Tarot: Major Arcana

Tarot cards have to be one of my favorite divination tools.  I’ve always been a huge fan of collecting cards and tarot decks are so pretty.  I’ve also used a pendulum, but my first one broke (unfortunate meeting with the dormroom floor) and my second one doesn’t like me (so sad).  A deck is made up of 78 cards which are separated into two main sections, the major arcana and the minor arcana.  The minor arcana is then further broken up into four different suits: cups, pentagrams (or coins), wands, and swords.  I’m actually going to separate tarot into a couple different posts so not to bog you guys down with information, so our first one is going to be the major arcana.   The major arcana consists of twenty-two cards numbered zero through twenty-one each with their own meanings.  When reading tarot cards, there are two types of meaning for each card, upright and reversed, depending on which way the card is facing.  Some people use both sets of meanings while some people only use the upright meaning, in the end it is the choice of the reader.

0-The Fool

The first card in the tarot deck, the Fool is the representation of the beginning of a journey.  It represents someone who is a free spirit, someone innocent who is just beginning their journey into life.  As with every journey, the Fool offers a slew of new possibilities.  If this card comes up in your reading, take it as a sign and prepare for a brand new journey in front of you.

If the Fool appears in a reading reversed, its meaning becomes reversed.  While it still represents innocence, this is more of the harmful naivety that can get people in trouble.  By skipping merrily through life, this Fool ignores the consequences of his or her actions.  With reckless abandon, the Fool teeters on the edge of the proverbial cliff, one step away from falling into the void below.  If this card shows up in your reading, it might be time to reevaluate your current situation and the choices you’re making.

1-The Magician

The Magician represents powers and control, just as a stage magician exercises control over his craft.  And just like a stage magician creates wonder in the hearts of his audience, the Magician represents a surge of creative power and energy to create a new lifestyle for yourself.  Where The Fool is the beginning of a new journey, the Magician is telling you that you have the power you need to create your own path, whatever that is.

When the reversed Magician appears in a spread, it still represents the same power, but being used in a negative way.  Rather than using his power for creation, the Magician is drunk on his power, becoming greedy for more.  He also represents deceit, a sign that someone is lying to you, or perhaps that you’re lying to yourself.  Be careful when this card shows up in your reading, you may be on the verge of getting swept away by lies.

2-The High Priestess

Often seen as a mystical card, the High Priestess represents higher power and intuition.  As a form of your subconscious, rather than outward knowledge, the High Priestess calls upon you to listen to your inner voice.  Most of the time when this card appears in a reading, you’re having trouble with a problem or issue that has arisen in your life.  Take a moment to listen to that inner voice, you might be surprised at how much it helps.

If the High Priestess appears reversed in a reading, it’s a sign that you aren’t listening to your inner voice.  Take a moment to meditate and turn your intuition back on.  It could also mean that while you’re normally intuitive, you’ve recently lost that connection.  Take some time for yourself so you can retune your intuition and get that connection back.

3-The Empress

The Empress represents motherhood and all things feminine.  This not only means beauty and sensuality, but also nurturing and fertility.  When this card shows up, it’s a sign to get in touch with your feminine side (even if you’re male).  It could also be a sign that you or someone around you is pregnant, or simply a call to enjoy nature more.  Reach out to others with a caring and nurturing demeanor and you may be surprised, that could be exactly what is needed.

Reversed, the Empress draws attention to the fact that you are being too caring, too nurturing.  You’re placing the needs of other people in front of your own and this is causing harm to you.  You may be bottling up your feelings and not taking the time to correctly address them.  If you are currently in a relationship that seems to be stagnant, this card tells you to take a moment and step back.  You need to care as much about yourself as you do your partner, your relationship will only prosper from it.

4-The Emperor

Like the Empress represents caring and femininity, the Emperor represents authority and all things masculine.  This card represents a father-figure and authority, someone who provides and protects.  As the representation of authority, the Emperor also represents rules and regulations.  Unlike the Empress, the Emperor calls for domination of mind over heart, to think with your brain rather than to let emotions guide the way.  The Emperor might also represent an authority figure in your life,  so make note of where it appears in the spread.

Similarly, the reversed Emperor can represent authority in your life as well, but an abuse thereof.  A dominating, controlling, and rigid force, though it doesn’t always come from the outside.  While this can represent a boss, a family member, even an insecure man throwing his weight around, it might also be telling you that you are the dominating and controlling force.  Take a look around your life, figure out what this card is talking about, and make a change in your life for the better.

