Major Tarot Arcana Cards. Below is a definition of the tarot major arcana in its simplest form from my perspective along with links to pages to learn the other suits.
Major Arcana Cards and their Meaning
The 22 Arcana Major tarot cards have a deeper meaning than day to day events ( the minor tarot cards), because they tell about major life lessons we are to learn, go through or are going through, in this journey called life.
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This tarot card has the number 0 and it is the first card in the Major Arcana. The Fool means that everything is new to us, hence we’re not doing something that is familiar or natural to us, but something extravagant and amazing. The Fool comes up when someone starts something new in their life, and it is shows up when we take risks and chances by following the heart, dismissing everyone else’s opinions.
The Fool – novelty, taking chances, spontaneity, enthusiasm
The Fool Reversed – total insecurity, disease, madness, social issues, mediocrity, immaturity
The second trump of the Major Arcana, The Magician signifies every man’s potential to receive what they want in life. We have everything necessary at hand to have all that we want in life, but how we make use of it is of great importance. Also, we need some life goals that we can bring to life using the power of the inner magician, which we all have.
The Magician – intelligence, diplomacy, self-confidence, manipulation, tricks
The Magician Reversed – weak character, indecision, lack of self-confidence, failed plans
The High Priestess
This tarot card is the second trump in the Major Arcana and speaks about knowledge, intelligence, intuition, subtle dimensions, the hidden and the unknown. The High Priestess can also symbolize passivity, a deeper understanding, observations, and the desire to learn about the mysteries of the world and of the people. This tarot card can also refer to secrets that are about to be revealed.
The High Priestess – mystery, knowledge, secret keeper, unknown future, intuition
The High Priestess Reversed – rigid thinking, fear of loss, inability to manage finances, lack of initiative, rebellion
This is always a positive card, because it depicts the ideals we all want to accomplish: true love, true friendship, the real potential of creation. It speaks of unconditional love, fertility and abundance, it uplifts our spirits through her capacity to love us and keep us safe. It shows up when we feel very creative and inspired and it is a card of financial wealth.
The Empress – fertility, richness, true love, creativity, sheer generosity
The Empress Reversed – empty words, gossip, lack of ambition, indolence, need to dominate
This tarot card symbolizes that need to subordinate because the situation asks for it. The Emperor can very well refer to our bosses, powerful people, authorities of all sorts, as well as a severe father figure or husband depicting law and order. He means good, but his methods are often times perceived as inflexible, rigid and conservative.
The Emperor – power, authority, rigidity, masculinity, protection
The Emperor Reversed – conflicts with the authority, lack of accountability, empty promises
This tarot card usually shows up to tell you there’s a lesson you have to learn, and this can happen in a pleasant or not so pleasant way. It speaks of our need to pertain to a group, and this comes with our obligation to comply with others’ rules and culture. It stands for morale, social norms and everyone’s place in society.
The Hierophant – lesson to be learnt, institutions, norms, conformity
The Hierophant Reversed – fraud, fanaticism, deceit, disillusion
This tarot card represents love and union, but also the urge to choose between the heart and the mind, which is a very difficult thing to do in most cases. The Lovers can speak of a hard decision that we have to make, and also of finding a perfect balance when our will goes two ways.
The Lovers – falling in love, marriage, hardship, obstacles
The Lovers Reversed – solitude, love disillusionment, bad decisions, unfit romance
This tarot card usually means war and revenge, but also victory and triumph. In most cases it’s the triumph of will. It shows up when we feel much adversity from society, leading to frustration and self-doubt. The Chariot represents our capacity to control the situation and to get up and move after a prolonged time of uncertainty, stagnation and adversity.
The Chariot – changes, personal triumph, being in control, overcoming difficulties, win
The Chariot Reversed – confrontation, fight, indecision, defeat, lack of control
This tarot card represents our strength to cope with very tough situations, situations that really test our mental strength, our patience and endurance. It speaks of our inner strength, and it can tell us that we need to self-educate our impulsiveness and frustration and accept that in life things may not always be perfect.
Strength – force, courage, perseverance, energy, great trials
Strength Reversed – exaggerations, lack of intelligence, fraud, half-hearted
The 9th trump of the Major Arcana means care, caution and waiting, but it can also speak corruption, disappointment and deceit. The Hermit makes us want to live alone with our thoughts for a while, because we feel that the world around us doesn’t satisfy us anymore, or it may be that we need some time alone to reach very important conclusions, make decisions or understand what has happened.
The Hermit – prudence, patience, thinking before acting, disappointment, deceit
The Hermit Reversed – egoism, impatience, crisis, bad time for decision-making, error
The Wheel of Fortune is usually a bringer of good luck and fortune, and an improvement of the situation we are in. It speaks of life situations that happen unexpectedly and change our lives for the better. When this card shows up we can expect a change, usually a good change, but not always.
