This is a series I started writing for Tumblr on how to read tarot – focusing on the Major Arcana
The Major Arcana or Trump cards consist of twenty two cards – starting with the Fool and ending with The World.
They represent The Fools Journey, major lessons and events that will shape you and your path. When you see the majors in your reading think about life lessons you can learn by what you are experiencing at the moment. Think about your spiritual path.
When you see in your reading a surplus of Major Arcana, you need to really meditate and think about the issue/experience you are asking about as it is going to be important in your life.
When I think of the fool I think of that feeling when you are riding a rollercoaster and you are about to go down and you feel like your stomach is on your throat… or when you finally talk to your crush and he feels the same way about you, so your heart stops for a second and then it feels like it will jump out of your chest. That’s the fool, he is optimistic, innocent and has a a thirst for life to start out – The fool is ready for the world and so the world better be ready for him. This is his story, the Fool makes decisions, picks his path but also opened his mind and heart for the Universe to take him where he needs to go. This new beginning is an unknown and welcome adventure.
When you see The Fool upright it is time to take a leap, a little risk – start something new, the universe is telling you to go ahead, the Universe has your back.
On his reverse aspect The Fool is also a little reckless and sometimes does things without thinking of the consequences – risking everything and everyone. The fool is a little immature, careless and unprepared for the path ahead.
When you see him on his Reversed aspect ask yourself “What is holding me back?” Or “Is this risk worth taking? Is it something that I really want? Am I jumping into this (relationship, career, lifestyle) too soon?”
Picture: The Fool by Shadowscapes Tarot
It’s the first stop on the fool’s journey. The Magician teaches the Fool the power of self confidence, skill and passion. Teaches to manifest dreams – while using the resources around : Pentacles (Earth), Stave (Fire), Swords(Air), Cups(Water). The Magician connects to the power found in nature and the spirit and with the wand and body it channels those powers into life.
When you see the Magician upright is time to start thinking and creating. Follow your passions – once you know what and why you have these ideas/passion is time to act. You have everything at hand to start working towards your goals
In his reversed aspect the Magician is manipulative, a poor planner and has an unclear vision. It may be that the goals are not aligned to a higher purpose but more for material gain or that he is trying to manipulate people into doing the dirty work and get credit for it.
When you see The Magician in a reading ask yourself: What is my goal? Is it based on material self gain? Is it something I love and I’m passionate about? Am I utilizing everything at my disposal to achieve those goals? Or am I feeling stuck or purposeless?
The High Priestess
She lives in the liminal places of the mind. Where the Magician is all about worldly actions using all your resources, The High Priestess is all about connection : instinctual connection. You know that feeling when you get some incredible news and you want to share them with the world, but decide to keep it to yourself… or when you meet someone and you immediately felt sick to your stomach and decided not to trust them? That’s the high Priestess. She dances between dark and light, between the conscious and subconscious. She meets the Fool and teaches us to follow intuition, teaches us that there are mysterious and magical forces and secrets in the universe – and that we (The Fool) can tap into this knowledge just by trusting ourselves and following insight and any wisdom obtained through our lessons.
In the reversed aspect The High Priestess warns us about doubting our intuition, about being “blocked” and over sharing information to the point where we can be taken advantage by people gossiping and using us against us. Some things are better when they are kept secret.
When she shows up in a reading ask yourself: Do I struggle to trust myself? Have I grown out of touch with myself and my spirituality? How can I best channel my intuition? What is hidden that I need to know? Look inside yourself for the answers and try to keep a balance.
Picture: by me – The High Priestess in the Linestrider’s Journey Deck
She is the mother of tarot… she gives birth to creativity, love, art, business and of course life. She is the part of us that is protective, caring, gentle and patient. When you think of the Empress think of Venus/Aphrodite – she is a powerful loving goddess that prefers love over fighting- but will fight when she has to. She teaches the Fool to get in touch with femininity, beauty and nature. She is one with earth and she wants us to establish a connection with nature to help ground our energy and maintain a healthy flow in life. She teaches the Fool to go with the seasons and changes in life.
