26th Jan 2012
Welcome to the second part of our guide to the meanings of cards in the Major Arcana.
As explained in the first part of this guide Major Arcana is a suit of twenty-two cards in the tarot deck. To preform a reading using Tarot, shuffle the cards while concentrating on the problem or issue you wish to investigate, then when you have the inclination to do so, cut the deck and turn over the top card. You may do this for yourself, or for a “querent” – someone else who is asking a question.
Use the descriptions below as a guide only, and use your intuition to cipher the parts most relevant to your initial question.
Justice is often personified on various Tarot decks by a dignified royal man on a throne. The card implies a balance between the different forces at play in life. Drawing this card is advice to the questioner to avoid extremes. It may also suggest that you need to take an objective look at your problem or issue, or that it is time to call in an unbiased party to assist you in gaining clarity on the situation at hand. You may be facing an ethical dilemma or be involved in legal proceedings.
Sometimes we must suspend our beliefs and simply be in order to discover the truth about a situation. The Hanged Man teaches us that sometimes simply letting go allows us to be open to new solutions. This card can also represent sacrifice and selfless acts, and implies that these actions are a means to achieving peace and greater spiritual knowledge. When you draw this card, you may be in a period of what seems like stasis, but is actually more like metamorphosis. You are likely to be renewed by the experience and gain a new perspective.
There is no need to fear the Death card. This card represents a permanent change or an opportunity for transformation. It symbolizes the end of a chapter in our lives, so that we might start a new chapter. Abandoning old or outdated ideas, beliefs, clothes, attitudes and habits is a healthy part of life. Sometimes this card can even mean the end of something rather terrible such as an issue in a relationship without indicating the end of the relationship itself! If this card appears in a spread, you should look to “let go” and look for new possibilities for growth and new ways of being. The skeleton depicted on the Death card in most decks is symbolic of being stripped down to what really matters. The skeleton has no flesh, but still has bones at his very core. This card is an invitation to examine what is at your spiritual and emotional core.
When the seeker draws this card, it indicates a desire or need for balance. It can also symbolize a “third path” between two seemingly dichotomous realities. Sometimes we are blind to unconventional options because we are used to seeing things in black and white. This card can also carry the meaning of repressed feelings where feelings are not expressed in a certain time in order to deal with a situation at hand. This is common for parents with a sick child for example, who need to appear strong for their child. If this is the case for the seeker, they should be advised to allow themselves the opportunity to express these feelings when possible in order to avoid causing themselves emotional harm. The woman typically depicted in this card is shown in a balancing act. Drawing this card often warns that although balance is currently being achieved, it cannot be maintained for the long term.
The Devil represents our earthly desires for material possessions, luxury, sex and excess of all kinds. Contrary to popular belief, this card does not necessarily warn of addictions, although in some spreads it may be an indicator of overindulgence. Instead, this card can sometimes mean the complete opposite – it emphasizes the importance of self-interest, pleasure and solitary ambition. These animalistic drives can surely lead us down the wrong life path, but they can also allow us to experience life in vivid colours and push us to achieve our dreams or meet a new lover. The Devil is also a reminder that we need to have fun. Life should not be all about toil and trouble, and we don’t need to punish ourselves for an active social life or for indulging in frivolity. Life is for the living!
Drawing this card indicates that the questioner is about to experience the dismantling of their current beliefs about a person, place or thing. The card usually depicts a tower beings struck by lighting with a man and a woman falling from the height of the tower. The tower itself is a metaphor for an institution, established belief or faith in something or someone. When this card is drawn it indicates that these established beliefs are actually not built on stable foundations and a revelation is about to take place that will unmask the truth behind them. The questioner could find that they have a spiritual awakening that causes them to pursue a new form of spirituality. It could mean that someone they trust is lying to them, or that a spouse is being unfaithful. Regardless of the specifics, it is important to remember that although the tower will fall, it makes way for new buildings to be built.
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