5-The Hierophant

While the Hierophant, like the High Priestess, represents a high power, the Hierophant more represents authority and teachers within that higher power.  Often shown as the pope, this card represents a conformity in religion, which might not always be a bad thing.  If this card has appeared in your reading, it’s telling you that you shouldn’t be challenging the status quo right about now.  The Hierophant might also represent institutions and groups that aren’t religious, if they have a strict set of guidelines and rules, then they can fall in this category.  This can be anything from a school to a therapist, so don’t be bogged down with the religious aspect of this card.

When the Hierophant shows up reversed, it shows restriction within the compound of an institution.  You may feel constrained by the rules of those around you, and now is the time to break free of them.  When reversed, the Hierophant is telling you to make your move and break free of the status quo.  Forge your own path in the direction you feel is best, even if no one else is going that way.  You may be surprised who follows you.

6-The Lovers

Like the name suggests, the Lovers card represents love and unity.  While most people take this as  unity between romantic and sexual partners (and it does represent this), it can also represent a unity in yourself.  As a representation of choices, when this card shows up, it’s telling you to take a moment and look at the choices you’ve made in the long run.  You may currently be at a crossroads in your decisions.  This card is telling you to take a moment and consider each option before jumping head first into your decision.

Usually when the reversed Lovers shows up in a reading, it means that you are avoiding responsibility for the consequences of your actions.  However, the war you’re currently fighting isn’t one between you and external forces, rather it’s you and your own internal forces waging war against each other.  If this card is talking about a relationship, then it usually means there is some sort of imbalance within your relationship.  Perhaps one person is putting more energy into the relationship than another person is, or perhaps the spark you two once shared is now gone.  Either way, this card it telling you that it might be time to move on.

7-The Chariot

As the charioteer controls his horses, this card represents control and power in your life.  This card represents victory and overcoming the opposition in front of you.  When this card shows up in a reading, it’s telling you to be bold and put yourself out there.  Now is the time to be bold and aggressive towards your goals in life.  Grab the reigns and show life who’s boss!

When reversed, the Chariot represents a loss of control in life, you’ve let go of the reigns and now the chariot is careening towards a cliff.  You may also be collapsing under pressure and can’t do anything about it.  When this card appears, it’s not a sign that all hope is lost.  Rather, it’s telling you to stop focusing on the things that are out of your control and start focusing on what you can can control.  Instead of focusing on what other people are doing, take a step back and figure out what you can do to keep going.

8-Strength

As the name suggests, Strength represents courage and strength, but also the patience and compassion to use it correctly.  Considered a companion card to the Chariot, while the Chariot represents outer strength, the Strength card more represents your inner strength.  The human spirit has amazing power to overcome obstacles and when this card appears in a reading, it’s telling you to call upon that strength.  Yet Strength also calls upon you to be compassionate while drawing upon that strength.  This isn’t the time to be a dictator, so be careful how you use your strength.

As you might have guessed, the reversed Strength card represents weakness.  Perhaps you’ve had a recent setback in life and are now questioning you judgement and life choices.  You might also be lacking in the self-control needed to make proper judgements.  Whichever it is, this card calls upon you to reevaluate and connect with that inner strength once again.  If this card comes up in a relationship spread, it could be a sign that you doubting if you’re good enough for your partner.  Your doubts could be leading you to act like someone other than your true self.

9-The Hermit

If the Hermit card shows up in your reading, it’s telling you that now might be the time to draw back from society and consider your options.  The Hermit represents seclusion, but not in a negative way.  Rather, being alone to think tends to allow you to sometimes make better decisions than trying to make decisions in a room full of loud people.  Take a moment to step back and reflect on things around you, the path forward may become clear.

The reversed Hermit represents personal reflection as well, but it can either mean that you are doing it too much or not enough.  If this card comes up in a spread, it’ll be pretty obvious to you which one it is referring to.  If you’re taking too much time to reflect on things, then this is the call to stop thinking and start doing.  If it’s the other way around, then take some time to be by yourself and figure out where you need to go in life.

10-Wheel of Fortune

Round and around the Wheel of Fortune turns, bringing good luck and creating a turning point in your life.  Just as the Wheel is a circle, the meaning focuses on the cycles of life.  This card is neither good nor bad, just a reminder that all things come in a cycle.  If you’re currently experiencing amazing luck and good things in life, this card tells you to prepare for a storm.  If you’re currently weathering said storm, then this card is a sign of clear skies ahead.