In her reversed aspect the Empress can be opposed to change, over protective, co-dependent, controlling. She may be having a creative block at the moment, questioning her body image and sensuality.
When she shows up in a reading ask yourself: Am I taking care of myself? Am I showing care and nurturing others? Am I following and nurturing my dreams, career, relationships?
Picture: The Etheral Tarot
He is the Father of Tarot – the other half of the Empress – where she is nurture and care, he is authority and structure. I like to think that when the Fool meets the Emperor; it’s the first time that he isn’t happy to have gone in his adventure. The Emperor is those moments when your father goes on and on about taking responsibility for your actions, those moments when your boss is telling you what and how to do something… that’s the Emperor. He is ambition, power and he shows the Fool how to achieve goals, how to keep a focus mind over a careless heart, he shows the Fool how to be firm but also fair, he shows us how to protect and fight for what we hold dear. He is the rock foundation, the hunter, the provider.
I’m his reversed aspect the Emperor is cold, manipulative, dominating, inflexible, rigid. He can be possessive, over bearing and even see loving and caring as a weakness.
When he shows up ask yourself: how do I feel about authority and power? Am I using too much or too little of my own power in my life? Am I being inflexible? Is someone or something controlling me?
The Hierophant is tradition, beliefs, conformity and seeking wisdom and knowledge. I mean just look at the illustration above… look at the way his roots are tangled with the earth. The Hierophant is the Teacher of the Tarot, he wants The Fool to really learn what it is that drives him, what are The Fool’s beliefs and traditions. How’s does he come up with what is wrong and what is right? He wants The Fool to be part of the community and to live by those expectations and rules.
In the reversed aspect the Hierophant is a rebel, an outcast. He has problems with authority and questions everything and everyone.
When the Hierophant shows up ask some of the following questions: Am I following my tradition or beliefs? Are my beliefs outdated? Is there a mentor or teacher I can reach out about my current situation? Am I surrounding myself with the right people?
Picture: The Hierophant by Shadowscapes Tarot
Most people see The Lovers card and they immediately think “Yes! Love is on the way” but that’s not exactly what this card means – at least not all the time. Have you ever sat down and talked to a couple that has been together for many many years? If you have, you know one of the first thing they will tell you is that being a lover, a partner or any kind of friend is a choice. It is choosing to be with that person every day, to work with your business partner every day to reach a common goal, to listen to your friend everyday talking about the guy who broke her heart two years ago. Love is a choice.
So the Fool gets to this stage and he has to make a choice. Do you keep on this path on your own? Or do you adjust your path so you can be with the one you love? Even if it means letting go of your main goals and dreams? This card asks of the Fool to be honest even raw with himself and his partner. Remember this is a major card – so this decision will be an extremely important decision in your life.
In the reversed aspect The Lovers cautions that we may be out of sync from our loved ones or passions. We may be suffering in our self-love, or with a relationship where one of the partners is taking and not giving. It may signal arguments, disagreements.
When this card shows up ask yourself: am I making the right choice? are parts of me fighting each other? Where am I putting all my love? What is tempting me? Where is my happiness being blocked?
Picture from: The Golden Tarot of Klimt
When you see the Chariot is time to buckle up, get your running shoes as you are in for a ride. The Chariot is here to tell you it’s time for action! I mean look at him – he doesn’t even have to control his horses, they know by his power and confidence where to go.Whatever choice the Fool made when he met The Lovers card now it is time to charge forth and make it happen. The Chariot is telling you to move ahead with willpower, confidence and conviction. There will be winding roads and potholes but hold on to your Chariot… it will get you there.
In the reversed aspect The Chariot may be saying that you are going too fast and you should stop and re-evaluate. It may also say that there is a lack of control, confidence, direction. You may be feeling like it’s time to quit.
When The Chariot shows up ask yourself: how can I take control of my situation? How can I overcome the challenges coming my way? Am I going the right direction? What lesson can I learn here? Am I giving up too soon?
