Tarot Cards : Part 1 : Major Arcana



Introduction: Tarot Cards : Part 1 : Major Arcana

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There are 78 tarot cards, the cards are divided into two groups or categories, the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. There are 22 cards in the Major Arcana and 56 cards in the Minor Arcana.

This Instructable will introduce you to the cards in the Major Arcana.

Step 1: The Fool

"A youth dressed in court jester's clothing sets out on a journey with optimism, carrying only what is essential for his adventure. As he steps out to seek his dream, he ignores the dog snapping at his heels to warn him that he is about to step off a precipice. Carried away by an ideal, he is the archetypal fool innocent and impetuous." (Dean, 2008, 14)

Upright meaning

A new path in life; beginnings and opportunities beckon. A time to feel hopeful, courageous, and young at heart. However, there may be risks ahead, too, so The Fool warns that you look before you leap. By all means embark upon a mad adventure or idealistic quest for fulfillment, but take heed of the practicalities. The Fool also heralds fun, entertainment, and falling in love. (Dean, 2008, 14)

Reversed Meaning

An error of judgement. Bad advice takes you in the wrong direction, so investigate all offers carefully. The Fool reversed can also show deception. You may also be trying to force a situation, which can only backfire. (Dean, 2008, 14)

Step 2: The Magician

"A magician is at work with the elemental energies of the tarot's major arcana: Cups, Swords, Wands, and Pentacles. The lemniscate , or infinity symbol, above his head indicates that he works on both the earthly and spiritual planes. What is created now will positively influence the future." (Dean, 2008, 15)

Upright Meaning

You are poised to make dreams become a reality. This card often marks the time just before an important trip, or the beginning of a new project that is about to flourish, symbolized by the growing roses and sun. The conditions for success are just right, so take action to empower your business, relationships, or other new venture. This will feel natural, all you'll be in the flow, and full of energy and ideas. Work will feel like a vocation rather than a chore. (Dean, 2008, 15)

Reversed Meaning

Trickery; great plans have no foundation. This card often warns of others' motives, and they may not have your best interest at heart. It may also reveal frustration as, although you feel ready to move on, you meet restriction at every turn. If you are involved in the arts, a creative block is indicated. (Dean, 2008, 15)

Step 3: The High Priestess

" The High Priestess stands before a veil hung between two pillars which separates this world from the realm of spirit, and the conscious from the unconscious. A book shows her higher learning and wisdom, and the pomegranates, the fertility of her mind. Her sign, the Moon, links her with Isis-Hathor, Egyptian goddess of magic and fertility." (Dean, 2008, 16)

Upright Meaning

New wisdom; your intuition is expanding as you grow in confidence. The card often arises when you sense you are on the right path, creatively and spiritually. Follow your instincts toward people and places, and they may take you to the next level of learning. This is an emotional card, revealing deep feelings of work you may do in secret. (Dean, 2008, 16)

Reversed Meaning

Hidden information that may cause shock or disappointment is about to come to light. A secret is revealed that may incriminate someone you thought was above reproach. A trusted mentor is not all he or she seems. Take care whom you consult and confide in just now, from physics to older female relatives. (Dean, 2008, 16)

Step 4: The Empress

"The consort of card IV, The Empreror, The Empress represents motherhood and all women, signified by the symbol of Venus on her dress. The apple blossom expresses growth and fertility. Her shield carries the royal insignia of the eagle, linking her with husband's lineage, and she holds an orb of state." (Dean, 2008, 17)

Upright Meaning

Happiness, beauty and nurturing, harmonious home. A good omen for relationships in terms of commitment and stability, The Empress, may predict marriage and pregnancy. In a younger person's reading, she can reveal the positive influence of a mother or mother-figure, and her appearance also shows good health and balanced relationships." (Dean, 2008, 17)

Reversed Meaning

The reversed Empress reveals difficulties with an older woman, such as a parent or mother-in-law, possibly involving clinginess or jealousy. Money problems at home manifest as miserliness or dangerous overspending. This card can also reveal parenting issues, which may involve confrontation. (Dean, 2008, 17)

