One way to help familiarize yourself with the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot is by means of a simple game called Joy to the World (aka The Kingdom of Heaven). This is a variation on an earlier game called, Playing the Fool. The rules to Joy to the World are as follows:
Gently randomize the order of the cards– taking care not to bend them in the process –and lay them out, face down, in three rows of seven, as follows:
T T T T T T T
T T T T T T T
T T T T T T T
Turn the remaining card face up and play it in its proper position (esoterically speaking) based on the 22 Letters that make up Meditations on the Tarot (i.e. with the first 20 numbered cards in their corresponding numerical positions, but with the unnumbered Fool in position 21 and the World — card #21 — in position 22) as follows:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22
As you play each card, turn the face-down card that was in that position face up and play it in its proper position, and so-on, until all the cards are face up in their proper positions (esoterically speaking) as indicated above.
If The World turns up before the last play of the game (as is usually the case), play it face down in the position of another face-down card of your choosing and continue the game as before, until the last card is played in place of The World (wherever it happens to have finally ended up). When the last numbered card is played and only The World remains, then (symbolically speaking) you may consciously enter into life— the eternal, joyful life of the kingdom –by playing the World to the right of the Fool — in position 22.
“The world is a work of art. It is animated by creative joy. The wisdom that it reveals is joyous wisdom — that of creative-artistic elan . . . . Happy is he who seeks wisdom in the first place, for he will find that wisdom is joyous! Unhappy is the one who seeks the joy of joyous wisdom in the first place, for he will fall prey to illusions! Seek first the creative wisdom of the world — and the joy of creativity will be given to you in addition” (Letter 22, page 644).
NOTE: It is considered by some to be very auspicious when The World does not turn up until the very last play of the game. This doesn’t happen often, but if you keep playing, chances are it will happen for you. Have fun, in any event, and remember– when all is said and done –the name of the game is to enter into life NOW! 🙂
VARIATION: If The World turns up early, it would not be inappropriate to go ahead and play it in position 21 (its exoteric numerical position) and then to save The Fool till last (instead of The World ). When the last numbered card is played and only the unnumbered Fool remains, the game may begin again:
What we call the beginning is often the end And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from… ~ T. S. Eliot
Best wishes, in any event, Dear Unknown Friend, as you continue immerse yourself in this current of the living tradition…