Tarot: The Major Arcana
The Major Arcana is made up of 22 cards and represents the Soul's journey - sometimes known as the Hero's journey. It appears in many stories from around the world and is the story of the initiate starting out on a journey they are unprepared for, the trials they face as they grow in their abilities, the failings and losses they suffer in order to become the epitome of who they were meant to be as the cycle concludes ready for a new journey to begin.
0. The Fool
In Tarot the traveller is represented by the zero-th card of the Major Arcana - The Fool. It is only when we realise we know nothing that we can let go of our own ego and our own attempts to grow our Spirit, trust and play with the journey ahead of us. The Fool card reminds us that the only way to access Spirit is through foolishness, through play, trusting our Higher Self will guide us.
Starting from a place of realising the journey needs to be undertaken but the traveller is completely unequipped for it. The Fool packs up all their meager possessions in a handkerchief and carries it on a stick over their shoulder, unaware they are about to step off a cliff in front of them but trusting the journey.
Reversed: Reversed this card can mean that you're holding back from the call of your Spirit or that you are recklessly taking unnecessary risks.
The Journey of the Fool can be represented by placing the Fool card in the centre of the other 21 Major Arcana and breaking them up into three groups of seven cards.
Below are some interpretations of the symbolism of the remaining cards in the Major Arcana. Each card has many symbols and meanings but these descriptions will give you a general idea
1. The Magician
The first part of the Fools journey is to realise that by combining the four elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water we can add Spirit to it and do Magick. This card relates to manifestation, magick and power.
Reversed: Not feeling connected to Source, Feeling blocked or not using the talents you have
2. The High Priestess
The High Priestess is the embodiment of the sacred feminine. She is the master of navigating between the forces of yin and yang. She is calm and still enough to notice how the Universe flows around her.
Reversed: Disconnection from our divine nature and intuition, not standing in our power.
3. The Empress
The Empress card represents a relaxed acceptance of abundance, fertility, love.
Reversed: Creative block, co-dependence, worrying about having enough
4. The Emperor
The emperor card represents the acceptance of power, and a right to rule. It encompasses determination, ambition, authority and structure.
Reversed: Domination, Dictatorship, lack of discipline
5. The Hierophant (or High Priest)
The Hierophant card represents embracing structure and ritual in spirituality and passing on that knowledge through learning and study.
Reversed: Feeling restricted by rules and regulations that you feel are suffocating your spirituality. Feeling like there is too much red tape getting in the way. Feeling like you need to challenge the status quo.
6. The Lovers
The Lovers card is about harmony in relationships and also a choice between two opposites.
Reversed: Disharmony, imbalance, arguments, feeling unsure about choices.
7. The Chariot
This card is full of sumbolism from the moon symbols on the wearers shoulders representing their devotion to being guided by the spirit, the star on their forehead representing clear connection to spirit, the square on their chest representing being grounded and connected to the element of Earth. This card is about the completion of the Initiate phase of training where the practitioner is now a servant of the Universe fully embracing all the power and ability that comes with that role.
Meaning: Control, Power, Confidence, Determination, Action.
Reversed: Aggression if you are trying to gain too much control without being in service to Spirit, or Lack of will-power - not embracing all that you are because of your connection to Spirit and not stepping out into that.
In the Strength card we see a woman calmly holding the jaws of a lion signifying that once we understand our strength we no longer have to fight for it, but can simply exert our will calmly on the world around us. This card represents Strength, Calm Assuredness, Exerting our will over the world around us, an absence of fear, an absence of panic. This card also shows that Compassion needs to come with Strength so that we don't harm those around us
Reversed: Lack of compassion, weakness, not standing calmly in our power, raw unbridled emotion.
9. The Hermit
As we truly choose to Master our new abilities one of the first things we find is the tendency to need to withdraw from all of the drama of society and social media, withdraw from constant input so that we can learn to hear the quiet voice inside us leading us with greater clarity. The Hermit is all about choosing to separate yourself so that you can start to own this part of your path for yourself - no longer seeking guidance from without but going within to find your teacher.
