Tarot – The Major Arcana

Tarot Major Arcana

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The Major Arcana cards are numbered from 0 to 21, starting with The Fool and ending with The World. These cards tell a story known as The Fool’s Journey, which is the story of our spiritual evolution from innocence to enlightenment. As we follow The Fool through his adventures, we encounter different characters and situations that teach us valuable lessons about ourselves and the world.

The Major Arcana cards can be seen as milestones or turning points in our life path. They indicate significant events, changes, challenges, or opportunities that have a lasting impact on us. They can also reveal our core values, beliefs, motivations, aspirations, and potential.

In this article, we will explore the meaning and symbolism of each tarot Major Arcana card. We will also learn how to read them effectively and confidently. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, this article will help you deepen your knowledge and understanding of the tarot Major Arcana meaning.

The Fool’s Journey

The Fool’s Journey is a concept that was introduced by Eden Gray in her book A Complete Guide to Tarot (1970). It is a narrative framework that describes the spiritual evolution of a person as depicted by the 22 Major Arcana cards. It is based on the idea that each Major Arcana card represents a stage or a lesson in our life path.

  1. The Fool’s Journey begins with The Fool (0), who is young, naive, and adventurous. He has not yet experienced the joys and sorrows of life, and he is eager to explore the world and discover himself. He represents our potential, our curiosity, and our freedom.
  2. The Fool then meets The Magician (1), who teaches him how to use his willpower, desire, and creativity to manifest his dreams. He represents our skill, our confidence, and our manifestation.
  3. Next, he encounters The High Priestess (2), who shows him how to access his intuition, his subconscious, and his inner wisdom. She represents our mystery, our secrets, and our guidance.
  4. Then, he meets The Empress (3), who nurtures him with her abundance, her beauty, and her love. She represents our motherhood, our fertility, and our nature.
  5. After that, he faces The Emperor (4), who challenges him with his authority, his structure, and his order. He represents our fatherhood, our stability, and our leadership.
  6. Then, he learns from The Hierophant (5), who instructs him on the tradition, the conformity, and the morality of society. He represents our religion, our education, and our ethics.
  7. Next, he falls in love with The Lovers (6), who offer him a choice between passion and reason, between duality and union. They represent our love, our partnership, and our harmony.
  8. Then, he rides The Chariot (7), who drives him forward with direction, control, and willpower. He represents our movement, our determination, and our victory.
  9. After that, he tames Strength (8), who inspires him with courage, compassion, and patience. She represents our inner strength, our self-control, and our confidence.
  10. Then, he follows The Hermit (9), who leads him to solitude, introspection, and guidance. He represents our wisdom, our seeking truth, and our contemplation.
  11. Next, he spins The Wheel of Fortune (10), who changes his fate with cycles, luck, and destiny. She represents our change, our karma, and our inevitability.
  12. Then, he balances Justice (11), who weighs his actions with fairness, truth, and law. She represents our cause and effect, our clarity, and our accountability.
  13. After that, he hangs The Hanged Man (12), who sacrifices his perspective for enlightenment, surrender, and letting go. He represents our martyrdom, our release, and our perspective.
  14. Then, he transforms Death (13), who ends his cycle with transformation, rebirth, and change. He represents our endings, our beginnings, and our metamorphosis.
  15. Next, he mixes Temperance (14), who harmonizes his opposites with moderation, balance, and alchemy. She represents our healing, our integration, and our synthesis.
  16. Then, he faces The Devil (15), who tempts him with bondage, materialism, and addiction. He represents our shadow self, our temptation, and our illusion.
  17. After that, he escapes The Tower (16), who shocks him with sudden change, upheaval, and crisis. He represents our revelation, our liberation, and our chaos.
  18. Then, he heals The Star (17), who soothes him with hope, faith, and inspiration. She represents our optimism, our renewal, and our healing.
  19. Next, he dreams The Moon (18), who confuses him with illusion, fear, and anxiety. She represents our subconscious, our intuition, and our dreams.
  20. Then, he shines The Sun (19), who enlightens him with joy, happiness, and success. He represents our vitality, our clarity, and our enlightenment.
  21. After that, he awakens Judgement (20), who calls him to awakening, rebirth, and forgiveness. He represents our karma, our resurrection, and our acceptance.
  22. Finally, he completes The World (21), who fulfills him with completion, wholeness, and achievement. She represents our fulfillment, our wholeness, and our integration.

The Fool’s Journey is a metaphor for our own journey through life. We all start as The Fool, innocent and curious, and we all end as The World, complete and whole. Along the way, we encounter different challenges and opportunities that shape us and help us grow. By understanding the meaning and symbolism of each Major Arcana card, we can learn more about ourselves and our purpose in life.

The Major Arcana Cards

When interpreting the Major Arcana cards in a reading, it is important to consider their symbolic meaning as well as their literal meaning. For example, Death does not necessarily mean physical death; it can also mean an ending, a transition, a transformation, or a rebirth. Likewise, The Sun does not only mean sunshine; it can also mean happiness, joy, success, or enlightenment.

