The Major Arcana

The 78 card Tarot deck is traditionally divided into two groups, The Major Arcana and The Minor Arcana. The former holds the 22 traditional Tarot Cards, numbered from 0 to 21, while the latter is made up of four decks of 14 cards.

The 22 cards that make up the group are the most important and meaningful cards of all the deck. They are the cards that most people vision when they think about the Tarot Cards. For that reason, their importance can not be stated often enough.

These cards are different than the cards of The Minor Arcana, in that these cards are less related to persons and focus more on events or situations. Though they could relate to an individual, it would always be a relation to the individuals character, not the person it self.

But this is not the only way these cards differ from the Royal suits. These cards are more meaningful in them self, for them to be only used to see into the future. These cards have a deeper meaning, a meaning that I personally believe to be of more importance than the simple fortunetelling so popular in their use.

By my definition, the 22 cards of the Major Arcana are to be used for spiritual guidance rather than fortunetelling. Not that I’m against the fortunetelling, rather the fortunetelling is more of a mundane use of the cards. It’s a bit like owning a Ferrari and only using it in town for a show of purposes, not driving on the highways, where its true character is unleashed.

As you’ve reached this point, I believe your interest in the Tarot is sincere. You’re most likely looking for a way to study the tarot or at least get to know what its all about. My view is simple, anyone can work with the Tarot Cards, given enough training. By studying the cards you will make progress.

The Major Arcana Deeper Meaning

To start with, the 22 cards of the Major Arcana, are numbered from 0 to 21. But what when you consider that they are numbered in Roman numerals, one can not but wonder why one of the Tarot Cards, The Fool, is numbered 0.

The Romans didn’t know the number 0, or had any knowledge of it. So why is it numbered this way. For me the reason is simple and explains at the same time why the position of the card varies. This card is a floating card, floating in the respect to the fact that it represents the individual and his spiritual voyage through the deck of the other 21 cards.

Tarot Cards And The Zodiac

All the cards in the group are related to the Zodiac or the elements. These are the Zodiac signs, the planets and three of the elements. Why only three but not four of the elements. The simple answer to that, is based on the fact that cards are related to the spiritual realm, not the mundane world of our physical presence here on earth. Therefor the element of earth is not present within in the cards.

You might wonder why The World Tarot Card is not considered an earth card, the reason for it is simple fact that this card is symbolizing the world of both the physical and not least the spiritual realms.

Representing these categories are the numbers 3, 9 and 12 respectively

  • 3 being the cards representing the three elements of Fire, Air and Water
  • 9 being the cards representing the planetary system of old
  • 12 being the cards representing the twelve signs of the Zodiac

Tree Number

As a divination tool, the 22 cards are numbered from 11 to 32. These numbers place the cards on the Tree of Life, which is connected to the Hebrew philosophical system of the Qabalah. This system forms the basis of the Western Esoteric Tradition. By using the Tarot Cards as a divination tool, you set your focus on a spiritual quest for each card.

Hebrew Letter

Each card is connected to a letter in the Hebrew alphabet. Though this is a practice that is relatively new, compared to the centuries old tradition of the Tarot Cards, this connection places some importance to the cards in relation to the Qabalah.

The relationship to the Qabalah is not a coincidence, as the Western Esoteric Tradition is closely related to it. Any serious use of the Tarot Cards as a tool in the personal quest into the spirituality or the hidden knowledge, can not be done without accepting this relationship.

