The Major Arcana and What Each Card Means

The Major Arcana and What Each Card Means

Tarot cards have been used for centuries as a tangible way to receive messages from the spirit world.  By consulting the Tarot, you can get a holistic picture of yourself and your key question(s).  A Tarot deck is comprised of 78 cards with 22 cards making up the Major Arcana.  The Minor Arcana, which perhaps gave rise to the modern standard playing deck, is the remaining 56 cards which are split evenly between four suits and reflects the four elements.

The Major Arcana are the powerful 22 cards that tell a bold spiritual journey from birth to life’s lessons to the return to spiritual oneness.  The story beginning with The Fool and ending with The World, depicts one’s accomplishments, barriers, and lessons they face during their life.  It helps a person understand their divine purpose and discover the tools necessary for enjoying a fulfilling life.  Each card provides unique and vital messages to help one find guidance during periods of uncertainty.  They show the overarching scope of life’s purpose and direction, whereas the Minor Arcana helps traverse issues faced in daily life.  Below you will find explanations to help you unlock the full potential of the Major Arcana’s messages for you and how to live the life of your dreams.  It is important to note that seeing a reversed card in any reading is not a bad sign, instead it can signal a major hurdle you have to overcome to learn the lesson of that selected card.

0 – The Fool

We often hear the term “fool” to describe a joker, ignorant or poor judge of character.  However, the first card of the Major Arcana, The Fool symbolizes aspects of a new soul.  This person sees life as an adventure, carefree and curious.  Life is a story that has yet to be written and inspires us to maximize life’s experiences and potential.

Lessons: Open mindset, new beginnings, readiness to face the unknown.

What it means in a reading: Perhaps you are embarking on a new phase of life.  The ability to face a situation with hope and optimism.  Possession a sense of idealism as you start a new journey.  Be careful to avoid impulsivity, instead weigh decisions before undertaking a new adventure.

1 – The Magician

The Magician teaches us the power of creating our destiny.  The ability to create tangible solutions to our issues gives us both voice and power.  By conveying divine purpose into actions in this life, the Magician helps us direct our sails to reach our destination as efficiently as possible.  When we harness the creative impulses to improve the lives of ourselves and our community, we create societal currency.  This enhances our concept of purpose and helps us feel more connected to other.

Keywords: Creativity, purpose, resourcefulness. awareness, confidence

What it can mean in a reading: You have a sense of purpose and feel confident in your skills.  You can take an idea and shape it into reality.  Creativity seems to come easily to you and can help you achieve success in your goals.  Be careful that you support the ideas and creativity and other and don’t accidental block their energies to create.

2 – The High Priestess

The High Priestess promotes contemplation, open mindset, and enlightenment.  She is listens to the quiet voice and explores the rich inner world inside of her.  This open and tolerant mind guides her values, perceptions and behaviors.  She a tireless guardian of mystical knowledge and ties to the spirit world.  She inspires us to listen more deeply to our subconscious and trust our intuition.

Keywords: Intuition, contemplation, insight, dreams, mysticism, spirituality

What it can mean in a reading: Pay attention to your intuition.  You don’t have to share everything that you are thinking, some wisdom is meant just for you.  Interact with both your physical and spiritual aspects to achieve balance in your life. Find time to reflect more on your question and let the quiet help you formulate your answer. You also may have inherent wisdom beneficial for creating your ideal outcome.  In matters of the heart, go with the action that feels “right.”  If after self-reflection you are still stuck, seek the guidance of a woman who “gets you” at deeper levels, she might have valuable insight.

3 – The Empress

The Empress empower us to blend our inner wisdom with our emotions.  She inspires passion in our life and to engage with our feelings to create successful outcomes.  Embodying motherhood, the Empress promotes love, nurturing and free expression.  Ruled by Venus, she encourages us to find pleasure and satisfaction, especially in art or nature.

Keywords: Beauty, passion, motherhood, love, abundance, femininity, Venus.

