Andrea has a background in Myers-Briggs and Western astrology. She mostly writes about relationships.
Tarot Cards 101
Tarot cards were invented in Europe in the mid-15th century and became popular in the late 18th century. A tarot deck is split into the major and minor arcana. The major arcana includes 22 cards with different milestone scenarios that people go through in their lifetimes. The major arcana cards relate to the element of ether, the fifth element relating to the divine, spirit, or cosmos.
The major arcana cards can be split up by the natural elements: fire, earth, air, and water. These four elements are used throughout Western astrology, which is based on Ptolemy's Tetrabiblos. Western astrology is rooted in Hellenistic and Babylonian traditions.
The minor arcana is made up of 56 cards: four suits with 14 cards each. Each suit has 10 numbered cards and 4 court cards. The suits are as follows:
- Wands = Fire
- Pentacles = Earth
- Swords = Air
- Cups = Water
In the major arcana, there are seven cards identified with fire.
- Emperor IV
- Strength VIII or XI (some decks swap Justice for the 8th or 11th place)
- Wheel of Fortune X
- Temperance XIV
- Tower XVI
- Sun XIX
- Judgment XX, this card is sometimes identified as a water card (death by fire or ice)
The Fire Element
The fire element is the last one to be introduced into the major arcana and emerges with the Emperor card, which is numbered at four. In Western astrology, fire starts the zodiac cycle. Aries is the first sign, and it begins spring.
Fire has the most cards attributed to it in the major arcana. Water has the next most cards. Earth and air tie for the least cards.
- Fire: Seven cards. (Emperor, Strength, Wheel of Fortune, Temperance, Tower, Sun, Judgment)
- Earth: Five cards. (Empress, Hierophant, Hermit, Devil, World)
- Air: Five cards. (Fool, Magician, Lovers, Justice, Star)
- Water: Six cards. (High Priestess, Chariot, Hanged Man, Death, Moon, Judgment)
Minor Arcana + Elements
In the minor arcana, the court cards all represent a certain element:
Page = Earth
Knight = Fire
Queen = Water
Read More From Exemplore
King = Air
What Fire Represents
Fire represents powers of vitality. The element represents free will, passion, movement, energy, aggression, and growth. This element is about activation, making choices, and following your instincts.
Fire and air in tarot are considered action cards. Earth and water are resource cards. Fire is nurtured by earth, while air is nurtured by water.
People born under fire signs in Western astrology make for strong leaders. They don't let fear get in the way of their goals. They're charismatic people with a lot of energy, and they are also the most prone to anger. They're also attracted to humor.
Fire Signs in the Zodiac
The three fire signs are Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. All three get into the thick of action. They don't do well to sit and wait. They want instant results. They will fight for what they believe. They are the knights charging into battle.
Aries is the first fire sign and the first sign of the zodiac. Aries dates are from March 21 to April 19. They rule the beginning of spring. The sign is fueled by instinct and independence. It is a cardinal sign: they're not afraid to do things first. In relationships, they need love to be expressive, passionate, and pronounced. They either love or hate people; they're terrible at finding a neutral place.
Aries is ruled by Mars, the warring planet. The sign acts like a warrior. They're known for great leadership, their sharp tongues, and for starting projects but not finishing them. They're fierce people who will charge after what they want. They're not known for organizational strengths: they make for great leaders but terrible managers. (Leaders tend to be fire and air signs; managers tend to be earth and water signs.)
Leo is the second fire sign. People with this sun sign are born from July 23 to August 22. Leo rules the middle of summer. The sign is fixed: it is focused, a champion of others, and leads like a king or queen. Leo is ruled by the sun, giving it a boost of energy, happiness, and a rather defined ego.
Leos are dramatic, power-seeking, and get caught up in social causes. They can be worthy opponents against Aries, but they tend to be more jovial. The fixed fire sign wants attention, it tends to be extroverted, and it is very competitive. The Leo can get its ego hurt easily. People born under this sign want to feel like people depend on them; they want to feel necessary.
