Major Arcana Tarot Card Meanings

Updated on July 7, 2016
ChristinS profile image

Christin is a metaphysical author and professional tarot expert with over 25 years of experience in the field.


I have used Tarot for over 25 years as a tool for inner transformation and inspirational guidance. I don’t believe in “fortune telling” and that is not how I teach Tarot. I choose instead to focus on the aspects of self-help and personal growth.

Tarot is a wonderful symbolic tool with imagery that tells stories that connect with real life events and situations. This allows us to connect to our inner wisdom and intuition, enabling us to see all of our options and even the potential consequences of certain actions.

Throughout history many cultures used the art of storytelling to impart wisdom and I believe the Tarot can do the same thing. The imagery tells stories, invokes emotions and taps into certain archetypal energies that can apply to nearly any situation in life.

Every tarot reader has their own ideas and experiences which allow them to put their own spin on the various Tarot card meanings and how they correspond with different people and life events. Although it can seem confusing to see so many different Tarot interpretations, it is actually positive. When we learn to connect with the cards in our own way it enhances our intuitive connection to those we are reading for because we have personalized the cards to correspond with what we know and understand.

Although many Tarot interpretations abound, certain universal symbolism and meanings hold true, so I offer free Tarot lessons online that allow people to absorb these more classic interpretations in meaningful ways while also developing and fleshing out their own interpretations. See the links for free Tarot resources.

What follows is a basic primer in the Major Arcana cards. This is the primary set of 22 cards in the Tarot that depict the major life lessons and spiritual wisdom everyone encounters at some point on his/her life path.

See the video I made also (below) “Tarot Wisdom of the Major Arcana” as the visuals will help instill the lessons of the cards. It is also very relaxing and almost meditative in quality so that you can really connect with feeling to the different Tarot interpretations being presented.

Studies have shown that we tend to learn more easily and that knowledge “sticks” with us longer when more senses are engaged during the learning process. I felt it important to add visual interest rather than a boring list of definitions.

The Major Arcana Tarot Cards

The Fool: This card represents the individual – the seeker in pursuit of his bliss and making his journey. It is a card of “being in the here and now”, present, enjoying the journey and not focusing merely on the destination. It is a card of youthful, openness to life and having an open mind/heart. “All things are possible”.

The Magician: This is the card of manifesting and universal laws and wisdom. It symbolizes manifesting your spiritual ideal within the physical realm – bringing the sacred to the “mundane” or daily life in ways that give your life more meaning and purpose. It is a card of special application and inspired actions.

The Priestess: A card of detachment, connecting to our intuition and inner guidance – the divine source that lies at the heart of each individual. In the stillness our answers are shown to us. This card speaks of universal knowledge and the ability to tap into it.

The Empress: This is a card of creation and personal expression. It speaks of using one’s capacity as a creative power in the world to provide abundance and sustenance to themselves and those around them. Each soul longs for personal expression. The Empress, a card of fertility and birth symbolizes our desire to create.

The Emperor: The card of the patriarch. Emperor speaks of discipline, leadership and following established rules in order to maintain order. He is the authority figure who ensures that all things flow smoothly and that all objectives are met.

The Hierophant: Symbolizes service to community and working for the higher good of self and all others. This is a card of leadership which comes from a higher calling. Philanthropy and using ones power for the higher good.

The Lovers: Unity of opposites, all parts that create the whole that come together to work harmoniously. Lovers symbolizes healing and wholeness and our interconnectedness – we are all one. The divine whole yin/yang – the masculine (seeds/ideas/knowledge) and feminine (nurturing and giving life to the seeds/ideas)

The Chariot: This is the drive behind the dream, the motivation to take inspired actions in life that lead to better circumstances. It is a card of challenge ourselves to move beyond the norms and test our limits through our determination.

Strength: This card symbolizes the development of inner strength and character that ultimately defines you. This is a card of learning that control comes from within rather than trying to influence or exert a false sense of control over others and our circumstances

The Hermit: This card symbolizes wisdom that comes from age and experience. It is a card of coming of age, making peace with ourselves and living life authentically as an expression of the divine. It speaks of the ability to share our higher purpose with others and the confidence to do it in our own unique way.

The Wheel of Fortune: This card teaches respect for all of life’s cycles and reminds us that change is constant. Energy is always moving and time stands still for no one. It is a card of learning to work with these changes and open up to the full circle of opportunities that present themselves to us.

Radiant Waite Tarot Deck

I love this version of the traditional Tarot. It is vibrantly colored and beautifully redone. I recommend the Waite decks to those who are new to Tarot because there is a lot more information published about them to help those who are learning.

Justice: This card represents fairness and balance in life. It speaks of taking actions that serve ones highest good without infringing upon the rights of others. It reminds us that revenge and pettiness are acts of smallness and are returned in kind. “Karma” is depicted in this card – what you sow you will reap.

The Hanged Man: This card teaches us about the dangers of remaining stationary or not being proactive. The man becomes ensnared in his own refusal to accept or make changes. In life we often settle for the path of least resistance or procrastinate and this card tells us that to do so is a trap that robs us of joy in life.

Death: Highly misunderstood, this is the card of transformation. It symbolizes sacrifices or loss in life that ultimately lead to something better or serve a higher purpose. In order for a butterfly to be born the caterpillar must “die”. It is a card that speaks of the natural cycle of creation/destruction which is a natural part of life.

Temperance: A card of balance and taking the middle road. This card symbolizes being centered and grounded – not being pulled towards polarities. Being centered is what opens our minds and hearts to all possibilities and allows us to understand the full circle of experience.

The Devil: This is the card of all things that sabotage us – anger, bad habits, deception, hatred – all the powerful destructive forces that stem from one true source – fear. The devil is the card of fear made manifest in self-destructive ways.

