On all preserved tarot cards from the 15th century we see a man with a long gray beard and hourglass. In 16th century writings this card is called “The Old Man” or “The Hunchback.” Because of the hourglass, the card is nowadays often explained as “Father Time.” This association was intended by the artist as a cover for the actual meaning: a kundalini awakening.
Because of its shape and vertically flowing sand, an hourglass lends itself perfectly as a metaphor for the kundalini energy that flows from the pelvis to the head. Alchemical emblems from the same era confirm this interpretation.
The fact that the Visconti-Sforza card was called “The Hunchback” at that time, and not “Father Time”, rouses suspicion that something special is indicated with his hunched back. The cards that follow in the next centuries provide more clarity about this: variants appear with an hourglass on the upper back of the man, and with a pillar (a universal kundalini symbol) behind him (see below). We may infer from this that the hunched back on this card is a reference to an ‘awakened’ spine.
Another element that could be explained as kundalini symbolism is the curious double-brimmed hat (the two energy pathways that merge in the head during the awakening process). Added to this, it seems as if the old man – subtly – makes the sign of the sacred marriage (2 = 1) with his left hand. The fact that these elements may be seen as symbolism is mainly motivated by the way in which the card has developed in the following centuries.