There are many images that may come to mind when thinking about Tarot cards and the major arcana. Some people associate them with witchcraft or gypsy fortune telling, envisioning a mysterious man or woman who draws cards in order to gain insight into the future.
Yes, Tarot cards are indeed a form of divination, meaning that they can be used to gain insight into not only the future, but the past and present as well. There are many, many different decks of Tarot cards, some featuring faeries or dragons while others utilize animals, Gods/Goddesses or other figures. Generally speaking, traditional Tarot card feature seventy-eight different cards which fall into one of two categories – the Major or Minor Arcana. Furthermore, the Minor Arcana cards are also split up into one of four different suits. These are pentacles/coins, cups, swords and wands/staves.
How to use tarot cards
There are also countless different layouts used for reading Tarot cards. Some people prefer to draw a single card, while others use a simple three or five card layout, and still others elect for far more complicated, intricate layouts.
Anyone can learn how to read Tarot cards, but it does require practice. The cards are meant to represent a symbol or archetype, so it is important to use intuition to accurately interpret what they are saying. While the general meaning behind each card is the same no matter what, learning to interpret the layout as a whole is a skill that develops over time through study and use of intuition.
The Major Arcana
Sometimes referred to as the Trump cards, the Major Arcana consists of the first twenty-two cards in a Tarot deck.
The presence of a Major Arcana card in a Tarot reading typically indicates some sort of major life event. While the Minor Arcana represent subtle energies and situations influencing a person or event, the Major Arcana signifies things that are happening on a larger scale. Simply put, when a card from the Major Arcana shows up in a reading, you would do well to pay close attention, as it is certainly trying to tell you something important.
Below, we will discuss the first ten Major Arcana card’s significance and meaning in a reading.
Description: The Fool is akin to the Joker that we find in traditional decks of playing cards. In most decks, he is portrayed either as a court jester or more often in the form of a young man carrying a sack over his shoulder. Sometimes accompanied by a dog that walks at his heels trying to warn him, the Fool looks forward, blissfully unaware that he is about to walk over the edge of a cliff.
Meaning: The Fool typically represents the embodiment of a youthful spirit. It signifies new beginnings, and a possible leap in faith, even though this leap may be hasty or even risky. It shows a certain amount of naivete and impulsiveness, yet ultimately, an urge to resist falling into a stagnant routine.
Significance Upright: In most readings, the fool’s presence often signifies a time of new beginnings or an inner yearning for change. It signifies all of the blind faith and ambition that is so common to the young when they are starting out on their own. While there is definitely a lack of maturity present, this card shows the passion and drive to set out on one’s own individual path, confident in the results that will follow. Oftentimes, drawing the Fool in a reading indicates that there is a need for relaxation and play, so be sure that you are not taking life too seriously right now. Likewise, it also points to a very favorable time for taking a stroll off the proverbial cliff, so if there is something you have been contemplating doing, now is the time to have faith and jump.
When the Fool shows up reversed in a reading, it usually means one of two things. The first possibility is that you are being far too rigid, refusing to relax and invest any amount of faith in yourself or other outside projects or relationships. The other possibility is that you have taken the Fool’s energy to an extreme, and are acting recklessly or even outright irresponsibly. Yes, there are times when we need to have faith and let go, but we must be sure to temper this somewhat hedonistic instinct with a sense of temperance and responsibility.
Description: The Magician is typically depicted in the form of a man, sometimes bearing mathematical symbols around the head and/or raising a staff. Interestingly, the symbols for the four Tarot suits and subsequently the four elements are usually displayed on a table in front of him.
The Magician is typically depicted in the form of a man, sometimes bearing mathematical symbols around the head and/or raising a staff. Interestingly, the symbols for the four Tarot suits and subsequently the four elements are usually displayed on a table in front of him.
Meaning: Typically associated with Hermes, who was the messenger god in Ancient Greece, the Magician acts as a kind of bridge between the everyday world and mystical realms. Likewise, he controls the barrier between our conscious, waking lives and our intuitive selves.
Significance Upright: When the Magician appears in a reading, it usually shows a wealth of untapped potential that is about to manifest itself. It also means that now is a good time for engaging in decisive action rather than sitting around thinking about what to do. If you have been thinking of taking a risk or engaging in some new hobby, the Magician’s presence shows that it is a particularly good time to do so, as you are noticeably powerful in your ability to bring ideas into reality right now.
The Magician reversed shows an overall sense of discouragement. Maybe you have doubts in your ability to bring your current desires into reality, or feel as though you have been defeated in recent projects. Either way, it is important to pursue the opportunities that are currently presenting themselves to you, as you can certainly never hope to achieve success without trying again.
The High Priestess
Description: Sometimes referred to as the female Pope, the High Priestess has a strong connection with the Goddess and all things related to the Divine Feminine. Sometimes portrayed wearing a crescent moon as a crown, she is intrinsically connected with lunar cycles, intuition and magic. In many decks, the High Priestess is portrayed sitting in front of a veil, indicating the ability to work in this world and spiritual realms.
Meaning: The High Priestess is the embodiment of magical feminine energy. She connects us with the moon and other natural cycles, and helps develop our sense of empowerment as well as a deeper sense of intuition and connection with the world surrounding us.
