Tarot Guide – The Meaning of Tarot Cards

The Meaning of Tarot Cards

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Tarot offers the chance to communicate with me as a whole. ‘Communicate with me as a whole’ means opening a channel to those areas where the ego loses power, and the higher self can speak. If I want to get real information through the tarot spread, this primarily implies attention to myself and my concerns: Do I trust that there is a “self” that is larger and more comprehensive than what is called “I”? What can I change, and what should I assume? These questions cannot be understood solely through a rational mind. This also requires a resonance from within, a certain dedication and trust in everything that is happening here and now.

Too often, people just want to see the tarot cards confirm what the ego is hoping for. It is human, and everyone does it every now and then. But the wisdom of the tarot cards goes far beyond the desires and anxieties of our conscious thinking – to experience this, however, requires the willingness to count on every answer and to accept every answer. This takes time and trust in the answers.

Consequently, this Tarot Guide can only be helpful for the very first steps on the “path to wisdom”. It creates foundations on which you can build on in your own way.

Structure of the Tarot

A full tarot deck consists of the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana and consists of 78 cards.

The Major Arcana

22 cards out of 78 form the so-called “Major Arcana” (plural of the Latin word “Arkanum” = secret), also called “trump cards”. They have catchy names and are identified by Roman numerals in many tarot decks. In a way, they form the heart of the tarot. For this reason, trump cards are often considered “particularly important” in tarot spreads. This is due not least to the fact that the major arcana archetypes represent human existence. If we go to C.G. Jung, they can be seen as pictorial representations of the components of a collective unconscious, as mediators of ancient knowledge about the life path of man, as it is handed down in fairy tales, myths, and legends of all peoples, as mentioned above. In this way, the meaning of the great arcana reaches back to the roots of human awareness in a fascinating way.

Incidentally, an archetype of the Major Arcana has been immortalized in today’s playing cards: the fool, namely as a “joker”.

The Minor Arcana

The remaining 56 cards form the so-called “Minor Arcana”. This group is further divided into four series or sets, also known from the common playing cards: In Tarot, these series are called “rods” (corresponds to cross), “chalices” (corresponds to hearts), “swords” (corresponds to spades) and “coins” (corresponds to diamonds). Each individual series, in turn, consists of fourteen cards: ace (= one), two, three … to ten and four court cards each: jack, knight, queen, and king. (In some tarot decks, such as the Crowley deck, this sequence is somewhat modified: princess [for the boy], prince [for the knight], queen and knight [for the king!]). It is striking that in today’s playing cards, the knight has completely disappeared again.

While the major arcana brings us into contact with subjective forces that lie dormant in ourselves, the minor arcana with the representation of certain situations in which we enter seem to have a stronger connection also to the objective forces – to the forces that are outside of us exist that affect us and lead us to certain reactions or emotions.

The History of the Tarot

Incidentally, the history of the tarot is only partially satisfactorily explained. There are temporal differences in the appearance of the major and minor arcana. It can be assumed that the tarot is composed of at least two different development directions. What is certain is that the tarot under its current name only became known around the 16th century. It is also considered certain that the minor arcana is the forerunner of today’s playing cards – with the exception of the joker, who started his appearance as a fool within the major arcana.

Types of Tarot Cards

Today there are countless of tarot decks with different motifs and often colored by certain ethical directions. The Tarot de Marseille is considered the most authentic tarot because it has no ethical coloring.

I would like to call the Rider-Waite Tarot the most popular modern tarot deck. In my opinion, it is the most suitable tarot for beginners, because it is easily accessible due to its consistently scenic illustration of the minor arcana but does not require too much esoteric background knowledge when interpreting – in contrast to the also very popular Crowley tarot.

The Rider-Waite tarot can also be called “classic” because it is, so to speak, the first of the modern tarots, because most tarot literature relates to it or the tarot of the Marseille, and because it became the anchor point for all other modern interpretations.

The old drawings in the Waite Deck, as can be seen above, have now been revised, namely in the “Universal Waite Tarot”, which remains strictly with the symbolism of Waite, and only the drawings are implemented a bit more modern.

The Meaning of Major Arcana

The major arcana are also called ‘trumps’. These cards are at the heart of the tarot.

