Illustration Credit: Henrique Dias
Introduction to Major Arcana Tarot
The Major Arcana Tarot represents powerful archetypes that mirror aspects of the human experience. These 22 cards symbolize the journey of the Fool, who embarks on a path of self-discovery and enlightenment. Each card offers a unique perspective on life’s challenges and opportunities, providing guidance and insight to those who seek it. It is essential to understand the rich symbolism behind each card to fully appreciate the Major Arcana Tarot’s profound wisdom. Remember that the Major Arcana Tarot is not just a tool for divination but also a means of spiritual growth and self-reflection.
The Major Arcana Tarot also offers an intricate system of correspondences that connect each card to specific astrological, numerical, and elemental energies. Understanding these correspondences can enhance readings by providing deeper insights into a querent’s situation. Additionally, the Major Arcana Tarot is often used in conjunction with the Minor Arcana Tarot, which provides more detailed information about specific aspects of daily life. Together, the Major and Minor Arcana create a comprehensive system for divination and personal growth.
It is worth noting that interpreting the Major Arcana Tarot requires intuition, experience, and a deep understanding of symbolism. Therefore, it is essential to approach the cards with respect and reverence, using them only for their intended purpose.
The Meanings of Each Major Arcana Card in Tarot
Tarot is a powerful tool for self-exploration and gaining insight into the mysteries of the universe. The Major Arcana cards, in particular, represent our deepest fears, aspirations, and desires in life. In this part of the article, we will discuss the meanings of each major arcana card in tarot. From the carefree Fool to the enigmatic World, each card represents a significant aspect of human existence and the various archetypes that shape our lives. We’ll explore the symbolism, interpretations, and historical perspectives of the major arcana tarot cards.
The first card of the Major Arcana Tarot is described as the beginning of a journey and is often referred to as ‘The Fool’s Journey.’ The Fool represents new beginnings, innocence, and potential. He may appear foolish, but this reflects his carefree nature rather than stupidity.
In the upright position, The Fool often signifies taking a leap of faith or embarking on an adventure with no preconceived notions. It may also represent creativity, optimism, and living in the moment. However, in reverse, this card may indicate foolishness and lack of direction.
It is important to note that The Fool is not only a depiction of oneself but can also represent a situation or individual in one’s life. Overall, it encourages us to take risks while remaining optimistic about what comes next.
For those who draw The Fool as their first card during a reading, it may be useful to keep an open mind and embrace opportunities that come your way without hesitation. Trust your intuition and trust the process; sometimes taking risks can lead to unexpected rewards.
The card called ‘The Magician‘ in Major Arcana tarot represents manifestation, creativity, and realization of goals. Its upright meaning suggests that one has the power to turn their dreams into reality by making use of their abilities. The Magician symbolizes confidence and action-taking. Reversed, it suggests that one can face difficulties while trying to manifest their goals due to lack of focus or self-confidence.
In addition to the basic meanings, The Magician also emphasizes the importance of clarity and intention. It reminds one to set clear goals and intentions while working on manifesting their desires. It symbolizes all aspects required for success such as willpower, determination, individuality, and skillfulness.
Particularly in tarot reading, The Magician serves as an excellent representation of a successful outcome once someone employs all their creative energy and intellectual capabilities towards a specific goal.
In legend, ‘The Magician’ card is said to have been adopted from representations of Hermes Trismegistus, who was considered to be the God of Alchemy in ancient times. He represented knowledge born out of experience and wisdom.
Ready to enter the mystical realm? The High Priestess is waiting to reveal secrets you didn’t even know you had.
The High Priestess
Representing an archetype of feminine mystery, the high priestess holds great significance in Tarot’s Major Arcana cards. She is a symbol of secrets and hidden knowledge, often found sitting on a throne at the entrance to sacred places like temples or libraries. In her upright position, she represents intuition and mysticism while in a reversed position signifies uncertainty and lack of clarity.
The high priestess is often linked to dreams, meditation and psychic abilities. She also symbolizes hidden influences and forces within us that we have yet to discover. Her presence in a tarot reading can indicate that one should seek answers from their subconscious mind.
Unique details about the high priestess include her association with the moon, which influences her intuitive powers and inner wisdom. The veil behind her symbolizes that she has access to deeper truth beyond what is seen in this world. Additionally, she represents balance between opposing forces such as light and dark or conscious and unconscious.
