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Interpreting the Air Tarot Cards in the Major Arcana

Andrea has a background in astrology, Myers Briggs, and pop culture with expertise in relationships and dating.

These cards are influenced by the air element.

These cards are influenced by the air element.

Major Arcana Cards Influenced by the Air Element

There are five air cards in the Major Arcana. Those five cards are:

  • The Fool (numbered 0 or 22)
  • The Magician (number 1)
  • The Lovers (number 6)
  • Justice (number 11)
  • The Star (number 17)

There are 22 cards in the Major Arcana. The Fool can count as either 0 or 22 and is the only card in all of Tarot that is not identified by one specific number.

The Minor Arcana is made up of four suits that represent the four elements: wands for fire, pentacles for earth, swords for air, and cups for water.

The Minor Arcana and the Elements

ElementFireEarthAirWater

Zodiac

Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Colors

Red and Orange

Green and Brown

White and Yellow

Blue and Purple

Animals

Lizards, Insects, Reptiles

Mammals

Winged Creatures

Water Creatures / Fish

Minor Arcana

Wands

Pentacles

Swords

Cups

Expression

I am

I do

I think

I feel

Attributes

Powers of Vitality: Passion, Anger, Growth, Creativity, Motivation, Energy

Material Resources: Money, Wealth, Home, Legacy, Health, Property

Powers of the Mind: Logic, Intelligence, Integrity, Clarity, Reason, Communication

Matters of the Heart: Love, Compassion, Feelings, Relationships, Emotion, Family

The Element of Air

Powers of the mind are at the heart of all air- or sword-based cards. Awakening the mind and knowledge are considered a kind of magic. Many of our oldest stories are about the risks of learning new information (e.g., the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden) and the perils of knowing something and losing innocence in the process.

With the element of air, we gain flight. Air is about using our minds to change outcomes, create solutions, and gain insight. The power of the mind is incredible—it's vast and ever-changing. And it has the capacity to keep us both tethered to the real world, while still maintaining the possibility of something greater and more abstract than what we can observe with our eyes.

Air is about transformation, speed, efficiency, precision, and creativity. Of the other elements, it is most similar to fire and it has the capacity to both nurture and destroy. Air spreads seeds and moisture necessary for life, and yet air can also feel sharp like multiple daggers.

The swords cards are some of the most challenging to read in Tarot. They often seem like they carry a grim message, but no suit is more ordinary or extraordinary than the others.

The swords deal with military themes: picking battles, slain knights, overcoming strife, heartbreak, betrayal, pillaged lands, and transitions for survival. The end game of the suit is to be the highest king: to be Zeus at Mount Olympus. Each of the face cards carry an element:

  • King = Air
  • Queen = Water
  • Knight = Fire
  • Page = Earth

Air is prized as having the quality of intelligence that is needed to lead as a king. It is rational, quick, has great understanding of wars and violence, and has the ability to lay down the sword and instead fight with the pen when necessary. Someone who truly understands the sword knows how to use it for defense. This person knows how to write legislation rather than waste time in bloodshed.

Air is all about thought, which is closely related to communication. Those who have mastery of air have a mastery of words. They make for great speakers or writers, which are two qualities needed for a king or politician.

The Fool card is about new beginnings and represents the hero or protagonist. The Fool is often read as the person asking for a Tarot card reading.

The Fool card is about new beginnings and represents the hero or protagonist. The Fool is often read as the person asking for a Tarot card reading.

The Fool

This card acts as either a trump or excuse card and can be played to avoid following suit. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Taroch was a synonym for foolishness. Essentially, the Fool is the protagonist of Tarot—in a way it is the Fool's game.

Upright: Beginnings, innocence, youth, a new era, free spirit, spontaneity, unpredictability, adventure seeker, young hero, young adult, new path.

Reversed: Holding back, recklessness, risk taking, gambling, oblivious, lacking wisdom, movement for the sake of movement, restrained, convoluted, no path, bully.

The Fool's Journey

The Fool has unlimited potential and has only just begun to realize what is possible. The Fool has many people to meet, obstacles to encounter, and items to find. This person is excited to get into the world and try new things. Their curiosities guide them. For example, if you play video games, this is often the first character you get—they have a low level, no spells, very weak attack power, and have just begun to discover the world.

