Major Arcana: Exploring the 22 Major Cards and Their Meanings


The Major Arcana is often considered the heart and soul of a tarot deck. These 22 cards carry profound symbolism and represent pivotal life experiences, spiritual lessons, and archetypal energies. In this section, we’ll embark on a journey through the Major Arcana cards, uncovering their meanings and the wisdom they offer.

The Fool (0)

Keywords: New beginnings, spontaneity, optimism

Description: The Fool is the embodiment of innocence and the start of a new journey. This card encourages you to embrace life with a childlike wonder, take risks, and trust in the universe. It symbolizes the beginning of a cycle, where anything is possible.

The Magician (I)

Keywords: Manifestation, creativity, power

Description: The Magician represents your ability to harness the energy of the universe to manifest your desires. Like a magician, you have all the tools you need to create your reality. This card reminds you to tap into your skills and resources.

The High Priestess (II)

Keywords: Intuition, mystery, unconscious

Description: The High Priestess is a symbol of deep intuition and inner knowing. She represents the mysteries of the subconscious mind and encourages you to trust your intuition and explore the hidden realms of your psyche.

The Empress (III)

Keywords: Nurturing, abundance, fertility

Description: The Empress embodies the nurturing and fertile energy of Mother Earth. This card signifies growth, abundance, and the creation of life. It encourages you to connect with nature and embrace your nurturing qualities.

The Emperor (IV)

Keywords: Authority, leadership, structure

Description: The Emperor represents order and authority. He signifies the need for structure and discipline in your life. This card encourages you to take charge of your circumstances and establish a solid foundation.

The Hierophant (V)

Keywords: Tradition, spirituality, guidance

Description: The Hierophant represents tradition and spiritual guidance. This card suggests the importance of seeking wisdom from established systems and spiritual leaders. It also encourages you to find your own path within these traditions.

The Lovers (VI)

Keywords: Love, relationships, choices

Description: The Lovers card represents choices, particularly in matters of the heart. It signifies love, partnerships, and important decisions. This card reminds you to follow your heart and make choices that align with your values.

The Chariot (VII)

Keywords: Determination, willpower, victory

Description: The Chariot symbolizes your inner strength and determination. It represents a journey filled with challenges and obstacles. This card encourages you to stay focused on your goals and overcome any setbacks.

Strength (VIII)

Keywords: Inner strength, courage, patience

Description: Strength represents the power of inner strength and resilience. This card reminds you that true strength comes from a place of compassion and patience. It encourages you to face challenges with courage and grace.

The Hermit (IX)

Keywords: Solitude, introspection, guidance

Description: The Hermit signifies a period of introspection and solitude. This card encourages you to seek inner guidance and wisdom through introspection and self-reflection. It also suggests the importance of being a guiding light for others.

Wheel of Fortune (X)

Keywords: Cycles, destiny, change

Description: The Wheel of Fortune represents the cycles of life, including the ups and downs. This card reminds you that life is constantly changing and that you have the power to influence your destiny.

Justice (XI)

Keywords: Fairness, balance, truth

Description: Justice symbolizes fairness, balance, and truth. This card suggests that you will be rewarded or held accountable for your actions. It encourages you to seek justice and make ethical choices.

The Hanged Man (XII)

Keywords: Surrender, letting go, new perspective

Description: The Hanged Man represents surrender and letting go. It signifies a need to release attachments and view situations from a new perspective. This card encourages you to embrace change and trust the process.

Death (XIII)

Keywords: Transformation, endings, rebirth

Description: Despite its ominous name, the Death card represents transformation and rebirth. It signifies the end of one phase and the beginning of another. This card encourages you to let go of what no longer serves you and embrace change.

Temperance (XIV)

Keywords: Balance, harmony, moderation

Description: Temperance embodies the idea of balance and moderation. This card encourages you to find harmony in your life, especially in areas where there may be extremes. It signifies the blending of opposites to create a harmonious whole.

The Devil (XV)

Keywords: Temptation, bondage, materialism

Description: The Devil represents temptation and bondage to material desires. This card warns against becoming too attached to material possessions or unhealthy habits. It encourages you to free yourself from self-imposed limitations.

The Tower (XVI)

Keywords: Sudden upheaval, revelation, liberation

Description: The Tower card signifies sudden and often unexpected upheaval in your life. While it may be a challenging experience, it also represents liberation and the breaking down of old structures. This card encourages you to embrace change, even if it feels uncomfortable.

The Star (XVII)

Keywords: Hope, inspiration, spiritual guidance

Description: The Star card represents hope and inspiration. It signifies a period of healing and spiritual guidance. This card encourages you to have faith in the future and believe in your dreams.

The Moon (XVIII)

Keywords: Illusion, intuition, facing the unknown

Description: The Moon card represents the realm of the unconscious and the mysteries of the night. It suggests that not everything is as it seems and encourages you to trust your intuition when navigating the unknown.

The Sun (XIX)

Keywords: Joy, success, clarity

Description: The Sun card is a symbol of joy, success, and clarity. It signifies a period of happiness and fulfillment. This card encourages you to bask in the warmth of your accomplishments and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

Judgment (XX)

Keywords: Reckoning, redemption, self-reflection

Description: Judgment represents a moment of reckoning and self-reflection. It signifies a time when you are called to account for your actions and make amends if necessary. This card encourages you to take responsibility for your choices and seek redemption.

The World (XXI)

Keywords: Fulfillment, completion, integration

Description: The World card represents fulfillment and completion. It signifies a sense of achievement and wholeness. This card encourages you to celebrate your successes and embrace a new phase of life with wisdom and grace.

Using the Major Arcana in Readings

When the Major Arcana cards appear in a tarot reading, they often carry significant messages and highlight major life events or spiritual lessons. Here are some tips for interpreting and using the Major Arcana cards in your readings:

  1. Pay Attention to Context: Consider the surrounding cards and the overall theme of the reading when interpreting a Major Arcana card. They often provide context for its meaning.
  2. Reflect on Personal Growth: Major Arcana cards may indicate periods of personal growth and transformation. They can suggest that you are on a significant journey of self-discovery.
  3. Look for Patterns: Notice if specific Major Arcana cards appear frequently in your readings. These cards may hold particular significance in your life.
  4. Trust Your Intuition: While the traditional meanings of the Major Arcana cards are valuable, trust your intuition when interpreting them. Your inner guidance can provide unique insights.
  5. Embrace the Lessons: Major Arcana cards often point to important life lessons. Be open to the wisdom they offer and use it to navigate your path with greater clarity and understanding.

Conclusion: The Wisdom of the Major Arcana

The Major Arcana cards in a tarot deck are like a roadmap to the human experience. They offer profound insights into the journey of life, from the initial innocence of The Fool to the ultimate fulfillment of The World. As you explore and interpret these cards, remember that they are not just symbols but mirrors reflecting the complexities, challenges, and triumphs of your own life journey.

Incorporating the Major Arcana into your tarot readings can provide a deeper level of understanding and guidance, helping you navigate the twists and turns of life with greater insight and wisdom. Whether you’re a seasoned tarot reader or a beginner, these cards hold the keys to unlocking the mysteries of the human experience and the profound lessons that accompany it.


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Main photo by Edz Norton on Unsplash

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