Even if you have some experience with tarot cards and readings, it may take some time before you understand their full nature and uses. For example, if you own your own deck and make use of the suggested card meanings for the deck, it can take months or even years before you have them all memorized. As you search for different spreads and interpretations, you should also take some time to learn about other ways to work with them. At the very least, you can find new ways to deepen your understanding of the human condition as well as form magical working methods that will be of use to you and others around you.
The Major Arcana
The Major Arcana is also referred to as the Trump cards and consists of twenty-two cards in total. Twenty-one of them are numbered, and the Fool is not marked or marked as 0.
There are 78 cards in a traditional full Tarot Deck. These 78 cards are divided into the Major and Minor Arcanas. The 56 Minor Arcana simply consists of the cards and the suits used in an ordinary playing deck. Most of the cards in the Minor Arcana represent events or qualities, whereas the Major Arcana consists of the iconic description of energies, astral influences, or life events.
The additional 22 Major Arcana cards included in the traditional Tarot deck represent the stages of a person’s individual passage through life, from non-existence, birth, love, marriage, death, spiritual ascension, and back to non-existence again. The Fool Card, which is often pulled from the deck and used to represent the significator (the person asking for the reading), indicates this eternal cycle.
The cards also contain many symbols and icons that are symbolic of the human psyche. The images are derived from a number of metaphysical traditions and cultures, including Egyptian, Buddhist, Persian, Hindi, Celtic, Pagan, Hebrew, and Christian.
The Major Arcana is the spine of the Tarot. It is quite common for readings to be given using only these cards, especially if the question demands a definitive quick answer or relates to a deep investigation into the self or the need to describe a psychological state.
Sometimes you will hear the term Major 78. This just simply means that the deck of cards is a tarot deck and not a playing card deck because it contains the additional major arcana cards. There are also no suits in the major arcana, just as there are no symbolic “stand-alone” cards in the minor arcana.
The Meaning of the Major Arcana Tarot Cards
The Minor Arcana
The Minor Arcana of a full Tarot deck consists of 56 cards and four suits, just like an ordinary deck of playing cards: wands, swords, pentacles, and cups. Each of these suit symbols corresponds to their own unique descriptive universal elements, and each is symbolic of an aspect of experiencing human existence. By browsing through the Suits, you can find descriptions of each card in great detail. In addition, we are listing all of their symbolic structures and describing the card’s spiritual meaning and how these meanings appear in readings.
Aside from the four suits, the cards are divided into numbered cards (Ace through to ten) and four court cards (the Page, Knight, Queen, and King.)
Usually, readings are given using all of the cards in the Tarot deck, including both the Major and Minor Arcana. Occasionally a reading might be given using only the cards in the Minor Arcana. A Tarot spread that only incorporates the Minor Arcana might be described as cartomancy and is mainly used to ask questions about mundane everyday events.
The Suit of Cups
The Suit of Cups is associated with water and the feminine aspect of nature and is symbolic of love, emotions, feelings, attachments, and creativity. This suit rules the inner sphere, the thoughts we internalize as well as unconditional love and friends.
The Suit of Cups symbolizes the element of water. Water is associated with the flow of emotions, psychic energy, feelings, relationships, and the way we connect to the world.
What the Suit of Cups means in a Reading
When you pull cards from the Suit of Cups, it means that you are thinking with your heart rather than your head. Cups symbolize the gratification of the ultimate idealist.
The Cups are also related to pregnancy, sex, children, pets, domestic life, romanticism, creativity, crafts, romanticism, fantasy, imagination, celebration, art, and beauty.
If a reading is drawn and the spread consists predominantly of Cups cards, then it is likely that the questioner is seeking answers to questions about love, emotional issues, and intuitive matters. A reading with mostly Cups in its answers usually has a great deal of drama and twists and turns in its meaning.
Negative Aspects of the Suit of Cups
Negative aspects include a tendency to be irrational, blaming others for problems, obsession, over-attachment, narcissism, self-indulgence, and being foolish in love. Another drawback of the nature of the suit is an overdependence on metaphysics and being overly optimistic in life.
Sometimes the shadow side of the cups suit manifests as an inability to connect to others, communication problems, and a lack of self-impression.
Associations of the Suit of Cups
The Suit of Cups is traditionally associated with Autumn and the direction of West. Its correspondence in an ordinary playing deck is the suit of Hearts.
In terms of astrology, they are associated with the water signs, including Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio.
Personalities of the Cups suit tend to be artistic, gentle, nurturing, and creative. They are fun-loving nature lovers, good chefs, and tend to be irresponsible. They are humanitarians who put people first. They love beautiful and sensuous things, but they are not as materialistic as the personalities of other Suits.
The Meaning of the Suit of Cups
The Suit of Pentacles
The Suit of Pentacles is associated with the element of earth and the feminine aspect of nature. It symbolizes finances, material possessions, career, fertility, and descendants. The suit rules the machinations of power, conquest, death, and the will to succeed despite the limitations of nature or fate. Pentacles also describe sources of abundance and prosperity.