When this card shows up reversed in a reading, it means that luck is not on your side right now.  Negative forces outside of your control have started affecting your life and now you feel like you spiraling with no hope of changing anything.  It can also be a sign that you’re resisting change, stuck in your ways.  While change can be extremely stressful, this card is a sign for you to let things run their course, the situation will turn out better for it.

11-Justice

The scales of justice appear on this card, representing justice, truth, and law.  When this card shows up, you are being called to face your actions and be judged fairly for them.  It represents a search for truth, having a need to both know and speak the truth in your present situation.  But remember that this card is also calling upon you to be fair in your treatment of others.  Treat them how you wish to be treated and the entire situation will be better.

If Justice shows up reversed in a reading, it’s a sign that you or someone close to you is being dishonest.  Someone is trying to dodge the bullet and not take responsibility for their actions.  While it might be easy to just lay the blame at someone else’s feet, make sure to take a moment and review your own actions as well.  As hard as it may be to admit you’re wrong about something, that might be exactly what this card is calling you to do.

12-The Hanged Man

While the name might seem a bit morbid, the image of the Hanged Man is normally a man hanging from a rope around his ankle, not his neck.  Since he is forced to hang upside down, he sees the world in a whole new light.  When you draw this card, it’s a suggestion to change your perspective on life.  Perhaps you’re feeling stuck or confused about a part of your life.  You’d be surprised how different the same problems look upside down.  That may be all you need to see the solution.

The reversed Hanged Man represents a period of stagnation in your life, where you feel as if you’re sacrificing a lot but nothing is happening.  You’re putting so much energy into things,  but you can’t seem to move in any direction.  You may also be refusing to make a decision about something, and that’s causing you to remain stuck where you are.  Take a moment to examine where you’re putting your energy, and if it’s better to put the effort towards something else.

13-Death

Despite how it is normally depicted in modern media, this card doesn’t actually mean that person who drew it is going to die any time soon.  Rather, this card simply represents a death of a part of life, the closing of a door.  Where The Hanged Man is a suggestion to change your perspective, Death is a forced change in your path.  The old part of your life is over now, you can’t go back, so keep moving forward.

Reversed, Death represents a reluctance to move on.  You may know that the door to your past has already closed, but you are still sitting on the stoop.  Rather than moving forward on the path of life, you keep checking the handle in hopes that it’s unlocked.  If you get this reversed card in a reading, it’s telling you to find your walking shoes and get moving!  You can’t find out what the future has in store for you if you’re always obsessing with the past.

14-Temperance

Stuck between Death and the Devil, Temperance represents balance and moderation.  This card is the middle road, neither good nor bad, you are simply traveling along.  This card shows that you are able to keep calm in some of the toughest situations, a good trait to have.  By working in harmony with others, you are able to move forward in life, avoiding the arguments and strife that so often plague others.  When this card shows up, it’s a sign to be patient and wait, good things will come in time.

If this card shows up reversed, it’s a sign that things are out of balance, therefore creating tension and stress in your life.  People may be being uncooperative in your life or you may lack a long term vision for your life, both of which are making things harder for you to continue on with your life.  If this card shows up, it’s sometimes a callback to the Death card, a sign that you need to revisit your life and figure out what you need to let go of in order to keep moving forward.

15-The Devil

Where the Death card isn’t as bad as you think it is, the Devil card definitely is.  Representing bondage and addiction, the devil draws out the worse in people, not a fun card to have show up in a spread.  Internal forces are keeping you restrained, preventing you from actually completing your goals in life.  This can be your fears, your addictions, or other harmful impulses that are holding you back in life.  It can also represent other harmful influences on your life, such as a bad relationship.  It could even be something as simple as an obsession you have over something.  Whatever it is, it’s holding you back from being able to accomplish everything you should be able to do in life.

Normally when this card shows up, you’re feeling trapped by something, be it an unhealthy relationship, financial debt, or addictions.  This card isn’t a warning, it’s an ultimatum, either cut these things out of your life, or you will continue to be trapped in a horrible cycle.  But all isn’t lost, if you know is trapping you, you can free yourself and keep moving forward.

16-The Tower

If you take a look at the artwork on the Tower card, it generally shows a tower falling down, the very foundation crumbling out from underneath the occupants.  That’s what this card in a spread means, the crumbling of your foundation, whether physical or mental.  You’ve spent so much time building up everything in your life to feel safe and protected and now everything is about to come crumbling down.  However, all is not lost.  Just like how after a forest fire, new life emerges from the charred grounds, new beginnings will emerge from foundations of the Tower.