A List Of Major Arcana Tarot Cards Meanings

Here is a list of all the 22 cards of the Major Arcana:

The Fool Tarot Card The Fool Tarot Card
The Magician Tarot Card The Magician Tarot Card
The Papess Tarot Card The Papess Tarot Card
The Empress Tarot Card The Empress Tarot Card
The Emperor Tarot Card The Emperor Tarot Card
The Pope Tarot Card The Pope Tarot Card
The Lovers Tarot Card The Lovers Tarot Card
The Chariot Tarot Card The Chariot Tarot Card
The Strength Tarot Card The Strength Tarot Card
The Hermit Tarot Card The Hermit Tarot Card
The Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card The Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card
The Justice Tarot Card The Justice Tarot Card
The Hanged Man Tarot Card The Hanged Man Tarot Card
The Death Tarot Card The Death Tarot Card
The Temperance Tarot Card The Temperance Tarot Card
The Devil Tarot Card The Devil Tarot Card
The Tower Tarot Card The Tower Tarot Card
The Star Tarot Card The Star Tarot Card
The Moon Tarot Card The Moon Tarot Card
The Sun Tarot Card The Sun Tarot Card
The Judgment Tarot Card The Judgment Tarot Card
The World Tarot Card The World Tarot Card

The World Tarot Card

The World Tarot Card of the Major Arcana Tarot Card Suit

The World Tarot Card

Tarot Card Number: 21

Tree Number: 32

Ruled By: Saturn

Hebrew Letter: Tau

Numerical Value: 9

 

The World Tarot Card Description

This card shows a woman in blue cloth, holding two batons in each hand. The woman is inside a wreath and in each corners of the card are the symbols of the four elements, man for water, eagle for air, bull for earth and lion for fire.

Primary Meaning

The card symbolizes successful completion or fulfillment. This card shows the culmination of things, the end of a persons cycle. As a symbol of an end or fulfillment, it can take on the form of a travel or moving to another country.

Secondary Meaning

A secondary meaning might indicate a difficulty to put a closure to a matter concerning the Questioner. A project might be nearing to an end though it might have been earlier. Sometimes this card shows the fear of changes. But the overall meaning is that things will turn out for the better. The secondary meaning might indicate it takes a bit more work.

Further Reading

There are e-books or guides that offer the beginner some guidance.But no matter what is promised, you should always remember that true knowledge of the Tarot Cards comes with time.

Learning to read the Tarot Cards takes time, a lot of time and the virtue of patience is of high value during that time. Just this fact automatically filters out the ones that are not ready.

The Judgment Tarot Card

The Judgment Tarot Card of the Major Arcana Tarot Card suit

The Judgment Tarot Card

Tarot Card Number: 20

Tree Number: 31

Ruled By: Fire

Hebrew Letter: Shin

Numerical Value: 3

 

The Judgment Tarot Card Description

This card shows an angel in clouds blowing a tromped with the flag of St. George on it. Below the angel are coffins floating on water and people are rising from them. In the background there is land crowned with a large mountain ridge.

Primary Meaning

Awakening is the center of this card. It symbolizes renewal and joy of accomplishing ones tasks. It shows changes to the better in the Questioners life. This card is a cyclical card, but indicates more the beginning than the end.

Secondary Meaning

As a card of cycles, the secondary meaning will refer to an ending of lesser pleasure to the Questioner. It might indicate that projects could have been done better or that the Questioner is having second thoughts about his work. It might also mean a negative outcome in legal matters.

Further Reading

There are e-books or guides that offer the beginner some guidance.But no matter what is promised, you should always remember that true knowledge of the Tarot Cards comes with time.

Learning to read the Tarot Cards takes time, a lot of time and the virtue of patience is of high value during that time. Just this fact automatically filters out the ones that are not ready.

The Sun Tarot Card

The Sun Tarot Card of the Major Arcana Tarot Card suit

The Sun Tarot Card

Tarot Card Number: 19

Tree Number: 30

Ruled By: The Sun

Hebrew Letter: Resh

Numerical Value: 9

 

The Sun Tarot Card Description

A naked child crowned with a tiara of flowers riding a white horse, is the centerpiece of this card. Above the child, which is holding a long red banner in its left hand, is a large sun with a face upon it. Behind the child is a wall with sunflowers on top.

Primary Meaning

This is a card of material happiness, good health and an abundance. It also relates to achievement, at work or through studies. Happiness and success is awaiting the Questioner.

Secondary Meaning

Generally a good card, the secondary meaning might lean more to a slower realization of the outcome or the result will be less strong. On the other hand it could also point to some difficulties, especially in relation to childbirth.