What it can mean in a reading: Balance between material and family satisfaction.  The ability to create or expand life to a person or project.  If you have been ill, this could signify a return to health.  A need to live a life filled with abundance, passion and self-expression.  Find time to reconnect with nature or to visit a museum; exposure to art and beauty can stimulate your creativity.  If you have been feeling overwhelmed, pamper yourself with a bubble bath or organic facial. 

4 – The Emperor

The Emperor is the Empress’s consort.  He enjoys his position as an authority creating social constructs and shows love by providing security and discipline.  Fatherly, he encourages common sense, duty, hard work and seeing a plan to fruition.  You succeed when you learn from your actions and play by the rules.

Keywords: Fatherhood, rules, discipline, law, order, duty, management, boundaries, stability

What it can mean in a reading: Investigate your feelings of autonomy, security and purpose in your life.  Perhaps you need to build more structure to your day.  Reassess your boundaries and set firm limitations on what you are capable of doing.  Perhaps consult a father figure in your life for additional guidance.  Be careful to avoid behaviors that can be seen as overly impatient, rigid, demanding or tyrannical.

5 – The Hierophant

Hierophant describes a person with profound understanding of spiritual texts and practices.  At this point in the story we have undertaken an adventure, learned how to receive mystical wisdom, express our passions and take responsibility for our actions.  Now, we have the opportunity to refine our moral and spiritual compass.  This is the card of learning and understanding our place in the world.  By building and refining our values we feel an increased purpose and call to improve the lives of others.

Keywords: Conformity, religion, systems, values, beliefs, loyalty, morals, priest, mentor, guru.

What it can mean in a reading: Are you questioning your place in the world?  Do you need to lessen your ego so you can be more of a team player?  You could be having issues with a boss or institution; you might need to reexam these interpersonal relationships.  Pay attention to where you are feeling intolerant or prone towards rebellious behaviors.

6 – The Lovers

The Lovers broaden out the concept of personal belief and ideals to how they fit into family, friend or romantic relationships.  The card speaks to lessons we can learn from other people and was to bring more unity to our life.  More spiritually speaking, it teaches us what we must do to shift from a “me” to “we” perspective and the importance of sincere communication.

Keywords: Love, duality, relationships, partnership, union, harmony, alignment, communication

What it can mean in a reading: You may have powerful mutual connection with a loved one whether a spouse, friend or family member.  In romantic terms, your union goes beyond lust and instant gratification to more loving and spiritual level.  You feel comfortable being vulnerable with your feelings and sharing your needs, values and perspectives.  You may be facing a moral dilemma and worry about how your choices could be perceived by others.  If your value system is being questioned rise above the doubt to choose the path most rooted in love of self, your communities and the Universe.

7 – The Chariot

Where the Lover teach us how to be in union with another, the Chariot teaches us how to develop a healthy ego.  The lesson is to avoid become codependent or taken advantage of by another in the quest for the greater good.

Keywords: Personality, ego, maturity, freewill, confidence

What it can mean in a reading: You may have felt taken advantage of recently.  Perhaps you need to find ways to reassert yourself.  Progress requires hard work, but with confidence it can be fruitful.  Look at setbacks as an opportunity to grow your resolve and reaffirm your sense of purpose.

8 – Strength

Strength, is the result of the hard work of learning The Chariot’s lessons.  Strength teaches us life is ever flowing and we must face every challenge or opportunity with the goal of growing our spirit.  Although we will face doubt and setbacks, we must be confident in our gifts and inner compass.  Be prepared to deal with ever shifting emotions, thoughts and situations.  Meet each day with courage to trust in ourselves and our ability to weather any storm.

Keywords: Stamina, resiliency, flexibility, perseverance, trust, strength.

What it can mean in a reading: You might be experiencing fear regarding an upcoming decision.  Trust in yourself.  By manifesting more loving kindness to your spirit, light will shine and cast out doubt.  You are the master of your situation and possess the ability to create harmony and promote flexibility in a team setting.  Be cautious to avoid anger and impulsivity.  If you feel you are not getting a problem solved quick enough, keep at it, preserve and you can surpass your goals.