While the upright Tower indicates destruction, the reversed Tower appears to tell you that you are simply delaying the inevitable.  Usually this means that you consciously want change, but at the same time you’re afraid of it, which is holding you back.  Also, while the Tower always indicated change, the reversed Tower represents a lesser degree of destruction that precedes the change.

17-The Star

As you move past the horror of the Devil and the Tower, hope dawns in the form of the Star.  Fulfilment and inspiration are the lot for people who draw this card.  Since it comes right after the Tower, the Star shows that you’ve made it through life’s harshness and the destruction of the Tower and are now ready to reap the benefits of new creation.  After the fall, you are open to the healing and creation the Star offers.  The Star represents personal transformation, telling you it’s time to listen to your inner voice and discover the new you.

When the Star is reversed, it shows that your spiritual journey is distorted.  When you should feel hope at the new journey, you feel fear and despair instead.  It could be that you are also starting to feel disengaged in life, having a hard time connecting with others.  Your favorite hobbies and things you normally enjoy are starting to feel dull and don’t hold the joy they used to.  Also considered a test of faith, the reversed Star calls for you to weather through this and come out the other side as a stronger person.

18-The Moon

The Moon moves through phases, ever changing, ever shifting form.  The card represents not only illusions, but also the subconscious, fear, and anxiety.  The Moon represents the shadowy side of the reader, their habit of projecting their fears and anxiety on the world around them.  When this card shows up, it’s calling attention to the fact that you may be projecting your fears onto the world around you.  As the Moon also represents deceit and illusion, it also tells of a time where all is not as it seems.  Take a careful look around you, and remove the cobwebs of illusion to see the world as it truly is.

If the Moon shows up reversed in a reading, it’s telling you that you just went through a rough time of illusion and deceit.  These emotions still have you trapped and are keeping you from moving forward.  It’s imperative that you confront the issues you just went through and the emotions connected to them.  You are one of the most powerful forces you can control, and it’s time to use that power to overcome your fear and move forward through the darkness.

19-The Sun

Like the Sun warms the earth, the Sun card represents warmth, fun and success.  Just as the Sun chases away the fears of the night when it rises, when this card shows up in a drawing, it’s a sign that you’ve made it through the darkness.  Confidence radiates off you like heat off of the Sun, proving that you can do anything you put your mind to right about now.  With the strength that the Sun represents, you know where you’re headed and the path is clear before you.  So get going!

Optimism is hard to find with the Sun shows up reversed in a reading.  Like a cloudy day, the light from the Sun struggles to shine through in your life right now.  Your situation might feel hopeless right now, you feel trapped in the dark and can’t find your way out.  But the Sun is still the ray of hope, even when it is reversed.  When this card shows up in a reading, it’s telling you there is a light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to look a little bit farther.

20-Judgement

While often confused with Justice, judgement represents more of the way of the world, your inner calling.  As the last card before the end of the journey, Judgement calls for a moment of self reflection before continuing.  It pays to look back along your journey and recognize common themes and pitfalls, so you won’t fall victim to them again.  Judgement represents an awakening, changing from one period of life to another.  When this card shows up in a reading, it’s a sign that you need to take a moment and realize how you’ve changed, and how these changed will affect the rest of your journey.

When the reversed Judgement shows up, it’s a sign of self-doubt and judgement.  The time you’re taking to doubt and judge your actions means you’re missing opportunities life may be tossing your way.  It calls for you to realize that every decision you make has consequences, ones that you’ll have to face to keep moving.  But you must keep moving, because life waits for no one and you’re almost at the end of your journey.

21-The World

If the Fool is the beginning of a journey, then the World is the completion of that journey.  Prepare to bask in achievement, fulfillment, and completion, because you’ve earned it.  You’ve made it through the hardships that the rest of the deck threw your way.  Whether it was the Hanged Man or the Devil, you made it and now you’ve completed your goal or journey.  Whether this is something like a school project, or even a courtship ending in marriage, the journey may not have been an easy one, but you survived.  This card tells you that you can pause and take a moment to celebrate, you’ve definitely earned it.

When reversed, the World is telling you that while you’re trying to complete your goal you may be missing a few very important steps.  You may have been close to completion, but you’ve lost focus or stumbled right before the finish line.  It could also be that you’re experiencing a lack of closure, or a delay in completion that is leaving you feeling empty and wanting.  While you may feel stifled and trapped, stay your course, and you’ll reach your destination.

~Elyce

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