Step 5: The Emperor

"The emperor is seated on a throne close to a shield that bears the insignia of the eagle, holding a wand in his left hand and a golden orb in his right hand. The tapestry echoes the landscape of card III and his partner, The Empress. He represents a conventional relationship, the role of the father, and security and action." (Dean, 2008, 18)

Upright Meaning

Protection,advice, and support are forthcoming from a trustworthy man, who may be a father-figure or partner. He indicates that order rules -- he may be authoritarian and perhaps old-fashioned, but he has strength of purpose, so he predicts action. Practical problems, such as with building work and money, will be resolved in the long term. (Dean, 2008, 18)

Reversed Meaning

The Emperor reversed is a possessive, stubborn individual who wants to control others. You may be the victim, but examine your behavior because you may be dominating a person or situation needlessly. Whatever the situation, you or someone you know is losing perspective: it's time to take a step back. (Dean, 2008, 18)

Step 6: The Hierophant

"The Heirophant, also known as The High Priest or Pope, makes the gesture of teaching with his right hand and in his left hand bears the symbol of the cross. Like The High Priestess, card II, he is flanked by two pillars. Stationed at the threshold of heaven and earth, he is man's interpreter of the word of God. His number is V, which symbolizes mankind." (Dean, 2008, 19)

Upright Meaning

It is time to take sound advice from someone you trust. The Heirophant often reveals an authority figure, such as a father, teacher, or other mentor. He symbolizes practical wisdom, so his influence can help you resolve a challenge. This card also denotes a spiritual dimension, so it can indicate that you are about to embark on a new course of learning that will bring you closer to your soul's purpose. (Dean, 2008, 19)

Reversed Meaning

The influence of an oppressive, older person who harangues you with unmasked-for advice. Do not be deceived by someone older in years because you assume they are wiser. The information may be wrong, and they may use their status to manipulate you. (Dean, 2008, 19)

Step 7: The Lovers

"A couple gaze into each other's eyes while Cupid flies above them with bow and arrow, poised to strike. Roses surround them, symbolizing love and growth, and as they are about to join hands, a commitment is made. The Lovers, are on the brink of a life-changing decision." (Dean, 2008, 20)

Upright Meaning

A successful decision is to be made, which is based upon maturity and foresight. Previous tensions or conflicts will be resolved. As the card's image suggests, it's appearance in a reading can show two people reuniting after a period of uncertainty. It advises you to follow your heart and intuition if you are to take a leap toward achieving a goal. In practical terms, The Lovers can also reveal outgrowing an environment, such as a young person leaving home and taking a step toward independence. (Dean, 2008, 20)

Reversed Meaning

Break-ups and commitment issues: one person may pull away from a relationship rather than work through difficulties. Tension mounts as imbalance and temptation creep in, such as seeking out an affair as a way of avoiding problems. Otherwise, this immaturity may be expressed as overdependence on a parent. (Dean, 2008, 20)

Step 8: The Chariot

"A young man stands in a chariot, dressed in fine armor. At the beginning of a journey, he sets out his life path, armed only with charm and ambition. His horses have no reins, so he must control them with only the force of his personality." (Dean, 2008, 21)

Upright Meaning

The drive for adventure. As the charioteer uses the force of his will to bring together everything he needs for his journey, you move on toward a new relationship or career, although The Chariot can also show an important journey, learning or drive, or a new means of transport. At this time, you show great determination to get where you want to go -- and you will reach your destination. The horses represent libido, so there is also the frisson of sexual adventure here. The horses, dark and white, echo the dark and light aspects of the journey ahead. (Dean, 2008, 21)

Reversed Meaning

Ego and arrogance bring problems. Progress comes to a halt, or you feel that you are going in the wrong direction. On a mundane level, there could be a problem with transport, as plans go awry and a journey is delayed or abandoned. (Dean, 2008, 21)

Step 9: Justice

"A woman sits in judgement, holding the two symbols of the law: the sword of liberty and the scales of justice, which also link with her associated astrological sign, Libra. She wields both emblems, showing that a just decision is to be made, which is likely to benefit you." (Dean, 2008, 22)

Upright Meaning

The favorable conclusion of a dispute or other ongoing concern, porviding that your success is deserved. Legal matters are resolved, from claims over a property to employment issues. As a general influence, in a reading, Justice argues for a reasoned, pragmatic approach to challenges as opposed to avoidance and denial, or extreme responses. Balance is all. (Dean, 2008, 22)

