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Tarot Card Meanings and Symbols – A Beginners Guide

The world of tarot cards is a realm brimming with mysticism, symbolism, and insight. Tarot Card Meanings and Symbols are vast. For centuries, these enchanting cards have been revered as instruments of divination, offering a window into the past, present, and future. In this comprehensive guide, we will embark on a journey through the captivating universe of tarot decks, delving into their history, structure, and the myriad ways they can be used. Whether you’re a seasoned reader or a curious novice, this exploration of tarot decks promises to unveil the hidden treasures of this ancient art.


Finding Tarot Cards Meaning in the Past

To truly appreciate the essence of tarot decks, it’s essential to comprehend their rich history. Tarot’s origins are steeped in mystery, with various theories about where and when they first emerged. While some attribute their creation to ancient Egypt or the mystical teachings of the Kabbalah, most scholars agree that tarot cards as we know them today likely originated in 15th-century Italy. They were initially designed for card games, but their symbolic imagery soon attracted the attention of occultists and mystics.

The Structure of a Tarot Deck

A standard tarot deck consists of 78 cards, divided into two main categories: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana comprises 22 cards, each bearing a unique and powerful emblem. These cards represent significant life events, archetypal figures, and spiritual lessons. The Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards, divided into four suits: Cups, Swords, Wands, and Pentacles. These cards correspond to daily experiences and situations, offering guidance on love, conflict, ambition, and material matters.

Major Arcana

The Major Arcana is one of the two main divisions in a standard tarot deck, consisting of 22 cards that hold significant symbolic and archetypal meanings. These cards are often seen as the “big picture” cards, addressing fundamental life experiences and spiritual lessons. Here’s a brief overview of the 22 Major Arcana cards and their meanings:

  • 0 The Fool: The Fool represents the beginning of a journey, innocence, spontaneity, and taking a leap of faith.
  • 1 The Magician: The Magician embodies power, transformation, and the manifestation of goals and desires.
  • 2 The High Priestess: The High Priestess symbolizes intuition, mystery, and the exploration of the subconscious.
  • 3 The Empress: The Empress is a card of fertility, nurturing, abundance, and love.
  • 4 The Emperor: The Emperor represents authority, structure, and leadership.
  • 5 The Hierophant: The Hierophant signifies tradition, spirituality, and guidance from higher sources.
  • 6 The Lovers: The Lovers card is about love, harmony, and choices in relationships.
  • 7 The Chariot: The Chariot represents determination, overcoming obstacles, and taking control.
  • 8 Strength: Strength is a card of courage, inner strength, and taming one’s inner beasts.
  • 9 The Hermit: The Hermit symbolizes introspection, solitude, and seeking inner wisdom.
  • 10 Wheel of Fortune: The Wheel of Fortune represents cycles, change, and destiny.
  • 11 Justice: Justice embodies fairness, balance, and accountability.
  • 12 The Hanged Man: The Hanged Man signifies surrender, letting go, and gaining a new perspective.
  • 13 Death: Death is a card of transformation, change, and rebirth.
  • 14 Temperance: Temperance symbolizes balance, harmony, and moderation.
  • 15 The Devil: The Devil represents temptation, materialism, and bondage.
  • 16 The Tower: The Tower is a card of sudden upheaval, change, and revelation.
  • 17 The Star: The Star signifies hope, inspiration, and spiritual guidance.
  • 18 The Moon: The Moon embodies illusions, dreams, and the exploration of the subconscious.
  • 19 The Sun: The Sun represents success, joy, and vitality.
  • 20 Judgment: Judgment is about self-reflection, transformation, and taking responsibility.
  • 21 The World: The World card signifies completion, fulfillment, and unity.

Scroll down to get the entire list of meanings and symbols for each Major Arcana Card!

Each Major Arcana card holds deep symbolism and can be interpreted in various ways, depending on the context of a reading. When these cards appear in a tarot spread, they often indicate profound life events, transitions, or spiritual lessons. Tarot readers use their intuition and knowledge of the cards to provide guidance and insight to individuals seeking answers or clarity in their lives.

Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana is one of the two main divisions of a standard tarot deck, consisting of 56 cards. It is further divided into four suits: Swords, Wands, Pentacles, and Cups. Each of these suits holds distinct symbolism and represents different aspects of life, emotion, and experience.