The Fool is someone who is about to leave their hometown to meet with kings and queens, save princesses, fight off dragons, wield swords, come across mystical gems, and climb dangerous peaks. The Fool, with the right guidance, can save the world.

Essentially, the Fool is both the start and the end of the story. In Tarot readings, the Fool often stands for the person who has asked for the reading. Since the Fool is ever present, it doesn't need a number like the rest of the cards. The Fool can also be seen as the hero, and the other cards as the hero's journey. There are a lot of questions as to how the Fool will grow.

It is through the element of air that the Fool is awakened. Without air, the Fool would just stay a common villager who doesn't dare to go beyond their fields and stomping grounds. Frodo in the Lord of the Rings would be seen as the Fool who steps outside of the Shire to ultimately stop the plans of evil. He is the only one in his world who has just the right qualities to fully destroy the ring of power.

Card Description

On the Fool card, a young man stands near a cliff edge. He doesn't seem to have a care in the world. He looks up to the sky and the heavens. His adventure has only just begun and he will soon venture into the unknown. The Fool carries a modest bag, which likely holds only a handful of potions, a small amount of money, and maybe a dagger or a wooden shield. He doesn't have the belongings of a knight or a king.

The young man carries a white rose that symbolizes purity, innocence, new beginnings, and idealism. At his feet there is a white dog that represents loyalty, trust, and protection. This is his first companion while out on the road.

In the background of the card are mountains. These represent the challenges and the potential circumstances the Fool will encounter. It will be a long time before he reaches those peaks because he is only in the beginning.

This character, as he ambles into the world, doesn't always know what he is doing or where his journey will take him. He has been sent out and will eventually come across a quest or multiple side adventures. The Fool has to trust where the universe takes him and how it attracts him to new places and new beginnings. For example, there are people the Fool needs to meet to better understand his planet. In order to encounter these people, he must follow his heart and guts.

New beginnings can be really fun. There are usually lots of fun choices to make and it is exciting to talk to people and learn new things. The air element pushes the Fool to embrace what he doesn't know. He needs to let go of his fears, anxieties, and woes to fully experience life.

This card is very carpe diem—seize the day—in its energy. You don't have everything mapped out. In fact, you likely don't even have a map. You're not sure how anything will work, but you just put one foot in front of the other and make progress. All you need are your essential belongings.

The Fool card in a game encourages you to:

  • Spontaneously go forward.
  • Trust in a little bit of magic.
  • Let new ideas be your friends.
  • Be open to new companions.

Air signs are all about playing. The Fool doesn't go out into the world to work hard—they go to play. They go out of their way to find quests because it amuses them.

Famous Fictional Fools

  • Frodo, The Lord of the Rings
  • Luke Skywalker, Star Wars
  • Rey Speeder, Star Wars
  • Harry Potter
  • Link, The Adventures of Zelda
  • Chrono, Chrono Trigger
  • Terra Branford, Final Fantasy VI
  • Alice, Alice in Wonderland
  • Belle, Beauty and the Beast
  • Ariel, The Little Mermaid
The Magician card seeks to give clarity to the Fool. This card awakens people to their journey.

The Magician card seeks to give clarity to the Fool. This card awakens people to their journey.

The Magician

The Magician is an alchemical card and is the first numbered card of the Major Arcana. The Magician is often the first person the Fool meets. The Magician, with the power of air, is what awakens the Fool to take on the world in new ways. Think of Doc awakening Marty McFly in the Back to the Future series.

The Magician uses their powers to enlighten people with knowledge. The Magician could be a wizard, witch, scientist, teacher, preacher, or soothsayer. All magicians have a mastery of words and they're not afraid to experiment.

Upright: Power, inspiration, magical awakening, manifestation, alchemy, resourcefulness, knowledge, anointing, revelation, charisma, open-mindedness.

Reversed: Poor planning, untapped talent, manipulation, judgmental, rigid, entanglement, distortion, illusion, mirage, petrified, mundane, failed breakthrough.

The Magician is associated with the planet Mercury, which is the planet of communication, intelligence, messages, and travel. The Magician serves as a type of messenger that meets with the Fool and creates an awakening, encouraging the Fool to take on new beginnings. This card is a call to the wild. For example, it would point to Neo's revelation that he is in the Matrix.