The Wheel of Fortune – good luck, happiness, apparent misfortune, life change
The Wheel of Fortune Reversed – apparent luck, small wins, incapacity to change a situation for the better.
This card represents the triumph of justice, of the law, of the truth and it can refer to making or breaking contracts. It can also mean our power to take control over an unjust situation. Justice refers to a divine kind of justice like karma, meaning that what we put out is what we get back, so it may be interpreted as a threat, but also as learning to take responsibility for our lives.
Justice – triumph of justice, law, truth, control, karma
Justice Reversed – prejudice, injustice, irritability, legal issues
The Hanged Man
This is not a positive card, and in most cases it speaks of stagnation, obstacles, disappointments, humiliations, guilt and sacrifice. You may become the escape goat in a situation. It can also mean that nothing happens in the direction that we want, that we cannot move further and bring about this terrible feeling of helplessness.
The Hanged Man – great sacrifice, terrible obstacles, no headway
The Hanged Man Reversed – blame, being misjudged, overcoming personal beliefs
This tarot card speaks of things that are coming to an end and others that wait to happen. Usually it’s a radical change, and if you’re asking yourself a Yes/No question and Death comes up, it’s definitely a No. It refers to a radical transformation in our thinking and behavior for the better.
Death – setting free, new life, liberation, radical change, new thinking
Death Reversed – violent end, separation, bad accident, great misfortune, terminal illness, death
This is 14th trump of the Major Arcana and it symbolized looking for means of equilibrium to balance out something bad and something good. It speaks of finding the right life balance, and at times this means compromise and personal sacrifice. In relationships it means getting over differences and accepting each other as we are.
Temperance – acceptance, avoiding conflicts, generosity, fitting in, caring, savings
Temperance Reversed – immaturity, self-doubt, skepticism, mental imbalance, obsessions, fanaticism
It can often times refer to violence and life threatening situations but also to extraordinary attempts to overcome negative situations. The Devil brings about temptations and it tries to alter our thinking and feel in order to take a poor action. It may also speak of addictions and being slave to these overpowering impulses.
The Devil – malice, hate, violence, attempts to overcome negative situations
The Devil Reversed – superstitions, feeling oppressed, overloaded consciousness, temptations, moral misery
In most cases, this tarot card signifies ruin and destruction, or even accidents and catastrophes, which in time will prove to have had a positive effect to them and a great lesson to learn. It can also speak of mental traumas, but in some cases it can refer to a radical change in life, that can lead to great loss, although we’ve made it consciously. It can mean life direction change, necessary to build a new life.
The Tower – ruin, destruction, unexpected change, new directions
The Tower Reversed – resilience to change, fear of the new
The 17th trump of the Major Arcana speaks of the hope for a better future, but it can also mean loss and feeling abandoned or underprivileged. It often times comes up after a prolonged period of sadness and disappointments as a hope for the better. We suddenly see the light at the end of the tunnel as new dreams, new wishes and life aspirations. Life has a new meaning and purpose.
The Star – hope, better future, inspiration, psychological soothe
The Star Reversed – illusions, lies, lack of faith, disappointment
The Moon usually speaks deception, misinterpretations, hidden enemies and even dangers. This card has many interpretations, some good and others bad, but they all have something in common: The Moon is always related to our inner world. Most often, The Moon means that things aren’t what they seem to be; maybe you trust the wrong people or your ideas of the world are faulty, and you need to wake up to face reality.
The Moon – disillusionment, dangers, enemies, fear, terror, intuition
The Moon Reversed – mental instability, dependencies, bad news, confusion
In short, this card speaks of everything positive, happiness and financial success, as well as luck in love. The Sun also signifies complacency and satisfaction and comes up when we’re going through an amazingly good period in our life. Your life is amazing, the past injustice are long forgotten, you are healthy, loved and feeling amazing.
The Sun – clarity, success, popularity, respect, everything positive
The Sun Reversed – depression, feeling low, in success
The 20th trump in the Major Arcana symbolizes novelty and renewal, changes and harvesting the fruits of some important decisions we made in our past. It can also refer to a reckoning with the self or others, making it the perfect time to ponder upon your past deeds and making your choice for the future.
Judgement – accountability, renewal, change, decision making, facing consequences
Judgement Reversed – starting anew, debt, life exams, taking responsibility,
The last card of the Major Arcana speaks of feeling fulfilled because you have reached your goals and you’ve reached the end of the road. You feel good inside and accomplished and from now on everything is possible because it’s time for a brand new start. The World shows up when something either good or bad has come to its end, but it is not always a positive card per se.
The World – fulfillment, accomplishment, success, travelling abroad
The World Reversed – lack of closure, goals are not yet achieved
Want to learn more tarot card meanings? Click the thumbnails to learn about each suit
(Starting the week of June 20th a new suit will be revealed. )