The Major Arcana cards are the most recognizable and impactful cards in a Tarot deck. These 22 cards represent situations we all face in the grand scheme of life.
The Fool card in Tarot symbolizes new beginnings. The basic meaning of the card is that the Fool is on his way to a new beginning, and he has all he needs or wants as indicated by the bag on the staff.
When the Magician card is upright in a Tarot reading, it symbolizes originality, creativity, skill, self-confidence, and dexterity. The card means you will be given an idea, a solution to a problem, an ambitious career, a love life, or a job. You must trust in your big brain to help you find what you need and let the world open up to you.
The High Priestess card in Tarot symbolizes sexuality, mystery, and general higher power. The basic symbols of this card are blue, white, and black colors, pomegranates, an Isis moon crown, veil, solar cross, crescent moon, and pillars. The "B" stands for Boaz: negation and severity. The "J" stands for Jachin: beginning and mercy. The scroll is inscribed with the word "Tora," standing for either the Jewish Torah or an anagram of Tarot, with the last letter unseen.
The Empress card in Tarot symbolizes Isis, motherhood, femininity, and fertility. The Empress is a creator of life, of romance, of art, of business, and here the idea gestates until it is ready to be born. The basic Tarot symbols for this card are the gown decorated with pomegranates, a crown of twelve six-pointed stars, a rod, a heart-shaped shield inscribed with the symbol for Venus, and a field of ripe wheat.
The Emperor card in Tarot symbolizes accomplishment, confidence, wealth, stability, leadership, father/brother/husband, achievement, and a capable person. The basic symbols for this card are the throne, rams' heads, and sometimes the eagle, orb, and scepter. The Emperor, as Aries (the Ram) is the infant, the first sign of the zodiac. He naturally follows the Empress.
The Hierophant card in Tarot symbolizes traditional values and is often associated with the religious or spiritual. The purpose of the Hierophant is to bring the spiritual down to earth. The basic meaning of this Tarot card is to create harmony in the face of crisis. During a crisis, the Hierophant diffuses the panic and offers good and practical advice. The basic symbols of the Hierophant card are twin pillars, a staff, throne, the triple crown of a pope, a hand raised in blessing, and two acolytes.
The Lovers card in Tarot symbolizes (you guessed it) love, as well as romance, connection, attraction, and perfect harmony. The basic symbols of this card are an angel or Cupid, a man and a woman, and two trees. In some decks, there is a man standing between two women, and in some decks, one tree is flowering and the other has fruit. The Waite Tarot cards have Adam and Eve, one tree, a serpent, and apples.
The Chariot card in Tarot is not an easy card to interpret. It could mean an eventual hard-won success. The card often pictures the chariot, an armored warrior, sun or moon symbols, the encircled rod on the winged shield, black and white sphinxes (or lions or horses), sometimes at rest. Some decks have a canopy of stars and sometimes a throne inside the chariot.
The Strength card in Tarot is about energy and courage. It is a card of bravery and fierceness, much like a lion's hot and roaring energy. In addition, it also symbolizes an unafraid woman. She is undaunted, indomitable, and steadfast. The basic symbols of the Strength card are a woman with a lemniscate (a figure eight on its side symbolizing eternal life and eternity) hovering over her head, a lion, and a chain of roses.
The Death card in Tarot is a card of major transformation and new beginnings, and it probably won't be easy. The Death card meaning in a Tarot reading is about transformation, passage, and change. The basic symbols of the Death card are Death as a skeleton in black robes or armor. There may also be a scythe or a flag featuring a five-petaled rose. There may be other figures in the field, the most common and recurring is that of a child.
The Hermit card in Tarot is a card of introspection, soul searching, analysis, and self-reflection. It denotes that this is not a time of socializing or action but of peace and solitude. The basic symbol of this card is a robed man or monk with a staff and carrying a lantern. The landscape is barren.
The Temperance card in Tarot can be difficult to interpret, but in general it's about the blending of opposites and the achieving of synthesis. It's about harmony, peace, and patience. The basic symbols of the Temperance card are an angel (often female, but sometimes genderless), a pool of water or river, and two cups with fluid flowing between them. It's a serene, peaceful scene of harmonious beauty. When the Temperance card is upright in a Tarot reading, it symbolizes moderation, temperance, patience, harmony, fusion, good influence, and confidence. This card can also be a warning to temper your behavior and a reminder that irreconcilable opposites can be reconciled. You are truly connected to what makes a good life, and you are living it. You have a strict moral code, and you will work hard to reach your goals, whatever they might be.