Card Description

In the card, the Magician stands with one arm stretched upwards to the heaven and the other reaching down to the earth. They represent the connection between the supernatural and mortal realms. The Magician uses their role to push people and events into action and to turn energy into matter.

The Magician wears a white robe, symbolizing purity and holiness; their cloak is red, representing courage, power, creativity, and knowledge. Red stands out when put next to white.

On the table in front of the Magician lie the four symbols of the Tarot, signaling that they have all the tools needed to get the job done. Meanwhile, an infinity symbol hangs over their head, representing the eternal nature of their job, the connection to the spiritual, and the cyclical nature of it all.

Around the Magician's waste is a snake belt. The snake bites its own tail, representing the mortal realm and the brokenness of the mortal life.

Flowers are also in the picture and signify that the Magician's mental power is active, if not fertile. They are ready to awaken the world—perhaps even the universe. The Magician is all about the tools, resources, and energy necessary to make dreams come true. This person often acts as a mentor or catalyst for the Fool because they have the sage wisdom and experience that the Fool is lacking. The Magician can work with the mind to set you forward. In fact, for some, the Magician could represent a therapist.

The Magician plants seeds in people's minds and helps to nurture others. The air element is about clarity, and the Magician wants to give you clarity or direction in your life.

The Magician card comes with the following messages:

  • You need a soul connection with your goals. Ego, money, and status are not enough.
  • It is time to focus if you want to make your dreams a reality.
  • The Magician gives to the Fool two important resources: planning and methodology. With the Magician, the Fool's eyes open.

Famous Fictional Magicians

The Magician often works closely with the Fool. Sometimes the Magician will disappear for several episodes in the Fool's life, but they will return when needed.

  • Gandalf, The Lord of the Rings
  • Yoda, Star Wars
  • Xavier, X-Men
  • Dumbledore, Harry Potter
  • Navi, The Adventures of Zelda
  • Mufasa, The Lion King
  • Dr. Emmett Brown, Back to the Future
  • The White Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland
  • Hermes of Greek Mythology
  • Rick, Rick and Morty
The Lovers card is about two Fools coming together and sharing their journey. They are like two protagonists with similar goals. They have a divine connection that cannot be ignored.

The Lovers card is about two Fools coming together and sharing their journey. They are like two protagonists with similar goals. They have a divine connection that cannot be ignored.

The Lovers

The Lovers are two Fools who have united in romantic feelings. The Lovers have experienced a kind of knowledge that has changed them, and they are no longer how they were as single people. The air has awakened them—like Cupid's arrow— and they are now influenced by elements of logic, intelligence, intuition, and clarity.

Upright: Love, harmony, relationship, alignment, choices, meeting of souls, combining paths, combining new beginnings together, magic, magnetism.

Reversed: Self-love, imbalance, disharmony, untangling paths, not moving forward, false soulmate, lust, illusion, illogical, contrary, division, affair, mismatch.

The Lovers card is represented by Libra. The autumn sign is guided by the planet Venus, the planet of love. Libra is also represented by the scales. Libra's goal in life is to harmonize with others, to bring about justice, and to bring warmth into the picture.

Libra is an incredibly kind astrological sign. They're the least aggressive of the yang-related energies (Aries, Leo, Sagittarius, Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius). Libra seeks to bring two people together who are equals: they're matched in wit, they have similar virtues, and they have similar goals. Libra does what it can to figure out how two people can balance each other.

Gemini is also represented in this card. Gemini is all about dualism, mirroring others, and finding a soulmate. Both Gemini and Libra are drawn to relationships; Libra tries to balance energies, while Gemini tries to mimic others.

Card Description

The Lovers card is about a divine union. They've been blessed from a power that comes from the heavens. The couple stands together in a magical landscape, perhaps the Garden of Eden. Behind the woman, a snake winds up a tree. The serpent and apple tree represent the temptation of sensual pleasures, which will have to be balanced out with divine purposes. If they're not careful to balance this out, the pair will be ruined by their own hubris.

Twelve flames are in the picture. The number twelve represents the twelve houses of the zodiac, while the flames represent time and eternity. This imagery suggests that the coupling of the Lovers is meaningful—they have something special to them, and they are meant to be. They are twin flames.

The Lovers Card Isn't Always About Romance

This card doesn't always represent a romantic pairing. It could also represent a friend or close relative where there is love, compassion, and respect. The card is about open and honest communication, which are the tenets of the air element.