9 – The Hermit

The Hermit tells us pare down to bare essential and slow down the pace of life.  Less can be more.  Find quiet moments to recharge and renew your commitment to grow and heal.  Now is the time to be alone or with a select few spiritually-minded people.  By disconnecting from the outer world, you can listen to the profound wisdom that resides in your core essence.  Working with spiritually minded helpers can raise your awareness by learning valuable tools to hone your intuition and ability discern answers within you.

Keywords: Introspect, solitude, inner wisdom, seclusion,

What it can mean in a reading:  You might be embarking on a period of self-discovery.  Do this by yourself or with a few spiritually-minded people to help you discover your inner wisdom and drive.  Consider going on a retreat or visiting a sacred site.  Contemplate and reconnect with your core values and belief structure.  You also might be at a key turning point in your life, use the quiet to strip the issue down to the skeleton to better reassess your priorities and evaluate the potential outcomes.

10 – Wheel of Fortune

Although we create much of our destiny, there is a significant component that is out of our hands.  The Wheel of Fortune teaches us we must find peace with the karma and luck we encounter.  There are lessons to be learned by cyclical patterns and changes can help us to become more accepting.

Keywords: Cycles, Change, Acceptance, Luck, Fate

What it can mean in a reading: Life is a series of good and bad events that we cannot control.  You could be in the mist of period of change in your life.  Try to accept any outcome that comes your way, process the lessons, and find peace.  If you are in good place in your life, savor every moment.  If you are in a period of hardship, be reassured that brighter days are ahead.  The universe helps direct luck and fate to the world, but the way they land is random.  What is constant is the wheel (cycles) is ever turning.

11 – Justice

Following The Wheel of Fortune’s lesson that good and bad luck can happen at any time, Justice demands honesty and asks us to take responsibility for our actions or situation.  It promotes what is “right” and helps process the “fairness” of life.  Justice speaks to the need for balance.  It teaches us that our present situation was caused by past behaviors.  We must see the issue for what it is and take decisive action to correct any imbalance in our life before we can move forward.

Keywords: Honesty, fairness, righteousness, judgment, order, balance, choices, accountability.

What it can mean in a reading: You made your bed, now you must lie in it.  Decisions must be made, but you must first weight how they could alter the future for yourself or anyone else involved.  Consider any action carefully and from all sides.

12 – The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man compels us to channel our inner strength when we encounter an obstacle.  The best way to achieve a goal is through awareness and proactivity.  Yet, often enlightenment occurs when one surrenders to the process and floats with the tide.  By sacrificing one’s ego, they can find wisdom, liberation, and potential reach an unforeseen destination.

Keywords: Surrender, action, wisdom, sacrifice, enlightenment

What it can mean in a reading: Loosen your grip on a situation.  By letting go, you can help energy flow.  Be willing to sacrifice an ideal to benefit the community around you.  You might need to enter a period of limbo to reflect more clearly on your question; this period of waiting can help you formulate a more successful result.  Time to think less about your place in the world, and more about how you can help others succeed.

13 – Death

Contrary to many people’s concerns, this card is not a harbinger of mortality, but speaks to a time of transition.  In order for new life to flourish the old way must perish.  Death asks us to clear out the clutter surrounding us so we can receive new blessings and opportunities.

Keywords: Metamorphosis, transition, confrontation, resurrection, clearing out space.

What it can mean in a reading: You may be ending a phase in your life, now is the time to embrace this end as it will lead a brighter new beginning.  A need to clear space in your life for new opportunities.  Be courageous in times of transition to have energy to create a way forward.  Let go of unhealthy habits.

14 – Temperance

After surrendering your preconceived notions and embarking on a period of introspection, Temperance asks us to find objectivity and create a realistic plan of action.  It pulls us away from a place of extremes to a more centrist mindset.  Time to balance our needs with that of society’s.  In particular it tells us we must be realistic stewards of our time with space for work and rest, and cautions us from spending above our means.  Temperance teaches us to see matters from multiple viewpoints and create a reasonably balanced perspective.  If successful, one receives renewed insight, health, happiness, and peace.