The Devil card in Tarot is about ambitions and is also synonymous with temptation, addiction, and depression. The basic symbols of this card are a winged and horned Devil on a black pedestal, naked male and female figures, chains, and an inverted pentagram. When the Devil card is upright in a Tarot reading, it symbolizes downfall, unexpected failure, controversy, violence, disaster, an ill-tempered person, and weird or strange experiences. The Devil card warns you not to be too restrained but to be passionate and ambitious. You are restrained because you allow yourself to be.
The Hanged Man card in Tarot symbolizes trial or meditation, selflessness, and sacrifice. The basic symbols of this card are a man hanging by one foot from a tau cross. His free leg is always crossed to form a "4" and his face is always peaceful. His hands may be either tied or dangling. At times, some coins may be falling from his hands or pockets.
The Tower card in Tarot is all about the downfall of old ideas. A structure has suddenly and violently come crashing down, leading to chaos and distress, but it has also made room for something new to be built. The basic symbols of this card are a tower on a rocky outcrop, a bolt of lightning, a couple of figures falling from the tower, and waves crashing below.
The Justice card in Tarot is about reason, truth, and, yes, justice. This is the card about cold, objective balance. It's also about moderation in all things, as well as the realities of karma. If you're not keeping the scales balanced, there could be some fallout. The basic symbols of this card include a judge-like figure, sometimes blindfolded, either sitting or standing, with scales in his left hand and an upraised sword in the other hand.
The Star card in Tarot symbolizes the future, clarity of vision, and spiritual insight. The basic symbols of this card are seven or eight stars, a pool of water, a kneeling woman (one foot in the water, the other on land), and two urns. When the Star card is upright in a Tarot reading, it symbolizes hope, faith, inspiration, optimism, insight, spiritual love, pleasure, and balance. You have worked past hardships and you are ready to embrace what comes next. Stay calm, stay positive. The card predicts unexpected help, but it is up to you to find your way to the future. It's all there for you, big and bright and waiting. The possibilities are endless, and you're ready to grab them all. Good! They belong to you. Remember that always.
The Moon card in Tarot symbolizes that things might be amiss and that you can't trust your first impression. Things are not how they seem. The basic card symbols are a full moon (with a crescent within), twin pillars, a dog and a wolf howling, a stream that runs to the ocean, and a crayfish emerging from the water. When the Moon card is upright in a Tarot reading, it symbolizes deception, trickery, disillusionment, error, anxiety, danger, and double-dealing. The card means you may be going through a time of emotional or mental trials. Also pay attention to your dreams: What are they trying to tell you? Your subconscious is actively trying to get in touch. You also might be about to get your period!
The Sun card in Tarot radiates positive energy. This is one of the most optimistic cards, indicating enthusiasm and joie de vivre. When the Sun card is upright in a Tarot reading, the card indicates satisfaction, accomplishment, success, joy. Everything is looking up. You are going to have your day in the sun. Feel free to step into the spotlight with confidence. Things are going to work out fine! You have so much goodness to share that everyone near you will benefit. There's plenty to go around.
The Judgment card in Tarot stands for healing. This Major Arcana card signals great transformation, renewal, and change. The basic symbols of the Judgment Tarot card are an Angel, trumpets, graves with people rising from them, and often water or an ocean. When the Judgment card is upright in Tarot, it symbolizes awakening, renewal, a well-lived life, better health, and a quickened mind. It can mean that you have to face a challenge head on, and make the changes required to succeed. You are ready to be judged and come out the other side. It is time to let go of the things that are holding you back, and step forward into your future.
The World card in Tarot is a wonderful card, representing a successful conclusion after all aspects have been accounted for. Things have come full circle. A journey has been completed, and a long-term project has come to an end. The basic symbols of this card are a dancing woman or hermaphrodite, a wreath in the shape of a yoni (almond-shaped circle), two wands, a cherub, eagle, lion, and bull. When the World card is upright in a Tarot reading, it symbolizes completion, perfection, and recognition, in addition to honors, the end result, success, fulfillment, triumph, and eternal life. It indicates a happy end to a project. It will be accompanied by well-earned praise, celebration, and success. Enjoy the satisfaction and fulfillment of a job well done.
The Wheel of Fortune card in Tarot symbolizes destiny, unexpected events, and progress. This card reminds you that good luck happens as easily as bad, and everything happens in cycles. You may be on top of the world now, but you could just as easily be headed downward. Change is a constant and inevitable part of life, and nothing lasts forever. The basic symbols of this card are a clockwise-turning wheel with figures or beasts on it that are rising or falling. Some cards have a sphinx on top of the wheel, and some cards include alchemic symbols and Hebrew letters.