When reading the tarot, there are many things to learn – the Major Arcana is one of them. The Major Arcana is the pulse of the tarot, and the cards bring insights into the spiritual journey regarding human experiences and the life cycle itself.
The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards representing significant life experiences and archetypical energies. They are the narrative of the Fool’s journey that describes the cycle of life and karmic experiences.
This article explores the essence of these powerful cards that hold the key to self-discovery and transformative experiences. Let’s unravel the mysteries of the Major Arcana and embark on Fool’s journey!
If you want to learn more about the Minor Arcana, find an in-depth article below.
Related article: Beyond the Major: Profound Influence of the Minor Arcana
What the Major Arcana represents
The Major Arcana in Tarot is a collection of 22 cards with profound symbolism representing significant life experiences and archetypal energies.
These cards form the foundation of the Tarot deck and offer insights into our spiritual journey, personal growth, and the universal human experience.
The Major Arcana cards are sometimes called the triumphs of the tarot deck.
Each Major Arcana card carries its unique meaning and symbolism, reflecting various aspects of our lives and inner selves. Together, they depict a transformative narrative that mirrors our journeys of self-discovery, challenges, and spiritual evolution.
The Major Arcana cards serve as powerful mirrors, guiding us to explore different facets of our lives, understand our strengths and weaknesses, and navigate the complexities of our experiences.
They encourage us to delve deeper into our subconscious, tap into our intuition, and connect with our higher selves.
Moreover, the Major Arcana cards embody archetypal energies, representing universal themes that resonate with people across cultures and time.
The Major Arcana speaks to the fundamental aspects of human existence, such as love, spirituality, personal power, growth, and transformation.
When reading the Major Arcana cards in a Tarot spread, their placement and interactions with other cards provide valuable insights into our present circumstances, potential challenges, and growth opportunities.
They invite us to reflect on our choices, beliefs, and patterns, guiding us toward self-awareness and personal empowerment.
Ultimately, the Major Arcana cards act as catalysts for self-reflection, offering guidance, inspiration, and illumination on our spiritual journey. They remind us that we have the power to shape our lives, overcome obstacles, and align with our higher purpose.
It’s important to note that the meanings and interpretations of the Major Arcana cards can vary among Tarot readers and practitioners.
However, the underlying message remains the same – the Major Arcana cards encourage us to embrace our true selves, explore our spiritual depths, and navigate life’s twists and turns with wisdom, courage, and authenticity.
You can read tarot with only the Major Arcana cards; if you want to learn more about this, I invite you to explore the article below.
Further reading: Tarot Readings With Major Arcana Cards: Pros And Cons
The Major Arcana cards in order
The Major Arcana cards are ordered according to cycles of life or experiences. Here’s a table that lists the numbers and names of the Major Arcana Tarot cards.
Please take note of the Fool, as it has the number zero. The Fool can be placed anywhere in the sequence as it has no number. Zero is nothing and everything. If you want to learn more about the Fool and its unique properties, you find more information here.
|Card Number||Card Name|
|II||The High Priestess|
|X||Wheel of Fortune|
|XII||The Hanged Man|
This table provides a simple reference to the numbers and names of the Major Arcana cards in their sequential order. It can be helpful for quick access and identification when studying or working with Tarot readings.
If you want help identifying the Major Arcana cards, you get helpful information in the article below.
Further reading: Major vs. Minor Arcana: The Two Sides of Tarot’s Coin
The Fool’s Journey explains the Major Arcana
The Fool’s Journey is a symbolic narrative representing the progression of the Fool, the main character in the Tarot deck, through the 22 cards of the Major Arcana.
It is a symbolic framework for understanding personal growth, life experiences, and the individual’s spiritual journey ending with the World.
A spiritual journey through life
The Fool’s Journey begins with the card “The Fool,” representing innocence, spontaneity, and the start of a new adventure.
As the Fool progresses through the Major Arcana cards, each presents a unique lesson, archetype, or aspect of the human experience.
The sequence reflects the challenges, opportunities, and transformations one encounter toward self-discovery and enlightenment.
It encompasses the triumphs and tribulations, the joys and sorrows, and the lessons and growth we experience.
By observing and understanding Fool’s Journey, we gain insight into our journeys and find guidance and wisdom in navigating the complexities of life.
The Fool’s Journey for learning
The Fool’s Journey is widely used as a learning tool in tarot because it provides a structured framework for beginners to grasp the meanings and interconnections of the Major Arcana cards.