  1. Swords (Air Element):
    • Element: Air
    • Keywords: Intellect, conflict, communication, thought, analysis.
    • Description: Swords represent the realm of the mind and intellect. They often deal with the challenges and conflicts that emerge from thoughts, beliefs, and communication. The suit of Swords can signify both mental clarity and the struggles of the intellect. It encourages us to examine our thoughts, face conflicts, and seek solutions through rationality and communication. It’s associated with the element of Air, signifying the power of the mind and the swift, transformative nature of thoughts.
  2. Wands (Fire Element):
    • Element: Fire
    • Keywords: Energy, passion, creativity, inspiration, action.
    • Description: Wands are associated with the element of Fire, representing the spark of creativity, enthusiasm, and the pursuit of passion. This suit embodies the energy that fuels our actions and endeavors. Wands cards often highlight projects, ambitions, and the initiation of new journeys. They signify the creative and spiritual force within us, pushing us to follow our dreams, embrace opportunities, and take action in our lives.
  3. Pentacles (Earth Element):
    • Element: Earth
    • Keywords: Material, stability, abundance, finances, practicality.
    • Description: Pentacles represent the earthly and material aspects of life. This suit deals with practical matters, including finances, career, and physical well-being. Pentacles cards often reflect our relationship with the material world, focusing on wealth, stability, and the resources necessary to achieve our goals. They emphasize the importance of nurturing and maintaining the tangible aspects of our lives.
  4. Cups (Water Element):
    • Element: Water
    • Keywords: Emotions, relationships, intuition, love, creativity.
    • Description: Cups symbolize the emotional and intuitive aspects of human experience. This suit is deeply connected to our feelings, relationships, and the world of the heart. Cups cards often address themes of love, friendship, intuition, and emotional growth. They encourage us to explore the depths of our emotions and relationships, nurturing our emotional well-being and creative expressions. The element of Water represents the fluid and intuitive nature of the heart and emotions.

These four suits, representing the four classical elements of Air, Fire, Earth, and Water, collectively paint a comprehensive picture of the human experience. When interpreting a tarot reading, the presence and interplay of these suits provide insights into the various aspects of life, helping individuals navigate challenges, make decisions, and gain a deeper understanding of their journey.

Choosing the Right Tarot Deck

Selecting a tarot deck is a highly personal process. With countless decks available, each possessing its own symbolism and artistic style, finding the one that resonates with you is crucial. Some decks, such as the Rider-Waite Tarot, serve as excellent starting points due to their universal symbolism. Others, like the Thoth Tarot or the Wild Unknown Tarot, offer more esoteric and modern interpretations. It’s recommended to visit a bookstore or browse online to explore various decks and select the one that resonates with your intuition.


The Art of Tarot Reading and finding its Meanings

One of the most enthralling aspects of tarot decks is their ability to provide insight and guidance through divination. Tarot readers, often referred to as tarotists, employ various spreads and layouts to interpret the cards’ messages. Whether you seek clarity on a specific question or a more profound understanding of your life’s path, a tarot reading can offer profound insights. The cards drawn, their positions, and their interactions with one another paint a vivid picture of the energies at play in your life.

The Three-Card Spread

The Three-Card Spread is one of the simplest yet most versatile tarot spreads used for quick insights and guidance. It consists of three cards drawn from the deck and arranged in a row. Each card in the spread has a specific meaning and position, and together, they offer a concise response to a question or provide a snapshot of a situation.

Here’s a breakdown of the Three-Card Spread:

  1. Past (Card 1): The first card in the spread represents the past. It provides insights into the background or the events that have led to the current situation. This card can help you understand the origins of the issue or the factors that have influenced your circumstances.
  2. Present (Card 2): The second card represents the present. It offers guidance on your current situation or the challenges and opportunities you are facing at the moment. This card helps you gain clarity about the here and now.
  3. Future (Card 3): The third card represents the future. It provides insights into the potential outcomes or the direction in which things are likely to progress. This card can help you make informed decisions or prepare for what’s ahead.

The Three-Card Spread is a great choice for those seeking quick answers or a general overview of a situation. It’s also helpful for daily or weekly readings to provide a snapshot of what to expect. As you become more comfortable with tarot reading, you can experiment with more complex spreads for in-depth exploration.

The Celtic Cross

The Celtic Cross is one of the most famous and widely used tarot spreads. It’s a comprehensive and versatile spread consisting of ten cards, and it’s often used for gaining insight into a specific situation or question. Each card has a designated position and meaning within the spread, creating a complex and detailed reading.

