The Annual Calendar
(Minor Tarot & Playing Cards)
By Tom Gilmore
All graphics by Tom Gilmore
Index of all Articles
Part I – Seasonal Calendar
Bohemian Tarot Cards
The Bohemian Tarot cards survived the Spanish Inquisition by disguising the knowledge contained on them. The traveling Gypsies preserved 56 cards called the Minor Arcanum, and used them for gambling.
The Minor Arcanum cards were copies of the 54 calendar cards used in Ancient Egypt to track the annual circuit of Earth around the Sun. The Bohemian version added 2 temporary cards (explained further on). Modern playing cards still preserve the 54 cards of the Ancient Egyptian calendar, but the symbolism on the cards has undergone a series of changes.
Fifty-two of the cards represent the 52 weeks of the year. The suits represent the 4 seasons, and
each season has 13 weeks. In Egypt
the four seasons were characterized by:
Inundation of the Nile in spring,
sowing the fields in summer,
harvesting in the fall,
and fallow in winter.
The Egyptian symbols were water for the inundation, hoes for tilling the soil, bushels for collecting the harvest, and the scepter for the Pharaoh's forced servitude over the winter.
The Bohemian suits substituted disguised symbols, to hide the true meaning from the eyes of the vicious pious perverts imposing the Spanish Inquisition.
Goblets represented the water, swords substituted for hoes (occult clue is disguised as a pacifist slogan "convert swords to plowshares"), coins were substituted to represent the cash value of the harvest, and a club replaced the scepter.
Modern suits use hearts (shape of goblets), spades (a reversion to the hoe), diamonds (value as in coins), and clubs (named for the club, but reverting to the shape of the tip of the scepter).
The Festival Days
Fifty two of the cards represent the 52 weeks, or 364 days. Since there are close to 365.25 days in a year, in Ancient Egypt every year there was a festival day, and every four years there were two festival days (our leap year). Two cards represented the festival days, bringing the total to 54 cards.. The cards showed flamboyantly dressed characters representing the musicians (bards) performing at the festivals. The bards were commonly called “Jacks”.
The year is 365.2425 days. This was not a problem for the ancient calendars where the year began with the vernal equinox (March 21), because the second festival day was simply cancelled when the equinox shifted back one day. This only happened at the ending year of 3 out of 4 centuries. In counting years, the leap years were observed on the years divisible by 4, but not on years divisible by 100 unless also divisible by 400.
Disguises were introduced in the Bohemian cards to hide the calendar, due to the Inquisition, which suppressed any suspected knowledge with torture and executions.
Originally the 13 cards of each season were numbered 1 to 13, but in the Bohemian decks the weeks 11, 12, and 13 were disguised as princes, queens, and kings.
There were 2 Jack (festival) cards.
The Bohemian versions added 2 fake Jacks, and the resultant 4 Jacks were
distributed in the suits like the other cards.
The 2 fake Jacks were given one eye as a clue.
The calendar cards were re-established by French occultists after the Reformation, reverting to 54 cards. The face-cards were retained for continuity, but the Prince cards were replaced with the Jacks because the Prince looked too much like the King. The 2 festival cards were reintroduced as jugglers or clowns, now called Jokers. As Occultism was turned into a taboo subject by religious bigotry (that had no problem with the evil of gambling), the calendar origin was forgotten.
Due to the repugnancy of royal rule to the democratic leaning west, the cards for the 1st week of each season were renamed "Aces" and took gambling primacy away from the King cards.
Part II – Monthly Calendar
When the Romans instigated the Julian calendar they retained 7 day weeks but divorced them from being reset to the spring equinox. They also divorced the beginning of the year with the spring equinox. The names of the days of the week used today (in English) are based on the 7 traditional astral bodies. The original order of the days of the week were based on the brightness of the astral bodies.
Moon Moon-day Monday
Venus Freita Freita-day Friday* (à 6) Tuesday
Mars Tuiz Tuiz-day Tuesday Wednesday
Mercury Woden Woden-day Wednesday Thursday
Jupiter Thor Thor’s day Thursday Friday
Saturn Saturn-day Saturday
The 4 Teutonic planet names shown above were incorporated in the modern names of the days of the week. Due to male hubris, because you could not have a female essence be before a male essence, Freita’s day was moved to the end of the active days (Saturn’s day was the passive week-ending day of rest).
The Church chose Sunday as the day of worship, leading to the modern work-week of Monday thru Friday, with Saturday and Sunday the weekend.
The synodic phases of the moon cycle an average of 29.5 days. The phases of the moon do not coincide with the year (29.5 x 12 = 354), so it is not used in calendars. In the original 12 month calendar, they alternated 30 and 31 days in a ratio of 2 to 1 (31,30,30,31,30,30,31,30,30,31,30,30) resulting in 364 days, using the 1 and 2 festival day adjustments. When the Romans moved to eliminate the festival days they intended to arbitrarily assign seven 30 and five 31 day months,
30,31 30,31 30,31 30,31 30,31 30,30, with the last month 31 on leap years.
The original intent was quite logical. Unfortunately, as with all things done by committee, it got screwed up. The Senate named the Julian calendar months after revered Romans, and then argued over their relative importance, compromising that 7 months must be 31 days. Rather than reduce 2 months to 29, insulting 2 personages, both days were taken from February, dropping it to 28, and making it the leap year month.
31,28 31,30 31,30 31,31 30,31 30,31
The Gregorian calendar that we use today did not correct the inane month-day numbering (it would have confused historical dating), they merely added the adjustment (for the 365.2425 day year) that leap years (those evenly divisible by 4) would be eliminated in years evenly divisible by 100 but not by 400.