The assignment of a Hebrew letter to each of the twenty-two Majors in Tarot is
usually attributed to Eliphas Levy, the great magician of the XIX century. If Court de
Gebelin and others before Levy, inspired by Romanticism, tried to bestow an
Egyptian pedigree to the cards (as the ancient Book of Thoth), Levy, Papus, Wirth
and several other occultists, including those of the Golden Dawn, infused the tarot
with more mystical dimensions. But we need to keep in mind that Cabala was
incorporated into alchemical texts during the Renaissance and it is not easy to bring
forth specific dates when it comes to mystical Tarot. We just do not know with
certainty when tarot cards started to be used as mystical, magical tools for masonic
or magical rituals, nor when did the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet begin
to be connected to the twenty-two majors. This issue is still controversial among
historians and mystery school students. One basic argument is that the numbers
assigned to the letters and the numbers of the Keys conflict with each other.  I
personally don’t see it this way, since I work with both numerical designations (the
one given to the card and the one assigned to the Hebrew letter) with no problem.
The ambivalence of meanings can provide a rhythmic pattern of nonsensical,
ambiguous and amorphous connections that assist us in swimming the murky
waters of the subconscious. Remember that it's always good to
build a psychic field
of associations
when we do transformational work with any divination tool.  I do
recommend that, if you are going to use the Hebrew letters with the Majors, you
should decide between the Marseilles or Golden Dawn designations. Otherwise it
might get too confusing at first. Once you settle on one system and feel comfortable
experimenting with it, then see how assigning a different Hebrew letter to a Major
and placing the card on the Tree following a different attribution or astrological
designation resonates with you.

Each Hebrew letter is a personality, an archetype, just like every
Arcanum is.  Even
Robert Place, who has written an excellent history of Tarot (2000) as well as being
the author of the Alchemical Tarot, believes that the number - letter correspondence
is quite odd and a bit forced unto the cards.  But, he feels similarly about mixing
astrology with Tarot.  To each his own; I believe that one should give it a try and
really meditate on these added dimensions before drawing any conclusions.  If it
works for you and if it adds another level of understanding  to your reading
approach, then use it.

The connections with Hebrew letter symbology, with astrology, numerology and
Gematria serve to add different levels of interpretation that enrich any reading were
we to tap into them.  We should look at all of these systems as potentialities or
additional layers of information that somehow weave themselves into a reading or
healing ritual whenever appropriate.  I don’t even know who makes the call; is it us
or Spirit?  Does it really matter?  If we are drawn to use any of these combinations
in transformational work might be because, somehow, it makes sense at a given
moment and the information is being made available to us to help expand an idea, or
add another layer of understanding to a particular message, card or spread.  We
must remember that we each access Wisdom from very different perspectives and
that no method takes precedence over another because it often boils down to what
works with one's personality, level of education, cultural, social or even ethnic
background of both querent and reader.  

There are several good books available that delve into the mystical dimension of the
Hebrew letters. Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh's
The Hebrew Letters: Channels of
Creative Consciousness
provides an excellent study that can be used quite effectively
with transformational work and, therefore, it works like magic with any deck that
incorporates the use of Cabala or Kabbalah or Qabalah and the Hebrew letters with
Tarot.  The interpretations can become quite uncanny and synchronistic in a reading
when strong correspondences between the cards, the letters and the Paths on the
Tree are explored.  I believe that, somehow, the various energies do communicate -
quite effectively- with each other. Ginsburgh notes that letters “build and enliven
reality much as the encoded ‘letters’ of DNA build and define the characteristics of
the living body.  In particular, the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet are
reflected in the number of chromosomes in human seed.” Every Hebrew letter
represents a particular form, and is pregnant with other letters that give it a name.  
In addition, each letter has a number that relates, through Gematria, to other
mysteries. Creation mirrors the metaphor of speech; numbers help unfold the act of
creation; meaning ‘rests’ (hovers) above individual letters and resides (lives) inside
words. But above all, each letter is a sacred vessel and the Hebrew name of every
single creature is a channel for the Lifeforce to reveal its own divinity. (pp. 6-12.)

Alchemy plays a pivotal role in the way Cabala has been linked to Tarot since the
19th century.  It is difficult to separate the three when using certain decks, like
Crowley’s
Book of Thoth or the Golden Dawn Magical Tarot or Case’s B.O.T.A.  A
newer deck that incorporates Cabala quite beautifully is
The Rosetta Tarot.  As every
Major card is interpreted at several levels, from states of consciousness to
archetypal energies, as they are connected to the Hebrew letters, to sounds and
colors, there is a constant alchemical context that sustains the processes within the
magical Tree of Life, the alchemical container that helps structure our transformation.

The Hebrew letters can also serve as alchemical vessels of transformation. Physicist
Fred Alan Wolf’s fascinating book
Mind into Matter (2000) links alchemy to the
Hebrew letters and quantum physics to show us how “the mysterious doctrine of
alchemy pertains to a hidden, subjective, abstract, and higher order of reality that
forms the basis of all truths and all spirituality (2-3).” What is interesting for our
study is that Wolf uses the Hebrew letters as mnemonic tools that help achieve
higher levels of consciousness through alchemical transmutation of the mind.  This is
also how Christian Cabala incorporated the use of the Hebrew letters into the Major
Arcana in Tarot. Wolf’s alchemical connection between quantum physics and the
Hebrew letters demonstrates, once again, the adaptability of these concepts to any
method that cares to incorporate their potentiality and archetypal dimensions. Wolf
calls this approach a new alchemy and calls himself a new alchemist. His imaginal
world is accessible to us through the alchemical transformation of quantum
possibilities into actualities.

Paul Foster Case (1884 – 1954), founder of Builders of the Adytum (B.O.T.A.),
notes in his seminal book
The Tarot (1947) that,

the pictures do agree, without question, to the occult meanings of the letters to
which they are assigned.  …The attribution of the major trumps to the Hebrew
alphabet is the crux in Tarot study and we should respect that. Eliphas Levi knew it,
but could not give it, because he received it from a secret order.  …Dr. Waite,
Manly P. Hall, and some others have objected that this arrangement makes the
numbers of the Keys and the numbers of the letters conflict. The answer to this is
that the numbers printed on the Keys have one purpose, while those assigned to
the letters have another
. (Case, 21-23)
Using Tarot with Qabalah