Reversed: Feeling overwhelmed by those around us, attempting to placate our emotions by filling the void with people rather than taking the necessary steps of being alone for our own personal growth. It can also represent that we are experiencing an unhealthy form of being alone that is no longer serving us - isolation & withdrawal.
10. The Wheel of Fortune
The wheel of fortune is the inexorable turn of destiny. Sometimes we have times of plenty followed by times where we have very little and then followed again by times of plenty. The wheel of fortune reminds us that our Earthly experiences ebb and flow like the tides that while they come in they will also go out and that while you may currently be feeling like you're struggling, those times too will end and good times are ahead. This card calls us to take note of the situation and realise it is only temporary, to embrace everything we have in the moment and to remember that good times are ahead in those situations we're struggling with in life.
Reversed: When we try to hold back the never-ending turn of the wheel and hold onto what we have and not let go it can tear us apart. No one can stop the wheel from turning. Imagine holding onto life with open hands, allowing what comes to you to sit on your palm like a bird landing but realising that one day it will fly away. Suffering is caused by us trying to hold onto the past and what we had rather than making way for the new.
The Justice card is about balance and clarity, seeing both sides of a story, weighing up all options equally and then being decisive about the decision that is taken.
Reversed: Not taking the time to objectively understand all sides of the story, indecisiveness, lack of accountability, dishonesty.
12. The Hanged Man
In this card we see someone who has tangled up their foot and is hanging upside down. As we progress in our spiritual path we find that the very things that tangle around our feet and stop us moving forwards are the very things telling us to pause and look at the world from another perspective. Blockages no longer become things to push through but become teachers for us to travel inwards and introspectively process why we are pushing into particular directions that may no longer serve us, that may be habits we need to uproot or may be tests of our determination. Insight, in the form of the glowing aura around the man's head, comes to him as he allows his world to be turned upside down and calmly relaxes, watches and learns in this new situation.
Reversed: A need to see the situation in a completely different way, a need to let go and stop trying to push at things that are not working, a need to re-evaluate how we perceive blockages on our path, indecision, resistance.
Just as a seed needs to go into the earth to die and be ripped open to create new life the Death card reminds us that everything ends. That nothing is immune to death, that death is invincible and both peasants and kings are swept up in its inevitability. This card signifies the ending of something and with it - the birth of something new, much like the ending of a chapter and the start of a new one. No matter how much we may wish to struggle against something ending - when something is ending there is nothing we can do to cheat fate.
Reversed: Trying to have control over our fate will cause great suffering and have no effect in the long run. The situation you are facing is changing, dying and being reborn as something new - stop fighting it. It's time to stop resisting change by realising all the growth that will come from it.
This card represents the perfect union of dualities and the mastery of the inner self. This card falls at the end of the Mastery phase when one has come to terms with their inner demons, where one is balanced between Earth and water, balanced in the subconscious, when one has risen above their humanity and has ascended to a place of calmly being able to master the alchemy of the elements. Perfect harmony, balance, bridging worlds, bridging the conscious and subconscious minds.
Reversed: Something is out of balance. Focusing too much on one thing and neglecting others.
15. The Devil
There is a Buddhist saying "On the path to enlightenment if you meet the Buddha - slay him". There comes a time in our soul's journey where due to the mastery of all this power we have attained our ego's can start to swell. The power itself can become the thing holding us back, our desire for more power as represented by the fire on the man's tail, our desire to enjoy languishing as represented by the grapes on the womans'. We come to realise that our own focus on obtaining power and mastery has trapped us in our growth and we need to now come out of the Hermit phase and start to interact, teach and help others in their growth in a humble way. We need to stop searching for "the answer" and start walking the path ahead of us, letting go of the languishing and embracing the hard road ahead.