Keywords: Moderation, commonality, compromise, balance, patience, centering, mindfulness

What it can mean in a reading: Be the calm in the middle of a storm.  If you are feeling anxious increase your mindfulness to ensure worries don’t linger in your mind.  Be patient with yourself and your situation.  Be wary to avoid taking an extreme position in your life; instead look for multiple viewpoints in order to create a more centrist solution.  Reevaluate priorities and habits.  By creating balance in your life and you can translate your vision into an action-step plan.  If your question concerns others, try using your ability to be adaptive to promote group harmony.

15 – The Devil

It can be difficult to maintain balance and always be the “good one.”  Sometimes we want to act out and let our base instincts take over.  The Devil, speaks to carnal desires and urges we work hard to repress.  However, if you force something into the corner, sooner or later its bound to come out.  This card is unique because it is most closely tied with our physical body and the rawness of life, especially sexuality.  It warns us to think with our head and not our groin.  In our spiritual journey, after learning balance we must now employ it in the face of temptation, especially when related to the material world. Be vigilant against impulsivity and ignorance.  Becoming seduced into overindulgent behaviors may cause chaos and destruction in our lives.  If we fully comprehend a situation, a little fun and excitement can release deep seated tensions and allow us to exhale.

Keywords: Excess, debauchery, chaos, covetousness, temptation, sexuality, impulsivity, instinct

What it can mean in a reading: You may have placed too much pressure on yourself and now it’s time to party a little.  You may be too dependent on material goods or maintaining a high-status lifestyle.  This could have you so caught up in obtaining the next purchase, you feel empty and purposeless.  Reign in your primal nature and speak to the parts of you that compel you towards a life of quantity and not quality.  Do not overindulge in sex, drugs or and material goods to avoid chaos in your life.

16 – The Tower

A drastic upheaval is often necessary for creating forward momentum.  To become a new version of you, change must occur at your foundation.  Though unsettling in the moment, you are shedding old and unnecessary skin.  By navigating your carnal impulses, you faced difficult truths and fears.  Now you can hone new skills and reach a new phase of enlightenment.  Although change can be unsettling or even painful, be brave.  Welcome this new mind shift and embrace skills previously hidden from you.  Every phoenix must rise from a raging fire’s ashes.

Keywords: Sudden upheaval, disaster, shock, fear, destruction, arguments, necessary change.

What it can mean in a reading: You may be experiencing a period of upheaval, which you view as a negative (moving, changing jobs or relationships, etc).  You feel your world has been rocked to its core.  Be careful to moderate emotions and avoid displacing your frustration onto anyone else.  Accept this change.  Instead of clinging to what was, focus your energy on what could or will be.  By replacing old structures, you are making space for something sturdier and more beneficial for your future.

17- The Star

After any storm, seeing a star guiding us forward feels especially comforting.  After the turmoil of The Tower, The Star amplifies our inner fire.  It helps us comprehend the universe’s love for us and the many blessings in our lives.  One is able to feel more hopeful and connected to their inner faith systems.  Pay special attention to what guides us through the rough waters and inspires us to meet each day with gusto.

Keywords: Rejuvenation, faith, blessings, hope, positivity, serenity, healing, divine guidance

What it can mean in a reading:  Have faith in your path, the universe is blessing you and all will be well. You have all you need to achieve your goals.  You have overcome a great challenge that tested your resolve.  You stayed the course and maintained hope and gratitude.  You may be in a phase in life where you can appreciate your many blessings and gifts.  Consider what inspires purpose and resolve in your life.  The Star encourages you to shine more light on these talents and to share them with others.  The Star says life is filled with blessings and the universe is filling you with love and serenity.  Spread this positivity and hope to others in your life.

