing out dogs for to hunt; the signification of this is the contention of men, the pursuing of those who fly, the hunting and possessing of things by arms and brawlings.

4 of Cups
Blended Pleasure

Success or pleasure approaching their end. A stationary period in happiness, which may, or may not, continue. It does not mean love and marriage so much as the previous symbol. It is too passive a symbol to represent perfectly complete happiness. Swiftness, hunting and pursuing. Acquisition by contention: injustice sometimes; some drawbacks to pleasure implied.

Leo I

A man riding on a Lion; it signifieth boldness, violence, cruelty, wickedness, lust and labours to be sustained.

5 of Wands
Strife

Violent strife and boldness, rashness, cruelty, violence, lust, desire, prodigality and generosity; depending on whether the card is well or ill dignified.

Leo II

With hands lifted up, and a man on whose head is a Crown; he hath the appearance of an angry man, and one that threatneth, having in his right hand a Sword drawn out of the scabbard, & in his left a buckler; it hath signification upon hidden contentions, and unknown victories, & upon base men, and upon the occasions of quarrels and battels [battles]:

6 of Wands
Victory

Victory after strife: Love: pleasure gained by labour: carefulness, sociability and avoiding of strife, yet victory therein: also insolence, and pride of riches and success, etc. The whole dependent on the dignity.

Leo III

A young man in whose hand is a Whip, and a man very sad, and of an ill aspect; they signifie love and society, and the loss of ones right for avoiding strife.

7 of Wands
Valour

Possible victory, depending on the energy and courage exercised; valour; opposition, obstacles and difficulties, yet courage to meet them; quarrelling, ignorance, pretence, and wrangling, and threatening; also victory in small and unimportant things: and influence upon subordinates.

Virgo I

A good maide, and a man casting seeds; it signifieth getting of wealth, ordering of diet, plowing, sowing, and peopling;

8 of Pentacles
Prudence

Over-careful in small things at the expense of great: "Penny wise and pound foolish": gain of ready money in small sums; mean; avaricious; industrious; cultivation of land; hoarding, lacking in enterprise.

Virgo II

A black man cloathed with a skin, and a man having a bush of hair, holding a bag; they signifie gain, scraping together of wealth and covetousness.

9 of Pentacles
Material Gain

Complete realization of material gain, good, riches; inheritance; covetous; treasuring of goods; and sometimes theft and knavery.

Virgo III

A white woman and deaf, or an old man leaning on a staff; the signification of this is to shew weakness, infirmity, loss of members, destruction of trees, and depopulation of lands.

10 of Pentacles
Wealth

Completion of material gain and fortune; but nothing beyond: as it were, at the very pinnacle of success. Old age, slothfulness; great wealth, yet sometimes loss in part; heaviness; dullness of mind, yet clever and prosperous in money transactions.

Libra I

An angry man, in whose hand is a Pipe, and the form of a man reading in a book; the operation of this is in justifying and helping the miserable and weak against the powerful and wicked:

2 of Swords
Peace restored

Contradictory characters in the same nature, strength through suffering; pleasure after pain. Sacrifice and trouble, yet strength arising therefrom, ... as though the pain itself had brought forth beauty. Arrangement, peace restored; truce; truth and untruth; sorrow and sympathy. Aid to the weak; arrangement; justice, unselfishness; also a tendency to repetition of affronts on being pardoned; injury when meaning well; given to petitions; also a want of tact, and asking question of little moment; talkative.

Libra II

Two men furious and wrathful and a man in a comely garment, sitting in a chair; and the signification of these is to shew indignation against the evil, and quietness and security of life with plenty of good things.

3 of Swords
Sorrow

Disruption, interruption, separation, quarrelling; sowing of discord and strife, mischief-making, sorrow and tears; yet mirth in Platonic pleasures; singing, faithfulness in promises, honesty in money transactions, selfish and dissipated, yet sometimes generous: deceitful in words and repetitions; ... (Unhappiness, sorrow, and tears).

Libra III

A violent man holding a bow, and before him a naked man, and also another man holding bread in one hand, and a cup of wine in the other; the signification of these is to shew wicked lusts, singings, sports and gluttony.