Representing nurturing, fertility and abundance, the Major Arcana card commonly referred to as ‘the Empress’ symbolizes feminine power and motherhood. The card consists of a woman sitting on a throne with an emblematic shield beside her.
The Empress is known to be imbued with earthy energy and hence represents growth, creativity, and artistic abilities. With her strong maternal instincts, she personifies a motherly figure who protects and provides for her children. Associated with sensuality, love and sexuality; this card also exudes passion and pleasure.
An interesting fact about the Empress is that she represents the beauty of nature. This card demonstrates divine feminine energy whose power is beyond physical strength. When this card appears in a reading, it suggests of good news regarding pregnancy or healing from sexual trauma.
Representing authority, discipline, and structure, the ruler of the tarot deck is depicted as ‘The Emperor.’ This card represents a figure who upholds and protects order while being seen as a guiding light to the world. The Emperor has a masculine energy that inspires leadership and reflects stability and security.
Embodying masculine power, The Emperor is associated with fatherhood; he guides his children on their journeys, ensuring they have independence and the tools for success. Characteristic of strength, authority, and assertiveness, this card symbolizes an individual who creates foundations in their life.
Unique details about The Emperor reveal that just like an emperor rules over a kingdom, this card represents a ruler’s ability to manage all aspects of life from finances to emotions. On an emotional level, this card can represent a need for control or a fear of letting go. Such perspectives may hinder personal development; hence the lesson learned from this card is to balance controlled behavior with allowing oneself to be vulnerable when necessary.
According to Biddy Tarot’s ‘Introduction to Major Arcana Tarot,’ The meaning behind The Emperor signifies the aspects of one’s life where support may be needed- finance issues or decision making regarding career paths perhaps- allowing oneself space for reflection can help handle responsibilities effectively.
Representing a spiritual guide, the Hierophant tarot card symbolizes traditions and beliefs, emphasizing the importance of faith in our lives. It signifies finding meaning through religious or spiritual practices and connecting with established institutions.
The Hierophant is associated with the zodiac sign Taurus and corresponds to the element of earth. In contrast to the free-spirited Fool, this card represents authority and structure, urging us to follow established rules and customs for personal growth.
Unique details about The Hierophant include its depiction of a pope-like figure holding a scepter that signifies power, while two acolytes represent followers seeking guidance. Additionally, the card encourages seeking wisdom from sacred texts and practicing humility towards higher powers.
In Tarot readings, The Hierophant may indicate conforming to societal norms or advice from an authoritative figure. Alternatively, it may suggest a search for deeper meaning or turning to religion during challenging times.
According to Biddy Tarot, reversed interpretation of The Hierophant can indicate breaking from tradition or feeling constrained by conventional beliefs.
The Major Arcana Tarot features a card with an image of two figures standing with each other, known as The Lovers. It represents significant choices that need to be made, partnerships and relationships based on love and attraction, trust and harmony between you and your partner.
As one of the original cards in the Major Arcana Tarot deck, it still holds a powerful symbolic meaning in today’s time. The angel above the two people is a messenger from divine powers approving of their union. Meanwhile, the burning tree behind the man symbolizes great passion that needs to be controlled.
It is important to note that this card does not only apply to romantic relationships but also extends to friendships and professional partnerships. Freedom to make choices without fear of judgment is essential for lasting relationships; this applies whether if you are single or committed.
If you are seeking guidance from this card, remember to prioritize self-love first before anything else. Be transparent about issues that arise between you and your partner and learn new things together despite hardships.
The card depicting a victorious warrior riding in a chariot is known as The Chariot in Major Arcana Tarot. It is associated with determination, control, and willpower. The charioteer’s green tunic represents the heart chakra, instilling a sense of balance. The black and white sphinxes illustrate opposing forces present within us, and their direction suggests that we have the power to maintain our equilibrium by utilizing these forces.
When The Chariot appears upright in a spread, it indicates triumph obtained through willpower. However, if inverted, it implies losing control of some aspect in life. Despite its military association, this card also reflects attaining success outside of battles.
One unique trait of The Chariot’s philosophy is that the rider doesn’t harness or restrain the sphinxes; instead, he has learned to guide and direct them through his sheer willpower. In life, we too can master our animalistic instincts by using determination to steer us toward self-improvement.
The Major Arcana Tarot card ‘Strength’ represents inner fortitude, courage, and resilience. It depicts a woman gently taming a lion, symbolizing the need for an individual to master their emotions. This card often signifies mastering challenges while remaining composed and level-headed.
