On more than one occasion, but especially when talking about the Aces in the Minor Arcana, the Hebrew letter Yod has come up. I wanted to say a few words to expand on what Yod is on a conceptual level that is applicable to the Tarot.
As seen on the Wheel of Fortune is the word YHVH in Hebrew lettering, between the letters which read ROTA (or TARO if you’re like me). Yod is the little symbol that represents the Y that looks a little like an apostrophe.
The letters YHVH are pronounced Yod He Vau He, which are the letters which represent God. Y comes at the beginning because it is the representation of the concept of God, but I’ll get to that.
Yod comes up in many of the cards such as the Ace of Swords, Wands, and Cups, and in the Tower (the falling flames) because of its deep symbolic meaning. Simply, as I’ve said in most of my symbolism break-downs, It means knowledge from a divine source, but more accurately, divinity. However, it’s a little more complicated than that.
As pointed out in Tarot of the Bohemians by Papus, Yod is the building block of all the Hebrew letters. Each letter is compiled of a different formation of Yods.
While Yod isn’t the first letter in the alphabet (aleph is), it still had to exist before the alphabet existed in order for the alphabet to be created. Thus, it is the thing which is found in all the creation of the alphabet, which existed before the creation.
So Yod is more than a symbol in the alphabet that we are told represents divinity, it is the creation of the alphabet itself, which is why it represents divinity. Further than that, it is the No-thing (the thing which is not a thing, thus it is No-thing) that sparks creation. It must exist (though doesn’t exist while still existing) in order for the manifestation of the thing can begin creating the other things.
In the Cards
In the Aces, it is shown because they represent beginnings. On a mundane and every-day living, they are simply the beginning—the beginning of passion/creative project, the beginning of an idea or of news, or the beginning of a new relationship. However, on a deeper level, they are the spark of the building blocks which are to come from which you will start your journey with the corresponding suit. It is the ignition, it is the concept of the foundation from which you will create your blueprint.
We don’t know where our ideas come from, and thus it is easily attributed to the subconscious self, to Spirit, or to divinity, and thus it is represented by Yod.
In the Tower, the Yod represent the knowledge that will be gained from the destruction. It is the sparkling idea and essence readying itself to lay the next foundation.
The Take Away
These are just simple explanations to help you gain a deeper understanding of the letters that are used. I listen to a podcast called Antifragile Tarot in which the host regularly refers to explanations of how she knows things during a reading as ‘the pretty pictures on the cards.’ The tarot is so much more than that.
While students of Jung and many tarot readers attribute our reading of the cards to way our subconscious picks things up, there is a rich religious symbolism buried in them that goes beyond how our subconscious translates pictures.
This is why I have always thought that in order to truly know the Tarot, one must study the various aspects. It’s helpful to put the astrological energies together with the numerological representations, but when we want to find ourselves in the card itself and to meditate on its deepest meaning, we need to understand all of the aspect.
I hope this helped you to gain more insight to some of the cards yourself.