4 of Swords
Rest from Strife

Rest from sorrow; yet after and through it. Peace from and after war. Relaxation of anxiety. Quietness, rest, ease and plenty, yet after struggle. Goods of this life; abundance; ... (Convalescence, recovery from sickness; change for the better).

Scorpio I

A woman of good face and habit, and two men striking her; the operations of these are for comliness, beauty, and for strifes, treacheries, deceits, detractations, and perditions;

5 of Cups
Loss in Pleasure

Death, or end of pleasure: disappointment, sorrow and loss in those things from which pleasure is expected. Sadness, treachery, deceit; ill-will, detraction; charity and kindness ill requited; all kinds of anxieties and troubles from unsuspected and unexpected sources. ... (Disappointment in love, marriage broken off, unkindness of a friend; loss of friendship).

Scorpio II

A man naked, and a woman naked, and a man sitting on the earth, and before him two dogs biting one another; and their operation is for impudence, deceit, and false dealing, and for to lend mischief and strife amongst men;

6 of Cups
Pleasure

Commencement of steady increase, gain and pleasure; but commencement only. Also affront, detection, knowledge, and in some instances contention and strife arising from unwarranted self-assertion and vanity. Sometimes thankless and presumptuous; sometimes amiable and patient. ... (Beginning of wish, happiness, success, or enjoyment)

Scorpio III

A man bowed downward upon his knees, and a woman striking him with a staff, and it is the signification of drunkenness, fornication, wrath, violence, and strife.

7 of Cups
Illusionary Success

Possible victory, but neutralized by the supineness of the person: illusionary success, deception in the moment of apparent victory. Lying, error, promises unfulfilled. Drunkenness, wrath, vanity. Lust, fornication, violence against women, selfish dissipation, deception in love and friendship. Often success gained, but not followed up. ... (Lying, promises unfulfilled; illusion, deception, error; slight success at outset, not retained).

Sagittarius I

A man armed with a coat of male [mail], and holding a naked sword in his hand; the operation of this is for boldness, malice, and liberty:

8 of Wands
Swiftness

Too much force applied too suddenly. Very rapid rush, but quickly passed and expended. Violent, but not lasting. Swiftness, rapidity, courage, boldness, confidence, freedom, warfare, violence; love of open air, field-sports, gardens and meadows. Generous, subtle, eloquent, yet somewhat untrustworthy; rapacious, insolent, oppressive. Theft and robbery. ... (Hasty communications and messages; swiftness).

Sagittarius II

A woman weeping, and covered with cloathes; the operation of this is for sadness and fear of his own body.

9 of Wands
Great Strength

Tremendous and steady force that cannot be shaken. Herculean strength, yet sometimes scientifically applied. Great success, but with strife and energy. Victory, preceded by apprehension and fear. Health good, and recovery not in doubt. Generous, questioning and curious; fond of external appearances: intractable, obstinate. ... (Strength, power, health, recovery from sickness).

Sagittarius III

A man like in colour to gold, or an idle man playing with a staff; and the signification of this is in following our own wills, and obstinacy in them, and in activeness for evil things, contentions, and horrible matters.

10 of Wands
Oppresion

Cruel and overbearing force and energy, but applied only to material and selfish ends. Sometimes shows failure in a matter, and the opposition too strong to be controlled; arising from the person's too great selfishness at the beginning. Ill-will, levity, lying, malice, slander, envy, obstinacy; swiftness in evil and deceit, if ill dignified. Also generosity, disinterestedness and self-sacrifice, when well dignified. ... (Cruelty, malice, revenge, injustice).

Capricorn I

A woman, and a man carrying full bags; and the signification of these is for to go forth and to rejoyce [rejoice], to gain and to lose with weakness and baseness:

2 of Pentacles
Harmonious Change

The harmony of change, alternation of gain and loss; weakness and strength; everchanging occupation; wandering, discontented with any fixed condition of things; now elated, then melancholy; industrious, yet unreliable; fortunate through prudence of management, yet sometimes unaccountably foolish; alternatively talkative and suspicious. Kind, yet wavering and inconsistent. Fortunate in journeying. Argumentative. ... (Pleasant change, visit to friends).