Picture from The Green Witch Tarot
Well this is by far my most favorite card. When I see it, I feel this rush of “I can do anything, cause I’ve done it before” in life even when we have gone through the same cycles – sometimes even over and over our strength begins to shake – this is what The Strength card shows The Fool inner strength. It’s asks the Fool to look inside for his own power and to tame it and direct it how we want to.
In the adverse aspect The Strength card warns us about extremes – are you coming on to strong or are you showing a lot of weaknesses? Are you letting fear rule your life? It asks to channel any negative feeling like anger, self doubt and sadness and turn it into something positive- something strong enough to tame a Lion.
When the Strength card shows up ask yourself: How can I overcome my weakness? How can I channel my inner power or instincts? Where do I need to show some courage? Where do I need to let go of my reigns a bit?
Picture from : Strength by Mucha Tarot
When I see the Hermit my first instinct is to look inward and think about what is happening in my life and asking if this is what I really want. At this point in The Fool’s Journey there have been many choices made and we found inner strength – now is time to take a break before life gets going again. The Hermit teaches the Fool to seek wisdom, to remove yourself from a situation and seek solitude to find the answers within you.
On the other hand when we see the Hermit reversed it may mean that you are not taking enough time to yourself OR you may be taking so much time that you may be alienating yourself from the world.You may be ignoring your inner voice and your needs as well.
When the Hermit shows up ask yourself: am I becoming too much of a Hermit? Am I alienating people? Do I need to take some time for myself? Am I going in the right path? Am I listening to my inner self?
Picture :The Hermit – The Linestrider’s Journey
This card is here to remind the Fool that life is in constant movement and that his luck is about to change. We have no control over life and as easy as things seem to be looking up, there will be a time when things are also looking down. The lesson learned by the Fool here is that what goes around comes around and there is not controlling it. There are cycles that need to be broken, cycles that need to be relived, there is a time for good luck and a time to lay low and make the best of the situation . When this card shows up think of the changing tides…
In the reversed aspect the Wheel of Fortune tells us that there may be negative external forces influencing your life at the moment. It may also be signaling to being afraid of change, or that a time of bad luck is finally coming to an end.
When the Wheel of Fortune comes up make sure to consider all the cards around it to get the best out of your reading.
When the Wheel comes up ask yourself: what changes am I fighting against? Or what changes am I accepting? What type of consequences do my actions bring? What is beyond my control? What can I do to improve my situation right now?
Another word for Justice is Karma – When the Fool arrives to this stop in his journey it is time to “reap what you sow” whether is good or bad. The Justice card shows us that the Universe is fair – it may not be when or how we expect it but everyone always gets what they deserve. This card may also show to warn us about potential decisions we need to make that will have a long term consequences in our life. This card wants to remind us to do the right thing.
In the reversed position this card is warning us about being dishonest, lacking morality, being unfair. It may also mean that you are too critical and unforgiving – or that you need to let go of the guilt and be kind and compassionate.
When this card shows us ask yourself: How can I make the best decision? How can I fix my mistakes? How can I be balanced and fair? Where am I being dishonest in my life?
Picture: Justice byMucha Tarot
Oh the Hanged Man… Don’t you ever just want to take a time out and just go hang upside down? Yeah, me neither… but I can imagine the head rush you would get for being in that position for long. So the Hanged Man shows up after the Justice Card… why? Because this is how the Universe wants us to react to the consequences from our Karma. We need to be serene, accepting, release anything we are holding on to and let go. Sometimes the only way forward is to look at things differently, let go of the old and change what needs changing.
Reversed the Hanged Man may mean a few things, one may be that you are taking too much time standing still and you need to start taking action again. The other option is that you are feeling like a victim, holding on to things that you have no control over – stop resisting the change.
When the Hanged Man comes to hang out (see what I did there?) ask yourself: what should I hold on to? What should I let go? How can I see things differently? How do I let go of old habits? What’s preventing me from moving on? Why am I stuck?