First, an introduction to the major arcana. The most important tarot cards in this tarot deck because they are the archetypes that represent the basic structures of our subconscious. That means we are all subject to these archetypes with our imagination and action patterns. That is why the major arcana is at the heart of this beautiful set of cards. Wonderful, easy to understand, and described in detail below. When you click on each card, you will find an in-depth description of each card.

The Meaning of Tarot Cards Infographic

 

0 The Fool

Tarot - The Fool

Upright Meaning: New beginning, Innocence, Spontaneity.

Reversed Meaning: Recklessness, Fearlessness, Risks.

I The Magician

Tarot - The Magician

Upright Meaning: Creation, Strength, Clarity.

Reversed Meaning: Dark Powers, Manipulation, Narcissism.

II The High Priestess

Tarot - The High Priestress

Upright Meaning: Intuition, Divine Truth, Sensitivity.

Reversed Meaning: Harm, Secrets, Hidden Agenda.

 

III The Empress

Tarot - The Empress

Upright Meaning: Growth, Fertility, Beauty.

Reversed Meaning: Selfishness, Impatience, Overwhelmed.

IV The Emperor

Tarot - The Emperor

Upright Meaning: Authority, Power, Stability.

Reversed Meaning: Tyranny, Chaos, Anger.

V The Hierophant

Tarot - The Hierophant

Upright Meaning: Tradition, Trust, Wisdom.

Reversed Meaning: Misconception, Hypocrisy, Blind Faith.

 

VI The Lovers

Tarot - The Lovers

Upright Meaning: Love, Passion, Union.

Reversed Meaning: Suffering, Obedience, Conflict.

VII The Chariot

Tarot - The Chariot

Upright Meaning: Departure, Discipline, Courage.

Reversed Meaning: Carelessness, Arrogance, Wanderlust.

VIII Strength

Tarot - Strength

Upright Meaning: Courage, Passion, Vitality.

Reversed Meaning: Struggle, Pride, Weakness.

 

IX The Hermit

Tarot - The Hermit

Upright Meaning: Wisdom, Independence, Awareness.

Reversed Meaning: Isolation, Resignation, Distance.

X Wheel of Fortune

Tarot - Wheel of Fortune

Upright Meaning: Fate, Karma, Unpredictable.

Reversed Meaning: Negative Phase, Bad Luck, Lack of Control.

XI Justice

Tarot - Justice

Upright Meaning: Judgement, Fairness, Clarity.

Reversed Meaning: Unfairness, Guilt, Punishment.

 

XII The Hanged Man

Tarot - The Hanged Man

Upright Meaning: Deep Insight, Change, Release.

Reversed Meaning: Standstill, Sacrifice, Lack of Control.

XIII Death

Tarot - Death

Upright Meaning: End, Letting go, New Beginning.

Reversed Meaning: Stagnation, Holding on, Grief.

XIV Temperance

Tarot - Temperance

Upright Meaning: Balance, Harmony, Patience.

Reversed Meaning: Lack of Balance, Extremes, Fragile.

 

XV The Devil

Tarot - The Devil

Upright Meaning: Temptation, Seduction, Materialism.

Reversed Meaning: Freedom, Lack of Will, Resentment.

XVI The Tower

Tarot - The Tower

Upright Meaning: Disruption, Change of Life, Awakening

Reversed Meaning: Collapse, Stormy Times, Restlessness.

XVII The Star

Tarot - The Star

Upright Meaning: Faith, Hope, Fortune.

Reversed Meaning: Insecurity, Discouragement, Faithlessness.

 

XVIII The Moon

Tarot - The Moon

Upright Meaning: Mysteries, Dreams. Foreboding.

Reversed Meaning: Darkness, Fears, Insecurities.

XIX The Sun

Tarot - The Sun

Upright Meaning: Pleasure, Rebirth, Light.

Reversed Meaning: Negativity, Arrogance, Carelessness.

XX Judgement

Tarot - Judgement

Upright Meaning: Liberation, Redemption, Awakening.

Reversed Meaning: Doubt, Punishment, Destruction.

 

XXI The World

Tarot - The World

Upright Meaning: Arriving, Life, Spontaneity.

