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The Tarot: Major Arcana

The Tarot: Major Arcana by W1tchsbrew

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The tarot is a powerful divination tool that helps people understand more about their life journey and higher self. A Tarot deck consists of 22 Major Arcanas (also known as Trump cards) and 56 Miner Arcana cards.

What does arcana mean in tarot?

The word Arcana finds its roots in the Latin word “arcanus” which means “Secret.”

The Major Arcana is a 22 card set within the tarot that is considered to be the core and the foundation for the deck. All of the deck is filled with archetypal significance, but this is most pronounced within the Major Arcana. The Major Arcana Tarot cards represent the life lessons, karmic influences and the big archetypal themes that are influencing your life and your soul’s journey to enlightenment.

Major Arcana cards in a Tarot reading ask you to critically examine the lessons and themes you’re now encountering in your life. A Major Arcana card may frequently serve as the starting point for the overall Tarot reading, with the remaining cards connecting back to the central meaning of the Major Arcana.

Tarot cards have two positions: upright and reversed. The way cards appear in the spread can change their meaning, especially because reversed cards do not mean the simple opposite of upright cards.

Get to know the cards:

The World Tarot Card

*The World

Upright: fulfillment, harmony, completion

Reversed: in-completion, no closure

The World symbolizes harmony and unity. Drawing this card means that you’re reaching the end of a period of your life, and to look ahead with your head held high. 

Drawing the reversed World is usually a sign that you’re seeking personal fulfillment or closure, but are having difficulty. The World reversed calls you to spell some time working through whatever issues are preventing you from finding that sense of personal completion. 

Judgement Tarot Card

*Judgement

Upright: reflection, reckoning, awakening

Reversed: lack of self awareness, doubt, self loathing

In the upright position, Judgement reminds you to approach upcoming events with compassion, logic, intuition, and strength. This card could also indicate that a time of “reckoning” is coming.

This card reversed is a call to remember to live your most authentic life without fear of outside opinion. Reversed Judgement could be a sign that you’re being too hard on yourself or those around you. 

The Sun Tarot Card

*The Sun

Upright: joy, success, celebration, positivity

Reversed: negativity, depression, sadness

Drawing the Sun card calls you to bring your enthusiasm and vitality to everything you do. If you do this, you are guaranteed to find happy outcomes at the end.

The Sun reversed could be signaling you to keep your ego and enthusiasm in check. It could also symbolize that you’re struggling to see the bright side, and to trust that you will find a way through. 

The Moon Tarot Card

*The Moon

Upright: unconscious, illusions, intuition

Reversed: confusion, fear, misinterpretation

The Moon may represent anxieties that are preventing you from reaching your full potential or that your subconscious might be harboring memories and emotions that are affecting your potential for happiness and peace.

The reversed Moon card is calling you to start listening to your subconscious and to trust your intuition. It could be a sign that you’re repressing thoughts and feelings because you’re scared of dealing with them. 

The Star Tarot Card

*The Star

Upright: hope, faith, rejuvenation

Reversed: faithlessness, discouragement, insecurity

The Star is a symbol of self-assurance and healing. If you draw the Star in a reading, it’s a sign that your challenges are almost over. This card could also be calling you to focus on your emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being.

When the reversed Star appears in a reading, it’s often a sign that you’re disconnected from your truest self. Reversed, The Star tells you that now is the time for simple self-care practices and gentle self-nurturing. 

The Tower Tarot Card

*The Tower

Upright: sudden upheaval, broken pride, disaster

Reversed: disaster avoided, delayed disaster, fear of suffering

Drawing the Tower in a reading shows that a shocking or unexpected event is coming. This card challenges you to stay true to your beliefs and values, regardless of what lies ahead.

Drawing a reversed Tower could indicate that you know you need to enter a period of change and transformation, but you’re being hesitant to do so. The Tower reversed is a reminder that change is needed in order for you grow stronger.

The Devil Tarot Card

*The Devil

Upright: addiction, materialism, playfulness

Reversed: freedom, release, restoring control

Drawing the Devil is always a sign that something needs to change. You might be struggling to overcome dark thoughts or negative energies and this card is a reminder that you can take back control.

The reversed Devil shows that you’ve reached a place of strength and control and are ready to move forward into a more balanced future. Now is the time to release yourself and let it go.