Picture: The Hanged Man – Shadowscapes Tarot
I chose the picture for this card on purpose. I’ve been picking the others on what version I like better but this one I think besides being beautiful really tells us what the Death card is about and it won’t scare anyone away from reading tarot at first sight. Rising like a phoenix, that’s what Death is about. So in the Hanged Man the Fool let go of what couldn’t be controlled. In the Death Card the Fool is learning to rise up from ashes, transform and move on. The Death Card teaches us that a transformation must take place…being physical, mental and/or spiritual and that if it’s done the rewards will be positive.
When Death shows up reversed it is saying you need to stop resisting change, stop fearing new beginnings. It warns that you may be repeating harmful patterns and habits that need breaking.
When Death shows up ask: what endings do I need to accept? What needs to die within me? What will be born from the ashes? What can I use to transform myself?
Picture: Shadowscapes Tarot
You know that feeling when everything is a mess, when there is noise coming from all sides and you close your eyes, breathe in and this sense of peace comes over you… that’s temperance.
Temperance is balance, peace, alignment, patience. It invites us to let go of everything we try to control and maintain an even temperament and a hold in your emotions. We are grounded, we go with the flow and practice self control.
In the reversed aspect Temperance warns us that we are being too rigid, we are out of balance, being excessive and maybe trying to control everything around us.
When you get the Temperance card ask yourself… am I being too excessive? What do I need to let go off? Where is my patience being tested? How can I find more balance?
Picture: Ethereal Visions Tarot
This card may be one of my favorite cards, the Devil card is here to show you where your power lies. The fool runs into the Devil after finding the balance in Temperance. The Devil is trying to see if you have grown or if you are still going to fall back to who you were before
The Devil is not evil, but he is powerful, and he wants to show you that his power lies on you – you are what makes him powerful. He invites you to stay and it is up to you. If you stay there will be no physical chains but you you will be chained up – chained to your own patterns, to your choices, to your karma, to your addictions and your thoughts. If you go, you will grow. Where your energy goes that is where you are, that is what controls you.
In the reverse aspect the Devil may be saying that you are breaking away… waking up from the slumber and moving on.
Some questions to ask when this card shows up is “Where is my energy going? , what is really important to me?, am I giving away my power?, how can I bring back my energy? How can I improve my will power?
Picture: The Devil by The Lightseer’s Tarot
So The Fool decides to stay with the Devil because honestly who can blame him? The Devil builds this tower around him and as the Fool starts to gain back his consciousness he realizes the only thing we can do is jump out and/or burn this tower down. Will he get hurt on the way down? Absolutely.
The Tower Card is here to bring havoc. It will destroy what you know, change your reality, cause pain and bring confusion.
The Tower Card is here to bring you back to reality, back to the basics, back to your foundation…. and although all of this sounds terrible and scary – it really just brings with it a new/fresh beginning. An opportunity to see things clearly and discard what needs to be removed and no longer works.
In the reverse aspect this card may be saying that you are finally getting over your fall or that you may be postponing the inevitable which in fact will make it harder for you in the long run. The only constant in life is change.
When this card shows up ask yourself: what have I been ignoring? How do I grow from this change? What needs to change? What needs to die and be left behind? What are the roots to my foundation? What is the lesson here? How can I rebuild?
Picture: The Tower from Tarot Mucha
After the pain and confusion from The Tower card the Fool runs into the Star. He sits here and takes time to heal, to rejuvenate, to build.
The Star lets the Fool get back to the basics, he can sit here and think about who he is, what his path is. He can sit here and listen to his inner compass. The Star energy is the calm after the storm, the energy that bring you peace and hope. The Start asks you to follow your intuition and have hope.
The reversed meaning of this card may indicate that you are still fearful from the energy of the tower. You may be displaying depression and a feeling of not being good enough. On the contrary you may be acting with arrogance because you survived the Tower.
When this card shows up ask yourself: what makes me happy? How can I embrace change? How can I get in touch with my intuition? How can I create a new flow? How can I follow my divine self? How can I let go of my ego?
Picture: The Star by the Greenwitch Tarot