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 78 Bohemian Tarot cards survived the Spanish Inquisition by disguising the knowledge contained on them. The traveling Gypsies used the 56 cards called the Minor Arcana for gambling, and used the 22 cards called the Major Arcana cards for fortune telling.
The Minor Arcana cards were derived from 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). The equinox could easily be observed by tracking the sunrise with simple permanent stone alignments.
Setting the equinox marker is not complicated, and does not require a knowledge of orbital mechanics to understand that the length of the day changes seasonally with the position of the sun on the horizon. From a stationary viewpoint viewing the sunrise as it shifts its daily position on the horizon, markers can be moved to align with the sun until it reaches the furthest extent to the left and to the right of the observer, and when reaching the furthest extent the markers be left in place, marking the winter and summer solstices, then the equinox marker can be placed mid-way between the solstice markers. This works regardless of the location of the viewpoint on the Earth surface.
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 Egyptian 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 originally 2 Jack (festival) cards. The Bohemian version added 2 fake Jacks,
and the resultant 4 Jacks were distributed in the suits like the other cards,
so it looked like there were 14 cards per suit, and the calendar was hidden,
but in gambling the Jacks were either omitted or used as wild-cards as the
Jokers are today..
As an occult clue, the fake Jacks were shown in profile (the one-eyed Jacks).
After the Reformation, playing cards reverted to decks of 54. The French stylistic version became a popular standard (using hearts, spades, diamonds, and clubs). The face-cards were retained for continuity, but the Prince cards were eliminated, replaced with the Jacks (probably 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. Chance is an important element of gambling, but the Joker wild-cards made statistical probability calculations imprecise, so serious gambling excludes them.
Part II – Monthly Calendar
Modern superstitious bad-luck phobias include black-cats, walking under ladders, stepping on cracks, spilling salt, and the number thirteen. Even today many modern sky-scrapers have no 13th floor (of course in numbering only). In astronomy there are 12 celestial segments. There could have been two logical versions of 12 month calendars to replace the 13 week seasonal calendar, depending on whether the festival days were included.
With festival days included they could have 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.
With festival days excluded they could have alternated 30 and 31 day months (30,31 30,31 30,31 30,31 30,31 30,30), with the last month 31 on leap years.
Weeks remained 7 days but became divorced from being reset to the spring equinox (due to the elimination of festival days).
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 (Venus is the brightest planet). 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 had to remain as the passive week-ending day of rest).
1 Sun Sun-day Sunday
2 Moon Moon-day Monday
3 Venus Freita Freita-day (à 6)
3 Mars Tuiz Tuiz-day Tuesday
4 Mercury Woden Woden-day Wednesday
5 Jupiter Thor Thor’s day Thursday
6 Venus Freita Freita-day Friday
7 Saturn Saturn-day Saturday
The 4 Teutonic planet names shown above were incorporated in the modern names of the days of the week. .
The Church chose Sunday as the day of worship, leading to the modern work-week of Monday thru Friday, with Saturday and Sunday the week-end.
The Roman Calendars
The Romans were brutal idiots. They used an inane numbering non-decimal system that made numeric calculations ridiculously cumbersome. Early Romans had a 10 month “calendar” with vague winter days unaccounted for. Politicians shortened and lengthened years to favor their tenures. In 46 BC Julius Cesar proposed the Julian calendar, and it was adopted on January 1, in 45 BC.
Unfortunately, as with all things done by committee, the Julian calendar got screwed up. The Senate named the Julian calendar months after revered Romans, and then argued over their relative importance, compromising that instead of 5 months being 31 days, 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. The result is the current calendar of:
31 28(29) 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.
The adjustments in whole days for the excess .2425 days of the year:
Plus 1 day out of 4 years: (1 / 4) = .25
Less 1 day out of 100 years: -1/100 = -.01
Plus 1 day out of 400 years: +1/400 = +.0025
.25 - .01 + .0025 = .2425