The Lovers card also represents clarity on matters of love and belief. You can communicate honestly with those who care about you. When two Fools come together, compromise and communication will be necessary. It is important to remember that there is more potential through the marrying of dual forces and that this new arrangement will help support both of the Fools.

Wisdom From Libra and Gemini

Look to Gemini and Libra for more answers. These two signs have a high understanding of coupling, dualism, and harmony. Gemini stands for spring and is youthful, energetic, and carefree. This sign loves to play. Libra stands for autumn and is quirky, eclectic, and dreamy. This sign believes in connection and the power of couples. Love is its message to the world.

Gemini is ruled by Mercury and communication, while Libra is ruled by Venus and love. Learning more about these two signs can help you uncover some of the mysteries in the Lovers card.

Famous Lovers

Lovers are often two main characters or protagonists. They will have a clear thread that links their stories.

  • Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare
  • Adam & Eve, The Bible
  • Hermione & Ron, Harry Potter
  • Celes & Locke, Final Fantasy VI
  • Peter Parker & Mary Jane Watson, Spider-Man
  • Cosette & Marius, Les Miserables
  • Han Solo & Princess Leia, Star Wars
  • Fitzwilliam Darcy (Mr. Darcy) & Elizabeth Bennet, Pride and Prejudice
  • Daphne & Simon, Bridgerton
  • Tinney & Des, The Republic of Doyle
The Justice card doesn't play favorites. It seeks to bring people to the same page and favors equality. It recognizes the truth and gives back fairness.

The Justice card doesn't play favorites. It seeks to bring people to the same page and favors equality. It recognizes the truth and gives back fairness.

Justice

The Justice card is the manifestation of Libra's desire for equality. This card belongs to air because it is about legislation, creating law and order, and using words to interpret and dissect evidence.

Upright: Fairness, truth, cause and effect, law, equality, court dealings, order, organized words, appeal, honesty, testimony, harmony, consequence.

Reversed: Unfairness, lack of accountability, dishonesty, bullying, lack of support, imbalanced, improper punishment, lack of clarity, divisive, corruption, too bureaucratic.

Card Description

The Justice sits in front of a purple veil. The color stands for majesty and compassion—you cannot have justice without compassion. The veil is between two pillars, which symbolize sound and stable judgment. This card isn't about hastiness or impulsive decisions. The evidence, the issues, and the story are all processed with diligence.

The Justice, a woman, holds a sword in her right hand. She is logical, careful, and poised to uphold the truth. Her decision is final. The double-edged sword is about action and consequences and cause and effect.

The Justice card encourages you to act from your Higher Self and for the greater good of others. The card is a warning: there will be Justice committed against those who break their pact of civil co-existence with others.

This air card is a powerful one. It shows how with age and with understanding, we can eventually learn to organize our chaotic reality. We have the power to take complex situations and judge them for fairness. It is through the Justice card that minorities are given the credit they deserve, marriages become more equal, and children are seen as people.

Justice doesn't play favorites. It discerns for not just truth, but also for reality. It doesn't get caught up in fake news, gossip, and rumors. It doesn't sit idle from a throne, it doesn't fall prey to corruption, but instead with a sword it cuts through the weeds. Justice gets rid of the naysayers and liars that attempt to ruin society.

The Justice card is in response to the Lovers. Justice sees how the Lovers become addicted to the forbidden fruit. The Justice kicks the Lovers out of the garden and forces them to work hard—they were becoming idle playthings by remaining in their honeymoon stage for too long.

The Justice has the ability to turn the Lovers back into Fools, so that they return to their quests. The Fool doesn't get to take a vacation forever. That would be elitist and damaging.

Famous Fictional Justice Characters

  • Judge Gen, The Good Place
  • Professor McGonagall, Harry Potter
  • Inspector Javert, Les Miserables
  • Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Elphaba, Wicked
  • Elisa Maza, Gargoyles
  • Jean Grey, X-Men
  • Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons
  • Thor, Marvel
  • Black Panther, Marvel
The Star is a powerful card of renewal, breakthrough, and divine connection. This card brings back hope, faith, and belief.

The Star is a powerful card of renewal, breakthrough, and divine connection. This card brings back hope, faith, and belief.