The Suit of Pentacles is also known as the Suit of Discs or the Suit of Coins. The cards in the suit cover all of the material and monetary aspects of life, including career, earnings, taxes, businesses, property, inheritance, and other money matters.
What the Suit of Pentacles means in a Reading
The positive aspects of the cards in the deck include the manifestation of money, how it is realized, and how prosperity can be grown. The suit’s negative aspects include always having to pay taxes, debt, losses, and poverty.
On a more eclectic level, the Suit of Pentacles is associated with self-esteem, ego, and the potential to create abundance.
If you draw a spread with many Pentacles cards, the questioner is likely seeking answers to questions about money, finances, work, and career. It can also mean that the questioner needs to pay more attention to these matters rather than focus on love or other areas of life.
Negative Aspects of the Suit of Pentacles
If you have a negative attitude, you may not be doing as well in life as the cosmos mirrors your unavailability for prosperity.
Another shadow side of the Suit is the qualities of greed, arrogance, or being a hoarder. Some cards refer to a tendency to be overly focused on material goods to the detriment of other areas in your life.
Associations of the Suit of Pentacles
The cards are associated with the Earth element, and in time it represents years and the season of winter. The Pentacles suit corresponds to the Diamonds suit in a regular deck of playing cards.
Pentacles also symbolize the Earth signs of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. These are practical, generous individuals. They are nature lovers that very much “judge a tree by its fruit.”
The suit of Pentacles also rules a happy domestic life and marriage, sensuality, cuddling, affection, cooking, massages, gardening, decorating, and indulgent experiences such as eating chocolate or enjoying a fine glass of wine.
The Meaning of the Suit of Pentacles
The Suit of Swords
The suit of Swords is associated with air and is masculine in nature. Swords symbolize power, intellect, thoughts, detachment, logic, and destruction. The sphere rules those things that affect us externally and how we react to and handle these events.
What the Suit of Swords means in a Reading
The cards in the Suit of Swords symbolize dramatic and swift acts that have a high impact. They are symbolic of change, force, power, action, courage, oppression, ambition, and conflict. This call to action can be positive or negative depending on surrounding cards and the question. Many of the cards indicate a battle or a fight; some conflicts are personal, and others are a matter of stripping away the old or problematic to make way for the new.
The Suit of Swords is very platonic and cerebral. They reflect your state of mind and the duality of feeling.
If you pull a predominantly Sword card reading, there is likely to be many conflicts, arguments, or internal struggles in your future. It is a message to the quitrent to be wary and observant about what is occurring in their world.
Negative Aspects of the Suit of Swords
They reflect the importance of balancing feeling and spirit with action. Many of the Sword cards indicate feelings that run to an extreme, provoking violence, jealousy, and enmity.
The shadow side of the suit is anger, harsh judgment, a lack of sympathy, and mental and verbal abuse.
Associations of the Suit of Swords
The type of personality associated with the Swords card is generally highly intelligent, rational, logical, persuasive, and communicative. They are capable of great analysis and are often brilliant, spiritual, and inspirational. On the downside, a Swords personality can also be stubborn, domineering, ruthless, inflexible, confrontational, and heartless.
The Suit of Swords is symbolic of the Air element. Swords are associated with the air signs of Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. When it comes to timing, the number on the card usually refers to the number of months until something happens. Sword cards are also symbolic of the spring season. Swords cards correspond to Spades in an ordinary playing deck.
The Meaning of the Suit of Swords
The Suit of Wands
The suit of Wands is masculine in nature and associated with the element of fire. Wands symbolize inspiration, spirituality, ideas, innovation, and action. The sphere of the Wands rules our external life and helps reveal the extent to which we can influence others.
The Suit of Wands symbolizes the element of fire, and it is associated with qualities and meanings such as intuition, primal urges, spirituality, will, strength, sexual energy, impetus, ambition, creativity, and ideas.
What the Suit of Wands means in a Reading
The wands are all about “what you do.” It is an action suit, and it refers to everyday activities as well as ongoing projects and To-Do Lists that you might be making for the future.
The positive aspects of this suit are charisma, passion, energy, ideas, leadership, initiative, and having a way with people.
If Wands cards dominate a reading, then it is likely that you are seeking solutions to rational, cerebral, and platonic issues. The issue being asked about may also be in its beginning stages and may also have to do with the decisions of an individual rather than the decisions of a couple or a collective. The suit very much represents the individual’s ability to change their fate by making good decisions and following through on them.
The Wands suit has more to do with career, business, and social life than intimacy or personal relationships. However, when a Wands card pops up in a romantic reading, it often means meeting someone new or having a fresh start with someone you have known a long time.
Negative Aspects of the Suit of Wands
The negative aspects are egotistical behavior, impulsiveness, impatience, laziness, self-centeredness, and a lack of control. You may be “going through the motions” or performing tasks that have no meaning.
Associations of the Suit of Wands
When it comes to the year’s natural cycles, this suit generally corresponds to Summer. In terms of a time reference, it refers to a week. In an ordinary deck of playing cards, the Clubs suit matches the Wands.
Astrologically Wands symbolize the fire signs, including Leo, Sagittarius, and Aries.