Further Reading

There are e-books or guides that offer the beginner some guidance.But no matter what is promised, you should always remember that true knowledge of the Tarot Cards comes with time.

Learning to read the Tarot Cards takes time, a lot of time and the virtue of patience is of high value during that time. Just this fact automatically filters out the ones that are not ready.

The Moon Tarot Card

The Moon Tarot Card of the Major Arcana Tarot Card suit

The Moon Tarot Card

Tarot Card Number: 18

Tree Number: 29

Ruled By: Pisces

Hebrew Letter: Qoph

Numerical Value: 12

 

The Moon Tarot Card Description

The card shows two dogs gazing at a glowing full moon with a crescent in the form of a face to the right. On each side of the moon is a tower with one window at the top. Behind the dogs (in front on the card) is a crab crawling from a pool of water. A path leads from the pool into the distance with the dogs on each side of it.

Primary Meaning

Illusion is the core meaning of this card. But illusion can be both good or bad. In this case Illusion means Imagination, intuition and dreams. It can also signify psychic work or abilities.

Secondary Meaning

As before, illusion can be both good or bad and for the secondary meaning it tilts more towards the negative side of the illusion. It most often shows the rejection to reality and difficulties to distinguish between what is real and what is not. Treachery and cheating is often following as well as an inability to tell the truth.

Further Reading

There are e-books or guides that offer the beginner some guidance.But no matter what is promised, you should always remember that true knowledge of the Tarot Cards comes with time.

Learning to read the Tarot Cards takes time, a lot of time and the virtue of patience is of high value during that time. Just this fact automatically filters out the ones that are not ready.

The Star Tarot Card

The Star Tarot Card of the Major Arcana Tarot Card suit

The Star Tarot Card

Tarot Card Number: 17

Tree Number: 28

Ruled By: Aquarius

Hebrew Letter: Tzaddi

Numerical Value: 12

 

The Star Tarot Card Description

Being the card ruled by Aquarius, it shows a woman with her right foot in a pool of water and kneels with her left leg on ground. She is pouring water from two pitchers in each hand, the right hand one into the pool and the left hand one on to the ground forming small streems of water. Above the woman is a big yellow star and seven smaller one around.

Primary Meaning

Following two of the most negative cards in the deck, this card brings back hope and inspiration. It brings confidence and vigor into the life of the Questioner. An over all good card to have.

Secondary Meaning

This card is a good card in general, though a secondary meaning might indicate stubbornness, difficulty to adapt to changes with self doubt and lack of trust being strong influence on the Questioner.

Further Reading

There are e-books or guides that offer the beginner some guidance.But no matter what is promised, you should always remember that true knowledge of the Tarot Cards comes with time.

Learning to read the Tarot Cards takes time, a lot of time and the virtue of patience is of high value during that time. Just this fact automatically filters out the ones that are not ready.

The Tower Tarot Card

The Tower Tarot Card of the Major Arcana Tarot Card suit

The Tower Tarot Card

Tarot Card Number: 16

Tree Number: 27

Ruled By: Mars

Hebrew Letter: Peh

Numerical Value: 9

 

The Tower Tarot Card Description

A burning tower is the most important symbol of this card. The top of the tower, a golden crown, is falling of as a bolt of lightning strikes it. Two persons, a man and a woman are falling from the tower and there is despair in their faces.

Primary Meaning

The card is one of the negative cards in the Major Arcana. It symbolizes changes, conflict and over all disruption of life. Bad news and calamity are quite often following this card. As a card that signals an end of a cycle, this usually means difficulties in relation to it.

Secondary Meaning

This card being negative in nature has little to add to it. The secondary meaning quite often represent drastic or more sudden changes than the primary meaning indicates. A generally bad card and a difficult one to interpret in a positive way.

Further Reading

There are e-books or guides that offer the beginner some guidance.But no matter what is promised, you should always remember that true knowledge of the Tarot Cards comes with time.