The Star

The final and highest numbered air card is the Star. This card is dedicated to Aquarius. The fixed air sign is ruled by Saturn, she is the center of winter, and she is the most idiosyncratic sign of the zodiac.

This sign appears to be born of the ether, and it rebels against conventions. The Star is about divine intervention, galactic connection, and immense creativity. It is a blast of positive energy.

Upright: Hope, faith, purpose, renewal, spirit, wisdom, epiphany, transcendence, beautiful mind, elegance, the supernatural, advanced technology, eclectic.

Reversed: Rejecting faith, despair, self-trust, denial, disconnection, poor reasoning, abandoning all hope, bound to chains, bound to earth, too practical.

Card Description

The Star card depicts a woman kneeling at the edge of a fountain. She holds two containers: one represents the conscious, the other the subconscious. She pours water onto the ground to help flora grow.

Through the woman's faith, intelligence, and intuition, she nourishes the planet. Green flora follows her. The woman ensures that life continues and thrives. She has the knowledge of immortality and doesn't let the world die.

The woman places a foot on the ground, which represents her common sense and logical ways. Her other foot is in the water, representing her ability to listen to her inner voice and understand the flow of things around her.

The woman is dazzling and represented by the stars above her. She is enlightened and knows how to pass on her expertise to others. She is the Magician that lives in the supernatural. The Star visits the Fool late in the game, often when all of the Fool's other tricks and tactics don't work well enough to move beyond the obstacles of their journey.

The Fool needs the Star to awaken them in order to have a major breakthrough. They need her divine message if they want to help the world overcome its crisis.

The Fool turns to the Star during their most tumultuous time in life. They may have encountered great loss, their belongings taken, their land stolen, their family dead. At this point, the Fool doesn't know how to move forward, and this is the time when they would be the most accepting of divine intervention, divine love, and the supernatural. After all, it is often when we are at our lowest—when we are deep in suffering—that we cry out.

When the Star comes into play, it causes significant growth, massive change, and blessings. Not everyone is prepared for the Star, nor the card that comes before it: the Tower.

The Star is magic. It is the creativity behind dreams. It is the technological energy we all consume. The Star is like a departed loved one coming to visit you, whether in waking life or a dream. They have a message they want to give you to help you.

The Star is an explosion of air energy that is meant to transform and nourish you. It is the force that can bring the dead back to life. The Star is a master from the future that brings knowledge that is otherwise just out of reach.

Possible meanings of the star card:

  • The Star requests for people to have generous spirits.
  • It asks you to give and share your wealth to others, so they can live and be transformed just like you.
  • The star card asks you to bless others as you have been blessed.

Famous Fictional Stars

  • Galadriel, The Lord of the Rings
  • Zelda, The Adventures of Zelda
  • Childlike Empress, The Neverending Story
  • Schala, Chrono Trigger
  • Haku, Spirited Away
  • Genie, Aladdin
  • Aerith Gainsborough, Final Fantasy VII
  • Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Eleven, Stranger Things
  • Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter

Learning More About Tarot

The Tarot (first known as trionfi and later as tarocchi or tarock) is a pack of playing cards. The cards were originally used for entertainment purposes and not divination. Granted, divination is often for entertainment.

The cards date back to the mid-15th century in Europe. Cartomancy became popular in the late 18th century, which led to the rise of custom decks for occult purposes.

Tarot cards were not seen as ominous, rebellious, or magical centuries ago. The cards were used openly among people of any background, whether Christian, Jewish, or pagan. The cards would be like playing chess or checkers. Of course, eventually, certain faith and logic movements pushed back against the cards. They were denounced as divisive tools or as tools of the devil, and other such nonsense.

The Reasons Tarot Cards Have Stayed Relevant

Tarot cards have enduring themes and are made up of common scenarios that most people go through in their lives.

The cards teach about the elements: fire, earth, air, water, and even ether. In a way, they can be used as a learning tool to teach about the world around us from a psychological or scientific perspective. I wouldn't solely use the Tarot for teaching these concepts, but they can be useful for teaching elementary concepts.

Linguistically, the cards are full to the brim with symbols. Humans have a higher capacity for language and interpreting symbols than any other known species. We, of course, will find something like tarot appealing.

The witchy perspective on the Tarot would look at the cards and consider how spirits might be trying to send messages.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence

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