Reversed: We have been seduced by our own egos - tricked into seeking power rather than seeking connection to the divine through the Soul's journey. We have secluded ourselves too long away from society - its time to head out again, letting go of our comfortable lives and to embrace our destiny. This is the moment to break all the chains holding you have no matter how comfortable you feel you are. That comfort itself is seducing you off the path.
16. The Tower
As soon as we break the chains of the previous card and let go of the comfort we have come to know parts of our world collapse around us. This is often known as a "Tower Moment" where things that were holding you back in life that you were relying on seem to be struck by lighting and smashed away from you. Our egos perceive this as a great sense of loss but our Spirits rejoice in the excitement and freedom that comes with smashing apart our comfort zone and being thrust out into the world with nowhere to call home.
Reversed: This card reversed explains that we're trying to hold on to situations in our life that are falling apart and it's time to let them go. It can mean we are kicking a dead horse and trying to get it to move instead of accepting that this part of our life is now over and we need to set a new course. Fear of change, fear of the unknown. It's time to embark on your journey. Leave the dead and embrace the living.
17. The Star
The Star card is the moment in the wilderness after the Tower card where we stop and realise our connection to the divine is still present and alive. We realise that there is a spring of life within us we can draw water from and nourish our practical lives with and as we stop to take a look around we realise that our physical lives are actually alive, nourished and thriving. We may be naked with not even the clothes on our back but we have everything we need when we travel inside ourself. This card is about hope, acknowledging that despite the recent chaos in your life - you have everything you need. This card is also about reinvesting in yourself after a traumatic incident. The stars represent that it may feel like night to you right now but when you adjust your eyes you notice that there is plenty of light to see with in the darkness surrounding you.
Reversed: Feeling like the world has turned against you, feeling weak and powerless, traumatised and broken. Doubt and loss of faith. A need to acknowledge your spirituality again, regain the path perhaps through art, music, ritual - whatever allows you to see that you do still have everything you need.
18. The Moon
After rejuvenating waters of the Star card we step out of those waters onto the shore where there are a number of terrifying animals to contend with. We follow the moon representing turning our face to the truth of our connection to Spirit and choose to face the fears that line our path. This card represents facing our fears, realising that the wolf and the dog that line our path is representative of the duality of our own nature - the primal chaotic forces within us and the ordered structured forces. The matching Towers on either sides of the path represent the choice between Good and Evil and how, often we cannot see which is which. Face your fears, embrace all sides of your nature, walk the path, find the source of light - however dim that may be. This card is also about coming into a place of acceptance with the dualistic forces with us.
Reversed: You are struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel but often the way out of the situations we feel trapped in is directly through the fears blocking our way. Once we press into that fear we realise it opens a door to travel beyond where we were trapped.
19. The Sun
The Sun card represents the dawn of a bright new day after the ordeal of the Tower, the reawakened comprehension of the connection to Source in the Star and after challenging fears and following the Moon card. It is a bright day. The Sun is shining, flowers are growing and there's a childlike innocence and fun.
Reversed: Lack of positivity, feeling down, your inner child may be feeling like it cannot express itself. May also indicate being too positive and being blind to practicalities.
This is the card of ascension. The meaning behind this card drawn on Christian mythology. At the day of judgement the wheat is sorted from the chaff. We can clearly see the truth of who we are and who we are not as we ascend. Ascension, Self evaluation, rebirth,
Reversed: Judging yourself too harshly, inner critic, self doubt, ignoring the call to ascend.
21. The World
This is the card of integration as the journey comes to an end - integrating everything the soul has learned on its epic journey. The Laurel wreath is the symbol given to victors. The fact that the laurel wreath forms a circle with red ribbons of infinity woven around it indicates that while this is the end it also forms the beginning of a brand new journey in a continuous cycle of ascending upwards that never ends. The four faces of the lion, ox, man and eagle at the corners of the card are the faces of God as mentioned in Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 4 and symbolise an integration with the divine.
Reversed: Seeking to shortcut the journey process, delays to the process, The feeling of emptiness when you have completed Earthly goals that weren't in line with your Spirit.