The Major Arcana

December 2018 Special Offer! Enjoy 3 free minutes with every new psychic advisor + 50% off the rest of your session.December 2018 Special Offer! Enjoy 3 free minutes with every new psychic advisor + 50% off the rest of your session.

The Meaning of The Major Arcana

The Major Arcana, also known as the Trumps Major or the Greater Arcana, comprise twenty-two cards of the seventy-eight card Tarot deck. These twenty-two cards in particular are laden with symbolic imagery that comes from all manners of ancient mystical traditions spawned from Judaism and Christianity as well as Ancient Egyptian spirtuality, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism, Celtic mythology, Suffism, alchemy, and even Buddhism. In sequence, the Greater Arcana can represent the path to spiritual realization, much like the ten ox-herding illustrations of Zen Buddhism. On this path there are a number of obstacles, but each one opens the individual to broader experiences of life, meaning, and truth. 

Each card illustrates various competing forces such as earth’s elements, real and mythical creatures, as well as human emotions and vicissitudes. Despite dating back all the way to 1440 in Italy, the Trumps, built on archetypal experience, are still very relevant to humans everywhere. It is the Major Arcana that came before the Minor, and the game was at first only available to Nobles. This is one reason for the many images of crowns, robes, and thrones throughout the deck. Although the first use of the Major Arcana was as an entertaining card game, they later became a medium for divination. Their use as a divinitory tool did not come until much later.

Because many of the cards reveal striking and even frightening imagery, there were some who opposed and even rallied against their use, finding them distasteful and even offensive. The Trump cards do not appeal to a restrained morality as they deal with such topics as mortality, pain, and suffering. However, not all of the cards deal with such dire matters; the cards also present commentaries on the more ecstatic aspects of life such as (re)birth, fertility, courage, and inner-strength. Nonetheless, because of the particularly unsettling nature of The Devil card to some in the late 1400’s, an Italian priest gave a sermon stating that The Devil profited from the souls of those who lost at the card game. 

In the 18th century, interest in the Trump cards resurged, particularly in France, where they were studied by occultists as tools for investigating morality and spirituality. Additionally, a man named Antoine Court de Gébelin took up tarot as a form of divination and also as a key to Ancient Egyptian thought. As tarot became popular again, the Trump cards were reinvented by different cultures to suit competing ideas about morality. The cards also evolved in the hands of secret societies who used them more regularly as a form of cartomancy. Later, a man named Eliphas Lévi drew links between the Hebrew mystical tradition of Kabbalah and Tarot. The Rider Waite, created in the early 1900’s, also integrates Christian mysticism.

There is no one, offical Tarot deck, but many of the different decks give their own rendition of the same twenty-two Trump cards, in a similar order: 0 - The Fool; 1 - The Magician; 2 - The High Priestess; 3 - The Empress; 4 - The Emperor; 5 - The Hierophant; 6 - The Lovers; 7 - The Chariot; 8 - Justice; 9 - The Hermit; 10 - The Wheel of Fortune; 11 - Strength; 12 - The Hanged Man; 13 - Death; 14 - Temperance; 15 - The Devil; 16 - The Tower; 17 - The Star; 18 - The Moon; 19 - The Sun; 20 - Judgement; and 21 - The World. Despite consistency in the types of Trumps, there is much variation in terms of symbols used and illustration. Nowadays, there are even contemporary decks reflecting pop culture such as Star Wars or The Simpsons. Because of this, the Trumps are constantly in-flux; such is life!

The Fool

At a Glance

The Fool Card #0 represents uninhibitedness, freedom, living in the present, new experiences, and fearlessness.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Magician

At a Glance

The Magician Card #1 represents manifesting realities, confidence, focus, and shaping your environment.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The High Priestess

At a Glance

The High Priestess Card #2 represents fertility, protectiveness, honesty and intuition.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Empress

At a Glance

The Empress Card #3 represents sensuality, cultivation of home, harvest, ease and relaxation, as well as giving and receiving love.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

Strength

At a Glance

Strength Card #8 represents feminine power, tenderness, and fearless play.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Wheel of Fortune

At a Glance

The Wheel of Fortune Card #10 represents transcendence of earthly matters and acceptance of fate.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

Justice

At a Glance

Justice Card #11 represents honesty, weighing your options, playing the long-game and considering the consequences of actions.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Hanged Man

At a Glance

The Hanged Man Card #12 means being unapologetic, being at ease under precarious circumstances, living in the present and being suspended between two worlds.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

Death

At a Glance

Death Card #13 represents a coming together of disparate elements in your life, giving life meaning through your humanity, and feeling your essential, urgent being.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

Temperance

At a Glance

Temperance Card #14 represents coolness in the face of shifting emotional tides.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Devil

At a Glance

The Devil Card #15 represents the extremes of life, immediacy, impatience, and our intrinsic animal nature.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Tower

At a Glance

The Tower Card #16 represents beginning again, a shift in power, impermanence, and a humbling experience.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Star

At a Glance

The Star Card #17 represents calmness and focus, good luck, openness, balance, and tending to intimate, emotional matters.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Moon

At a Glance

The Moon Card #18 represents striving, the cycle of life and death, and finding your path illuminated during a precarious hour.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Sun

At a Glance

The Sun Card #19 represents leaving paradise to face the real world, courageousness, and readiness to mature. 

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

Judgement

At a Glance

Judgement or The Last Judgement Card #20 represents resurrection, rootlessness and gratitude.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The World

At a Glance

The World Card #21 stands for finding your rhythm, nonduality, transcendence, and a balance of independence and interdependence.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Emperor

At a Glance

The Emperor Card #4 denotes restraint, gravity, and prudence as well as wisdom, experience, and success gleaned from sacrifice.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Hierophant

At a Glance

The Hierophant Card #5 represents spiritual communication, union of earth and sky, and emotional tranquility or coolness.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Lovers

At a Glance

The Lovers Card #6 represents achievement through collaboration, openness, receptivity, and action motivated by love.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Chariot

At a Glance

The Chariot Card #7 represents a period of youthful courage and an adventurous spirit guided by the unknown and protected by the cosmos.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

The Hermit

At a Glance

The Hermit Card #9 represents humility, the light of knowledge, and the constant seeking of wisdom.

If You Drew This Card…

Tarot cards offer a range of meanings to draw insight from. Both negative and positive aspects of each card can resonate with various aspects of your life.

Sign up for our free horoscopes and tarot newsletter!

Free Tarot Reading

Card of the Day

The Meaning of the King of Swords

The King of Swords represents clarity and rationality, with little room for gray areas. This card calls for careful consideration when making decisions.

Read More