It offers a coherent narrative that helps learners holistically understand Tarot symbolism and archetypes.
Studying the Fool’s Journey allows practitioners to see the tarot as a story, a visual representation of life’s journey, rather than a mere collection of disconnected cards. It encourages readers to approach the tarot with a sense of storytelling, intuition, and personal interpretation.
The Fool’s Journey offers a sense of continuity and coherence in Tarot readings. When laying out cards in a spread, you can observe the progression of the Fool’s Journey within the context of the question or situation at hand.
The Fool’s Journey
Here’s a table that outlines the Major Arcana cards and their sequential order in the Fool’s Journey. I always recommend new tarot readers take the time to learn the Fool’s Journey as it deepens the understanding of the Major Arcana card and what they signify.
|Card Number||Card Name||Fool’s Journey Interpretation|
|0||The Fool||The Fool encounters the Magician, who empowers him with the tools and skills to manifest his desires.|
|I||The Magician||The Fool encounters Temperance, teaching him balance, moderation, and harmonious integration of opposites.|
|II||The High Priestess||The Fool encounters the High Priestess, who guides him to explore his intuition, subconscious, and hidden wisdom.|
|III||The Empress||The Fool encounters the Empress, who teaches him about nurturing, creativity, and abundance in his journey.|
|IV||The Emperor||The Fool encounters the Emperor, who imparts lessons on structure, leadership, and establishing a solid foundation.|
|V||The Hierophant||The Fool encounters the Hierophant, who provides spiritual guidance, mentorship, and access to ancient wisdom.|
|VI||The Lovers||The Fool encounters the Lovers, representing choices, partnerships, and soul connections along his journey.|
|VII||The Chariot||The Fool encounters the Chariot, symbolizing personal willpower, determination, and overcoming challenges.|
|VIII||Strength||The Fool encounters Strength, guiding him to tap into inner courage, resilience, and emotional fortitude.|
|IX||The Hermit||The Fool encounters the Hermit, who leads him to seek solitude, introspection, and inner guidance on his path.|
|X||Wheel of Fortune||The Fool encounters the Wheel of Fortune, representing cycles, fate, and the ever-changing nature of life.|
|XI||Justice||The Fool encounters the Star, offering hope, inspiration, and renewed faith amid challenges.|
|XII||The Hanged Man||The Fool encounters the Hanged Man, inviting him to let go, gain new perspectives, and embrace surrender on his journey.|
|XIII||Death||The Fool encounters Death, representing transformation, endings, and the necessary release of old patterns or beliefs.|
|XIV||Temperance||The Fool encounters Justice, reminding him of the importance of fairness, balance, and ethical choices.|
|XV||The Devil||The Fool encounters the Devil, challenging him to confront his fears, attachments, and limiting beliefs.|
|XVI||The Tower||The Fool encounters the Tower, symbolizing sudden change, upheaval, and the breaking down of old structures.|
|XVII||The Star||The Fool encounters the Moon, delving into dreams, emotions, and the unconscious mind.|
|XVIII||The Moon||The Fool encounters the Moon, delving into dreams, emotions, and the unconscious mind.|
|XIX||The Sun||The Fool encounters the Sun, representing vitality, joy, and the awakening of his true self.|
|XX||Judgement||The Fool encounters Judgement, inviting self-reflection, spiritual awakening, and the opportunity for rebirth.|
|XXI||The World||The Fool reaches the culmination of his journey, achieving wholeness, integration, and spiritual fulfillment.|
Please note that interpretations may vary, and this table provides a general framework for understanding the sequential flow of the Fool’s Journey through the Major Arcana cards.
If you want a more detailed table, you find it on the Tarot Cheat Sheet page.
The reversed meanings of the Major Arcana cards
Some tarot readers adhere different meanings to the Major Arcana cards depending on whether they are upright or reversed.
It is important to note that not all readers do this, and it is not something you need to do if you don’t want to.
If you are a beginner, I often recommend starting with reading all the cards upright. You start learning the reversed meanings when you feel you have all the meanings down. It can be a bit overwhelming otherwise.
If you want to learn more about reversed tarot cards and how to read them reversed, I have written an article about it. You find it below.
Further reading: Reversed Tarot Cards: What They Are And How To Read Them
Reversed Major Arcana cards
Reversals, or when a card appears upside down, add another layer of interpretation to the reading.
Think of reversed cards as a shift in energy or a deviation from the upright meaning. They offer insights into challenges, obstacles, or areas that may need attention in your life.