Significance Upright: If you are a woman, the High Priestess’ presence in a reading often serves as an urging to get back in touch with one’s inner Goddess. She shows a need for listening to your intuition and opening yourself up to spiritual messages, particularly in the form of dreams. If you draw the High Priestess during a full moon, it is particularly auspicious, indicating that your inner powers are particularly strong, waxing and waning with the lunar cycle. For men, drawing the High Priestess can show the need for honoring the strong women in their lives, as well as showing an increase in intuitive abilities.
This shows a serious need to concentrate on what your intuition is telling you. Oftentimes, we get so caught up in our day to day lives that we forget to look inside when seeking guidance or advice. The reversed High Priestess serves as an affirmation that we already have all the tools and knowledge needed to tackle the current situation, yet we must be still and listen to what our soul is telling us before acting. Instead of racing blindly ahead, make the time to simply sit and focus upon what your head and heart are telling you, and go from there.
Description: The Empress is usually portrayed as a woman sitting in a throne. She is typically surrounded by lush flora and/or multiple fauna. Generally speaking, she is representative of the Earth Mother archetype, bringing us the gifts of fertility, nourishment and abundance. Connected with the planet Venus, she often wears a robe decorated with pomegranates or apples.
Meaning: The Empress represents the Goddess in her mother form. Intrinsically connected with fertility, crops and growing things, she embodies the cycles of nature and life itself.
Significance Upright: Simply put, the Empress in any reading indicates a time of fertility and abundance. She can signify marriage and birth, which can be on a literal level or symbolic of increased creativity and fertile ground for new ideas. Her presence in a reading also shows a time of domestic bliss and stability, and an overall feeling of contentment.
When drawn reversed, the Empress often shows a strong need for taking time out to care for yourself. It is a particularly good time to surround yourself with positive feminine energy, so be sure to set some times aside to spend a day with those strong female influences in your life. Likewise, it can also signify a build-up of creative energy that is now ready for a productive outlet. Finally, the reversed Empress can express a need to spend time in nature tuning into the energies of Mother Earth.
Description: Like his feminine counterpart the Empress, the Emperor is usually shown seated upon a throne, typically holding an orb and scepter. His lavish robes hint at the important place he holds in his society, and in many decks, he is also wearing a crown, giving him farther authoritative implications.
Meaning: Just as the Empress is the embodiment of the Divine Mother, the Emperor is representative of the Divine Father, and all the authority that title entails. He is a dynamic doer who does not wait for things to happen, but instead puts forth the effort to bring his ideas into reality. He is a somewhat strict figure, exuding a sense of masculine dominance and commanding respect from those he encounters. He is the force that allows us to channel our ambition into everyday reality. Through him, we are able to make the decisions necessary to increase our status, power and material wealth.
Sometimes, the Emperor appears in a reading to signify the appearance or increased importance of some sort of father figure. Drawing the Emperor usually shows that you are at a point in your life where it is necessary to make your powers and true nature known. You are no longer content to wait by the sidelines and allow good things to come your way – instead, you feel the fire of ambition welling up inside, showing you how to assert your authority and power to get what you want. Now is a particularly good time to seize control over your life and any situations that may have been causing you stress. Likewise, the Emperor shows a need to be assertive and forthright in your interactions with others, so don’t be afraid to speak your mind.
Significance Reversed: The reversed Emperor can sometimes signify an overly rigid, even narcissistic mindset. Oftentimes, this card is urging us to pay attention to how we interact with others, as there is a fine line between asserting ourselves and simply being a stubborn bully. Likewise, he may be showing a tendency to hold yourself or those around you to an impossibly high standard, where nothing is good enough. If you find yourself being inflexible or overly dominating to those around you, take a step back and realize that you will get better results by showing compassion rather than stubbornly clinging to what you think is right.
Description: Also known as the Pope, the Hierophant is usually pictured as a man standing between two pillars, which signifies his association with balance. Likewise, he is often wearing three robes, which signify the conscious, sub-conscious and super-conscious. Sometimes, he is carrying a cross or other religious scepter, which farther signifies his connection with the spiritual realm.
Meaning: The Hierophant is our personal spiritual guide, helping us bridge the gaps between the mundane, everyday world we see in reality and the spiritual realms that exist alongside us. He acts as a sort of bridge between the humane and the divine, helping us to balance the two separate realms.
Significance Upright: The Hierophant usually signifies a need to concentrate on the spiritual realm. While it is indeed important to take care of everyday responsibilities and maintain a practical mindset, the Hierophant reminds us that we must balance the mundane with the divine. Sometimes, the Hierophant signifies the presence of an actual spiritual guide, so be on the lookout for those who appear out of seeming coincidence with a message to convey. Likewise, if you are very adept at a certain spiritual subject, you may find yourself being called upon to act as a mentor to another.
Significance Reversed: This card often appears when we are feeling some sort of resistance or animosity. It serves as a reminder that you may not necessarily always have public support in regards to your ideas and dreams, but you should take measures to pursue them anyway.
Make sure to download the latest version of the Instantgo app today to be able to use those latest features to discover the major arcana tarot cards.