Here’s a breakdown of the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread:

  1. Significator (or the Situation): This card represents the current situation or the core of the matter. It can also be chosen as a significator card to represent the seeker or the person asking the question.
  2. Crossing Card (or the Challenge): Placed over the significator, this card reveals the challenges or obstacles that the seeker may face. It provides insight into what’s blocking progress.
  3. Foundation (or the Basis): Positioned below the significator, this card represents the root or foundation of the situation. It can offer insights into the past events or influences that led to the current circumstances.
  4. Recent Past: This card reflects recent events or influences that have a bearing on the situation. It provides context and background for the current issue.
  5. Potential Near Future: This card offers a glimpse into what’s likely to happen in the near future based on the current path. It helps the seeker prepare for what’s coming.
  6. Present (or the Influence): Placed to the left of the significator, this card represents the current influences at play and how they affect the situation.
  7. Seeker’s Attitude or Feelings: Positioned above the significator, this card reflects the seeker’s feelings, attitudes, or state of mind regarding the situation.
  8. External Influences: This card represents external factors, people, or circumstances that are impacting the situation. It can help the seeker understand external forces at play.
  9. Hopes and Fears: This card reflects the seeker’s hopes and fears related to the situation. It provides insight into the emotional aspects of the issue.
  10. Outcome or Final Result: The last card in the spread predicts the likely outcome or conclusion of the situation. It offers guidance and clarity on what to expect.

The Celtic Cross is a powerful and comprehensive tarot spread that provides in-depth insights into complex questions or situations. It’s especially useful when you’re seeking a detailed analysis of a specific issue.


Tarot Card Meanings Beyond Divination

While tarot decks are renowned for their divinatory purposes, they have transcended these origins and found their way into various aspects of modern life. Tarot cards are often used as tools for self-reflection, meditation, and creative inspiration. Many artists and writers turn to the cards to break through creative blocks or seek innovative perspectives. Additionally, tarot has a growing presence in therapeutic practices, where it serves as a means of exploring one’s subconscious, fears, and aspirations.

Tarot Cards and Journaling

Tarot cards and journaling, when intertwined, become a profound tool for self-exploration and personal development. Tarot unveils the wisdom of archetypes, offering guidance and a mirror to your subconscious thoughts and emotions. Journaling, on the other hand, provides a safe haven for processing these revelations. As you draw cards and interpret their meanings, the act of writing in your journal allows you to dive deeper into the symbolism and your intuitive responses. It’s a means to engage in a dialogue with yourself, uncover hidden truths, and track your progress on your life’s journey. Whether it’s for daily introspection or navigating major life decisions, combining tarot and journaling cultivates a richer connection to your inner self, fostering clarity, growth, and self-empowerment.

Tarot Card for daily reflection

One common use of tarot cards is to carry a card with you daily. Once a day – or when ever you fill like it is time – draw a card and let the meanings and symbols of this card be your guide through your day. Reflect daily occurrences from the perspective of that card and think about what it could mean. It does not necessarily need to mean something. It rather invites you to understand that lives occurrences can be viewed from many different perspectives. There there is not one trues but many.

The Difference Between tarot and oracle cards

Tarot cards and oracle decks both offer profound insights, yet they differ in their structure and purpose. Tarot is a structured system of 78 cards, divided into the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana, each with its own symbolism and meaning, designed for divination and self-reflection. It often follows a standardized set of interpretations. In contrast, oracle decks are more eclectic, with a variable number of cards and themes, designed to provide intuitive guidance rather than adhering to a strict system. Oracle cards offer a more flexible and open-ended approach, allowing for personal interpretation and creativity. While tarot is steeped in tradition and symbolism, oracle decks embrace diversity, often incorporating nature, angels, or specific themes. Both are powerful tools, and the choice between them often depends on one’s preference for structure and symbolism or fluidity and personal connection in seeking guidance.


Each Tarot Card And their Meanings and Symbols

Conclusion about Tarot Cards Meanings and Symbols

The world of tarot decks is a captivating journey through history, symbolism, and self-discovery. These ancient cards have evolved from mere tools of fortune-telling into versatile instruments for personal and spiritual growth. Whether you’re drawn to the artistry of tarot or the wisdom it offers, exploring this mystical realm can be a transformative and enlightening experience. As you embark on your own tarot journey, remember that the cards are not mere pieces of cardboard; they are gateways to the mysteries of the soul and the universe.


Editorial Note: Morella&Ulalume Editors may earn a commission on sales made from partner links on this page, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.
Furthermore the content of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Prior to making any health-related decisions, including the use of supplements or dealing with decisions that can affect your mental health, it is advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare provider.

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