Intro to Tarot Part 1
The practice of tarot has its roots as far back as the 15th century in France and Italy. Today, tarot is used as a form of fortune-telling, divination, shadow work, and much more. A standard deck of tarot has 78 cards- 56 minor arcana, or suit cards, and 22 major arcana cards, which represents an overall archetypal symbol. We can break down the basics of tarot into 4 different parts, including the Major Arcana, Minor Arcana, Symbolism within tarot, and some advice on how to read it!
This blog post will discuss the Major and Minor Arcana, giving an introduction to each card and their basic meaning. This introduction of tarot cards, readings, and symbolism uses the classic Waite tarot decks (also known as Rider-Waite or Smith-Waite). Although there are a variety of tarot decks, many with overlapping ideas, Waite Decks are the most common and easy to interpret. However, this is an overall guide to any tarot deck, so feel free to use this for any type of tarot.
The minor arcana of a tarot deck is structured like a standard deck of playing cards. Each deck includes 4 different suits, each featuring 10 numbered cards and 3 court cards. Separate from a standard deck of playing cards, each suit focuses on a different aspect of human life, which is utilized when reading each card. When revealed during a reading, these cards will highlight your current situation. Each suit has a different overall theme and element, giving them a unique meaning.
Pentacles represent everyday concerns in the material world. These cards often focus on money, our careers, and family. Cards in this suit help us determine how to manifest and create change in our lives. It represents the element of Earth.
The swords suit is concerned with balancing the conflicts of the mind. Our deeper emotions, losses, and hardships are represented in this suit. It also deals with the communication we have with ourselves and others, represented by the element of air.
Since cups represent the water element, it primarily deals with our emotions. This can help us verify or better understand our true feelings, especially concerning love interests, creative pursuits, and personal matters.
The suit of wands focuses on movement and energy. This provides insight into growth, new beginnings, ideas, and our purpose. Associated with the element of fire and masculine energy, this suit symbolizes passion, sexuality, and inspiration.
Numerology is an essential aspect to understanding the minor arcana cards of tarot. From the Ace card until the King, there is a story-like path each suit follows, with a certain aspect focused on per number.
Ace – first steps, leading beginnings, new perspectives, passion
2 – balance, partnership, realizing plans, hesitation
3 – progress, foundation, growth, exploration
4 – stability, form, stagnation, change
5 – new challenges, setback, instability, competition
6 – abundance, finding solutions, movement, guidance
7 – patience, responsibility, energetic flow, subconscious
8 – progress, action, manifestation, skill
9 – strength, near completion, fruition
10 – fulfillment, full circle, endings, realization
Followed by the ten numbered cards are court cards meant to continue the patterns of the prior deck. However, these cards are more focused on their element and the transforming maturity of the suit’s characteristics.
“Youngest” of the cards, focuses on newness, necessary work, innocence, and lessons
Impulsivity and energy of early adulthood, either moving in stride or taking precaution
Wisdom through experience, intuition through emotions, caregiving, protection
Control, leadership, holding power, leading through action, rule setting
The major arcana of tarot focuses on the big picture. While minor arcana concerns day-to-day activities, these cards represent lifelong themes such as karmic influences, reoccurring people or situations, or life journeys, providing an overall guidance to these issues. Like minor arcana, the cards are numbered and loosely follow a cyclical pattern.
The Fool (0) – Inexperience, innocence, free spirit, new journeys
The Magician (1) – beginning projects, energy, planning, intentions
The High Priestess (2) – subconscious feelings, secrets, divine feminine, instincts
The Empress (3) – self-care, nurturing, dependence, Mother Nature
The Emperor (4) – leadership and authority, control, foundation
The Hierophant (5) – guidance, rule following, spirituality/religion, receiving wisdom
The Lovers (6) – choice, romance, relationships, values
The Chariot (7) – control, determination, moving energy, action
Strength (8) – courage, influence, activism, compassion
The Hermit (9) – solitude, withdraw, introspection, alone time
The Wheel of Fortune (10) – change, good fortune, impermanence, cycles
Justice (11) – accountability, karma, fairness, law
The Hanged Man (12) – sacrifices, resistance, patience, acceptance
Death (13) – ending cycles, transformation, letting go, preparing for change
Temperance (14) – moderation, patience, balance, integration
The Devil (15) – restraint, shadow self, desires, materialism
The Tower (16) – destruction, sudden change, rebuilding, shock
The Star (17) – healing, hope, faith, inspiration
The Moon (18) – subconscious, anxiety, repression emotions, fears
The Sun (19) – positivity, vitality, right direction, gratitude
Judgement (20) – critic, review of the past, forgiveness, moving forward
The World (21) – completion, success, accomplishment, wholeness