Reversed Meaning: Incompletion, Emptiness, Lack of Closure.

 

 

 

Suit of Cups

The Suit of Cups stands for the emotional world and interpersonal relationships. They symbolize intuition, feelings, receptivity, and sensitivity. They also address the inner life of humans.

The Meaning of the Suit of Cups

Ace of Cups

Tarot - Ace of Cups

Upright Meaning: Opportunity, Great Love, Joy.

Reversed Meaning: Missed Opportunity, Blocked Creativity, Emotional Loss.

Two of Cups

Tarot - Two of Cups

Upright Meaning: Love, Friendship, Connection.

Reversed Meaning: Trust Issues, Imbalance, Tension.

Three of Cups

Tarot - Three of Cups

Upright Meaning: Offspring, Happiness, Gratitude.

Reversed Meaning: Feeling Distanced, Gossip, Overindulgence.

 

Four of Cups

Tarot - Four of Cups

Upright Meaning: Plateau, Bored, Disconnection.

Reversed Meaning: Bitter, Angry, Apathy.

Five of Cups

Tarot - Five of Cups

Upright Meaning: Insight, Knowledge, Sadness.

Reversed Meaning: Acceptance, Finding Peace, Separation.

Six of Cups

Tarot - Six of Cups

Upright Meaning: Romance, Love, Nostalgia.

Reversed Meaning: Independence, Leaving, Moving Forward.

 

Seven of Cups

Tarot - Seven of Cups

Upright Meaning: Warning, Hope, Choices.

Reversed Meaning: Disappointment, Deception, Expectation.

Eight of Cups

Tarot - Eight of Cups

Upright Meaning: New Future, Walking Away, Disillusion.

Reversed Meaning: Fear of Loss, Poor Timing, Uncertain Future.

Nine of Cups

Tarot - Nine of Cups

Upright Meaning: Dreams, Enjoyment, Happiness.

Reversed Meaning: Sluggishness, Exaggeration, Lack of Joy.

 

Ten of Cups

Tarot - Ten of Cups

Upright Meaning: Love, Satisfaction, Harmony.

Reversed Meaning: Feeling neglected, Poor Timing, Shattered Dreams.

Page of Cups

Tarot - Page of Cups

Upright Meaning: Opportunity, Invitation, Affection.

Reversed Meaning: Relationship Problems, Oversensitivity, Misunderstandings.

Knight of Cups

Tarot - Knight of Cups

Upright Meaning: Romance, Infatuation, Well-Being.

Reversed Meaning: Empty Promises, Moodiness, Fantasy.

 

Queen of Cups

Tarot - Queen of Cups

Upright Meaning: Empathy, Sacrifice, Patience.

Reversed Meaning: Mysticism, Dark, Insecurity.

King of Cups

Tarot - King of Cups

Upright Meaning: Intense Love, Psychic Energy, Balance.

Reversed Meaning: Coldness, Mocking, Warning.

 

Suit of Pentacles

The Suit of Pentacles stands for topics related to financial matters and for practice-oriented thinking and acting. They are assigned to the element earth and convey properties such as durability, sensuality, stability, enjoyment, and a sense of tradition.

Tarot Cards Meaning - Suit of Pentacles Infographic

Ace of Pentacles

Tarot - Ace of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Happiness, Joy, New Beginning.

Reversed Meaning: Missed Opportunity, Financial Problems, Bad Investment.

Two of Pentacles

Tarot - Two of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Adaptation, Ease, Priorities.

Reversed Meaning: Loss of Balance, Disorganized, Carefree.

Three of Pentacles

Tarot - Three of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Completion, Teamwork, Good Results.

Reversed Meaning: Unfinished Business, Frustration, Delay.

 

Four of Pentacles

Tarot - Four of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Security, Limit, Conservation.

Reversed Meaning: Control, Standing still, Greed.

Five of Pentacles

Tarot - Five of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Poverty, Fear of Loss, Isolation.

Reversed Meaning: Recovery, Hardship, Crisis.

Six of Pentacles

Tarot - Six of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Tolerance, Generosity, Helpfulness.

Reversed Meaning: Stinginess, Strings attached, Domination.