Reversed Meaning

In the reversed position, Justice shows a miscarriage or justice. A decision goes against you, or a straightforward situation becomes unnecessarily complicated and the true facts of the matter become hidden. Others may act with bias, and you may overlook those who can support you at this difficult time. Judge yourself kindly and hold fast to your beliefs. (Dean, 2008, 22)

Step 10: The Hermit

"An older man walks an uncertain path at night. He carries a lantern to guide his way, and an hourglass, signifying time, is suspended in the branches above him. A snake takes the form of the caduceus, an ancient symbol of healing. The Hermit is alone, but self-contained: his solitude gives him thinking time, and space to progress recent events" (Dean, 2008, 23)

Upright Meaning

Circumstances dictate that you spend time alone. You seek wisdom, but to find it you need to distance yourself from familiar surroundings and perhaps certain friends or family. Time alone will create perspective, and encourage healing. The Hermit also shows a recuperation period after an illness or operation. (Dean, 2008, 23)

Reversed Meaning

Enforced isolation. Refusal to learn or listen to advice may result in withdrawal from others in anger or resentment. You may need more time to come to terms with a situation you do not wish to accept. The Hermit reversed can also show an overanalysis and a tendency to intellectualize rather than allowing feelings to surface. (Dean, 2008, 23)

Step 11: The Wheel of Fortune

" Four figures encircle The Wheel of Fortune. The female figure at the top is crowned with success. The man beneath The Wheel shoulders the burden of his fate, while the two figures on each side struggle to cling on, unsure of their fortunes. As The Wheel turns around, so the seasons change, fortunes fluctuate and the light and dark sides of the world come to the fore." (Dean, 2008, 24)

Upright Meaning

A twist of fate; circumstances change unexpectedly for the better. It is your turn to benefit from spontaneous success and joy, as good things come to you without effort. Take up every opportunity and appreciate this halcyon time while it lasts. This shift in your life may also uncover new creative pathways, such as alternative, stimulating career, as well as predicting better time financially. Long term plans can now proceed unhindered. (Dean, 2008, 24)

Reversed Meaning

The reversed wheel shows a downturn in fortune. You may have little influence over events at this time, but the situation will not prevail. As the wheel goes against you, so it can turn again in your favor. (Dean, 2008, 24)

Step 12: Strength

"A young woman holds the jaws of a lion, carefully restraining him. She is patient and serene, although she risks the animal biting her. Her hat echoes the of the lemniscate, or figure-eight. This represents infinity and shows that she is working at a soul level. Her actions have a spiritual consequence. Strength is a moral virtue, which empowers the self and others." (Dean, 2008, 25)

Upright Meaning

Courage, Patients, and persistence are needed to face a potentially dangerous opponent. If provoked, be prepared to spend time in negotiation, and stand your ground. Aims can be achieved with quiet confidence rather then displays of overt strength. This card is also about internal conflict and the necessity of accepting your shadow side. In a generally positive reading, Strength also symbolizes good health. (Dean, 2008, 25)

Reversed Meaning

Curb baser instincts, such as overindulgence in food or overspending. Difficult emotions, such as anger, may need to be dealt with. You may be inclined to run away from problems rather than risk confrontation. (Dean, 2008, 25)

Step 13: The Hanged Man

"A young man is suspended from a tree: he is happy and safe in the knowledge that he is bound fast. In Norse myth, the tree is Yggdrasil, the World Ash, the tree from which Odin was suspended for nine nights, after which was given the wisdom of the runes and the gift of prophecy." (Dean, 2008, 26)

Upright Meaning

Time out; an opportunity to step back from a situation, such as giving up a belief, or perhaps letting go of a dream. As this card literally shows, you may need to hang around waiting for someone else to make a decision. In this case, there is little you can do but wait. Analyze the situation with detachment and you may see new opportunities from a distance, rather than obsess about an outcome you are powerless to change. (Dean, 2008, 26)

Reversed Meaning

Betrayal, often of the self. You may shy away from making a life-changing decision because it means initial discomfort or expense, and even yearn to return to the life you has as a dependent child. It is time to wake up from the reverie and confront whatever is causing anxiety. (Dean, 2008, 26)

