Also known as the trumps, from their historical origin, the Major Arcana are considered the most important group of cards in the tarot. To some, they represent universal archetypes. To others, they represent the spiritual quest of enlightenment.
They are magickal and special and yet they also represent our everyday lives and experiences. There are many aspects to the Major Arcana and it would be wrong to classify them from just one perspective.
Like the rest of the tarot, the Major Arcana are multi-faceted and multi-talented and should be allowed to express themselves in many different ways, from predictive tarot reading, to psychological explorations; from tarot spells and magick to its original purpose – as a game.
The following tarot card meanings of the Major Arcana are a good base for you to build your own vocabulary from, or as a quick reference guide if you already have a good level of proficiency and knowledge.
This list is in no way exhaustive and I would encourage you to develop your own tarot card meanings, taken from inspirational sources and real life experiences.
Tarot Card Meanings for the Major Arcana
- 0 – Fool
- New beginnings, spontaneity, adventure, innocence, potential, faith, fearlessness, a leap of faith, originality, freedom from constraints, purity of action, acting without malice. Learn more about the Fool
- 1 – Magician
- Creativity, action, power, manifestation, skill, communication – oral, written & electronic, magic, work, self-employment, a smooth talker, having the gift of the gab, will-power, directing your will. Learn more about the Magician
- 2 – High Priestess
- Mystery, intuition, inner-knowing, self trust, spiritual insight, emotional stability, divination, esoteric wisdom/knowledge, things yet to be revealed, your higher-self, spirit guides, discovering your own truth. Learn more about the High Priestess
- 3 – Empress
- Nurturing, abundance, fertility, mothering, your mother, love, beauty, a businesswoman, mother earth, a multi-tasker, pregnancy, creativity, solving problems creatively, fulfilling your potential, a successful business or opportunity. Learn more about the Empress
- 4 – Emperor
- Authority, order, structure, authority, your boss, leadership, your father, the establishment, promotion to a senior role, asserting yourself, ambition, law and order, taking a stand, firmness with others & yourself. Learn more about the Emperor
- 5 – Hierophant
- Group identity, large institutions, education, teaching, learning, tradition, orthodoxy, the status quo, religion, a guru or teacher, spiritual guidance, occult or mystical groups, divine laws, seeking counsel and advice. Learn more about the Hierophant
- 6 – Lovers
- Love, choices, partnerships, affection, being at a crossroads, togetherness, going into business with another, being duty bound, a love affair, falling in love, commitment, an engagement, choosing between two lovers, harmony, trust. Learn more about the Lovers
- 7 – Chariot
- Drive, will power, direction, ambition, confidence, victory, success, a journey, transportation, success with little or no support, overcoming obstacles, triumph in the face of adversity, coming to the aid of another. Learn more about the Chariot
- 8 – Strength
- Inner strength, self-assurance, self-control, self-belief, patience, confidence, enjoying power, lust, sex, sexuality, eroticism, heroic acts, strength through personal power & not violence, vitality, virility, potency. Learn more about Strength
- 9 – Hermit
- Introspection, contemplation, wanting or finding solitude, private self-reflection, seeking enlightenment & spiritual experiences, meditation, being discreet, privacy, home study, withdrawing from society, patience. Learn more about the Hermit
- 10 – Wheel of Fortune
- Luck, chance, opportunity, changes, a turning point, movement, winning, the cycle of life, ups and downs, fate, destiny, a chance meeting that can change your life, what goes around comes around, winning at a game of chance, a definite yes. Learn more about the Wheel of Fortune
- 11 – Justice
- Justice, karma, balance and equilibrium, truth, fairness, responsibility, accountability, integrity, dignity, agreements, legal affairs, a court case or tribunal, consulting a lawyer, checking legal documents, seeking fairness through clarity. Learn more about Justice
- 12 – Hanged Man
- Letting go, sacrifice for gain, surrender, breaking patterns, a crisis, delays, seeing from another direction, a fresh perspective, suspension of activity, giving something up, experiencing a metamorphosis, spiritual advancement, a detachment from the material. Learn more about the Hanged Man
- 13 – Death
- Endings, mortality, profound change, letting go of emotional attachments, severing ties, it’s over, the end of an era or cycle, failure, loss. For some; transformation, renewal, rebirth. Learn more about Death
- 14 – Temperance
- Harmony, balance, synthesis, moderation, blending, synergy, alchemy, being temperate, blending opposites, angel communication, connecting with your guides, merging, looking for divine intervention. Learn more about Temperance
- 15 – Devil
- Bondage, temptation, enslavement, materialism, addictions to sex/drugs/drink/money, fear & doubt, lies, violence, unhealthy relationships, sexual deviancy/gratification, feeling trapped & without options. Learn more about the Devil
- 16 – Tower
- Sudden and unexpected change, upheaval, destruction, ruin, catastrophe, release, revelation, breaking down of old forms, renovation, an accident or damage to the home, bankruptcy, redundancy or loss of work, being overthrown or ousted, house repossession. Learn more about the Tower
- 17 – Star
- Hope, happiness, opportunities, optimism, renewal, spirituality, cosmic blessings, help, beauty, astrology, the heavens, good health and healing, an inspirational person, a period of tranquility. Learn more about the Star
- 18 – Moon
- Dreams but also nightmares, illusion, hidden things – particularly enemies, insecurity, mystery, falsehoods, visions, mental confusion, a dark night of the soul, a difficult period, lacking clarity, deception, secrets, increased psychic ability and experiences. Learn more about the Moon
- 19 – Sun
- Life, energy, vitality, joy, enlightenment, warmth, manifestation, happiness, YES! riches, marriage, good times, success, clear thinking, optimism, blessings, good fortune, a good holiday, nice weather. Learn more about the Sun
- 20 – Judgement
- Redemption, rebirth, an awakening, a calling – spiritual or career, renewal, spirit led, reincarnation, a realisation, a change that has already occurred, end of an era, a rite of passage, a period of transition, decision making. Learn more about Judegment
- 21 – World
- Completion, fulfillment, possibilities, outcomes, realisations, wholeness, success, totality, moving – particularly abroad, success and successful conclusions, the journey’s end, goal achievement. Learn more about the World
Major Arcana Correspondences
To help you learn the associated correspondences to the major arcana, see my colour coded major arcana correspondence charts. They include the four elements, astrology, timing, numerology, card counting values and yes no tarot listings.
A separate post, Timing Events Using Tarot and Astrology, goes much deeper in explaining how to derive timing from each tarot card in the deck using Traditional Tarot Timing and the complex astrological model by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Also colour coded, the post uses no less than seven tables to show the development of the system in an easy to understand tutorial.