This post features cards from the Soul Cards Tarot. All images by Meg Jones Wall.
Whether you consider yourself witchy or not, the new year brings opportunities for both reflection and anticipation. Looking back on the year we’ve just moved through can help us understand experiences with clarity, awareness, and wisdom, while thinking about all that may be ahead in the year to come can bring up dreams and desires, longing for things that we might still be learning how to name.
And if 2022 kicked your ass as hard as it kicked mine, starting a new year can feel like a deep breath, a much-needed sigh of relief.
There are many lenses that we can use to refract and explore, to offer clarity to our past and hope for our future. But one of my favorite lenses to use is that of numerology, a study of the sacred language of numbers that has nothing to do with mathematics and everything to do with cycles, patterns, and movement. Numerology doesn’t have to be complex, but it can help us find our place in a sequence, putting years past into greater context and offering potential perspective on what future years may have to offer.
I use Pythagorean numerology, which focuses on single-digit numbers as a sequence or spiral, counting up from 1 to 9 then looping back to the beginning. There are many other schools of numerology with rich histories and powerful translations, but I use this particular system because it maps fairly neatly into tarot, which uses a language that I am very familiar with.
2022 was the year of the Lovers, or a year of six. Coming right after five, which serves as the center pivot point of the sequence, six is a digit associated with responsibility, choice, expansion, reciprocity, and stability. The Lovers embodies many of these ideas, encouraging us to consider what makes us feel safe, to honor the choices that we have made and are making, and to take pride in how far we’ve come. If 2022 felt like a year of settling into rhythms, acknowledging growth and change, and taking ownership over certain aspects of your life, you might have had a Lovers year.
When we’re using numerology alongside tarot, the cards can help us see each number through various expressions, teasing out different aspects of each digit throughout the major and minor arcana. The number six is also associated with the Devil, that archetype of destructive patterns, old habits, restrictions, wildness, and temptation. If 2022 instead felt like a year of fighting not to slip into familiar patterns, struggling with internal or external friction, or longing to make a significant change but not knowing if you could pull it off, you might have had a Devil year instead.
But what’s lovely about numerology is that in all likelihood, you experienced bits of both: because each of the nine digits is wide and expansive, with many different ways to interpret them, and because free will exists and you bring your own unique magic to everything you touch. This calculation of adding together all of the digits in a year (2022 // 2+0+2+2 = 6) gives us what we call a collective or universal year number, which means that this is energy that we were experiencing together in various ways, regardless of what may have happened for us more personally.
There are many ways to map this universal energy onto the world, but one lens on my mind is the pandemic, particularly the ways that it’s been (mis)managed here in the United States: the limits and restrictions that were developed and followed in 2020 (a 4 year, Emperor/Death) and either reinforced or abandoned in 2021 (a 5 year, Hierophant/Temperance) have had a profound impact on us, for better or worse, in 2022 (a 6 year, Lovers/Devil). We may have mostly embraced safety protocols in 2020, but with 2021’s communication breakdowns, a rising distrust in government bodies and scientific methods, and a lack of structural support, we’re moving into 2023 with yet another surge, with people who still don’t think that catching Covid is a big deal, with virtually no aid for sick, disabled, unemployed, homeless, or otherwise marginalized folks. So many are begging for everything to go “back to normal,” refusing to acknowledge that the world has profoundly and permanently changed, pretending that what came before wasn’t wildly flawed in its own right. We are all being forced to acknowledge what our society chose, even though there are many in this community and beyond who do not agree with the choices that were made.
But 2023 (2023 // 2+0+2+3 = 7), as a year of seven, offers us the chance for a collective reckoning. Seven is a number of assessment and interrogation, of questioning, of finding answers, of refusing to avert our gaze or make excuses or deny the truth. Seven wants to analyze problems so that it can solve them, craves true understanding, demands expansion through the accumulation of knowledge. Seven is unwilling to live in denial, is unable to turn a blind eye to real issues, challenges, or obstacles. It wants to see clearly so that it can move forward with authenticity, power, and courage, even if that means also acknowledging ugliness, fear, or destruction.
In the major arcana we see this energy of seven reflected in two archetypes: the Chariot, card seven, and the Tower, card sixteen (16 / 1+6 = 7). Both of these cards are associated with truth, movement, and breaking boundaries, and both of them instigate change that is essential for growth. The Chariot wrestles with moving beyond the familiar, is willing to break old boundaries if it means that they can be true to themselves, and trusts in their own capacity for clear-eyed thinking and progressive ideals.
On the flip side, the Tower often finds us in moments of freefall, where movement has been thrust upon us and we scramble to find control, breaking out of familiar habits and eventually discovering new possibilities that we may never have seen otherwise. Both archetypes allow us to overcome obstacles, both grapple to find success through struggle, and both come out the other side with renewed clarity, purpose, and sense of self.
In other words, both of these archetypes serve as a release valve, helping us relieve pressure, move with intention, and overcome obstacles.
If this sounds intense, that’s because it is. Seven energy doesn’t fuck around, but instead is willing to dig into the heart of something, to grapple with messiness and confusion, to untangle truths and find something to hold on to. It isn’t for the faint of heart.
But seven is also deeply, wildly necessary. After several years of struggle, after trying to find stability and safety in incredibly uncertain times, seven wants us to rediscover what matters, to reinforce our values, to invest in what we care about. Seven wants us to name our desires, so that we can pursue them.
Seven wants us to be as true to ourselves as possible, so that we can live the life we long for.
To explore this energy more intentionally, pull the Chariot and the Tower out of your tarot deck, and spend a few moments meditating on what you see in these cards. What motivates you? What drives you? Where are you willing to take a chance, to leave something beyond, to be honest about your dreams? Shuffle your deck, breathe, and draw three cards, one for each position. Take your time, grab your journal, and see what comes forward.
Card one: A restriction to challenge. Where are you experiencing friction, either internally or externally? What boundaries, limits, or structures are holding you back? Where are you eager to break free, and what is standing in your way?
Card two: A truth to investigate. What do you know, even if you’re afraid to acknowledge it? Which insights keep bubbling up within you, that you’ve been avoiding or ignoring? What deserves more of your attention?
Card three: A desire to explore. What are you craving, that you haven’t unpacked? What do you keep dreaming about or imagining? How can you be deliberate about allowing yourself to expand, even if you aren’t sure where this expansion might lead?
As we move into this new year, give yourself permission to ask questions that you can’t immediately answer, to expand your perspective on things that until now, you’ve taken for granted. What if you stopped assuming that you know something, and instead look at your life and your world with new eyes? Where are you ready to explore, to change, to adjust? How are you transforming? What have you learned about yourself from the past few years, and how might that inspire a shift that could help you understand more about your own needs, desires, or fears?
Wishing you a healthy, illuminating, and expansive 2023.