Tarot Card Meanings

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Tarot is an ancient tool of divination that uses a set of cards to impart insight into the daily problems and dilemmas of life. This set of cards is known as the Tarot deck and is used for readings that can help people achieve greater understanding of issues relating to relationships, opportunities and changes in life. All the cards included in the deck are assigned specific meanings, which are used to interpret the reading and offer guidance. Tarot deck consists of 78 cards that are divided into two parts known as the major arcana and the minor arcana. The major arcana consists of twenty-two cards and the minor arcana is made up of the remaining fifty-six cards. These fifty-six cards are further classified into four suits representing the elements fire, earth, water and air, containing fourteen cards in each suit.

The meaning of the each card that is assigned to it is depicted as a pictorial representation on the face of the card. Each card is also assigned a number, which is also considered to be of significance in a reading. The twenty-two cards from the major arcana are numbered zero to twenty-one and fist ten cards of each suit of the minor arcana are assigned the numbers one to ten. A page, a knight, a queen and a king represent the last four cards in each suit. Each card is interpreted according to the arcana, suit and number it is assigned. The cards in the major arcana carry more weight as compared to the minor arcana cards. Therefore, in a reading, the meaning and position of major arcana cards is interpreted more carefully as they are considered to be closely associated with the inquirer or people around the inquirer. These twenty-two cards are considered to be the major influences in the life of the inquirer. On the other hand, the minor arcana points towards the situations in the life of the inquirer.

An able Tarot card reader is able to interpret the meaning of the cards in accordance to the position they occupy in a reading.

There are a lot of tarot cards, and memorizing the meaning of each is not the easiest way to learn tarot reading. Instead of memorizing each picture, you should instead understand the two divisions of the tarot deck: the major arcana and minor arcana. This should get you on your way to reading tarot cards more effectively.

The 22 major arcana cards represent things that are out of your control. These cards include the fool, magician, high priestess, empress, emperor, hierophant, lovers, chariot, strength, hermit, wheel, justice, hanged man, death, temperance, devil, tower, star, moon, sun, judgment, and world.

If you are serious about tarot reading, be ready to face endless interpretation levels in the major arcana. Major arcana cards should be taken with more weight.

The 22 major arcana cards, on the other hand, are the representation of the simpler things of everyday life. The four suits - the Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles - each

symbolize a particular approach to life. The Wand is associated with the element fire, which represents masculinity. The Cups represent the female psyche, in which emotions


and spiritual experience are entities with water as the element. Swords symbolize

intellect, thought and reason. The Pentacles represent the earth, which represents material things or the services of the physical world. The 16 minor arcana cards are the suits, aces, twos, threes, fours, fives, sixes, sevens, eights, nines, tens, court cards, pages, knights, queens, and kings.

Learning the real essence of the two parts of a tarot deck, which are mentioned above, is a good start in getting full tarot knowledge. In any case, it won't get you a meaningful and articulate reading if all you have done is memorize each card without learning the secrets of their true nature.

Understanding the meaning of Tarot cards can often seem like a very difficult task for many among us. Each picture is different and contains many elements. There is a plethora of associations and correspondences within the images of these 78 beautiful cards which combine together towards forming the meaning of Tarot cards. In short, the key to understanding the meanings of the Tarot cards, you have to look at the cards from these perspectives.

Let's have a look at these various associations and correspondences:

1. Symbolism: It is a well known fact that the Tarot cards are the repositories of many different symbols. These symbols range from the very simple (red rose stands for desire) to the very complicated (the Kabbala Tree of Life on the 10 of Pentacles card). For the ardent student of the Tarot, it is essential to gain an understanding of these symbols and understand the different meanings which can be derived from these symbols. The red rose on the Magician card adds the meaning of 'desire and intent' to all the actions performed by the person in the card, and the Tree of Life on the 10 of Pentacles adds the meaning of completion and perfection to the meaning of that card.

2. Mythology: Myths have been conveyed in the form of in the form of images on the Tarot cards. These myths add another level of meaning to the cards themselves, while giving a lot of background material towards understanding the deeper motives and philosophies behind certain symbols present on the card. For example, the pomegranates on the curtain behind the High Priestess refer to the mythological story of Persephone in Greek Mythology. Unless we read / know the story of Persephone, it would be difficult to understand how and why these pomegranates talk about fertility.