18 – The Moon

The Moon tells of the double nature of the night.  This is a time where your subconscious is helping guide your next steps.  Night is full of hidden and spooky things, but the moon’s rays illuminate the darkness.  Allow the light of The Moon to give you clarity into hidden truths that can help you process an unknown situation.  When in doubt, trust your intuition and the hidden mysteries of the spiritual realm.  Things are seldom as they seem at first and even things that seem dangerous, offer profound wisdom to those bold and capable enough to pull back the imposing veil.  The Moon encourages us to pay attention to their dreams and unconscious mind as they may provide valuable messages about the question at hand.  Balance these subconscious messages or images with reality to help find creativity solutions to any issue.

Keywords: Intuition, dreams, subconscious, feminine, imagination, mood, symbolism.

What it can mean in a reading: Use dreams and signs to help you process things causing you anxiety.  Release fears by pulling back to veil to reveal lessons you must learn.  Don’t take things at face value.  Quietly contemplate the matter to see deeper layers and knowledge to be gained.  Signs can be positive or negative, have the courage to shine light on a message so you can separate fact from illusion.  Releasing negativity allows you to become more receptive and creative.  Be careful to not be naïve or place blind trust into a situation.

19 – The Sun

Once you have successful traversed the darkness of the night you can embrace the warmth of The Sun.  This is a time of fruitfulness and reaping the benefits of facing your fears.  Light has cast out all shadows and now energy abounds to create enlightenment.  You are able to rebuild your strength from the radiant light of the Sun’s beams and experience a sense of vitality.  Personal fulfillment is the core lesson of The Sun, and such, there is much merriment and optimism.  In fact, there is such an abundance that the querent becomes a beacon of hope, joy and reassurance for others in their community.

Keywords: Rejoice, joy, achievement, assurance, energy, growth, thrive, merriment, bounty overflowing

What it can mean in a reading: You have faced your doubts and now feel renewed confidence.  The sky is clear and you feel fulfilled and whole.  In the majority of readings, The Sun tells of happiness and joy.  Keep your eyes and heart open to the wonder that surrounds you.  Enjoy each moment in your life.  Blessings and positivity opportunities are coming your way.

20 – Judgement

Judgement and evaluation happens at the end of the journey.  The past sense of ego or expectation is dead.  Now enlightenment is truly manifesting.  This is a time of honest reflection where actions and behaviors of the past are weighed and measured.  No excuses, no doubt, no guilt – just pure acceptance of all thoughts or actions.  A mountain has been climbed; this is the time to take in the full 360-degree view.  Lessons learned must now be fully implemented for one to truly walk their talk.   If there are areas that need further refinement, this is the last chance.  Once one moves forward from a plane into the next level of existence, there is no looking back.

Keywords: Reckoning, reflection, realization, evaluation, cycles, shift, absolution, ending.

What it can mean in a reading: You are reaching the conclusion of your situation.  Reflect on your actions and make any last-minute corrections.  You are about to face a reckoning and you must be able to stand behind your actions that led you to this exact moment.  Self-reflection helps you prepare for new opportunities.  Judgement says you are becoming clear on who you are, your situation, how others are impacted and any needs necessary for a successful conclusion.

21 – The World

The true end of a journey is the beginning steps into the next one.  After reflecting on how far one comes and weighing their actions, they can now step into their next phase of existence.  The World speaks to one’s ability to reconnect with the universe with the full understanding of how they fit into the cosmic puzzle.  This is a time of perfect oneness and harmony.  The ultimate union of mind, body, spirit and universal community.  The cycle is about begin again, but with more wisdom, confidence and grace.

Keywords: Completion, unity, achievement, community, integration, infinity, ascension

What it can mean in a reading:  You have reached a sense of achievement and completion.  Your hard work has paid off and you are able to reap the rewards.  You have ended a significant life event and now are prepared to begin a new chapter of your life.  You feel at one within yourself, your loved ones and the global community.  You may feel a sense of duty to actively participate in benefiting society.  You can to fully participate in life, finding both the ability to bask in the happier moments and lessons to be learned in the hardships.   You feel whole, being able to experience harmony of mind, body and spirit.  Share the wisdom you have gain throughout your situation with others.