Major Arcana


The Major Arcana (Greater Mysteries) represent Universal 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’; also known as the Trump cards, the Keys or Atu (Golden Dawn tradition) express The Greater Mysteries of the Tarot. The only Major Arcana that appears in the playing card deck is the Joker – in the Tarot he is the Fool.

0 – The Fool       I – The Magician     II – The Priestess  III – The Empress
IV- The Emperor   V – The High Priest    VI – The Lovers   VII – The Chariot
VIII – Strength    IX – The Hermit    X – The Wheel of Fortune   XI – The Hanged Man
XII – Justice     XIII – Death    XIV – Temperance    XV – The Devil    XVI – The Tower
XVII – The Star  XVIII – The Moon   XIX – The Sun   XX – The Last judgement
XXI – The Universe

When the Major Arcana appear we are dealing with a powerful force crossing our path. The Major cards can also show big personalities – The Magician is a changeable lover, Strength shows passions leaping up!  These cards 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).

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 Major Arcana is an enlightening practise within itself.

The Major Arcana of the Tarot represent universal ideas – Gods, Goddesses, Saints, Virtues, Worldly Powers and Spiritual Powers. Because the images are so many layered each should be explored and understood by the light of your own stories, tradition and meanings. Begin with the accepted meanings and then begin to weave in your own.

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, archetypes and universal myths. 

These greater mysteries move 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 culture – you can still see the Empress in advertising,  narrative themes in movies – they are the characters that never leave, just change form.

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. Pick up your deck and start to build relationships between the images and get to know the Lords of the Tarot – the Major Arcana.

0 The Fool – 2 of Wands,

I The Magician – 8 Wands, Ace Swords

II The Priestess – 7 of Cups, The 6 of Pentacles

III The Empress – 9 of Pentacles, 3 of Cups, The 4 Queens

IV The Emperor – 3 of Wands, 6 of Wands, The 4 Kings

V The Hierophant/Pope – 3 of Pentacles, 4 of Swords

VI The Lovers – 6 of Swords, 2 of Cups

VII The Chariot – The 4 Knights/Princes,

VIII Strength – 3 of Wands, 9 of Wands,

IX The Hermit – 5 of Pentacles, 4 of Swords

X The Wheel of Fortune – 9 of Cups, Ace of Pentacles

XI The Hanged Man – 9 of Swords, 3 of Swords

XII Justice – 10 of Swords, 2 of Swords

XIII Death – 10 of Swords, 5 of Cups

XIV Temperance – 6 of Swords, 4 of Wands, 2 of Pentacles

XV The Devil – 4 Disks, 9 Swords

XVI The Tower – 5 of Swords, 5 Wands

XVII The Star – 3 of Cups, 10 of Cups, 2 of Pentacles

XVIII The Moon – 7 of Cups, 4 of Cups

XIX The Sun – 10 of Cups, Ace of Wands, 4 of Wands

XX The Last Judgement – 10 of Cups, 10 of Pentacles,

XXI The Universe – The 4 Aces


Want to learn more about the Tarot? Contact me to arrange individual tuition or check out the Events page for upcoming Tarot Intensives