Step 14: Death

"A woman holds a rose and a flower bud, symbolizing fullness and potential, endings and beginnings. A blood-red sun is setting, indicating a time for reflection and release. Although numbered XIII, traditionally unlucky, Death predicts necessary endings that are often natural outcomes." (Dean, 2008, 27)

Upright Meaning

The end of a life-phase; relationships, a career, or even an era comes to a close. Accept that this is necessary change -- from a friend you have grown away from, to a commitment that has restricted your creativity. When you break outdated ties, new people and prospects are free to enter your world. Change is coming, and it is better to embrace it than to resist; it may be a blessing in disguise. (Dean, 2008, 27)

Reversed Meaning

An inability to give up what has already been taken. You may be living in the past more then you realize. Until you let go of the people or possessions that no longer represent who you are, or want to be, new opportunities are blocked. Surrender rather than waste time and energy clinging to suffocating familiarity. (Dean, 2008, 27)

Step 15: Temperance

" An angel pours water from one pitcher into another, bringing together opposite forces. Thee water symbolizes emotions and the flow of energy, ideas, and people; the angel stands partly in water, but her other foot rests on the earth, the show physical and emotional alchemy. The irises are named after the Greek goddess, Iris, whose rainbow symbolizes hope." (Dean, 2008, 28)

Upright Meaning

Moderation, balance, and patience are essential for the control of volatile influences and opposing dem ands. There is potential for progress as a business, relationship, or family grows; use your experience and diplomacy to harmonize conflict and keep projects moving forward. This card also suggests reconciliation, so relationships can be repaired. (Dean, 2008, 28)

Reversed Meaning

You may feel overwhelmed, bonded to others' demands and under increasing pressure to cope. Money problems are often involved, so it is vital you deal with potential debt or resolve a deficit of time and energy. (Dean, 2008, 28)

Step 16: The Devil

"The Devil shown as the lecherous nature-god, pan, observes two people who each wear a chain as a collar that trails to the trunk of the tree in which he sits. The couple appear to be prisoners, yet their collars are wide enough to be slipped off. They choose to be slaves to an obsession." (Dean, 2008, 29)

Upright Meaning

Temptation or enslavement to and ideal. Misdirected passion is indicated here, such as a dead-end affair, or becoming trapped by ambition, perhaps investing energy or money in the wrong person or project for short-term gain. There is a danger that you urge for power, to rule. The spell can be broken if you are willing to make a small sacrifice now to gain something more rewarding in the future. (Dean, 2008, 29)

Reversed Meaning

Obsession, such as an unhappy, destructive affair. When reversed, The Devil shows and inability or unwillingness to break a bond that has no future, due to immaturity, desperation, or low self-esteem. The card may indicate a struggle with addiction. (Dean, 2008, 29)

Step 17: The Tower

"A tower struck by lightning, burns while the occupants fall. The disaster is an act of God, which nothing can prevent. We can only give in to the force of nature and, no matter how protected we may be, everything may be lost in an instant." (Dean, 2008, 30)

Upright Meaning

Shock, loss, and insecurity; the collapse of an ideal or relationship. The tower is an construction of hope and ambition, which is destroyed by the primal energy of fire. This disaster also symbolizes the tower of the ego or pride before a fall. What you have fabricated falls down, and there is little you can do to avoid the situation or repair it. Yet you can begin again, and be all that stronger for it. (Dean, 2008, 30)

Reversed Meaning

An avoidable disaster. Your worst fears are realized as a relationship, business venture, or home project collapses -- and you know that you may be partly to blame. However, after anger at the sense of injustice comes guilt and, finally, a sense of relief. A struggle ends. (Dean, 2008, 30)

Step 18: The Star

"An ethereal maiden kneels before a stream at twilight. She holds two cups, and pours water into the stream from one, and into the earth beside her from the other. She is guided by the eight-pointed star, which represents the eight cardinal points of the compass. The Star shows alignment with the creative source, or energy." (Dean, 2008, 31)

Upright Meaning

Inspiration and guidance; you have clarity or purpose and great potential now. The water symbolizes creativity and it's flow, memory. As the past and the present flow together, so past experiences give you the wisdom to make a dream come true. This is a nurturing card, showing that you are tending your garden well. Ideas flourish as you create fertile conditions for success and happiness. (Dean, 2008, 31)