In addition to resilience, the Strength card reveals crucial information about one’s personality traits and how they deal with authority figures. This card is also linked to self-confidence and steady determination in fighting against unsavory or questionable situations.
One unique aspect of the Strength card is that it brings attention to our intuitive consciousness concerning how we approach various obstacles in life. The presence of this tarot card highlights our connection between mind and body and how it affects our approach to adversities.
In Tarot, ‘The Hermit’ represents solitude, introspection, and seeking inner enlightenment. This card shows a figure standing alone with a lantern in hand, indicating direction and guidance. The Hermit is often depicted as an old man with gray hair and beard wearing a cloak.
The figure on ‘The Hermit’ card is isolated, representing the need for introspection, contemplation, or withdrawal from society to gain inner wisdom. The light of the lantern symbolizes the inner light that guides the person in darkness. It can also represent spiritual awareness and self-discovery while going through trials.
Additionally, this card may denote solitary studies or retreat from mundane life to gain knowledge and understanding of the world around us. As such, The Hermit acts as a reminder to take time to meditate or contemplate and find your inner truth.
To fully understand ‘The Hermit,’ it’s essential to grasp its placement in the Major Arcana Tarot sequence. This card comes after Strength and before Wheel of Fortune in the 22-card deck sequence.
In ancient myths, many wise men have spent time in silence to understand their purpose or discovered new ideas. For instance, Gautama Buddha went into seclusion for six years before attaining enlightenment under Bodhi Tree.
The Wheel of Fortune
The Wheel of Destiny in Tarot represents the natural cycle of life with its ups and downs, changes, and transformations. Below are some points to understand The Wheel of Fortune further:
- The card shows a large spinning wheel with different symbols on it, symbolizing the ongoing motion of life.
- Each symbol on the wheel represents a stage of life – birth, growth, peak, decline, death.
- The card is associated with good luck and sometimes bad luck as the wheel may turn unexpectedly.
- This is a reminder that nothing lasts forever and change is inevitable.
- It encourages living in the moment while accepting that everything will eventually change.
Unique details about The Wheel of Fortune are that it’s associated with the planet Jupiter and the zodiac sign Aquarius. It also has connections to various religions such as Hinduism (the concept of karma), Buddhism (the cyclic nature of existence), and Christianity (the concept of resurrection).
Legend has it that The Wheel of Fortune was inspired by an actual game from ancient Rome called “Rota Fortunae” or “Wheel of Fate.” It was a popular gambling game that used a spinning wheel marked with different wedges to determine winners and losers. However, its true origins are still unclear.
The Major Arcana Tarot card ‘Justice’ embodies the theme of fairness, impartiality, and objectivity while referring to a balanced state. It represents the karmic law of cause and effect, which highlights that what goes around comes around. Justice is portrayed with a sword in one hand representing intellect and scales in the other showing balance.
The upright meaning of Justice indicates fairness, responsibility, accountability, clarity, and truth. It advises making logical decisions based on reasoning and evidence while maintaining neutrality. In contrast, reversed Justice signifies dishonesty, imbalance, injustice, misfortune, legal problems or disputes that need resolution.
It’s important to note that Justice carries a different interpretation depending on its placement in relation to other cards. When paired with ‘The Lovers,’ it may represent a relationship or partnership needing careful consideration before making any choices.
Justice has been depicted in mythology as an essential aspect of society for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians had Ma’at – Goddess of Justice whose symbol was a single ostrich feather on her crown which weighed souls against this feather during the underworld trial. Greeks had Dike who represented justice enforced by law while Romans believed that Lady Justice (Justitia)blindly holding scales would judge everyone equally without favoring anyone.
In summary, “Justice” is an individualistic interpretation card designed to help us make equitable and logical decisions based on our reasoning abilities. The card reminds us that everything happens for a reason and each action has its consequences either good or bad depending solely on doing justice wanting or not.
The Hanged Man
The Tarot card known as ‘The Hanged Man‘ depicts a man hanging upside down by one foot from a tree. This card represents surrender, letting go, and sacrifice. The man in the card is hanging voluntarily, symbolizing his willingness to let go of control and trust in the universe’s plan. This card encourages the seeker to let go of old patterns and perspectives to gain a new outlook on life.
In addition to surrender and sacrifice, this card also represents suspension and waiting. It suggests that things may be on hold but advises patience. The Hanged Man indicates a time of self-reflection and inner work before moving forward with renewed clarity.
