Although used as playing cards before, the deck of tarot cards was first used as a divination tool in the 18th century. Using them in this way can be called tarotology or cartomancy. A tarot deck has four suits, wands, swords, cups and circles/pentacles with each having 14 cards (4 face cards and 10 pip cards), which are called Minor Arcana. Each deck has a separate 21-card trump suit and a ‘Fool,’ known as the Major Arcana.
A tarot reading is the receiving of divine guidance through the layout of the deck. Readings are meant to connect with a person and reveal their subconscious beliefs. In readings, Minor Arcana cards represent practical events in daily life. They can give insight into challenges, ups and downs, talents and opportunities that may arise. Each suit represents an element, Wands – Fire, Swords – Air, Cups – Water and Circles/Pentacles – Earth. Suits can reflect a person’s temperament and attitude. The significance of each card during a divination reading can be determined based on the question, the reader and the person being read, as well as the placement of other cards in the spread.
Major Arcana cards include picture cards that represent principles, concepts and ideals, as well as the 22 inevitable phases that each person passes through. The phases can be repeated throughout one lifetime and can often create a cycle. The Major Arcana are used to demonstrate big events or strong, long-term energy. They are numbered 0 -21 beginning with ‘The Fool.’
0 – The Fool – This card signifies a new beginning that often requires great courage and the ability to take a leap of faith. It also embodies the desire for adventure and demonstrates youthful ignorance.
1 – The Magician – Represents the Master of Communication and timing and urges an embodiment of the magic within, to manifest one’s own destiny.
2 – The High Priestess – A reminder to trust your intuition and tune into the divine guidance that is being received from self.
3 – The Empress – Comfortable in her body and enjoying sensual pleasures, the Empress represents the ability to give and receive love in a healthy balance.
4 – The Emperor – A representation of personal power and leadership, this card will be revealed when it is time to take charge of your own life.
5 – The Hierophant – Representative of spiritual growth and learning and may often signify a spiritual mentor’s presence.
6 – The Lovers – May represent the need to make a choice between two people and re-evaluate the approach and surrender to love.
7 – The Chariot – The appearance of this card indicates change and movement and suggests moving ahead in a way that embraces who the person really is.
8 – Strength – A calling to express passion, instincts and creativity, as well as a representation of renewed vitality for life.
9 – The Hermit – A symbol to abstain from external distractions and enter a time of solitude and reflection.
10 – The Wheel of Fortune – Represents luck and a need to be open to breakthroughs and prosperity.
11 – Justice – This card may symbolize a phase of balance and realignment and urges the release of baggage.
12 – The Hanged Man – Shows the need to see things from a new perspective and may indicate a feeling of being ready to release illusions and break old habits.
13 – Death – This card symbolizes a rebirth after letting go of the old and an invitation to detach oneself from ‘dead’ emotional weight they may be burdened with.
14 – Temperance – This card indicates a period where things are coming together.
15 – The Devil – The Devil can have two meanings and is either a reminder to laugh more often and not take life so seriously, or a warning to take responsibility for earthly desires and impulses.
16 – The Tower – Represents clearing the rubble and building something new.
17 – The Star – This card may indicate public recognition and a reminder that we are all made to shine brightly. It can also represent the need to develop a fresh outlook on life and heal one’s self-esteem.
18 – The Moon – May indicate that the time to receive an answer has not yet come.
19 – The Sun – This card reflects an ability to shine as a symbol to others and a suggestion to let go of anything that is stopping your light from shining brightly.
20 – Judgement – May indicate a desire to follow a new calling.
21 – The World – An indication that the end of a cycle has been achieved, and a new one is about to begin. All cards in the tarot deck culminate in The World. It is a representation of how limitless our lives are and one’s ability to share their gifts with others and travel and participate in the cosmic dance of life.