Tarot cards are a popular method of divination used for receiving guidance and wisdom from the universe, but they can feel a little intimidating to a beginner (ok…let’s be real…they can feel a bit intimidating even to someone who’d been dabbling in Tarot for a while).
One of the biggest obstacles I hear about from my students when it comes to learning the Tarot is, “How will I ever learn the meaning of all those cards?”
Each tarot deck consists of a structured order of the Major & Minor arcanas, with seventy-eight cards in total. That’s right…seventy-eight cards. It seems daunting to think about having to memorize the meanings and symbolism of all those cards. In fact, it was this same sense of overwhelm that kept me from working with the Tarot for years (instead I just worked with Oracle Cards because they didn’t feel so intimidating).
But learning the Major Arcana of the Tarot doesn’t have to be difficult.
Let’s start by breaking down the part of the deck a little. Twenty-two of the seventy-eight are referred to as the Major Arcana, and the remaining 56 cards are known as the Minor Arcana. We’ll take a look at the Minor Arcana in a later post, so for now, let’s focus on just the 22 Major Arcana cards.
The Major Arcana, sometimes known as “trump cards” are often seen as “bigger than us”, representing an inner version of ourselves or a lesson we must learn. These cards carry the most weight of all the cards in the deck, as they can represent a change in the course of our path or help us make life-changing decisions. They are powerful cards that show us the archetypes we face in life.
Crystals can be used to add more context to the cards in your Tarot readings and to discover more about the cards themselves.
One simple way to do this is to work with stones to clarify the meaning of a particular card. You can unlock the deeper wisdom of the Tarot in this way. To use this method, you’ll need a pouch of mixed stones and a tarot deck of your choice.
Separate out the Major Arcana (0-21) cards from your Tarot deck and choose just one that you’d like to explore in-depth.
Place it in front of you (on your altar, or on the floor or a table in your sacred space). Look at the card in detail and think about its symbolism and imagery. What thoughts enter your mind about the energy and meaning of this card?
Reach for your bag of mixed stones (you’ll probably want anywhere from 10-20 stones in your pouch to give some good variety).
Hold the bag in cupped hands above the Tarot card. Ask that the stones help provide you with more clarity about the meaning of this card. Pull three stones from the bag and place them beneath the card: left, then center, then right.
When pulling the left (first) stone, ask “How does the archetypal energy of this card relate to my body and to the physical realm?” Look at the stone you’ve pulled, hold it in your hands, and think about how the stone relates to the meaning of this card. Additionally, you may wish to close your eyes and tune into the energy of the stone for additional support and guidance (in a sort of mini meditation).
When pulling the center (second) stone, ask “How does the archetypal energy of this card relate to my mind/emotions and to the mental/emotional realm?” Look at the stone you’ve pulled, hold it in your hands, and think about how the stone relates to the meaning of this card. Additionally, you may wish to close your eyes and tune into the energy of the stone for additional support and guidance (in a sort of mini meditation).
When pulling the right (third) stone, ask “How does the archetypal energy of this card relate to my soul path/spirit and to the spiritual realm?” Look at the stone you’ve pulled, hold it in your hands, and think about how the stone relates to the meaning of this card. Additionally, you may wish to close your eyes and tune into the energy of the stone for additional support and guidance (in a sort of mini meditation).
You may wish to journal about your insights to help you keep a record of the in-depth meanings you uncover for each card in the Major Arcana.
For a sample of this process, I’ve made a helpful video to give you an idea of exactly how to put this into action. I know you’ll find it a useful tool for learning more about the archetypal energies of the Major Arcana cards.
Major Arcana Tarot Card Meanings:
To help you learn more about these Major Arcana cards, I’ve included some of the most common meanings for all 22 cards below.
- The Fool (0) – Optimism, Openness, Innocence, New Beginnings
- The Magician (1) – Manifestation, Skillful, Resourcefulness, Confidence
- The High Priestess (2) – Spiritual Awareness, Intuition, Unveil the hidden
- The Empress (3) – Fertility, Nurturer, Femininity, Strong Female Role
- The Emperor (4) – Structure, Strong Male Role, Authority, Leadership
- The Hierophant (5) – Community, Religious Figure, Tradition, Grounding
- The Lovers (6) – Mutual Respect, Intimacy, Equality, Unlocking the Feminine and Masculine
- The Chariot (7) – Purpose, Direction, Goal-Oriented
- Justice (8) – Honesty, Seeking Justice, Fairness, Balance
- The Hermit (9) – Meditation, Solitude, Wisdom, Gaining Perspective
- The Wheel of Fortune (10) – Good Luck, Success, Abundance, Happiness
- Strength (11) – Courage, Bravery, Wildness, Desire, Kundalini, Beast Within
- The Hanged Man (12) – Suspended Decisions, Readjustments, Pause, No rush
- Death (13) – Transition, New Opportunities, Endings, Out with the Old
- Temperance (14) – Balance, Maturation, Cool Calm Collected, Moderation
- The Devil (15) – Subjugation, Animal Instincts, Trap, Addiction, Obstacles
- The Tower (16) – Traumatic Event, Conflict, Instability
- The Star (17) – Hope, Support, Inspiration, Clarity
- The Moon (18) – Mystery, Intuition, Instincts, Introspection, Things are Not as They Seem
- The Sun (19) – Success, Joy, Vitality, Radiance, Enlightenment
- Judgment (20) – Good Karma, Judgement, Forgiveness, Reassessment
- The World (21) – Completion, Successful Outcome, Goal Reached
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