For a full 30 years now I have marveled at the oddities embedded in the 52-card deck, in other words what we know as “the playing deck.” Perhaps the most compelling of these oddities are the correlations to the natural calendar built into the seemingly simplistic structure of the deck itself. 52 cards correspond to the 52 weeks of the year, the 4 suits to the 4 seasons of that year, and the 13 cards of each suit faithfully reflect the 13 weeks of each season. It is in fact a perfect model of natural time keeping, detailed in my book.
No, I’m certainly not the first to notice this. Scholars on cards have been titillated by this observation for centuries. I am (in cooperation with my father, the late Oracle Artist, CJ Freeman,) however, perhaps the first in existing written record to put these correspondences to work. If the deck is a time machine, then why not use it? Why just gawk at this pulsing curiosity as it lies on the table before us?
My wish is not to detail here methods for time calculation with the 52-card deck (although you can read it in detail in my published book, The Playing Card Oracles,) but rather to pose a broader mystery for the reader by drawing some obvious parallels to the Mayan masterpiece, El Castillo, at the Mayan center of Chichen Itza.
Touted as the “time temple,” El Castillo boasts architecture that, like the 52-card deck, alludes to some kind of greater knowing possessed by its’ architects. It is sacred code embedded into art. At first glance, El Castillo appears regal, visually harmonic, but only when you start counting do its’ messages begin to unfold.
52 panels can be observed on any one side of the pyramid, corresponding to the number of weeks in a natural year and also the Mayan calendar cycle of 52 years (52 years is the sacred increment of time measurement made when the two different Mayan calendar cycles re-synchronize and repeat.)
The pyramid has 4 sides, corresponding to the 4 seasons and the 4 quadrants of the world (each with a ruling God) from the Mayan perspective. Each of those 4 sides has 91 steps, the exact number of days in each season, from solstice to equinox and round again. Parallel to this, the card deck of 52 (jokers were added later) is equally divided by 4 card suits, and each of those suits consists of a total of 91 numbers (Add the numerical value of every card in a suit together and you get 91.)
91 numbers in each of the 4 suits equals a total of 364. So does 91 steps multiplied by each of the 4 sides of the pyramid. 364 is the number of days in a lunar year. Interestingly. a lunar year is 13 lunar cycles each of 4 weeks, just as each of the 4 seasons consists of exactly 13 weeks – a little flip-flop math. And, not coincidentally, there are 13 cards in each of the 4 suits.
El Castillo also has 9 tiers on each side, plus the 4-sided temple atop the pyramid, which also equals 13. 13 was sacred to the Maya. According to Mayan wisdom, there were “13 numbers” or “number Gods” that repeated in cycles to make other larger cycles or sums. Additionally, the serpent observed scaling El Castillo at the equinox makes a total of 13 triangles of light and dark.
Correspondingly, each 13 card suit of the 52-card deck consists of 9 “pips” or lower numbered cards plus 4 “courts” that rule the lower numbered cards (the 10’s were not lower case cards historically, but were part of the court, providing a Lady Card or “handmaiden” to the Queen just as the Jack is the diminutive of the King. More detail regarding this can also be found in The Playing Card Oracles.) The centuries old “playing deck” of unknown origin is sacred architecture in paper, but paper in movement (i.e.pages can be shuffled), as the cycles of nature dictate.
Natural time keeping has been obliterated by people seeking earthly power many times over (Pope Gregory is the father of our current 12-month “Gregorian” calendar system.) And so, in my mind, it would be quite natural for those of greater integrity and fore sight to anticipate this tyranny and seek to preserve a more cosmic and integral way of perceiving the world for future generations. Perhaps the creation of the deck of 52 was inspired by the same influences that inspired the creation of the sacred pyramid “El Castillo” of the Mayan. Why not?
Here I must add another historical note pertaining to the creation of the 52-card deck. It is surprising to me that it is a common belief that Tarot cards came before the 52-card deck, and that somehow, the 52 cards originated from Tarot.
Along side mounting evidence to the reverse, it seems fairly obvious to me that the 52-card deck predates Tarot simply by reason of its’ calendar structure. It was quite obviously a creation for the preservation of sacred knowledge (just as El Castillo,) for those who had the eyes to see and decipher it. It was not a derivative work.
For those who did not see, it was a curiosity. A thing for play. This was its’ much anticipated saving feature. Still, interestingly, the church for centuries has gone out of its way to strictly oppose any association with it. And for a game? Really?
Through my writings and other associated work, it is my wish to assist in the resurrection of the sacred book of 52, restoring it to its’ intended and majestic purpose. Its makers did a brilliant job of concealing their knowledge into symbols. Let us not, however, linger further in darkness. My unshakable sense is that it was created not only as a “time text” but also as a “time capsule” – its unveiling fully anticipated at the appropriate moment in time. That time is now.
|El Castillo||52-card deck||Natural Cycles|
|52 panels||52 cards in a deck||52 weeks in a year, 52 years in a Mayan cycle|
|4 equal sides||4 equal suits||4 seasons, 4 directions, 4 classical elements|
|13 triangles of light and dark, 9 tiers on each side plus 4-sided upper temple||13 cards in each of the 4 suits (consisting of 9 lower numbered cards plus 4 courts*)||13 lunar cycles (4 weeks each) in a year, 13 weeks in each of the 4 seasons|
|91 steps on each of the 4 sides||91 numbers in each of the 4 suits||91 days in each of the 4 seasons|
|364 total steps||364 total numbers in the deck (add numeric value of all the numbers in the deck)||364 days in a lunar year|
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