Order a Reading

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Elemental Affinities and How I Learned About Them

This book is where I first heard about elemental affinities, Holistic Tarot by Benebell Wen. Please get a copy of the book, you won't regret it. I intend to do a review of it at some point, but for now, just check out Benebell's website. She's got so much on offer there! 

Now, I already knew about elemental affinities in the court cards. You know: Pages = Earth, Knights = Air, Queens = Water, Kings = Fire. I  didn't know that was called an 'elemental affinity', but I had heard of this, and have used it. So imagine my surprise when I read that numbers also have elemental affinities! Benebell gives the information in this book, and tells us that it originally comes from a book called Tarot of the Bohemians by Papus (1892). She has also shared a PDF of Tarot of the Bohemians here. As Papus's work is not copyrighted, I'm sure she won't mind if I share the diagram found in her book (and Tarot of the Bohemians) showing the elemental affinities: 

Wen, Benebell. Holistic Tarot: An Integrative Approach to Using Tarot for
 Personal Growth
. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2014. 

 The elements are in the middle of the wheel, which is divided into four wedges, one for each element (Fire, Water, Air, Earth). Then each element is subdivided to show the elemental affinities. You'll see that each slice has four cards, usually a court and three numbers (except the slice containing the number 10).

So using the chart, we can see that, for example, the 9 of Pentacles is Air of Earth. So is 6 of Pentacles, 3 of Pentacles and Knight of Pentacles.

Looked at another way, Knight, 3, 6 and 9 are going to work together in each suit as Air of...Air of Fire for the Wands suit, Air of Water for Cups, Air of Air for Swords, Air of Earth for Pentacles.

When interpreting, use this information the same for the pips as you do for courts (if you do).

You can see in the bar to the right side of this blog, I've started labelling posts in which I talk about courts and pips and elemental affinities. (I didn't mention them in the older posts because I didn't know about them yet!)


  1. Thank you for going to the trouble to explain this. It has been ages since I've bought a new tarot book, I'm thinking Wen's better go into my cart, Sharyn/AJ

    1. You're welcome, hope you enjoy the book!

  2. Hmm, I'll be interested to see how this all works out in a reading. From a numerological perspective, I would more expect the 3, 6, and 9 to go with the King, as cards of completion...

    1. I've found it very helpful in bringing new insight into the cards -- in fact, some mysteries as to why Pixie chose certain scenes becomes a bit clearer, at least to me, when the elemental affinities are taken into account.

      There is probably some cryptic astrological reason for the choices that I have not yet uncovered. Whatever it is will be far more complicated than simple logic, I have no doubts.