Tarot Major Arcana Meaning

Here is a brief overview of each Tarot Major Arcana card and its meaning:

  1. The Fool: innocence, new beginnings, free spirit, adventure, potential
  2. The Magician: willpower, desire, creation, manifestation, skill, confidence
  3. The High Priestess: intuition, mystery, inner wisdom, subconscious, secrets
  4. The Empress: motherhood, fertility, abundance, nature, beauty, nurturing
  5. The Emperor: authority, structure, order, stability, fatherhood, leadership
  6. The Hierophant: tradition, conformity, morality, ethics, religion, education
  7. The Lovers: love, partnership, choice, duality, harmony, balance
  8. The Chariot: direction, control, willpower, determination, victory, movement
  9. Strength: courage, compassion, patience, inner strength, self-control, confidence
  10. The Hermit: solitude, introspection, guidance, wisdom, seeking truth
  11. The Wheel of Fortune: change, cycles, fate, destiny, luck, karma
  12. Justice: balance, fairness, truth, law, cause and effect, accountability
  13. The Hanged Man: sacrifice, surrender, perspective, enlightenment, letting go
  14. Death: transformation, endings, beginnings, change, rebirth
  15. Temperance: moderation, balance, harmony, alchemy, healing, integration
  16. The Devil: temptation, bondage, materialism, addiction, shadow self
  17. The Tower: sudden change, upheaval, chaos, crisis, revelation, liberation
  18. The Star: hope, faith, healing, inspiration, optimism, renewal
  19. The Moon: illusion, fear, anxiety, subconscious, intuition, dreams
  20. The Sun: joy, happiness, success, vitality, clarity, enlightenment
  21. Judgement: awakening, judgement, rebirth, karma, forgiveness
  22. The World: completion, wholeness, achievement, fulfillment

Learning the tarot Major Arcana meaning is an essential step in becoming a proficient tarot reader. The Major Arcana cards are the most powerful and influential cards in the tarot deck. They reveal messages about our core values, beliefs, motivations, aspirations, and potential. They also reflect our inner journey of self-discovery and transformation.

Table 1: Summary of the main attributes and associations of each Tarot Major Arcana card

CardNumberElementZodiac SignPlanetSeasonDirectionQuality
The Fool0AirAquariusUranusSpringEastPotential
The Magician1All ElementsGemini, VirgoMercuryAll SeasonsAll DirectionsManifestation
The High Priestess2WaterCancer, Pisces, ScorpioMoonWinterWestIntuition
The Empress3Earth, Water, Air, Fire, Spirit (Quintessence)Taurus, Libra, Virgo, Capricorn, Leo, Sagittarius, Aries, Scorpio (All Zodiac Signs) (Quintessence) Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Sun, Mercury, Moon, Pluto (All Planets)Autumn, Spring, Summer, Winter (All Seasons)North, South, East, West (All Directions)Abundance
The Emperor4FireAries, Capricorn, Leo, SagittariusMars, SunSummerSouthAuthority
The Hierophant5EarthTaurusVenusAutumnNorthTradition
The Lovers6AirGeminiMercurySpringEastChoice
The Chariot7WaterCancerMoonWinterWestControl
Strength8 or 11*FireLeoSunSummerSouthCourage
The Hermit9 or 12*EarthVirgoMercuryAutumnNorthWisdom
Wheel of Fortune10 or 13* All ElementsSagittarius, Pisces, Aquarius, Scorpio (Fixed Signs)JupiterAll SeasonsAll DirectionsFate
Justice11 or 8*AirLibraVenusSpringEastBalance
The Hanged Man12 or 9*WaterPiscesNeptuneWinterWestSacrifice
Death13 or 10*WaterScorpioPlutoAutumnNorthTransformation
Temperance14 or 15*FireSagittariusJupiterSummerSouthHarmony
The Devil15 or 14*EarthCapricornSaturnWinterNorthTemptation
The Tower16 or 17*FireAries, Scorpio, Aquarius (Cardinal Signs)Mars, UranusSpring, Autumn, Winter (Transition Seasons)East, West, North (Change Directions)Crisis
The Star17 or 16*AirAquariusUranusWinterEastHope
The Moon18 or 19*WaterPisces, Cancer, Scorpio (Water Signs)Moon, Neptune, Pluto (Water Planets)Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter (All Seasons) (Moon Phases)West, North, East, South (All Directions) (Moon Positions)Illusion
The Sun19 or 18*FireLeo, Aries, Sagittarius (Fire Signs)Sun, Mars, Jupiter (Fire Planets)Summer (Sun Season)South (Sun Direction)Joy
Judgement20 or 21*Fire, Air, Water, Earth (All Elements) (Quintessence) Scorpio, Aquarius, Taurus, Leo (Fixed Signs)Pluto, Uranus, Venus, Sun (Fixed Planets)Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer (All Seasons)North, West, East, South (All Directions)Awakening
The World21 or 20* Fire, Air, Water, Earth (All Elements) Capricorn, Pisces, Aries, Libra (Cardinal Signs)Saturn, Neptune, Mars, Venus (Cardinal Planets)Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer (All Seasons)North, West, East, South (All Directions)Completion
*Note: The numbering of Strength and Justice varies depending on the tarot deck. Some decks follow the original order of the Tarot de Marseilles and place Justice as card 8 and Strength as card 11. Others follow the order of the Rider-Waite-Smith and place Strength as card 8 and Justice as card 11. Similarly, some decks swap the positions of other cards such as The Hanged Man and Death or The Star and The Sun. The meaning of the cards does not change significantly based on their number; however, some numerological associations may differ.

