Tarot Reading Basics: Getting to Know the Major Arcana & the Four Suits
One of the most mystical and powerful tools for introspection and divination, the Tarot deck has been a source of wonder and intrigue for centuries. A standard Tarot deck comprises 78 cards, which are further divided into the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. The wisdom that these cards hold can be transformative, providing insights, answers, and guidance for both the novice and the seasoned reader.
For those who are stepping into the realm of Tarot for the first time, it's essential to grasp the foundational understanding of the deck's structure. Here, we will delve into the Major Arcana and the Four Suits of the Minor Arcana, shedding light on their significance and symbolism.
The Major Arcana
Consisting of 22 cards, the Major Arcana represents significant life lessons, spiritual insights, and the various phases or stages in one's life journey. These cards tend to stand out in a reading as they highlight pivotal events or feelings that affect the querent deeply.
Let's explore each one:
0. The Fool
The Fool embodies the spirit of adventure, new beginnings, and uncharted territories. With an innocent and carefree attitude, he reminds us to trust in the journey and embrace the unknown. The Fool's number, zero, signifies endless potential and infinite possibilities.
1. The Magician
Representing manifestation and resourcefulness, The Magician reminds us of the power within to shape our reality. With all four suits of the tarot laid before him, he channels the universal energy to conjure his desires, urging us to tap into our potential.
2. The High Priestess
Intuition, mystery, and subconscious knowledge are the realms of The High Priestess. She encourages a deep inward journey, asking us to trust our inner voice and the secrets yet to be revealed.
3. The Empress
Symbolizing fertility, nurturing, and abundance, The Empress celebrates the beauty of creation and motherly love. She teaches us the importance of connecting with nature and cherishing the bounty it provides.
4. The Emperor
The Emperor stands for structure, authority, and discipline. As a protector and ruler, he emphasizes the importance of stability and leadership in our lives, inspiring us to take charge with confidence.
5. The Hierophant
Representing tradition, spiritual guidance, and conventional beliefs, The Hierophant connects us to established institutions and values. He encourages seeking wisdom from trusted mentors and honoring ancient teachings.
6. The Lovers
Symbolizing union, choices, and harmony, The Lovers card signifies deep connections and the merging of dualities. It underscores the importance of relationships, mutual respect, and the decisions that shape our destinies.
7. The Chariot
Driven by determination and willpower, The Chariot signifies victory through control and discipline. It represents the triumphant feeling achieved when opposing forces are harmonized and directed towards a singular goal.
Embodying courage, compassion, and inner resilience, Strength teaches us that true power comes from understanding and taming our instincts. It's about confronting challenges with grace and confidence.
9. The Hermit
Representing introspection and inner guidance, The Hermit encourages solitude and self-reflection. He lights the path of inner wisdom, guiding us toward deeper understanding and enlightenment.
10. Wheel of Fortune
Symbolizing the cyclical nature of life, the Wheel of Fortune reminds us of the ever-changing fortunes, the ups and downs we experience. It's a reminder to accept the natural flow and trust in the universe's rhythm.
Representing fairness, truth, and the law, Justice emphasizes the importance of balance and ethical action. It's a reminder that our actions have consequences and that we should strive for equilibrium and integrity.
12. The Hanged Man
Symbolizing sacrifice and a change in perspective, The Hanged Man encourages letting go and viewing challenges from a different angle. It's about surrendering to the moment and gaining wisdom through contemplation.
Often misunderstood, the Death card signifies transformation and endings. It's a reminder of life's inevitable changes and the rebirth that follows, urging us to let go of the old to welcome the new.
Representing balance, patience, and moderation, Temperance teaches us the art of harmonizing opposing forces. It encourages healing and the alchemical blending of different elements to achieve wholeness.
15. The Devil
Symbolizing temptation, materialism, and bondage, The Devil warns against being chained by desires or external influences. It's a call to recognize and break free from limiting beliefs or situations.
16. The Tower
Representing sudden upheaval and chaos, The Tower signifies the breaking down of old structures. Though disruptive, this card reminds us that sometimes destruction is necessary for true growth and enlightenment.
17. The Star
Symbolizing hope, inspiration, and serenity, The Star is a beacon of light in dark times. It encourages healing and renewal, reminding us of the endless possibilities and the divine guidance that surrounds us.
18. The Moon
Representing illusion, intuition, and the subconscious, The Moon illuminates the shadows and mysteries of our inner selves. It's a journey through the emotional landscapes, urging us to trust our instincts and face our deepest fears.
19. The Sun
Symbolizing joy, vitality, and success, The Sun radiates positivity and clarity. It's a card of celebration, reminding us of the abundance and warmth that life offers when we embrace our true selves.
Representing rebirth, inner calling, and redemption, Judgment calls for self-evaluation and reflection. It's about answering the higher call, making amends, and moving forward with a renewed sense of purpose.
21. The World
Symbolizing completion, fulfillment, and celebration, The World marks the end of a journey and the start of a new cycle. It's a reminder of the interconnectedness of all things and the cosmic dance of life.
Together, the Major Arcana cards paint a story of the soul's journey through life's challenges and triumphs, teaching us profound lessons at each step.
The Minor Arcana: Four Suits
The remaining 56 cards of the Tarot deck constitute the Minor Arcana, which is further categorized into four suits, each representing different aspects of human experience. The suits are as follows:
Represents: Inspiration, spirituality, determination, and strength. The Wands are often linked to one's spiritual path and might indicate new ideas or projects.
Represents: Emotions, relationships, connections, and love. This suit delves deep into the emotional experiences of the querent, from joy to despair.
Represents: Intellect, thoughts, words, and actions. The Swords can reveal challenges in communication or decision-making, or they may indicate conflict and resolution.
Represents: Material aspects, financial matters, work, and practical endeavours. When Pentacles appear, they often point towards matters of stability, wealth, and physical health.
Understanding the Deck
Each suit of the Minor Arcana contains cards numbered from Ace (one) to Ten, followed by four court cards: the Page, Knight, Queen, and King. These cards, while more subtle than the Major Arcana, provide intricate details and nuances about daily events and the querent's reactions to them.
To truly harness the power of Tarot, it's crucial to approach each card with an open mind, allowing one's intuition and knowledge to weave the story that the cards are telling. By doing so, one can extract profound insights and guidance from every Tarot reading.