Capricorn II

Two women, and a man looking towards a Bird flying in the Air; and the signification of these is for the requiring those things which cannot be done, and for the searching after those things which cannot be known:

3 of Pentacles
Material Works

Working and constructive force, building up, creation, erection; realization and increase of material things; gain in commercial transactions, rank; increase of substance, influence, cleverness in business, selfishness. Commencement of matters to be established later. Narrow and prejudiced. Keen in matters of gain; sometimes given to seeking after impossibilities. ... (Business, paid employment, commercial transaction).

Capricorn III

A woman chast [chaste] in body, and wise in her work, and a banker gathering his mony [money] together on the table; the signification of this is to govern in prudence, in covetousness of money, and in avarice.

4 of Pentacles
Earthly Power

Assured material gain: success, rank, dominion, earthy power, completed but leading to nothing beyond. Prejudicial, covetous, suspicious, careful and orderly, but discontented. Little enterprise or originality. ... (Gain of money or influence: a present).

Aquarius I

A prudent man, and a woman spinning; and the signification of these is in the thought and labour for gain, in poverty and baseness:

5 of Swords
Defeat

Contest finished and decided against the person; failure, defeat, anxiety, trouble, poverty, avarice, grieving after gain, laborious, unresting; loss and vileness of nature; malicious, slanderous, lying, spiteful and tale-bearing. A busybody and separator of friends, hating to see peace and love between others. Cruel, yet cowardly, thankless and unreliable. Clever and quick in thought and speech. Feelings of pity easily roused, but unenduring. ... (Defeat, loss, malice, spite, slander, evil-speaking).

Aquarius II

A man with a long beard; and the signification of this belongeth to the understanding, meeknes, modesty, liberty and good maners:

6 of Swords
Earned Success

Success after anxiety and trouble; self-esteem, beauty, conceit, but sometimes modesty therewith; dominance, patience, labour, etc. ... (Labour, work, journey by water).

Aquarius III

A black and angry man; and the signification of this is in expressing insolence; and impudence.

7 of Swords
Unstable Effort

Partial success. Yielding when victory is within grasp, as if the last reserves of strength were used up. Inclination to lose when on the point of gaining, through not continuing the effort. Love of abundance, fascinated by display, given to compliments, affronts and insolences, and to spy upon others. Inclined to betray confidences, not always intentionally. Rather vacillatory and unreliable. ... (Journey by land: in character untrustworthy).

Pisces I

A man carrying burthens [burdens] on his shoulder, and well cloathed; it hath his significion in journeys, change of place, and in carefulness of getting wealth and cloaths:

8 of Cups
Abandoned Success

Temporary success, but without further results. Thing thrown aside as soon as gained. Not lasting, even in the matter in hand. Indolence in success. Journeying from place to place. Misery and repining without cause. Seeking after riches. Instability. ... (Success abandoned; decline of interest).

Pisces II

A woman of a good countenance, and well adorned; and the signification is to desire and put ones self on about high and great matters:

9 of Cups
Material Happiness

Complete and perfect realization of pleasure and happiness, almost perfect; self-praise, vanity, conceit, much talking of self, yet kind and lovable, and may be self-denying therewith. High-minded, not easily satisfied with small and limited ideas. Apt to be maligned through too much self-assumption. A good and generous, but sometimes foolish nature. ... (Complete success, pleasure and happiness, wishes fulfilled).

Pisces III

A man naked, or a youth, and nigh him a beautiful maide, whose head is adorned with flowers, and it hath his signification for rest, idleness, delight, fornication, and for imbracings of women.

10 of Cups
Perfected Success

Permanent and lasting success and happiness, because inspired from above. Not so sensual as "Lord of Material Happiness," yet almost more truly happy. Pleasure, dissipation, debauchery, quietness, peacemaking. Kindness, pity, generosity, wantonness, waste, etc. ... (Matter settled: complete good fortune).

Thanks Kwaw for assisting in the comparison.



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