Complete Major Arcana Tarot Card Meanings Reference Guide. Understanding everything you want to know about all the Major Arcana Tarot Cards and their meaning.
The Major Arcana refers to the first twenty-two cards of the Tarot deck. The Major Arcana are important in Tarot reading because their meanings often refer to matters which concern significant personal or spiritual life challenges. This is in contrast to the other fifty-six cards of the Tarot deck, known as minor arcana, whose meanings generally refer to day-today matters or challenges.
Each Major Arcana card depicts a different scene, image or person(s) with unique symbolic meaning and elements. In Tarot reading, these meanings can change significantly depending on whether or not the card appears in its upright or reversed position. Other factors that can determine a card’s meaning can include where the card appears in a Tarot spread and the personal interpretation of the person conducting the reading, commonly referred to as a tarot reader.
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The Major Arcana refers to the non-suit cards, which make up the first 22 cards of the Tarot deck. While the symbolism and the Tarot card meanings of the 22 Major Arcana vary greatly, they all represent an encounter with major life challenges on either the personal or spiritual level. When a Major Arcana card appears in a Tarot card reading, it often signifies an important transition period or challenge we may face on our journey through life.
The 22 cards of the Major Arcana can be divided into two distinct categories: personal growth and spiritual enlightenment. The Tarot card meanings of the lower Major Arcana (ending with the Hermit card) typically relate to our growth from child to adult on a personal level and can address many of the earthly challenges we face along the way. Such difficulties may include the development of our own self-identity or dealing with life's major transitional challenges, such as our education, career advancement or how we form our relationships with others.
The second half of the Major Arcana (starting with the Wheel of Fortune card) typically relates to our growth on a spiritual level. Their Tarot card meanings most often illustrate the road to spiritual enlightenment, which transcend worldly affairs. These include the many philosophical challenges and transitional phases we encounter as we hopefully find a path to spiritual growth, enlightenment and maturity.
The symbolism referenced in the Major Arcana has its roots in archetypal imagery, which transcends cultures and dates back many thousands of years. The Tarot card meanings which are represented have a universal appeal tapping into the collective unconscious and directing us through ancient imagery and metaphorical depictions. They represent and reveal common situations, feelings and patterns that we can all identify with.
Always keep in mind, though, that while the imagery and themes of the Major Arcana may be universal, their meanings in a Tarot card reading are still subject to the interpretation of the Tarot reader. When a Major Arcana card appears, it calls for our immediate attention, informing us that there is a lesson to be learned or a situation that requires our utmost respect and consideration. It is the Tarot reader who must identify, interpret and communicate this important message.
When a card of the Major Arcana appears, it may signify that a life change is at hand. This could be an internal shift or a more obvious change in one’s views, actions or situation. In either case, the Major Arcana always refer to an element of fate regardless of our own ability or inability to control the outcome of events. Things may be in motion that we can or cannot fabricate, conjure or manage on our own. In either case, the event is sure to be an important and even potentially life altering experience. The universe has its own divine plan, and there is an expectation that a personal transformation is the goal.