Exploring Similarities and Contrasts among Major Arcana Tarot Cards

The Major Arcana cards hold immense significance within a Tarot deck, being highly recognizable and impactful. Comprising of 22 cards, they symbolize universal human experiences and provide profound insights into the larger narrative of one’s life and its long-term trajectory. Together, these cards weave a cohesive story centered around The Fool, the deck’s main character, as he encounters various archetypes and situations along his journey. In this section, we delve into a comparative analysis of select Major Arcana cards that share resemblances or divergent meanings, including The Magician and The High Priestess, The Lovers and The Devil, as well as Death and The Tower.

The Magician and The High Priestess

Embarking on the Major Arcana, The Magician and The High Priestess represent the dual aspects of creation, encompassing both the masculine and feminine energies. The Magician epitomizes the card of manifestation, empowering you to transform your ideas into reality by leveraging your skills and willpower. Conversely, The High Priestess embodies the card of intuition, guiding you to access the deep well of wisdom and knowledge residing within. While both cards encourage the utilization of your unique gifts and talents to achieve personal goals, their approaches diverge. The Magician adopts a proactive, outward, and rational stance, while The High Priestess embodies a contemplative, inward, and mystical perspective. When these two cards emerge together during a reading, they signal the importance of maintaining a balance between action and introspection, logic and intuition, as well as the conscious and subconscious aspects of your being.

The Lovers and The Devil

Addressing matters of relationships, choices, and temptations, The Lovers and The Devil are two cards that bear significant relevance. The Lovers epitomize harmony, love, and the exercise of free will, indicating a profound connection with someone or something that brings joy and fulfillment. Conversely, The Devil represents bondage, addiction, and illusory entrapments, suggesting the presence of a harmful pattern or situation that confines either you or others. Although both cards illuminate the existence of a choice, their consequences diverge. The Lovers affirm your ability to select what serves your highest good, while The Devil warns of lower impulses and fears that exert influence. When these two cards manifest together in a reading, caution is advised concerning the pursuit of desires, as they may come at a significant cost.

Death and The Tower

Marking periods of change, transformation, and closure, Death and The Tower hold pivotal roles within the Major Arcana. Death signifies transition, renewal, and rebirth, heralding the end of a particular phase in your life to make way for something new. In contrast, The Tower embodies disruption, upheaval, and revelation, signifying the unsettling or dismantling of elements in your life to expose hidden truths. Although both cards signify a profound shift in your existence, they differ in terms of intensity. Death unfolds gradually, naturally, and as an inevitable part of life, whereas The Tower strikes suddenly, unexpectedly, and with a jarring impact. When these two cards emerge together during a reading, they symbolize a momentous transformation that will profoundly alter your perspective and shape your destiny.

Tarot – The major Arcana


About Ethan Rivers

Ethan Rivers of tarotpulse.com
I'm Ethan Rivers, and I'm delighted to be your guide on this incredible journey into the realm of tarot cards. Welcome to my tarot card blog!Tarot has been my faithful companion throughout my personal transformation. It has unlocked doors to self-discovery, empowerment, and spiritual growth that I never knew existed. Now, I'm passionate about sharing the magic of tarot with you through this blog.Join me as we dive deep into the captivating symbolism of each tarot card. Together, we'll decode their hidden meanings, unravel the intricate tapestry of the tarot spreads, and tap into the profound wisdom they hold.

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The information provided on this website regarding Tarot cards and their interpretations is for entertainment and personal growth purposes only. Tarot cards do not possess the ability to predict the future with certainty, as the future is influenced by numerous factors and individual choices. It is important to understand that the Tarot is a tool for self-reflection, insight, and guidance, but it should not be regarded as an authoritative source or a substitute for professional advice. The ultimate power lies within each individual to shape their own future. The cards simply serve as a guide, offering perspectives and potential outcomes. It is essential to exercise personal responsibility, critical thinking, and free will in making decisions that align with one’s own values and desires. We strongly encourage you to use the information provided here as a source of inspiration and reflection, but always trust your own judgment and seek advice from qualified professionals when needed. Remember, you are the author of your own life, and the Tarot is a tool to support your journey.

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