If you like to go deep, then six is your ticket to travel. Sixes may appear as a improvement from the unruly fives, but are in no way a final destination. Sixes get us from one place to another, and do so with grace and form. The sixes may often feel satisfying, but they rarely let us stay and spread roots. Variety is a characteristic of six, for better or worse.
As with all of the Tarot numbers, we can choose to make them as complicated as we want or as relevant as we want. I choose relevancy over complexity every time. Always ask first “Why do you believe that? What makes more sense to you, a mysterious meaning… or a function that you use each and every day?” Meaning only exists when a number is relatable.
Perhaps one reason the sixes are so variable, is the wide range of cultural traditions that influence modern tarot. But learning what others think about numbers is not the path of understanding numbers. Assimilating facts by rote is not a substitute for comprehension. To appreciate what makes a tarot six a six, it is necessary to understand what we inherently know to be true about the number before trying to weigh the options of other ideas. Begin with your own experience.
Sixes Feel Harmonious
It is no accident that many traditions associate sixes with harmony. Honeycombs are constructed of six-sided cells. Bees construct their hives with this shape because it is an efficient way to fill a plane. This hexagon shape is not nearly as boring a square, and it provides an aesthetically satisfying pattern that is also mechanically quite strong. It provides repetition without weariness. Board games frequently use the hexagon to provide more strategic paths for movement beyond the four cardinal directions. In the batons suit of the tarot (or wands if that’s what you prefer), we build solutions. Sixes become tactical preparation in the swords. Therefore, many see strategy as hallmark of the six.
The hexagon gives sixes a special symmetry that is often perceived as ‘sacred.’ We feel sixes are naturally and functionally graceful. Even the structure diagram of carbon molecules becomes a hexagonal symbol of life.
Harmony in the musical sense is represented by 3 + 3, where the three note cord is combined with the three of creative expression. The six also reminds us of the six guitar strings, where a full chord is glorious! If you have ever held a guitar close to your body, and strummed a chord, you understand the rich sonority that the number six transfers to your core. This harmonious nature did not even escape the ancient Greeks, who saw the hexad as the number of the soul; and even considered it the number of time and duration, both fundamental aspects of music. But music never stays still…it moves and transforms.
Sixes as a Path
Some cartomancers associated the number six with ‘paths.’ But this idea is lost in our modern interpretation. Some that read fortunes with standard French playing cards, say the arrangement of the six pips look like a path between fences. But this does not explain why this number should translate in this manner to tarot, since the arrangement of the pips in tarot is often quite different. Thinking of sixes as strategy, though, we can see that a path is clearly a type of plan to get from one place to another.
When we set out on a path, we also intend to accept its limitations. A path has definition. A path of sixes is the safe way amid the chaos. They are like a family vacation in the cups. With the coins, we know exactly where our money is going, where we should put it, and how we will get it. The six swords can be a channel of aggression or retreat. In the batons, we may see a career or simply a well-researched blueprint.
Sixes are Substantive
Fours may define parameters as a square, but sixes bring substance. A cube has six sides and is a footing for all that comes after in three dimensions. It is both a destination and a beginning. We form the basic blocks so that we can create more complex structures. Sixes are therefore a transition between foundations and finished buildings, especially in the batons. Six cups may be a program of emotional healing, or perhaps a family reunion.
Using Sixes in Tarot
Remember the Tarot suits are bound to the numbers, and may be primary, secondary, or equal to the importance of numbers depending on the context of reading the cards. When the sixes show up, consider asking or describing what you see in terms of ‘where to’ or ‘for how long.’
The harmony of this number can touch us to our soul with the cups, bring a deal to a good close with the coins, show us the substance of construction with the batons, or march the troops with the swords.
You may also see the number six in terms of degrees or quantity. The number six is half a dozen, a convenient but adequate amount. The number six leads and connects the social chain with the 6 degrees of separation.
If you want to get esoteric with the sixes, go for it. But please always ask yourself if it makes sense first. Complicated does not always equal better. The sixes should feel like you are “on track,” for better or worse.
Stay tuned for the Sevens.