Where Aries only sees in shades of red, Leo is open to red, orange, and yellow. Sagittarius is open to a wider range of possibilities with red, orange, yellow, pink, blue, and white. (Aries is stubborn, Leo is also stubborn, and Sagittarius is flexible.)
Sagittarius dates are from November 22 to December 21. This sign has the weakest flame. It is the most spontaneous and amicable of the fire lot. They're obsessed with humor. Sagittarius types tend to value intelligence and research more than Aries or Leo. They're guided by the planet Jupiter: the planet of growth, expansion, healing, and prosperity.
Sagittarius rules late autumn. No fire sign occurs in winter. Sagittarius adds merriment and excitement to life. The sign symbolizes the holiday season ahead of Christmas. This sign has commitment issues; they tend to stay single or as bachelors longer than almost all the other signs.
Aries is about passion; they don't do well in relationships that have no chemistry. Leo is about finding a partner, a queen if you will. Sagittarius is about freedom and exploration; they're wild horses and don't always find a suitable partner.
Elements in Tarot
Yin or Yang
Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Reptiles and Insects
Mammals on Land
Minor Arcana Suit
Powers of Vitality: free-will, energy, motivation, growth, creativity, passion.
Material Resources: wealth, health, career, money, property, legacy.
Powers of the Mind: logic, communication, clarity, reason, intelligence, honesty.
Matters of the Heart: love, feelings, intuition, flow, relationships, emotions.
Tarot Is About the Fool's Journey
The Fool is the only unnumbered card in the major arcana. It can be used as an excuse card to not follow suit, the zero, or it can be used as a trump card, the number 22.
In games or a reading, the Fool is considered the protagonist. It might be the person who is getting a reading done on their life. The Fool could also be interpreted as the hero. The Fool is an air card that's been activated to go on a journey: one where they'll meet new people, challenges, places, and items.
All the other cards are in relation to the Fool and his or her journey. The Fool first meets the Magician, the High Priestess, and the Empress before meeting a major arcana fire card. The first people the Fool meets introduce him to different worldly conflicts.
The Fool's journey ends with the World card: signaling balance has returned. All Fools are meant to go on a journey to help actualize earth into a paradise. Unfortunately, some Fools don't make it all the way to the World card; they get stuck somewhere else, distracted, or die an early death. (I'm one to think that all Fools will eventually make it to the World card. They may have to restart a couple of times.)
Whereas the Empress card represents motherhood and mother nature, the Emperor card represents fatherhood and the patriarchy. The Empress is an earth-based card; the Emperor is a fire-based card. He explains to the Fool the mysteries of masculinity, of raw firepower and aggression. He encourages that life spread (think of spring). He wants to inspire the Fool.
Upright: Authority, father figure, patriarchy, establishment, masculinity, aggression, inspiring life, creativity, activation, developing leadership, taking responsibility.
Reversed: Too much control, lack of discipline or structure, inflexible, domination, excessive control, rigid, unyielding, poor listening skills, domineering, incorrigible.
The Emperor sits on a throne. It is adorned with four rams' heads, the symbol of Aries. In his right hand: an ankh, the Egyptian symbol for life. In his left hand: an orb, a model of the world.
The Emperor wears a red robe. The color symbolizes power, passion, fertility, and strength. He wears a suit of armor underneath the robe. He protects himself from threats; he is an active leader and occasionally makes some enemies. He teaches the Fool to protect itself while on its journey.
His long beard is a symbol for wisdom, experience, and maturity. He is an authority figure, and he demands respect. . . just like a Leo would.
Behind his throne is a tall mountain range. It symbolizes the rough obstacles and terrain the Fool will go through to complete his journey. The Emperor encourages the Fool to go forward into the unknown and to be resilient to hardship. The figurehead is not very soft-hearted or gushy. He has high expectations, he acts like a boss, and he demands action.
The Emperor can represent a new parent, whether male, female, or otherwise. This person has taken on a role that employs authority and structure to a younger person.
The Emperor is a primary source of income and security for dependents. People recognize this person as responsible, having a clear vision, and sticking to their convictions.
Fair warning: this leader can think too highly of himself. It is only the number 4 in the major arcana, but sometimes it tries to act like a god itself.
