Tarot card reading has been used by people for foretelling and to obtain energy and sense-based guidance to navigate life challenges for a long time. The rich and mysterious images of the cards always have intriguing effects on people. Tarot card reading is a great way to connect with your subconscious, and inner voice, and harness intuition. You might want to start your tarot journey with the meanings and unique interpretations each tarot card has. One thing to know is that there is no single and fixed meaning to the rich symbolism of tarot cards. Everyone derives their own meaning from the cards based on their intuition. There is some common meaning that each Tarot card has that can guide you to derive your subjective meaning.
Different Tarot Decks
There are so many different Tarot decks available. Your initial step would be to decide which tarot card deck you are going to use.
You can begin with the widely used Smith Rider Waite Tarot deck, which was created by artist Pamela Colman Smith and is popular among beginners. This tarot deck serves as a foundation for many other decks and has prominent aspects that can enhance various aspects of your tarot reading abilities. As you progress and establish your personal connection with the tarot cards, you may feel drawn to switch decks based on your intuition and emotions. It’s almost like your deck will call out to you, and you’ll feel a particular connection with one particular set. Other tarot decks like Wild Unknown tarot deck and Thoth tarot Deck are also popular.
Basics of Tarot Deck
Originally the tarot deck consisted of 22 cards. Later on, an additional 56 cards, known as the Minor Arcana were added in Europe around the 15th century. The 78 cards of the tarot deck have a unique symbol and image and are divided into two categories, Major and Minor Arcana. Each card in the tarot deck has a specific meaning, which is influenced by its position in the deck and its relationship to other cards. So, while reading tarot, don’t forget to consider the position of the drawn card with the other cards’ focus.
Major Arcana Tarot Cards
The most important cards in the Tarot deck are Major Arcana cards which represent major life events, experiences, and turning points. The 22 cards of Major Arcana are the stages in the journey of an apprentice known as the Fool towards becoming a Magi who has attained complete spiritual knowledge. The images on each card represent a significant life lesson or theme.
Two Different Meanings
Before the cards are laid down for a reading, you are supposed to shuffle the deck properly. At times, when a card is pulled out you end up with a 180-degree flipped card. A flipped card has a different meaning than an upright card.
- Upright Meaning: When you pull the card correctly, it’s the usual meaning of the card.
- Reverse Meaning: When you pull a flipped or upside-down card, the meaning of the card changes. It’s the flip side of the same attribute. For example, being carefree can translate into being careless. You have to pay more attention to the reverse card and make out a streamlined meaning in connection with the other pulled cards.
22 Major Arcana Cards
- The Fool: New starting
Ruled by planet Uranus, this major arcana card is a sign for those thinking of starting something new.
- The Magician: Creativity and Manifestation
The Magician is a highly creative symbol ruled by Mercury. It’s a card that signals your creativity.
- The High Priestess: Intuition
Representing the water element and Moon ruled, The High Priestess is the embodiment of higher knowledge and intuition. If you pull this card it means your intuition is trying to communicate with you.
- The Empress: Nurturing
The Empress is the innate nurturing and mothering presence in ourselves. The planet of love, Venus ruled the Empress.
- The Emperor: Authority
Countering the Empress card, the Emperor is a fire element, directly ruled by the zodiac Aries. It is a sign of authority and power, where you take a lead into the world after nurturing yourself fully.
- The Hierophant: Spiritual Guidance
Symbolizing spirituality, tradition, and religion, The Hierophant is akin to a messenger from Heaven. Ruled by Taurus, it is representative of the Earth element.
- The Lovers: Love
This card indicated a potential change in your relationship with yourself and with your romantic love interest. You might have to make choices and understand yourself better. The Lovers is a Gemini card.
- The Chariot: Strength
A Cancer card, the chariot is linked with determination and emotional perseverance.
- Strength: Bravery
Leo rules this card and is representative of the fire element. Strength as the name suggests points toward resilience, bravery, and self-control. The power here is not outer or bodily power, it’s the inherent courage that all of us have even during a tender moment.
- The Hermit: Reflection
As the name suggests, the Hermit is all about solitude, introspection, and self-reflection. A Virgo card, the Hermit is a card that signals to listen to your internal wisdom.
- The Wheel of Fortune: Luck
As the name itself suggests, the Wheel of Fortune represents the cyclic nature of life, change, and destiny. In the cycle of life sometimes you are at the top sometimes you are not. Ruled by Jupiter, this card is a sign to enjoy the present moment as nothing lasts forever.
- Justice: Equality
Belonging to the Libra zodiac sign, the Justice card is associated with issues of morality, ethics, and justice. Embodying the concepts of fairness, righteousness, and equality, the Justice card is a reminder for you to be just and impartial.
- The Hanged Man: Waiting
This card is a reminder to surrender to life, to wait, and let go of the things that seem to be slipping away. The Hanged Man is ruled by Neptune, which also governs Pisces. Associated with waiting, inaction, and letting go, the hanged man is an indication to let life reveal itself in its due course.
- Death: Transformation
Linked with the zodiac sign Scorpio, the Death card is also associated with the essential component of the natural cycle of life, death. The Death card represents the transformation and metamorphosis of your being.
- Temperance: Patience
Governed by the fire element, the Temperance card embodies the virtue of moderation, harmony, and balance.
- The Devil: Materialism
A Capricorn card, The Devil card represents the earth element. It is associated with earthly vices like temptation, addiction, and materialism.
- The Tower: Change
Associated with destruction, chaos, and upheaval, The Tower card represents the powerful power of change. But, it does not necessarily mean a negative experience, it can also be seen as a sign of evolution.
- The Star: Hope
A sense of hope and regeneration for the future, The Star card is associated with Aquarius and the air element. This card reassures you that you are on the right path and the universe is in your favour.
- The Moon: Confusions
The Moon card deals with illusions, hidden truths, the subconscious, and uncertainties. The Moon belongs to the water element and indicated that you might have to address your hidden feelings.
- The Sun: Vitality
The Sun card signifies joy, success, vitality, and abundance in life. The card prompts you to look carefully into your life and realize the already present joy and abundance that you have been ignoring.
- Judgement: Reflection
The Judgment card represents self-reflection and evaluation of your past actions so that you can align them with your future goals. It indicates taking a break and a moment to reflect your inner world and evaluate your growth.
- The World: Wholeness
With this card, the fool’s journey comes to an end. The World card represents completion and achievement. It indicates you have finished a chapter of your life by arriving at the destination and can get ready for another one.
The Minor Arcana consists of the remaining 56 cards, which are divided into four suits: cups, wands, pentacles, and swords. Each suit represents a different aspect of life, emotions, creativity, material possessions, and intellect. The cards in each of these four suits are divided into 10 numbered “pip” cards and 4 court cards.
- Suits of Wands (Fire)
- Suits of Cups (Water)
- Suits of Swords (Air)
- Suits of Pentacles (Earth)
As mentioned earlier, the interpretations of each card can vary according to multiple reasons like the tarot spread, and their position with respect to other cards, on the individuals, and intuition as well. It’s better to not rely too much on the learned and memorized meaning and to develop your own understanding and intuition as you practice more Tarot Reading. Try to focus more on the story that the drawn cards are trying to communicate than their individual tarot card meanings.