Temperance Tarot Card

*Temperance 

Upright: middle path, patience, finding meaning

Reversed: extremes, excess, lack of balance

Temperance symbolizes the long game. You have a plan, but there’s no need to rush—take it slow and stay balanced. The Temperance card is a calling to approach your life with patience and calm. 

Temperance reversed calls you to restore balance. This could also be telling you that now is your time for healing and introspection. Reversed Temperance urges you to find the source of your imbalance and realign your heart, mind, and spirit.

Death Tarot Card

*Death

Upright: end of cycle, beginnings, change, metamorphosis

Reversed: fear of change, holding on, stagnation, decay

Drawing the Death card doesn’t necessarily mean that death and misfortune are on their way. Instead, it symbolizes a period of transition or rebirth. This card could also be calling you to break unhealthy cycles that are harming your growth.

The reversed Death card shows that you’re on the precipice of change, but are resisting it. Or it could be saying that you need to release  unhealthy parts of your past in order to open yourself up to new experiences.

The Hanged Man Tarot Card

*The Hanged Man

Upright: sacrifice, release, martyrdom

Reversed: stalling, needless sacrifice, fear of sacrifice

The Hanged man tells you to pause and think before you do anything else. This card is a sign that you should try to find a new perspective before jumping into anything new. It could also be an indication that you need to take a break and gain perspective or clarity before continuing on your journey.

Drawing a reversed Hanged Man could mean you’re stalling before starting something new and that now’s the time for action. 

Justice Tarot Card

*Justice

Upright: cause and effect, clarity, truth

Reversed: dishonesty, unaccountability, unfairness

Drawing the Justice card is a calling to impartially weigh up all the influencing factors before making a choice. People experience the truth differently, and this card is telling you to have compassion when deciding which truth is “right”.

The reversed Justice card could be a sign that you’ve done something you’re not proud of, and that you need to step up and face the consequences of your actions. It could also be a sign that you’re judging yourself too harshly or that you need to treat yourself with the same compassion and understanding that you try to show others.

Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card

*The Wheel of Fortune 

Upright: change, cycles, inevitable fate

Reversed: no control, clinging to control, bad luck

Drawing the Wheel of Fortune may show that you need to accept that you’re not in control of everything. Instead of constantly seeking stability, you may need to learn to let go and accept that unexpected changes are always on the horizon. 

In reverse, the Wheel of Fortune may be telling you that a run of good luck is about to end or that harder times are coming. It could also signify that you’re breaking out of a bad cycle or situation, and to expect the unexpected.

The Hermit Tarot Card

* The Hermit

Upright: contemplation, search for truth, inner guidance

Reversed: loneliness, isolation, lost your way

Drawing the Hermit is a sign that it’s time to take a step away from your busy life and focus on yourself for a period of time. It could also be telling you to look deep within yourself for clarity or guidance as this will help you find the next step on your path.

If you draw a reversed Hermit, this could be a sign that you’ve isolated yourself too much or need to leave your inner world, lest you fall into a negative mindset. 

Strength Tarot Card

*Strength

Upright: inner strength, bravery, compassion, focus

Reversed: self doubt, weakness, insecurity

Drawing the Strength card is a sign that you’re looking for balance by learning to control some of your more negative attributes and raw emotions. It’s your call to stay in control during tough times, and a reminder to act from a place of compassion, courage, and love.

In reverse, Strength is a signal that you need to tame the unkind voices in your head and perhaps work on your confidence. It may indicate that you’re lacking inner strength or you’re being led by instinct or raw emotion instead of learning to control your feelings and use them more productively.

The Chariot Tarot Card

*The Chariot

Upright: direction, control, willpower

Reversed: lack of control, lack of direction, aggression

Drawing the chariot is a sign that now is your time. Don’t let anything (including your own passivity) stand in your way: take deliberate, focused action to make your ambitions into a reality.

The reversed chariot is a sign to check you’re heading in the right direction. You may need to reassess your motivation and goals before you get started.

The Lovers Tarot Card

*The Lovers

Upright: partnerships, duality, union

Reversed: loss of balance, one-sidedness, disharmony

While the Lovers often signify the sexual or passionate nature of relationships, this card isn’t only about romantic love. It also represents the vulnerability, openness, and honesty required to build a lasting connection whether that be with a friend, family member or partner. This card is calling to you to be honest with yourself. It could symbolize conflicting personalities or ideas. 