The Emperor card above all represents leadership. This is a person that plays to the rules and regulations. They set down guidelines. This is a guardian of people, and the Emperor sometimes doesn't realize that its rigid structure can actually alienate people.
Leadership is like bread: if it has too much structure it will be like a brick and impossible to eat. If it doesn't have enough structure, it won't even turn into a dough much less bread.
Strength isn't just about who can lift the most weight and who can roar the loudest. It's also about the person who can calm tensions. It takes great strength of character to diffuse conflict. You need both physical strength and mental strength to take on a challenging journey.
Upright: courage, persuasion, influence, compassion, calming the tides, might, belief, security, honor, resilient, determined, loyal, eager, hard worker, constructive.
Reversed: inner strength, inner turmoil, doubt, raw emotions, insecurity, no say on matters, fear, paranoia, impulsive, easily manipulated, lacking direction, scaredy-cat.
A woman calms a lion. She strokes his forehead and jaw. She flatters his ego. The lion is a clear symbol for Leo. (The woman is the kind of partner Leo desires.)
Lions are known as the kings of predators, but the woman through the strength of her calming voice has turned him into a gentle, loving beast.
She reminds him that raw energy and passion can be expressed in positive ways. You don't have to run into battle and be competitive; you can be collaborative. She doesn't force the lion to be still: she uses her inner strength to subdue him.
The woman wears a white robe: symbolizing purity, loyalty, and grace. She wears a belt and crown of flowers; she respects life and helps it to grow. Over her head is the infinity sign, representing never-ending potential and wisdom.
The Chariot card represents outer strength and determination. The Strength card is about inner strength and using our persona to overcome challenges.
Those who rule by the Strength card are determined, not easily swayed, nor manipulative of others. They're considerate, kind, well-balanced, and open-minded. They have many tools to solve problems. Strength uses free will to confront problems and in ways that don't create new problems.
This card encourages people to abandon fears, persevere, and develop strong friendships. This card is one that represents all the positive qualities and potential of Leo. It carries with it summer energy, openness, and the notion that we should champion others and help those less fortunate.
Relating the Card Back to Leo
Leo is the fifth sign of the zodiac. The fixed fire sign is one of the younger signs, but they have learned enough lessons to have a clear direction on the way things should be.
They're not like the more mature/existential signs that occur later in the zodiac. Leo deals with the here and now and less with metaphysical possibilities. Leos are dying to help people in real and present ways.
Wheel of Fortune
Before it was a game show, Wheel of Fortune was a tarot card! The wheel has the letters TORA, which can be interpreted in three different ways:
- Torah, meaning law
- Tarot, as in card
- Rota, the Latin word for wheel. Rota = rotation.
Upright: good luck, karma, chances, life cycles, the zodiac in motion, a turning point, destiny, fate, revelations, potential, future, upcoming quest, variety, law in motion.
Reversed: bad luck, resistance to change, broken cycle, lack of fortune, trouble on the way, no quest, needing to behave, too much wildness, too many options.
A giant wheel, with three figures standing near it. Four Hebrew letters are on the card: YHVH, which means Yod Heh Vau Heh. It is the unpronounceable name of God, as if it comes from a language that is more enlightened than we're allowed to understand as mortals.
The middle wheel has symbols for mercury, sulfur, salt, and water. Mercury, sulfur, and salt are the three principles of alchemy. In ancient science, people thought all matter could be divided into those three things.
- Mercury represents water. It represents the principle of fusibility, the ability to melt and flow. Mercury represents life essence, organic material. It is considered feminine energy.
- Sulfur represents fire. It is inflammable. It is the volatile oil essence of plants. It represents the soul. It is the active energy of the universe. It is considered masculine energy.
- Salt represents earth. It represents the principle of fixity. It is the salts extracted from the calcined ashes of a plant body. It is the receptacle for the energies Mercury and Sulfur. It is neutral energy. It represents both soluble and insoluble.
The outer circle on the Wheel of Fortune has a snake. This could be a symbol for Scorpio or the Egyptian god Typhon, the god of evil. The snake represents a soul plunging into the material world. In coming into the world, you will eventually have to meet Death.
