Introducing Tarot Cards And Their Meanings

Open any new Tarot deck and you will find 78 shiny new cards that at first glance seem indistinguishable from each other. Apart from differing artwork, the names upon the cards and perhaps some keywords too, at first look, you could be forgiven for thinking that those 78 cards are just simply 78 cards with no obvious structure or order.

On closer inspection though, it becomes apparent that there is at least a numerical order to the first 22 cards. These are called the Major Arcana, or Trumps, and it’s here that you would normally begin your explanation of those 78 cards. But not at Tarot Elements!

The Cards

ThothdeckcoverOur exploration of the Tarot will actually begin with the Elements and Aces. It is here we will explore the different elements and their relationship to the Aces, and then of course, the Aces in their own right.

Looking at the Numerology of the Minor Arcana first, and how the numbers themselves can be seen as universal, we will then progress onto the individual suits: the fiery Wands, the watery Cups, the airy Swords and of course the earthy Pentacles.

Moving onto the Tarot Court Cards, I feel it’s important to display them in a peer group setting for ease of comparison. Using the two main decks to illustrate the different characters that can be found at Court, the Radiant Rider Waite-Smith and the Thoth, we will begin with the youngest members at Court, the Pages and Princesses; we will then be moving onto the dashing Knights and Princes. After spending some time with the gracious Queens, we will finalise our exploration at Court by meeting the Kings and Knights.

It’s at this point where we move onto the Major Arcana, and also where we will complete our exploration of the Tarot.

Why Only Keywords?

Why indeed. Quite simply because it’s the best way to learn the divinatory definitions of the cards; and it also allows room in your mind for development of your own tarot card meanings. What’s important to remember about keywords & definitions, is that they have been developed by many people over many many years. They are in effect, a collective library of ideas and experiences. Now, while it’s necessary to keep the core definitions intact throughout the cards and across the board, I feel it’s equally necessary and important for you to develop your own take on your tarot cards.

Keeping things slim lined and free from other people’s definitions allows you to layer your readings too. Tarot cards can have different meanings in different situations, so without tying up your tarot cards with specific divinatory definitions, you are allowing your tarot cards to really speak to you many times within the same reading and providing you with a rich and deep layering of interpretation. This is also the perfect way to allow your intuition and clairvoyance to develop.

The keywords I have given to the cards are mainly my own. They have been developed from the established definitions widely accessible to all. You may not agree with all of them, but they are as I see them and how I read them personally. You can use these keywords as the basis of your own, or you may simply add them to your own ever growing repertoire of Tarot card meanings vocabulary.

This post is an introduction to the tarot card keywords originally posted on the the blog and refers to the keywords of the cards in the groups of their suits. For a more comprehensive and extensive look at the cards individually, please visit the Tarot Card Meanings section.




Author: Catherine

I use tarot to help me navigate life and understand myself better. As well as tarot, I enjoy using aromatherapy & herbalism to improve my health & well being. My spiritual seeking lay with Gaia, the environment & what my senses engage around me.

10 thoughts

  1. Hi Greg, I’ve had a look at the link to your book. I’m always skeptical when I read claims of truth based on myth. Although, to be honest, I am fascinated by both myths and truth (what ever that is) and would like to know more about your book.

    I accept that you state your book provides clues to the ancient origins of the Tarot but, unless there is corroborative evidence, like there is for the Tarot originating 600 years ago, I’m always going to have doubts.

    I do like scholars that are prepared to go against mainstream ‘stories’ 🙂 but without corroborative evidence such claims are not based upon anything but imagination.

    What interests me most is your claim of:

    …actual and tangible links between Tarot, The Grail stories and The Book of Revelation.

    I look forward to reading your response 🙂

  2. Hi Catherine,

    I am looking forward to this new section of your blog. I am sure I will find it useful and invaluable when applying keywords and symbolism to my own initial interpretations. And, they are just that right now – initial, the first. I already see them changing as I learn more, flip through the cards, and allow myself to explore them.

    Reading the history of Tarot (and, I know it varies), has helped me more than reading random meanings. However, I agree that key symbols and are an essential part of the Tarot reading process. In the beginning (it’s only been three weeks), the Christian symbolism was more dominant in my interpretations. It is what I had been exposed to previously. And now, the more I explore, I realize that it goes much deeper than that. This arouses my curiosity and sense of intrigue. In time, in time…

    The universals in Tarot–like the use of threes–allows each reader to find a symbol that resonates with them. The key, is to open yourself to the unknown and explore all of the components.

    Warmest regards, Nicole

    1. Hi Nicole,

      Thanks for your comment. I think it’s important to keep our definitions slim and keywords are simply the best way to do that. Like most other readers, I have studied the cards individually and forgotten most of what I have read! I’m sure it went in there somewhere;) Seriously though, it does, and although it feels like we have forgotten it, we haven’t really. Recall provides the answers when we need it and the keywords provide a quick jog to the memory. A good way to think of keywords is to liken them to a theme. They provide the general flavour, they set the scene and yet they also allow for development of the narrative in a reading because we haven’t tried to say too much about one card. Interpreting cards in a spread is very different to studying individual cards and keywords assist in the reading process. But more on that later…;)

      Glad you’re enjoying this series so far 🙂

      Warm wishes,


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