The reversed Lovers might signify that you’re out of sync with the people around you. It can also be seen as a call to align your actions with your values and find balance in yourself.

The Hierophant Tarot Card

*The Hierophant 

Upright: tradition, conformity, morality, ethics

Reversed: rebellion, subversiveness, new approaches

Drawing the Hierophant is a recommendation that it’s time for you to start studying again, either professionally or by exploring your religious heritage.

The reversed Hierophant might be a call to leave convention behind and start innovating and creating or to let your inner wisdom guide you confidently onto your new path. 

The Emperor Tarot Card

*The Emperor

Upright: authority, structure, control, fatherhood

Reversed: tyranny, rigidity, coldness

The Emperor tells predicts that you may be someone who naturally commands authority, thrives within a set structure or demonstrates the traits of a born leader. Drawing the Emperor could also be a signal that you need to step up and take control of a situation. 

A reversed Emperor being drawn could signify that you’re abusing the power you have or perhaps affecting those around you in a negative way. It could also be a sign that now is the time to step up and lead.

The Empress Tarot Card

*The Empress

Upright: motherhood, fertility, nature

Reversed: dependence, smothering, emptiness, nosiness

Drawing the Empress is a reminder that while pursuing spiritual growth is admirable, appreciating the beautiful world we live in is just as important. It’s a call to experience life with all five senses, explore your creativity, and enjoy the fruits of everything you’ve worked hard for. 

The reversed Empress might signify that you need to reconnect with nature and the energy that flows through the world. You could also be struggling with self expression or co-dependency. 

The High Priestess Tarot Card

*The High Priestess

Upright: intuitive, unconscious, inner voice

Reversed: lack of center, lost inner voice, repressed feelings

The High Priestess symbolizes an awareness of things that are beyond our standard cognition. This card is a sign that instead of silencing the voices in your mind or relying solely on intellect, you should start listening to what your subconscious is trying to tell you. 

If you draw this card in reverse it may be a sign that you’re pushing down your gut instinct about a situation or perhaps acting in a way that contradicts how you truly feel.

The Magician Tarot Card

*The Magician

Upright: willpower, desire, creation, manifestation

Reversed: trickery, illusions, out of touch

This card represents manifestation and inspired action. The Magician shows that you have all the resources and willpower you need to make your dreams come true. When you draw this card, it means that now is the time to put your plans into action and make your intentions a reality.

The reversed Magician symbolizes illusion. If you draw it, it might mean you’re struggling to take action to bring your dreams to life or that you’re unfocused and have let go of something you were working towards.

The Fool Tarot Card

*The Fool

Upright: innocence, new beginnings, free spirit

Reversed: recklessness, taken advantage of, inconsideration

This card wants you to embrace the open, free, carefree parts of yourself and see the world as a wonderful, beautiful, curious place. It’s an invitation to bring more fun and freedom into your life, especially as you undertake a new adventure.

In the event of drawing a reversed fool, it would be seen as a warning that you’re displaying some of his more negative traits. For example, you might be so busy living joyously in the moment that you’ve forgotten to plan ahead for the future. It can also be cautioning you to be aware of the people around you, as someone may be trying to take advantage.

BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TAROT CARD INTERPRETATIONS:

When it was first published nearly 40-years-ago, Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom was an instant classic and inspired generations of tarot students. Often referred to as the “bible of tarot books” it has now helped to launch the “tarot renaissance” we’re seeing today. Drawing on mythology and esoteric traditions and delving deeply into the symbolism and ideas of each card, the book offers a modern psychological interpretation of the tarot archetypes rather than a system of esoteric symbolism.
Joan Bunning’s “Learning the Tarot—An Online Course” has helped hundreds of thousands of people worldwide discover the personal value of the tarot. Drawing on the material offered in this popular online course and from her previous books, Joan has created a complete guide to tarot for beginners, which serves as a handy and in-depth resource for more experienced tarot card readers as well.

Sum up:

The Major Arcana cards are the most recognizable and impactful cards in a tarot deck.  Their story-line is a great description of the accomplishments, setbacks, and lessons we all learn as we go through the trials and tribulations of our lifetime, growing into whole, complete beings by the end of our  journey.

All 78 Cards of the Tarot and their Meanings. Tarot deck is the Golden Universal Tarot.
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