Reversed Meaning

A creative or an emotional block, arises as a project or partnership loses it's way. You need direction, but beware of those who cultivate you for their own purpose. You may need to step out of an illusion and search for your star elsewhere. (Dean, 2008, 31)

Step 19: The Moon

"Two steers map the start and planets of the moonlit sky. In the dark of night the howling dog and wolf cry for help, revealing solitude, frustration, and a turning point. Moonlight presses every problem into sharp relief." (Dean, 2008, 32)

Upright Meaning

A dilemma; grave or suppressed doubts about how to move forward in a relationship, project, or other negotiation close to the heart. This is a solitary card, so you may need to come to a decision on your own. If you feel trapped, look beyond what you think is possible, the dog and the wolf silhouetted in The Moon are guardians of boundaries, showing limitations may be self-imposed. As the emotional moon symbolizes intuition, your dreams may hold guiding messages. (Dean, 2008, 32)

Reversed Meaning

A failure of nerve. You do not trust your feelings and look to others for answers. Overdependence on a mentor figure could show you have begun to doubt your instincts. Moonlight can be deceptive -- so examine others' motives carefully before you commit. Don't settle for second best. (Dean, 2008, 32)

Step 20: The Sun

" A golden disc dominates the sky, attended by two winged cherubs. Below are sunflowers, which thrive under the sun's rays in a calm, fertile landscape away from the city. As the moon reveals the world of the unconscious, The Sun symbolizes, the intellect, particularity, and power, and brings warmth and vitality." (Dean, 2008, 33)

Upright Meaning

Success; time for the good times in life: love, sunshine, rest and play. This may be an extended trip, or time to travel farther afield, but the message is recuperation rather than adventure. The Sun also describes the honeymoon period of a new relationship; in love, you feel like a child again, innocent and carefree. The card can also signify children coming into your life. The hills shelter the sunflowers from harsh water until they are taller, just as a relationship, project, or family is nurtured. (Dean, 2008, 33)

Reversed Meaning

Delay & Frustration. Your goal is just out of reach. Work or illness obstruct plans, and the paradise you had, envisaged is perilously close to slipping away. Vacations are cancelled, or a relationship does not materialize. Physically, your energy levels may be depleted. (Dean, 2008, 33)

Step 21: Judgement

"A heavenly angel blows a trumpet, calling humanity to account. It is time for self-assessment as he heralds conclusions, making way for regeneration and new opportunities. The graves symbolize the past and the resurrection of events, and the pink roses, regeneration." (Dean, 2008, 34)

Upright Meaning

Judgement predicts a significant life change as a project or relationship reaches a conclusion. Before you can leave the past behind, you may need to examine your conscience and review your previous actions. Judgement offers second chances and an opportunity for forgiveness, along with financial reward for past efforts that will help your future success. Events are about to speed up. (Dean, 2008, 34)

Reversed Meaning

Daily, due to the past getting in the way, or fear of change. You may judge yourself too harshly, or allow others to disregard your contribution, although this may be an excuse for not being able to let go. You may need to re-examine your attitudes and overcome feelings of guilt. What counts is what you believe about yourself. (Dean, 2008, 34)

Step 22: The World

"Two winged cherubs brandish an image of the universe. The sun behind them symbolizes success. while the circular disk they carry signifies completion. As the cherubs hold the disk aloft in triumph, so this card predicts satisfaction and success." (Dean, 2008, 35)

Upright Meaning

Success and happiness; a dream come true. Whatever your goal you will achieve it and feel satisfied and rewarded. This is a time of celebration and joy, when a project is concluded or you commemorate happy occasions, such as wedding anniversaries or birthdays. Whatever difficulties you have faced in the past, your current triumph is applauded by all. Travel may become possible now. (Dean, 2008, 35)

Reversed Meaning

Restriction. Failure to move forward is often due to indecision or negativity. Through feelings of being trapped in the past, or by the needs of others, your world seems to be growing smaller rather than expanding to welcome new people and opportunities. If you address what is really holding you back there is a chance for you to achieve your dream. (Dean, 2008, 35)

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