Welcome to the first part of our guide to the meanings of cards in the Major Arcana. The Major Arcana or trumps being a suit of twenty-two cards in the tarot deck. There is an art to Tarot, but much can be gained by doing a simple one card draw to give clarity to a situation and help unlock knowledge you already possess. Although different decks may give different monikers to their Major Arcana cards, the most common names are listed below, with a brief overview of their potential meanings. There are no right or wrong answers in Tarot; Tarot is a tool to be used for self-enlightenment.
Unencumbered by many possessions, The Fool is free to choose his own path. The card may symbolize a new beginning or a feeling of starting over, but with little worry as to the eventual outcome. The Fool card represents someone who has a happy-go-lucky attitude, and likely does not know where he or she is headed, but feels little anxiety over a lack of certainty. The Fool is child-like, and sometimes childish; the latter being a cause for concern represented in some decks by a cliff face where the character depicted is likely to step off of the edge. The card represents optimism, positivity and spontaneity, but can also indicate a major life change. It is also associated with timelessness, an inexpressible spirituality, and a connection with esoteric beauty.
This card is typically said to symbolize the masculine power of a single person. As a magician influences through powers outside of normal reality, drawing this card generally represents an unusually, normally unforeseen powerful presence is active, whether that be the person posing the question, or someone in that person’s life. It represents the achievement of goals, and a sort of stubbornness to succeed using knowledge, analysis and sheer will. In some instances, The Magician may also represent deceptiveness and abuse of power.
The High Priestess
Wisdom, strength, purity, patience and both the hidden and revealed aspects of religion are symbolized by this card. The High Priestess is guardian of the mysteries of life, and represents secrets, intuition and the subconscious mind. She is unconventional, highly intelligent and able to provide new solutions to old problems. If you draw this card in relation to a certain situation, it can be interpreted as a suggestion to look beyond the obvious and find alternate routes to achieve your same goals or to achieve resolution of a problem.
Drawing this card normally represents a new idea having taken form in reality. This could mean a new business opportunity is unfolding, a baby is due to be born or a piece of art is soon to be finished. The Empress is often associated with motherhood, not only in the literal sense, but also with respect to any new creation that must be tended to in order to be allowed to flourish. She represents generosity, abundance, nourishment, courage and warmth. She is also often associated with practical arts such as knitting or cooking, and with a desire for and manifestation of beauty in the home.
The Emperor is a fair ruler, confident in his decisions and wise in his ways. He defends the weak and honorable, and acts as the father to those that seek his guidance. He is powerful, determined and ambitious. When you draw this card, you should stand up for what you believe in, or take charge of the situation at hand; alternatively, you should look for a powerful male figure to emulate or from whom to seek guidance. This card is associated with business, material wealth and earthly success.
Like the High Priestess, the Hierophant represents religion and spirituality. Unlike the High Priestess, however, the Hierophant is capable of translating religious teaches and spiritual experience into logical advice. He is a sort of universal teacher. He sees the world in a very matter-of-fact way, and expects others to do the same. He represents rationality, self-discipline, practicality, structure, calm and sometimes stubbornness. When drawn with respect to a question about what direction to take in life, The Hierophant card often suggests a return to academic study, to religious living or to a stable career.
This card is a stark contrast to the Hierophant, as it represents irrationality, passion and a desire for true understanding of another. Although often symbolic of romantic relationships, the card can also represent successful communications between two or more people, sudden inexplicable positive change, imagination and excitement. When drawn in relation to a problem, the suggestion is to open up the lines of communication and approach the situation with innocence and an open heart.
The Chariot card suggests a battle where victory will be won only through hardship, perseverance and unwavering dedication to the end goal. Discipline, focus and mastery of the self are required when this card is chosen. It represents forward movement and the ability to overcome obstacles through tact and balance.
The depiction on the Strength card is often a lion, and for good reason. This card represents someone who is both strong emotionally and physically, yet also passionate and at certain moments, dangerous. This card can sometimes indicate that the questioner has buried emotions for someone or something; emotions that they usually hide and repress, but that grow stronger with time.
Drawing this card indicates a need for inner calm and time to meditate and reflect. This card may also represent a solitary journey, such as overseas travel to complete a course. The Hermit chooses to be alone with his own thoughts, and through his own thoughts gains wisdom and patience. The world is his for the taking, but he seeks power only through true understanding not material goods or politics. The Hermit card suggests that the answers to the problem can be found through quiet contemplation or study.
Wheel of Fortune
The Wheel represents a new chapter in life. In a Tarot spread, this card suggests that new opportunities will present themselves and significant life changes are in store. If related to a problem, this card can suggest the outcome of much toil, perhaps now abandoned or even forgotten, that is now bearing fruit. Other associations include travel, changing careers, graduation, new relationships and other self-initiated life changes. Luck is often on your side if you draw this card.
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