Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katharine Cook Briggs, neither of whom were trained as a psychologist, had a keen interest in Carl Jung's ideas about personality as presented in Psychological Types4. At the height of the war effort for World War II, they saw a need for determining the personality types of the many women who were entering the workforce for the first time, many in highly non-traditional jobs, such as the archetypal Rosie the Riveter.
As long as they had worked on their own, they had had no problems, but, "…when in 1943, they produced the first set of questions destined to become the MBTI, they came face-to-face with a double-barreled opposition from the academic community."1. Not only were they women, non-academics, untrained in psychology, they were also promoting Jungian ideas in a Freudian world.
Undeterred by the naysayers they continued their work and today, sixty-five years later, the MBTI is considered a standard psychological test beside the MMPI, TAT and Rorshach.
Jungian Personality Types
Originally Jung established four primary functions of consciousness: two were functions of perception and two were functions of judging. The two functions of perception are Sensation and Intuition and the two of judging are Thinking and Feeling. These functions of consciousness were further modified by two primary functions of attitude: Introversion and Extraversion4
These two sets give rise to eight psychological types:
|Extraverted || || - || ||Sensation|
|Introverted || || - || ||Sensation|
|Extraverted || || - || ||Intuition|
|Introverted || || - || ||Intuition|
|Extraverted || || - || ||Thinking|
|Introverted || || - || ||Thinking|
|Extraverted || || - || ||Feeling|
|Introverted || || - || ||Feeling|
Further, Jung believed that the dominant function of consciousness represses its opposite and the repressed function will manifest in unconscious behavior.
The Myers-Briggs Type Inventory
The MBTI refines Jung's original two pairs of primary function of consciousness by expanding it to four pairs with the addition of the Sensing-Judging function. Myers and Briggs also take the original two pairs and allow them to work in combination with the each other. This doubles the number of combinations to sixteen, the same as the number of the Court cards of the Tarot. In the MBTI the sixteen types are know by letters:
|Extraverted/Introverted || || - || ||E/I|
|Intuitive/Thinking || || - || ||N/T|
|Sensing/Feeling || || - || ||S/F|
|Perceiving/Judging || || - || ||P/J|
These combine to form the sixteen types which are:
|ENTJ || - ||Extraverted/Intuitive/Thinking/Judging|
|ENFJ || - ||Extraverted/Intuitive/Feeling/Judging|
|ENTP || - ||Extraverted/Intuitive/Thinking/Perceiving|
|ENFP || - ||Extraverted/Intuitive/Feeling/Perceiving|
|ESTJ || - ||Extraverted/Sensing/Thinking/Judging|
|ESFJ || - ||Extraverted/Sensing/Feeling/Judging|
|ESTP || - ||Extraverted/Sensing/Thinking/Perceiving|
|ESFP || - ||Extraverted/Sensing/Feeling/Perceiving|
|INTJ || - ||Introverted/Intuitive/Thinking/Judging|
|INFJ || - ||Introverted/Intuitive/Feeling/Judging|
|INTP || - ||Introverted/Intuitive/Thinking/Perceiving|
|INFP || - ||Introverted/Intuitive/Feeling/Perceiving|
|ISTJ || - ||Introverted/Sensing/Thinking/Judging|
|ISFJ || - ||Introverted/Sensing/Feeling/Judging|
|ISTP || - ||Introverted/Sensing/Thinking/Perceiving|
|ISFP || - ||Introverted/Sensing/Feeling/Perceiving|
Non-duality and Introversion vs. Extraversion
Right here at the beginning is a good place to point out a few things about all aspects of psychological types. The first is the non-dual nature of personality types. Simply put, there are no "good" and no "bad" types. Every type is just as valid, just a good, (just as bad) as every other type. There are neither qualitative nor quantitative differences between and amongst them. No moral judgment should be made about a person because of their MBTI type.
That is not to say that each type does not have its "shadow" side, its reversal in Tarot terms, each does.
In this sense the differences between Introvert and Extravert become confused, mainly due to the simplistic, and thus inaccurate, manner in which these terms are used in everyday language. These terms, when used in describing the psychological types take on a much broader meaning. An Introvert preference does not necessarily mean that the person is a social wallflower. They may be just as much the life of the party as and Extravert, but they are for a much different reason. The Introvert acts on her/his own motivations with less (even no) regard for the popular opinion. "Who cares if the Macarena is passé, I like to dance it!". The Extravert, ever aware of what others think will follow fashion and trends and never, ever offend.
Nor does the Judging preference mean that the person is judgmental, rather it means they prefer that things be settled and closed, that a judgment is made and followed. Whereas its balancing preference, Perceiving means that the person wants to keep options open to "perceive" other opportunities.
This is, of course, a greatly over simplified discussion, but it will suffice as an introduction.