3. Psychology: Noted Swiss psychologist Carl Jung devoted his life to the study and analysis of the various symbols of Man. He considered the Tarot cards to be full of several Archetypes which human beings deal with in their daily life. Studying the Tarot cards from the perspective of psychology can also open up doorways into our inner self and can help us in our process of what Jung called 'Individuation'. A good example of this concept is expressed in the Empress card, which is a personification of the Mother


4. Numerology: There are numbers on each of the Tarot cards (except for the Court Cards). Therefore, it may seem important for some of us to study the numerological aspect of these cards. Each number stands for something. And on the card, it certainly adds into the meaning of the card. For example, the Major Arcana card, the Emperor has


the number 4 on it. Among other things, the number 4 stands for stability (any structure stands on four legs). So, this number definitely adds to the meaning of the Emperor card, and says that the Emperor is a provider of stability to his kingdom. Or it can also say that the Emperor has achieved a state of emotional, mental and spiritual stability in his life. 5. Astrology: All the cards in the Major and Minor Arcana are often linked to different astrological signs and so on. A study of these aspects can only serve to add to the meaning of that card. For example, the Magician card is linked to the planet Mercury. Mercury is the planet of communication. And the Magician is always a leader - so, this means that communication is his forte, simply because to be a good leader, one must have good communication skills.

If one studies the Tarot cards with all these different perspectives, it ensures that one is closer to the lessons of self development offered in these wonderful cards.


Court cards have two primary purposes. The first is to depict specific characteristic of the person being read, and the second is to represent the various people in his or her life. Court cards can be an excellent tool for delving into the areas of oneself that need to be improved upon. Their tarot card meanings can illuminate the qualities that are working for you as well the qualities that are working against you. The same can be said for the various people in ones life. Differentiating these tarot card meanings can prove to be difficult. As a tarot reader, you must learn to identify when the cards apply directly to the self (that of the person being read) or to their relationships.

There are a number of techniques used to allocate the various court cards to particular individuals. One approach is to appoint astrological signs to each of the suits. Another is to assign the court cards to individuals according to their age and physical appearance. In this case, pages represent children and adolescents, knights represent young adults (20's to 40's) and king and queens represent mature adults. Should you wish to base your

interpretations on physical appearances in a tarot reading, you may use the chart below to help establish what suit is associated with what characteristics.

•Wands - Fair or red hair, fair skin, eyes can be both dark or light •Swords - Brown hair, olive skin, blue, hazel or light brown eyes •Cups - Light hair, fair skin, gray or blue eyes

•Pentacles - Dark hair, ethnic skin, dark eyes

When you are doing a tarot reading, sometimes you can not allocate a card to a specific individual nor can you find a relationship to the qualities of the court card with the

qualities of the person being read. In this case, their tarot card meanings may carry a more generalized interpretation. Below, I have listed general outlines for pages, knights, queens and kings. Should all else fail, and I can not make an association; I can count on the cards universal elucidations.

The Pages Tarot Card Meanings in a Tarot Reading


communication. Because of their youth, there is always a need for more information to make appropriate decisions. Pages are innocent, flexible and often represent new beginnings that require attention and cultivation.

The Knights Tarot Card Meanings in a Tarot Reading

Knights typically reflect the onset of new relationships in your life. In your free tarot reading, a knight may also suggest a deep need for new knowledge on a particular subject. Knights can also represent the consequences of an action. This may be due to their

inclination towards hastiness. Knights always predict a movement of some kind. The Queens Tarot Card Meanings in a Tarot Reading

In a tarot reading, queens rarely represent actual situations. They are more likely to represent the commencement of new understanding and awareness of a situation. They may suggest a need for a more feminine or passive approach when taking a new direction. They indicate a time for growth and progress.

The Kings Tarot Card Meanings in a Tarot Reading

Kings characteristically represent public relations, public recognition and awards. They are the father figures. With this authority, kings have the opportunity to sit back and let others do the work for them. When kings come up in a tarot reading, their tarot card meanings may reflect a situation where there will be an opportunity for leadership. Kings can also indicate the ending of a situation.


Although the general Tarot meanings of the cards runs the same from deck to deck, in fact the cards and their meanings actually falls into the interpretation and intuition of the reader. Much depends on the client they are reading for and the cards which turn up in the total spread. Tarot is really an ancient system of wisdom which enriches your daily life and can be a valuable guide to your spiritual development. It's probably the most popular form of divination in the western world and used as a tool for exploring the

subconscious,showing us choices or pathways we may wish to follow.