Learning to read the Tarot Cards takes time, a lot of time and the virtue of patience is of high value during that time. Just this fact automatically filters out the ones that are not ready.

The Devil Tarot Card

The Devil Tarot Card of the Major Arcana Tarot Card suit

The Devil Tarot Card

Tarot Card Number: 15

Tree Number: 26

Ruled By: Capricorn

Hebrew Letter: Ayin

Numerical Value: 12

 

The Devil Tarot Card Description

The center of the card is the Devil himself squatting on a pillar. The Devil is hairy on his legs and his feet are clawed like a bird. He raises his right hand with an open palm reveling the sign of Saturn, while his left hand is lowered holding a burning torch. His horned head is bearded with the ears of a goat. On top of his head is the pentagon star reversed. Below him, on each side of the pillar, is a man and a woman chained to the pillar with a chain from their neck.

Primary Meaning

The primary meaning of the this card is that of the desire for material or physical things. It also relates to bondage or slavery, or being tied to people that are not good for you. This shows a strong tendency to hoarding or collecting items for the sake of collecting. The message to the Questioner is to break the chains and seek the truth within.

Secondary Meaning

This card is a negative card in its self, so a reverse meaning is more towards a better result. There is an indication that the chains of oppression will break, and that the Questioner will be free to choose his future.

Further Reading

There are e-books or guides that offer the beginner some guidance.But no matter what is promised, you should always remember that true knowledge of the Tarot Cards comes with time.

Learning to read the Tarot Cards takes time, a lot of time and the virtue of patience is of high value during that time. Just this fact automatically filters out the ones that are not ready.

The Temperance Tarot Card

The Temperance Tarot Card of the Major Arcana Tarot Card suit

The Temperance Tarot Card

Tarot Card Number: 14

Tree Number: 25

Ruled By: Sagittarius

Hebrew Letter: Samech

Numerical Value: 12

 

The Temperance Tarot Card Description

The card shows a winged angel holding two cubs with water flowing between them. The angels head is glowing and on his forehead is the mark of the circumpunct and on his chest is a square with a triangle inside. The angel stands on the border of a lake with his right foot in the water and behind him is a glow upon a mountain.

Primary Meaning

Balance of temperament is the big theme of this card. It indicates good management and co-operation. A time of peace and harmony is at hand with the Questioner entering into a period of calmness and the ability to cope better.

Secondary Meaning

Bad or poor judgment and the tendency to combine disparate activities and people. It may also indicate to the questioner that he’s involved in to many activities and needs to cut down.

Further Reading

There are e-books or guides that offer the beginner some guidance.But no matter what is promised, you should always remember that true knowledge of the Tarot Cards comes with time.

Learning to read the Tarot Cards takes time, a lot of time and the virtue of patience is of high value during that time. Just this fact automatically filters out the ones that are not ready.

The Death Tarot Card

The Death Tarot Card of the Major Arcana Tarot Card suit

The Death Tarot Card

Tarot Card Number: 13

Tree Number: 24

Ruled By: Scorpio

Hebrew Letter: Nun

Numerical Value: 12

 

The Death Tarot Card Description

The card shows The Death riding into the card from the left, wearing a black armor. The Death holds in his left hand a black banner where upon is a white heraldic rose. The visor on his helmet is open and he looks down on the people below. As he moves forward, the people fall dead beneath him, not taking race or class into account.

Primary Meaning

Transformation is the big theme of this card. The card, sometimes called the Tarot Card of Death, may indicate a physical death, but seldom of the Questioner, rather someone around him. The card more often marks the end of a cycle in an abrupt way and may be a blessing in disguise.

Secondary Meaning

Refusal to accept changes or a sign of stagnation. Could also mean that the changes are not as drastic in regards to the primary meaning.

Further Reading

There are e-books or guides that offer the beginner some guidance.But no matter what is promised, you should always remember that true knowledge of the Tarot Cards comes with time.

Learning to read the Tarot Cards takes time, a lot of time and the virtue of patience is of high value during that time. Just this fact automatically filters out the ones that are not ready.