 

Seven of Pentacles

Tarot - Seven of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Joy, Positive Results, Patience.

Reversed Meaning: Impatience, Doubt, Disillusion.

Eight of Pentacles

Tarot - Eight of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Learning, Hard Work, Beginning.

Reversed Meaning: Inexperience, Ignorance, Feeling overworked.

Nine of Pentacles

Tarot - Nine of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Success, Great Love, Rewards.

Reversed Meaning: Overspending, Materialism, Financial Security.

 

Ten of Pentacles

Tarot - Ten of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Carefree, Harmony, Happy Love.

Reversed Meaning: Lack of Stability, Money Problems, Miscommunication.

Page of Pentacles

Tarot - Page of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Ambition, Diligence, Desire.

Reversed Meaning: Missed Opportunity, Laziness, Greed.

Knight of Pentacles

Tarot - Knight of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Stability, Perseverance, Security.

Reversed Meaning: Stupidity, Exaggeration, Potential Dishonesty.

 

Queen of Pentacles

Tarot - Queen of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Femininity, Fertility, Sensuality.

Reversed Meaning: Indifference, Disappointment, Financial Problems.

King of Pentacles

Tarot - King of Pentacles

Upright Meaning: Hard Work, Will to Success, Abundance.

Reversed Meaning: Indulgence, Excess, Greed.

 

Suit of Swords

The 14 court cards of the swords represent the mind, intellect, and reason. They are assigned to the element air and convey meanings such as rationality, knowledge, determination, certain character traits, goal orientation, concentration, as well as search for truth and knowledge.

The Meaning of the Suit of Swords Infographic

Ace of Swords

Tarot - Ace of Swords

Upright Meaning: Reason, Illuminating, Sharp Mind.

Reversed Meaning: Separation, Difficult Times, Confusion.

Two of Swords

Tarot - Two of Swords

Upright Meaning: Indecision, Solutions, Difficulties.

Reversed Meaning: Torn, Skepticism, Negative Mind.

Three of Swords

Tarot - Three of Swords

Upright Meaning: Way out, Liberation, Heartbreak.

Reversed Meaning: Insult, Fraud, Painful Experience.

 

Four of Swords

Tarot - Four of Swords

Upright Meaning: Rest, Relaxation, Being Patient.

Reversed Meaning: Standstill, Difficulties, Exclusion.

Five of Swords

Tarot - Five of Swords

Upright Meaning: Unwinnable, Sneakiness, Defeat.

Reversed Meaning: Hate, Power Struggle, Ambush.

Six of Swords

Tarot - Six of Swords

Upright Meaning: New Beginning, Change, New Love.

Reversed Meaning: Fears, Worries, Farewell.

 

Seven of Swords

Tarot - Seven of Swords

Upright Meaning: Keen Mind, Intelligence, Insecurity.

Reversed Meaning: Hatred, Maliciousness, Rethinking.

Eight of Swords

Tarot - Eight of Swords

Upright Meaning: Overthinking, Self-Criticism, Entrapment.

Reversed Meaning: Inhibitions, Hidden Personality, Lack of Space.

Nine of Swords

Tarot - Nine of Swords

Upright Meaning: Stress, Anxiety, Hopelessness.

Reversed Meaning: Hope, Despair, Fear of Loss.

 

Ten of Swords

Tarot - Ten of Swords

Upright Meaning: Sudden Ending, Failure, Backstabbing.

Reversed Meaning: Inevitable End, Intellectual Tyranny, Abrupt Conclusion.

Page of Swords

Tarot - Page of Swords

Upright Meaning: Clear Mind, New Experience, Adventure.

Reversed Meaning: Discord, Conflicts, Tactlessness

Knight of Swords

Tarot - Knight of Swords

Upright Meaning: Honesty, Opposition, Conflict.

Reversed Meaning: Malice, Cynicism, Ridicule.

 

Queen of Swords

Tarot - Queen of Swords

Upright Meaning: Confident, Willing to learn, Equality.

Reversed Meaning: Cynical, Distance, Sharp-tongued.

King of Swords

Tarot - King of Swords

Upright Meaning: Intelligence, Clever mind, Problem-solver.