The Tower: The card of sudden changes, upheavals and adversities we face in life. This card symbolizes life’s challenges and the foundations we build our lives upon. The stronger your foundation the better you are able to withstand life’s greatest challenges.

The Star: The card of faith and hope that guides our daily lives. Living with purpose and recognizing we are connected to the source of all creation that lives and manifests through us. This card reminds us to see the infinite possibilities within and allow them to inspire our daily actions.

The Moon: This card is symbolic of our deep inner worlds, the subconscious, emotions, and intuition. This card reminds us that emotions are like a barometer, a guide to tell us if we are on the right path or not. The emotions, when left to their own devices, can drown out the “still small voice” so the moon card reminds us to keep our emotions within the proper perspective, allowing them to guide, but not define our lives.

The Sun: This card represents the ultimate source of power and energy through which all life thrives. We are creators of our destiny and the Sun symbolizes our deep inner power and ability to manifest and co-create our lives. What you direct your energy to manifests.

Judgment: The card that calls us to higher duty. In this card the angel Gabriel blows his horn. It speaks of the encouragement to grow and become larger. It is a reminder that being small or shrinking back does not serve you or the greater good.

The World: This card reminds us that we are a part of the great circle of life and that all things come in circles and cycles. Seasons, years, day/night, life/death all form circles that we are a part of. These circles exist and flow through us and within us. All things are connected in the great circle.

What is Your Favorite Major Arcana Card?

What is your favorite major arcana card? Feel free to share in the comments below. My personal favorite is the often misunderstood and widely feared "Death" card. I love its theme of transformation and learning to grow through change and challenge.

Like a caterpillar into a butterfly....

© 2011 Christin Sander


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    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks Catherine for reading and commenting; much appreciated.

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      I do tarot readings for myself and others sometimes just for fun. Thank you for the detailed explanation of the major arcana.

    • GwennyOh profile image

      GwennyOh 4 years ago from LaLa Land

      Nice basic overview of Tarot card meanings for the Major Arcana. Well done!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      cartas tarot - it is a copyright violation to republish my work - even if translated to another language. - Hubpages does not allow you to copy other hubbers work. Write your own articles.

    • profile image

      cartas tarot 6 years ago

      i just translate to spanish in this web

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 6 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for the info. I will come back to it tomorrow when it's not so late at night! You may be interested in my tarot and playing card hubs, too! :)

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      Thank you PWalker I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by and commenting I really appreciate it :)

    • profile image

      PWalker281 6 years ago

      Great hub on the Tarot, ChristinS. I've used it for many years as a tool for self-discovery and guidance. You're doing a great service by explaining what it really is and dispelling the myths that surround it. Welcome to HubPages and congrats on your Hubnugget nomination! Looks like you won with 91% of the votes cast!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      Hi Deborah,

      Thanks so much for comments and I am so glad you enjoyed the hub :)

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Congratulations on your hubnugget nomination. As a christian, I spent many years afraid of using tarot cards. However, as I have grown, I find them to be a useful tool for finding my way. Thanks for a great hub.


    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      Thank you cardelean I appreciate your visiting my hub and taking time to comment :) glad you found it fascinating that really makes my day.

    • cardelean profile image

      cardelean 6 years ago from Michigan

      Great job summarizing the cards and their meanings. Although I've never done tarot card readings, I have had readings done. I find all of that very fascinating. Very nice job. Congrats on your nomination.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      Hi Carol

      That is the plan yes :) I figured I would go through the Minors a suit at a time - still figuring out how I want to organize it all. Thanks for enjoying the hubs :)

    • profile image

      Carol 6 years ago

      Are you going to continue this "series" and discuss the minor arcana's description as well? (I'm asking a lot, I know!)

      Your descriptions really reasonate and I agree with the above poster-I appreciate that your descriptions take on the personal growth approach, versus as a "seer."

    • Gentle Fist profile image

      Gentle Fist 6 years ago from Serbia

      Very nice hub! I'm glad that someone explained the meanings of tarot cards and I like that you don't use it for fortune telling, but rather for self-help and personal growth - nice approach. I am not expert in tarot but once I've read a story about Fool's travels through those symbols I was fascinated since it reminded me of an alchemist's journey!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      I had one set up a year ago and there was some glitch with it where no matter what I changed my password to it would say I logged in too many times with the wrong one lol - I got tired of fighting with it and just let it go but I definitely will get around to doing a professional facebook one of these days :) Thanks for commenting :) In the meantime feel free to visit my hubs and of course the blog on my Tarot site as I post a lot there as well.

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      carol 6 years ago

      Hi Christin-

      Any chance you'll have a Face Book page anytime soon? I love your work and insight!

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks tebo - so glad you enjoyed the hub and that you have learned something from it. I will do more Tarot hubs and I also have a ton of Tarot info on my blog. Thanks :)

    • profile image

      tebo 6 years ago

      Great explanation of tarot card meanings. I really need to study these as I have a desire to work out what they all mean and it seems you can tell me, so thanks for that.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      I wish I had my first one still! It got water damaged in a move years ago :(. I do have some others that I've collected along the way that I've kept though. I love the different art and have different types of decks. Thanks for reading and voting - I really appreciate that! :)

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 6 years ago from Illinois

      I still have the Tarot deck I bought when I was 16 (many years ago!). Although not the devoted student and knowledgeable person you seem to be, I still get my deck out on occasion. Enjoyed the primer and voted it up.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 6 years ago from Midwest

      You're most welcome. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

    • Beberlee profile image

      Beverly 6 years ago from Philadelphia

      I always wanted to learn Tarot thanks :)

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