On the right side: Anubis, the Egyptian god of the dead. He welcomes souls to the underworld, much like Hades. At the top of the wheel: a sphinx, who represents knowledge and strength. These three gods are all similar to Scorpio and its three symbols: the scorpion, the snake, and the phoenix.
In the corners of the card are the four living creatures mentioned in the Bible and are the four fixed signs of the zodiac.
- The angel is Aquarius, the ruler of winter. The angel is the most mature of the four living creatures as it is near the end of the zodiac cycle. The angel has high intelligence, prizes empathy, seeks spirituality, loves colors and sounds, and seeks calm ways. Aquarius is the fixed sign of air.
- The lion is Leo, the ruler of summer. The lion is a champion of others. Christ was called the "Lion of Judah." The lion represents strength, justice, social order, and courage. The lion is seen as a mighty king or queen. They have been given divine blessing to rule and bring order. Leo is the fixed sign of fire.
- The eagle is Scorpio, the ruler of autumn. The eagle is the final and best transformation of Scorpio: the phoenix. Scorpio is complicated and moody because they study and try to understand emotions. This sign sees the hand of death and the magic the other signs fail to see. The eagle's ultimate goal is to find a cause that's worth defending. The eagle will sacrifice itself to protect someone. Scorpio is the fixed sign of water.
- The bull is Taurus, the ruler of spring. The bull charges after what it sees with tunnel-like vision. It is strong like an ox, it works slowly and surely, and it has childlike energy. The bull is amazed by life and embraces it fully. Taurus is often depicted as a gardener. They crave beauty and nature, like the Garden of Eden. Taurus types work hard to make our planet a paradise. Taurus is the fixed sign of earth.
The four living creatures' wings represent movement and change. Each creature holds the Torah. The Wheel of Fortune is about fate in motion: it's about organic life.
The card is loaded with symbols because life is complicated. When this card appears, it signals change, possibility, potential, and new ideas coming into fruition.
The fire element is not only about unleashing energy, having passion, or showing off might. It's about learning how to control ourselves, learning how to control our aggression, and learning to be balanced. The Temperance card is an evolution from the Strength card. It encourages the Fool to be even better about balancing different elements and alchemical principles.
Upright: balance, moderation, patience, perseverance, faith, unifying forces, modesty, diligence, stealth, consistency, middle ground, collaboration, equanimity.
Reversed: imbalance, excess, self-healing, alignment shifts, hasty, impulsive, extreme, headlock, not getting anything done, split priorities, restless, aggressive.
A large winged angel has both masculine and feminine traits. It simultaneously is both and neither genders. This card is the complete opposite of the Devil card, and a lot of the imagery foils each other.
The angel wears a light blue robe with a triangle, representing the trinity of God, the son, and the holy spirit. The triangle is in a square. The triangle is bound by laws.
The angel balances on one foot on the rock, expressing they're grounded with the earth and its teachings. One foot is also in the water, showing they're in tune with their subconscious and intuition. This is similar to the imagery that's in the Star card.
The angel pours water into two cups, symbolic of the flow of alchemy to bring life into matter. The Two of Cups is also representative of lovers and what their union can bring forward.
In the background: a serpentine path going through the mountains. The journey isn't over for the Fool. A golden crown floats above the mountains. The crown glows. If the Fool continues on this path, they'll eventually get to where they need to be. If they stay balanced, they can achieve their life's purpose: which is to help the planet turn into a paradise.
The Fool must learn how to balance different opposing elements together. In feng shui, every element nourishes one element. . . and destroys another element. By considering how the five elements in feng shui correspond with each other, we can bring harmony into a space. That's the lesson behind feng shui.
For instance: fire destroys metal by melting it, and metal destroys wood by chopping into it. Fire nourishes the earth by turning it into ash and helping land to form and spread. Fire is nourished by wood, which feeds it and helps it to grow.
There is a time and place for every element. There are also times when an element is destructive or feels wrong, like a chord played at the wrong time in a song. . . that chord might otherwise sound beautiful in another spot.