The Trumps or Major Arcana represent Cosmic Forces – where the small cards show actions taken, the details, the persons involved in a given situation, the Major Arcana represent Archetypical forces. ‘Arcana’ means ‘Mysteries’; The Trumps express The Greater Mysteries of the Tarot. The only Trump that appears in the playing card deck is the Joker – in the Tarot he is the Fool.
The Trumps are 22 in number, each given a Hebrew letter and either a planetary, astrological or alchemical symbol. Each card is far more detailed in image and meaning than the cards of the Minor Arcana. The images incorporate symbols from several Western European religious and spiritual traditions, Near East and Mediterranean philosophy. Freud and Jung and many who came after have explored these mysteries further in their work on early psychology.
When the trumps appear we are dealing with a powerful force crossing our path or coming into play. Look to the Trumps to understand how much power you have to change matters yourself or whether forces are beyond your control. Trumps speak of matters of great import that we must attend to, even limits or tendencies within ourselves that are dominating and warping the path to a solution of out situation – overweening ambition (The Devil), martyrdom and passivity (The Hanged Man), living in dreamland (The Moon). The light side of these forces is, determination & tenacity, acceptance & patience and profound intuitive power. It can be hard to interpret the Trumps in a specific and detailed manner, as one can do with the smaller cards (e.g opposition in the workplace – 7 Wands, ennui and romantic boredom – 4 Cups). Considering and meditating on the symbols, constantly working with the cards helps develop a more complete understanding than the booklet that comes with the deck will ever provide. Divination is just one of the uses the Tarot is intended for. Meditation, particularly upon the Trumps is an enlightening practise within itself.
The Trumps are far more evocative, moving us on a deep level and as you learn their meanings you may be fascinated to see how many of these archetypes are still at play within our cultural idiom – in advertising, narrative themes in movies and how we relate to others in our personal life. Trumps can also show persons of significance in our lives in their Cosmic capacity – including their capacity to influence our fate.
In keeping with the Hermetic philosophy the Major Arcana reflect the Minor Arcana and vice versa.
One can pair expressions of the same force between the 2 levels to arrive at a deeper understanding of their meaning.
The Magician – 8 Wands, Ace Swords,
The Devil – 4 Disks, 9 Swords
The Tower – 10 Swords, 5 Wands
Want to learn more about the Tarot? Contact me to arrange individual tuition or check out the Events page for upcoming Tarot Intensives