Tarot was initially designed about five centuries ago and used to play a game called Triumphs, something similar to bridge. It wasn't long though that occult groups adopted the deck as a means of divination.

Arguments ensue as to whether it originated from Norther Europe, from the Egyptian Book of Thoth, (their god of magic) or even the wandering tribes of Rom or gypsies. Various decks started to appear, designed by particular teachers, or developed for particular Kings and Queens and some evolved simply because the printers of the time could only produce certain illustrations or colors on their presses.

Tarot meanings of the cards (78) are broken into two major sections the Major Arcana (22 cards) and the Minor Arcana (56 cards).


0 - The Green Man (Fool) 1 - The High Priest (Magician) 2 - The High Priestess

3 - The Lady (Empress) 4 - The Lord (Emperor) 5 - The Druid (Heirophant) 6 - The Lovers 7 - The Chariot 8 - The Warrior (Strength) 9 - The Shaman (Hermit) 10 - The Wheel

11 - The Web (Justice)

12 - Sacrifice (The Hanged Man) 13 - Death

14 - The Underworld (The Devil) 15 - The Tower 16 - Initiation (Temperance) 17 - The Star 18 - The Moon 19 - The Sun 20 - Rebirth (Judgement) 21 - The World Tree (World)

Who are those kings, queens, knights, and pages in the Tarot deck? Generally considered the trickiest part of the Tarot to interpret, they actually represent different characters or personalities that are aspects of ourselves. It's like the growth or expansion of our learning started at the 'Fool' and ending at the 'World'...and of course all the computations in between. There are readers who prefer just to use the Major Arcana as they feel these cards hold more mysteries and greater spiritual depth.

The Minor Arcana are four suits.. cups, wands (staves), discs (sometimes called coins or pentacles) and swords. The actual cards are the numbers 1 through 10 and a Page, Knight, King and Queen. Each of these cards are numbered on the bottom with a word at the top, explaining the basic energy of the card.


Some of the tarot card meanings of the suits in the Minor Arcana, as well as the overall structure, have influenced our regular modern day 52-card deck. There are 4 suits that are each numbered from ace to ten, followed by 4 court cards called Page, Knight, Queen and King. As you have probably noticed, that is only one card more than a modern day deck of cards.

The 4 suits of Minor Arcana are called Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles. The number of suits has a symbolical importance because in ancient times it was thought that

everything in the world was made up of just four elements... air, earth, fire and water. Years later, these elements were believed to be related to the 4 fixed signs of the Zodiac... Taurus, Leo, Scorpio and Aquarius.



The Wands suit represents energy, growth, enterprise, animation and glory. The Wands on the cards are green wood that has a few live twigs to signify growth. They are sometimes used as a club to fight with or as a staff to carry the victor's crown. Their position in relation to the other cards in a layout will determine whether its energy will be good or bad. Wands are associated with ideas, creation and agriculture. The modern day suit of clubs comes from the Wands.


The Cups suit represents love, happiness, emotions, fertility and beauty. The cups symbol is associated with water, which represents the subconscious mind and instincts as

opposed to the conscious mind and reason. The suit of hearts in a regular deck of cards comes from the Cups.


The Swords suit represents aggression, force, ambition, courage and misfortune. Many cards of this suit shows fighting or people that are bowed down with misfortune. Swords represent action, both good and bad. This is where the spades suit comes from in a modern day deck.


The Pentacles suit represents money, industry and material gain. All the cards in this suit except for the 5 of Pentacles show people either working with or enjoying the fruits of their labour. Pentacles are the coin like disks that are inscribed with pentagrams (5 pointed stars). In ancient times, people wore pentagrams as a protection from evil. Of course this is where the suit of diamonds comes from in our regular playing cards of today.

The tarot card meanings of the Minor Arcana refer to the lesser events of everyday life. The Major Arcana on the other hand are the most powerful because they predict the major issues rather than the everyday ups and downs that the Minor Arcana reveal.

MINOR ARCANA TAROT MEANINGS OF THE INDIVIDUAL SUIT CARDS The suit cards of the tarot deck are structured much like our modern day playing cards. There are cards numbered Ace through ten and then there are some "face" cards, or in the case of the tarot deck "court cards." Like our current cards, there is a King and Queen, but instead of a Jack, the tarot deck has a knight and a Page. These individual cards express how their energy is shown to the world.