Shorthand Meanings of the Types
The following section is an example of the shorthand descriptions for the types as described in Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence
by David Keirsey5
|ENTJ || - ||The Fieldmarshal|
|ENFJ || - ||The Teacher|
|ENTP || - ||The Inventor|
|ENFP || - ||The Champion|
|ESTJ || - ||The Supervisor|
|ESFJ || - ||The Provider|
|ESTP || - ||The Promoter|
|ESFP || - ||The Performer|
|INTJ || - ||The Mastermind|
|INFJ || - ||The Counselor|
|INTP || - ||The Architect|
|INFP || - ||The Healer|
|ISTJ || - ||The Inspector|
|ISFJ || - ||The Protector|
|ISTP || - ||The Crafter|
|ISFP || - ||The Composer|
These should not be taken as being written in stone and other writers have devised different names for each type, but this makes a good starting point.
MBTI and the Courts
We know from our previous studies of the Tarot in general and the Courts in particular that there are elemental correspondences. This was the first clue to me creating my MBTI – Court correspondences.
In the standard traditions the suits correspond to the four Classical Elements:
|Wands || - ||Fire|
|Cups || - ||Water|
|Swords || - ||Air|
|Pentacles || - ||Earth|
Each Court card rank also corresponds to an element:
|King || - ||Fire|
|Queen || - ||Water|
|Knight || - ||Air|
|Page || - ||Earth|
From this derive such attributions as the "Fire of Fire" for the King of Wands, or the "Water of Air" for the Queen of Swords. Looking at the following chart may help.
||Fire of Fire
||Fire of Water
||Fire of Air
||Fire of Earth
||Water of Fire
||Water of Water
||Water of Air
||Water of Earth
||Air of Fire
||Air of Water
||Air of Air
||Air of Earth
||Earth of Fire
||Earth of Water
||Earth of Air
||Earth of Earth
This leads to looking for the elemental essences in the MBTI types.
Initially this lead to finding a correspondence between a pair of MBTI preferences and a suit of the Tarot, which meant finding what combination would best exemplify cards of the entire suit, regardless of rank
The suit of Wands (Fire) is, by its nature iNtuitive and passionate. Cups (Water) is also intuitive, but there is more receptivity, more feeling there. Swords (Air) exemplify thought, sometime it is cold, but it always relies on its five (or six) senses. Finally Pentacles (Earth) is the sensual suit, full of the sensual and the sensory and loving.
This leads directly to seeing the suits as defined by the iNtuitive/Sensing and the Thinking/Feeling preferences. Thus:
|Wands ||NT||iNtuitive - Thinking|
|Cups ||NF||iNtuitive - Feeling|
|Swords ||ST||Sensing - Thinking|
|Pentacles ||SF||Sensing - Feeling|
Likewise with the Court ranks I needed to associate the Fire of the Kings with another of pair of balancing preferences. Since the "interior" two pairs of preferences were already used by the suits, the duty fell to the "exterior" pair. Thus the following correspondences were derived:
|Kings ||E-J ||Extraverted - Judging|
|Queens ||I-J ||Introverted - Judging|
|Knights ||E-P ||Extraverted - Perceiving|
|Pages ||I-P ||Introverted - Perceiving|
Again this may be more easily seen in a table and with the traditional colors of the elements: red for fire, blue for water, sky blue for air and green for earth.
Here the two subsystems have been combined to provide a distinct MBTI type for each court, consistently following the same pair for each suit and the same pair for each rank.
Using the MBTI
| - ||Court Correspondences
In her book, Understanding the Tarot Court3, Mary Greer is bothered by the fact that my system (quite coincidentally) makes all of the traditionally female cards Introverted (see page 66). Again, this is partially due to the common usage of the term and also due to the tradition of using the Courts as significators.
I do not use significators, but if I were to, I would not pick the Queen of Cups just out of hand for a mature blonde woman. I would rather try to pick a card, male or female, for which the MBTI type most closely matched her character.
When a Court card comes up in a spread it can be read in the traditional manner and/or the personality type of that card can be used to interpret the meaning. Even if the card's position in the spread may not indicate a person, but a situation, institution or organization, they all have a certain character and that can be interpreted through the card's MBTI type.
- Briggs-Myers, Isabel, Peter B. Myers, Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type, Davies-Black Publishing, Palo Alto, CA, 1980, ISBN 0-89106-074-X
- DuQuette, Lon Milo, Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot, Weiser Books, San Francisco, CA, 2003, ISBN 1-57863-276-5
- Greer, Mary K. & Tom Little, Understanding the Tarot Court, Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury, MN, 2004, ISBN 0-7387-0286-2
- Jung, Carl Gustav, Psychological Types, Bollingen Series XX, The Collected Works of C.G. Jung, Eds. Sir Herbert Read, et. al., Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1971, ISBN 0-691-0113-8
- Keirsey, David, Please Understand Me II: Temperament, Character, Intelligence, Prometheus Nemesis Book Company, Del Mar, CA, 1998, ISBN 1-885705-02-6
- Rosengarten, Arthur, PhD., Tarot and Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility, Paragon House, St. Paul, MN, 2000, ISBN 1-55778-784-0
- Warwick-Smith, Kate, The Tarot Court Cards: Archetypal Patterns of Relationship in the Minor Arcana, Destiny Books, Rochester, VT, 2003, ISBN 0-89281-092-0
*This system of correspondences is the basis for Ms. Walters non-fiction work-in-progress, The Tarot Courts: Realms of Personality.