Reversed Meaning: Sneakiness, Irony, Cynicism.

Suit of Wands

The Suit of Wands stands for the areas of work, career, action, profession, and talent. They symbolize our creative energies and creative powers. Everything creative, as well as assertiveness, is transported by these tarot cards.

The Meaning of the Suit of Wands Infographic

 

Ace of Wands

Tarot - Ace of Wands

Upright Meaning: Courage, Desire, Positivity.

Reversed Meaning: Missed Opportunity, Miscommunication, Delay.

Two of Wands

Tarot - Two of Wands

Upright Meaning: Plans, Travel, New Ideas.

Reversed Meaning: Indifference, Listlessness, Inner Conflict.

Three of Wands

Tarot - Three of Wands

Upright Meaning: Offspring, Happiness, Gratitude.

Reversed Meaning: Obstacles, Delays, Frustration.

 

Four of Wands

Tarot - Four of Wands

Upright Meaning: Peace, Happiness, Harmony.

Reversed Meaning: Delays, Debauchery, Transience.

Five of Wands

Tarot - Five of Wands

Upright Meaning: Strength, Competition, Conflict.

Reversed Meaning: Bitter Competition, Sick Ambition, Untrustworthiness.

Six of Wands

Tarot - Six of Wands

Upright Meaning: Victory, Success, Good News.

Reversed Meaning: Delay, Punishment, Excess Pride.

 

Seven of Wands

Tarot - Seven of Wands

Upright Meaning: Victory, Hope, Defense.

Reversed Meaning: Giving up, Competition, Threat.

Eight of Wands

Tarot - Eight of Wands

Upright Meaning: Travel, Movement, Communication.

Reversed Meaning: Uncertainty, Miscommunication, Frustration.

Nine of Wands

Tarot - Nine of Wands

Upright Meaning: Delimitation, Recognition, Strength.

Reversed Meaning: Reluctance, Close-minded, Resistance.

 

Ten of Wands

Tarot - Ten of Wands

Upright Meaning: No Perspective, Burden, Accomplishment.

Reversed Meaning: Burnt out, Pressure, Overwhelmed.

Page of Wands

Tarot - Page of Wands

Upright Meaning: Adventure, Chance, Growth.

Reversed Meaning: Confusion, Miscommunication, Conflict.

Knight of Wands

Upright Meaning: Fiery Love, Self-Confidence, Motivation.

Reversed Meaning: Impatience, Anger, Arguments.

 

Queen of Wands

Tarot - Queen of Wands

Upright Meaning: Pride, Femininity, Self-Confidence.

Reversed Meaning: Aggressiveness, Selfishness, Insecurity.

King of Wands

Tarot - King of Wands

Upright Meaning: Security, Warmth, Strength.

Reversed Meaning: Arrogance, Narcissism, Impulsive.

The Different Tarot Card Spreads

Different card spreads are used to match various aspects of a question. Most tarot readers use a variety of spreads to increase the efficacy of their readings. There are also traditional card spreads such as the Celtic Cross and 3 Fates. Some readers use complex card spreads such as the Astrology Spread, which consists of 24 cards that deal with 12 main areas in an individual’s life. The combination of cards in the spread helps the reader develop an insight into a particular situation.

Myths and Misconceptions

There are many myths associated with tarot cards. One of the common ones is that when someone receives the Death card, the death of someone is imminent. On the contrary, this card has a deeper meaning and is not associated with the death of any person. The card represents change and evolution. Many people have also thought that a card reading can bring misfortune. This is far from the truth, which is evident from the popularity of these cards. Many Tarot readers do not do their own reading because they believe a reading requires three parties to be involved, which are the reader, the questioner, and the tarot deck.

Many people are also of the opinion that psychic powers are required to conduct a tarot reading. No such powers are necessary since each of these cards has a meaning of which has been developed over the years. In order to achieve the best results, it is essential for the reader to set aside any preconceptions and thoughts about a problem and let the cards do the work. Another myth is that tarot can be used to cast spells. This is just not possible since the cards have no power other than that of insight. Tarot cards are purely to help an individual gain further insight into a problem or situation from which they can take a suitable course of action to remedy the situation.

 

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