An Ace announces the overall theme of its particular suit. An Ace always symbolizes positive energies. It stands for the best its suit has to offer for whatever suit theme (Cups, Swords, Wands, or Pentacles) it belongs to.

Each of the middle, numbered cards (two through nine) presents a different aspect of a suit. These cards and represent an idea or aspect of the theme from many different angles.


The interpretation depends on the question being asked and the presence of other cards. A Ten in any suit takes the themes brought about by the Ace in that same suit to its logical conclusion. It does this by taking the best the suit has to offer in the Ace and applying it to message in the Ten card of that same suit.

The court cards in the tarot deck are people with attitudes and tendencies that reflect the attributes of their suit and rank. They symbolize different ways of acting in this world and allow us to use them or avoid them as we see fit.

A King is a doer in this life, a person who looks outward on the happenings of the day. He is masculine and mature. Authority and control are heavily related to this card. Results oriented and concerned with practical manners, a king is assertive and direct in his


A Queen embodies the aspects and qualities of her suit, and unlike the King does not act them out. The Queen is more introspective and her manner is more natural and relaxed. Enjoyment rather than results is her focus. Emotions, self expression, and personal relationships are her dominant characteristics.

A Knight is that out of control teenager. Immature and subjected to wild mood swings, he bounces from one extreme to the next as he tries to find where he fits in this world. In spite of all that he is sincere and eager. It is these qualities that redeem him to us as we admire his strong energy and high spirits.

A Page acts out the elements of his suit with carefree fun. He is the little kid in all of us. Don't look for deep thought or purpose but a relaxed and spontaneous approach to life. The Page represents the endless possibilities in life.

In contrast, the major arcana encompasses broad themes of everyday life


Just as the major arcana represents broad universal themes, the minor arcana takes those themes and breaks them down into their basics and show us how they effect our every day lives. The activities, feelings, and issues that create the every day drama in our lives are represented in these cards.

The fifty six cards in the minor arcana are divided into four suits, much like the modern day playing cards. The tarot card suites are Swords, Cups, Wands, and Pentacles. Each of these suits represents a specific approach to living your life.

The Swords are the suit of reason and intellect. They are concerned with honesty, justice and morality. A clear mind and clear thoughts are very positive for the Swords, as it represents the element of Air. A clouded sky or muddled thoughts can lead to sadness or disharmony. Our intelligence is an asset but our egos can lead us astray if we are not careful.


relationship models. The energy of this suit flows inward. In Chinese philosophical terms, cups represent the female yin and are associated with the element of Water. Water's natural ability to flow in all directions and fill up empty spaces makes it the perfect representation of the Cups suit.

The Wands are the suit of action, movement, and creativity. Risk taking, excitement, and the adventure of a journey are the main aspects of this suit. The opposite of Cups, this suit symbolizes the masculine yang in Chinese philosophy and is associated with the Fire element. The energy and excitement of the flickering flame is an ideal symbol of the Wand. It brings out the passion in one's every day activities.

The Pentacles are the suit of material concerns, safety, and common sense. They represent our physical surroundings and our interactions with it. They symbolize the element Earth. Pentacles also stand for prosperity and wealth on all levels. It is the exchange of material things that we all need to live on a daily basis that make this suit sometimes be given the name Coins.

As you can see each of these suits have their own unique qualities. We experience all of them in our day to day lives. A tarot reading will explain how these different suit qualities are having an impact on you at any time.

The suits should look familiar; they are very close to our modern day playing cards. They run from Ace to Ten and then there are four court cards. Two are the same, King and Queen. The other two are Knight and Page. They each represent a unique energy within their suit.


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The Flip a Card Exercise

To understanding the meaning of tarot cards

This is a quick and easy word association type exercise that will help you learn to trust your inner voice and intuition while working with tarot cards.

1.) get a pencil and paper, then number the paper from 1-78 2.) Set your tarot deck in front of you and flip over the top card.

3.) Quickly write down the first word or thought that pops into your head. Then write down the name of that card. Alwayd do it in that order.


5.) When you're done, compare what you wrote down to the meaning given for each card in whatever book you're learning from.

This exercise will show you just how close your intuitive interpretation of each card is to the interpretation given in the book, which in course will help you validate your intuition. Also you will see how one card can say something totally different to you that it said to whoever wrote the book you're using.

Always remember that there is no right or wrong interpretation. Doing this exercise multiple times over the course of a few weeks will also show you how the same card can say different things to you on different days. Always go with that inner voice rather than "book" meanings for the cards.




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