Unique to this Major Arcana card is the concept of being hung up by one foot rather than being hanged traditionally by the neck. This symbolism indicates an opportunity for a change in perspective or upside-down thinking. The Hanged Man reminds us that sometimes turning things on their head can lead to breakthroughs.
If you draw The Hanged Man in your tarot reading, embrace the opportunity for letting go and trust in the process despite feeling uncertain. Take advantage of this moment to examine your perspectives carefully before making important decisions based on deeper reflection.
The Major Arcana Tarot card known for its symbolism of transformation and rebirth is represented as the final outcome. This card does not hold a literal meaning of death but rather the metaphorical death that one experiences within themselves, allowing for growth and change. The Death card signifies an end to a current phase or situation and encourages embracing change.
In Tarot, Death represents letting go of old patterns or habits that no longer serve oneself and signifies a time for renewal. Embracing this change can bring about new opportunities or new beginnings in one’s life while releasing the grip on old situations that have become stagnant.
Additionally, the Death card can embody the energy of transformation, often interpreted as shedding one’s old self in order to make way for growth. This may suggest a more natural transition from endings towards new beginnings and dealing with fears surrounding the unavoidable cycle of life and death.
In history, the phrase “death” was associated with religious significance. In Christianity, it refers to the ascent into heaven after physical death. However, in ancient Egyptian culture, it signified new life through resurrection in their beliefs. Today we still share similar associations with “death” but understand it more as a process of changing phases than literal termination.
Temperance is a Major Arcana tarot card which signifies maintaining possibilities and keeping balance in ethical conflicts. By depicting an angel gently contributing water from one chalice to another and the image of the sun setting, it assures us that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Even if it is needed sacrifice on our behalf, finding a peaceful solution is the way moving forward.
Temperance reminds us about doing all things in moderation and taking into account any consequences that may follow. This card offers wise insight into our daily lives by assuring us that making grounded decisions helps to avoid becoming overwhelmed or feeling regretful afterwards.
Temperance calls us to see beyond immediate gratification or instant outcomes. Find assurance from this card when upcoming ethical choices require forgoing present opportunities for future triumphs. Aspire for peace and acknowledge that enduring moral balance accelerates life’s journey toward purpose.
Unique to Temperance is its symbolic representation via control over our sensory experiences and circumstances, specifically wine and water. Water represents purification and knowledge while wine denotes chaos, addiction, and frenzy. With this information, communication within relationships can improve as Temperance suggests appropriate words spoken without malice can bring joy instead of hurt feelings.
For instance, Michelle finally found her soulmate but struggled with anxiety since their relationship progressed quite fast. In search of guidance, she drew the Tarot card Temperance which made her focus on balancing her priorities accordingly so she could communicate her concerns with grace over recklessness.
Honing dynamic energy towards ethical decisions such as overindulging less or avoiding extreme environments where substance abuse happens truly represents embodying what Temperance really means.
This card depicts a winged devil figure standing tall over two human figures who are chained to it, representing the negative aspects of life. In tarot reading, the presence of ‘the devil’ card indicates a fixation on materialism and harmful behavior.
The upright meanings of ‘the devil’ in tarot represent obsession, addiction, and materialism leading one down an unethical path. It also symbolizes negativity, fear, and self-doubt that can be crippling if not dealt with correctly. Reversed meanings suggest liberation from negativity and harmful behaviors leading towards personal growth.
Unique details about this card include its association with Saturn planet which represents discipline and structure. This card presents itself as an opportunity to examine the deeper negative aspects in life, overcome them to achieve balance and success.
In a true story related to this card, a woman constantly found herself in toxic relationships even after realizing their negative effects on her life. During her Tarot reading session where she drew the ‘devil’ card, she was guided to reflect on her self-worth that led her to make better choices in future relationships. Through self-awareness and discipline, she managed to break free from harmful behaviors forever.
The Tower depicts a tall tower on fire, with lightning striking it from above. People are falling from the tower, indicating chaos and destruction.
This card represents a major shift or breakdown in one’s life or situation, often accompanied by feelings of fear and uncertainty.
However, it can also be seen as an opportunity for transformation and growth, as the old falls away and new beginnings emerge.
One unique aspect of The Tower is that it often comes up in readings when significant changes need to occur for progress to be made. Embracing the upheaval can lead to unexpected positive outcomes.
