Card Meanings, Descriptions, and Tarot Symbolism

Introduction to the Tarot Cards

The Tarot is a 78 card deck containing archetypes and hidden wisdom. Also known as trionfi, tarocchi, and tarock, tarot cards can be used in readings which provide inroads to the understanding of unconscious processes. Using a spread, the cards paint a story for the reader to think about.

The different layouts that are used in readings have been developed to answer all kinds of questions. The symbolism contained in each of the card meanings represents spiritual energies that can be likened to the things that are happening in one’s real life. Tarot spreads can be used to reveal hidden factors about something that one seeks awareness of. Certain spreads can be extremely helpful when someone is faced with particular decisions.

To begin, a reader should be in a relaxed, receptive state, avoiding an analytical frame of mind. Meditation or ritual can help in achieving this. Messages may be irrational, sometimes only making sense from another type of reality, as in dream imagery.

As a gateway to spiritual wisdom, tarot cards should be considered as sacred as any other altar. Spiritual messages received from a simple reading can change a person’s life. A more profound experience can leave readers awe-struck, especially those who can be open to the kind of communications that may intimidate many.

Just about any open-minded individual could learn the basics and intuitively become a good reader in no time if they have the determination to. To put it simply, the magic is in the cards. Interpreting esoteric symbolism is a talent as innate and widespread as dream interpretation.

A fairly quick way to pick up tarot card meanings would be to draw a daily card and take notes over a period of time, paying attention to how each card seems to match up to events in everyday life.

Please keep in mind that occult symbolism should not be regarded as truly positive or negative. “Negative” cards may not seem pleasant, but they should be seen as a huge positive when considering the awareness offered by this kind of revelation. Like interpreting dreams, nightmares can warn people when they really need to start paying attention to something they have been overlooking: a chance to make a positive change. As a tool of spiritual alchemy, the tarot is all about discovery, adaptation, and self-improvement.

Roots and Compatibility

Like horoscopes, tarot is compatible with all religions and sensible spiritual paths because its role is to enhance the connection with the spiritual centre. The cards act as a mirror which reflects one’s innermost intentions.

Though the trionfi deck may have historical roots as a Medieval card game, the occult symbolism contained in tarot cards might be difficult to dismiss as coincidence. The Major Arcana have been likened to everything from tribal gods to human archetypes to the various stages of personal development. Some mystics have suggested the tarot is of Egyptian origin. Others have even suggested that the archetypal symbolism found in the cards was derived from ET technology that originated long ago on Venus. Maybe it’s simply that the symbolism of archetypes is ingrained into the fabric of our DNA, making this kind of tool an inevitable outgrowth of human culture. We know that the tarot deck has been adapted to incorporate everything from the Kabbala to the Periodic Table of Elements. The beauty of reading esoteric symbolism is that it does not really matter which system one believes in or chooses to follow. It is a deeply personal experience.

Deck Structure

The Major Arcana suit consists of archetypal images that represent major themes in life. When trump cards appear, they can generally be interpreted like a stressed syllable or a word in italics. When interpreting cards of the trump suit, you may want to pause and reflect longer than ordinary. Majors can also represent life changes.

The Minor Arcana section represents the more mundane, commonplace happenings in life. These cards act as the body of the deck, divided into 4 suits. Likewise, each suit could be compared to a body system. To extend the metaphor, the nervous system could be thought of as the Swords, the circulatory system Cups, the endocrine Wands, and the Pentacles would be the muscular/skeletal/skin. The suits overlay each other, working together the same way as body systems do. Each suit is further divided into 2 sections known as court and pip (or in many modern decks, scene) cards.

Courts are the 4 cards traditionally depicting the royal characters of King, Queen, Knight, and Page – or sometimes Knight, Queen, Prince, and Princess; or similar variations. This section of the deck is sometimes seen as the section that represents actual people in or entering a person’s life. Pip cards were traditionally depicted as numbered collections of suit items, but ever since the Rider-Waite deck, most modern decks now show depictions of certain scenarios of events and themes in life.

Each section and each card of the tarot deck plays its role in the function of the deck as a collective whole, and just like the working engine that a living organism represents, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

  • Major Arcana – the greater secrets – trumps carry more weight than the other 4 suits
  • Minor Arcana – the lesser secrets – divided into 4 suits of elemental states
  • Wands (Fire) – Energy, motivation, action, force, conflict, the will
  • Cups (Water) – Emotions, feeling, language of spirit, the subconscious
  • Swords (Air) – Ideas, communication, thoughts, enlightenment, concepts
  • Pentacles (Earth) – Manifestation, physical reality, the mundane and the carnal
The Magician The High Priestess The Empress The Emperor The Hierophant
The Lovers The Chariot Strength The Hermit The Wheel of Fortune Justice
The Hanged Man Death Temperance The Devil The Tower The Star
The Moon The Sun The Last Judgment The Fool The World

Click the images below to learn about each tarot deck.

Surrealist Tarot by Ari BachDiary of a Broken Soul by Ash Abdullahbifrost Tarot by Jeremy Lampkin
by Ari Bachby Ash Abdullahby Jeremy Lampkin
Langustl Tarot by Stephan LangeCrowley-Thoth by Crowley & HarrisRider-Waite by Waite & Smith
by Stephan Langeby Crowley & Harrisby Waite & Smith

You can find more methods of cartomancy on in the form of Madam Lenormand and playing cards.





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