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
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 the 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 in 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 life to 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.