The Star represents hope, inspiration, and finding one’s purpose. A depiction of a woman standing with one foot on land and the other in water, she pours water from two jugs into a pool below, symbolizing balance and harmony.
The Star is associated with rejuvenation and renewal after troubled times. It suggests that with perseverance and optimism, you can overcome any obstacles. It is also linked to spirituality and seeking inner peace.
Unique details about The Star include its reference to astrology as the woman bears seven stars on her head representing the seven chakras – centers of spiritual power within the human body. It also relates to the Water Bearer zodiac sign Aquarius.
Do not miss out on embracing hope and inspiration for your journey ahead towards finding your true purpose. Let The Star guide you towards fulfilling your destiny with balance, harmony, and perseverance.
This tarot card is known for its intuitive and emotional nature. The moon represents the unconscious, hidden aspects of oneself, and the influence of the lunar cycles on our emotions. In the Major Arcana Tarot, it is depicted as a full moon with a dog and wolf howling at it, reflecting the duality of ourselves.
The Moon card in upright position signifies intuition, creativity, inner struggles, and illusions. It can also indicate confusion or not being able to see things clearly due to overwhelming emotions. Reversed, this card indicates fear and anxiety caused by unresolved issues that need to be addressed.
An interesting detail about this card is that it represents both femininity and masculinity. The water symbolizes femininity while the towers represent masculinity. This binary opposition signifies balance and harmony between opposing forces.
According to Biddy Tarot, “When we are having difficulty seeing through the darkness or are so taken up by our imaginations that we cannot find a way out of the enchanted forest, it may be time to seek guidance from someone who knows better“.
Representing vitality, positivity and success, The Sun is one of the most positive cards in Tarot’s Major Arcana. In it, a bright sun shines in the background, half-hidden behind two happy children riding horses on a field of sunflowers.
The Sun signifies happiness, joy, warmth and success, indicating that good things are happening in a person’s life right now. It represents optimism and abundance as well as success for all endeavors. Furthermore, the card reminds us that even in tough times being resilient and keeping a positive attitude can help increase our chances of overcoming challenges successfully.
When it comes to exploring the Major Arcana Tarot deck, the card referred to as “Judgement” plays a significant role. This card often symbolizes the concept of rebirth and awakening, representing a spiritual shift or transition. In a reading, it can serve as an indication that one needs to reflect on past actions, make amends, and move forward with newfound clarity.
The Judgement card typically depicts an angel blowing a trumpet amidst rising figures from their graves. The sound of the trumpet may indicate a summoning or call to action for those who hear it. This may represent a chance for individuals to make changes in their lives and leave behind old habits or behaviors that no longer serve them.
A unique feature of Judgement is the idea that it represents not only personal change but also collective transformation. When this card appears in a reading, it may suggest that community or societal progress is forthcoming if people are willing to awaken and embrace new horizons.
Representing a complete cycle, the card often referred to as “The World” signifies completion and wholeness in Tarot’s Major Arcana. It is the final card in the deck and implies that one is reaching an end of their journey, or even attaining enlightenment.
The angel at its centre holds a wand in one hand and an orb on the other. The four figures at each corner of the card represent the four elements: air, fire, water, and earth; an indication that everything is present. As high-spirited dancers surround it, its cosmic symbolism also suggests peace and balance.
The world symbolizes a sense of completion where they feel accomplished or gain closure from what was set out to achieve. Furthermore, as it marks the end of an era or journey, it could mean starting afresh with new opportunities ahead.
In mythology, goddess Athena once held aloft by Zeus carried sphinxes ascending to represent her power over intuitive skills and wisdom. She is sometimes depicted holding a bow & arrow or globe to reference her warrior aspect.
FAQs about Major Arcana Tarot
What is the Major Arcana in tarot?
The Major Arcana is a set of 22 cards out of the 78-card tarot deck. They represent important themes, influences, and messages about your life path, and their messages can help guide you forward.
How can the Major Arcana help me in my life journey?
Drawing a Major Arcana card in a reading is a sign that you should reflect on the changes going on in your life. The cards offer a unique perspective into who you are and how your life experiences shape your future.
How are the Major Arcana cards interpreted in tarot readings?
The Major Arcana cards offer meaningful explanations to help you understand the beauty of life and how deeply karma and energy can impact you. Their messages can indicate where you’re heading or what got you to where you are right now. The placement of the cards, as well as their upright and reversed positions, can change their meaning.