Reversals bring a different perspective, highlighting aspects that might be hidden or overlooked.
The reversed Major Arcana cards encourage you to explore the shadows, the untapped potential, and the lessons that may need further understanding.
They serve as a gentle nudge to dive deeper into your psyche and examine the areas where growth is needed.
You will find helpful information in the article below if you are unfamiliar with shadow work.
Further reading: Discovering the Power of Shadow Work through Tarot
Reversed cards often reveal the flip side of the upright meaning. For example, a card that usually signifies new beginnings and opportunities might indicate missed chances or delayed progress when reversed.
It’s a reminder to pay attention, reassess, or make necessary adjustments to align with your goals.
Remember, reversed cards are not necessarily negative or ominous. They shed light on areas that require your attention, urging you to address them with mindfulness and intention.
Embracing the reversed meanings of the Major Arcana cards allows for a more comprehensive and nuanced interpretation of your Tarot reading.
So, when you encounter a reversed Major Arcana card in your Tarot spread, embrace the opportunity for self-reflection and growth.
Allow the reversed meanings to guide you toward a deeper understanding of yourself and the situations you encounter.
With an open mind and willingness to explore both the upright and reversed aspects, you’ll gain valuable insights to navigate your journey with clarity and wisdom.
The reversed meanings of the Major Arcana cards
|Card Number||Card Name||Reversed Interpretation|
|0||The Fool||Isolation, withdrawal, avoiding self-reflection or introspection, and seeking answers externally instead of within.|
|I||The Magician||Manipulation, misuse of power, lack of focus or will, inability to manifest desires.|
|II||The High Priestess||Hidden agendas, ignoring intuition, lack of inner wisdom, difficulty accessing subconscious knowledge.|
|III||The Empress||Resisting necessary upheaval or change, avoiding breakdowns needed for growth, clinging to unstable foundations or beliefs.|
|IV||The Emperor||Abuse of power, authoritarianism, lack of control or structure, inability to establish boundaries.|
|V||The Hierophant||Rebellion against tradition, dogmatic beliefs, spiritual confusion, resistance to guidance or mentorship.|
|VI||The Lovers||Disharmony in relationships, difficult choices, infidelity, imbalance in love and commitment.|
|VII||The Chariot||Lack of control or focus, scattered energy, obstacles or setbacks in achieving goals, feeling stuck or overwhelmed.|
|VIII||Strength||Inner weakness or self-doubt, lack of courage or resilience, giving in to fear or insecurity, feeling powerless.|
|IX||The Hermit||Resistance to change, repeated patterns or cycles, feeling trapped in the circumstances, and missed growth opportunities.|
|X||Wheel of Fortune||Refusing to let go or surrender, resisting necessary sacrifices or changes, and feeling stuck or stagnant in personal growth.|
|XI||Justice||Unfairness or bias, lack of accountability, dishonesty or manipulation in legal matters, avoiding responsibility for actions.|
|XII||The Hanged Man||Releasing unhealthy attachments or addictions, breaking free from self-imposed limitations, and reclaiming personal power and freedom.|
|XIII||Death||Fear of change or transformation, resisting endings or necessary closures, stagnant or unchanging situations, fear of letting go.|
|XIV||Temperance||Imbalance or extremes, lack of moderation, impatience, difficulty finding harmony or adapting to change.|
|XV||The Devil||Resisting necessary upheaval or change, avoiding breakdowns needed for growth, clinging to unstable foundations or beliefs.|
|XVI||The Tower||Resisting necessary upheaval or change, avoiding necessary breakdowns for growth, clinging to unstable foundations or beliefs.|
|XVII||The Star||Loss of hope or inspiration, lack of faith or optimism, feeling disconnected from spirituality or personal dreams, self-doubt.|
|XVIII||The Moon||Emotional confusion or turmoil, hidden fears or anxieties, illusion or deception, difficulty trusting intuition or inner guidance.|
|XIX||The Sun||Lack of vitality or energy, feeling overshadowed or blocked creatively, self-doubt or lack of confidence, difficulty embracing joy or self-expression.|
|XX||Judgement||Self-judgment or harsh criticism, refusing to learn from past mistakes, resistance to self-reflection or personal growth.|
|XXI||The World||Lack of completion or fulfillment, feeling disconnected from the universe or one’s purpose, resistance to embracing wholeness or integration.|
Please note that the interpretations of reversed cards can vary based on individual perspectives and the specific context of a reading.
As we evolve as tarot readers, it is not uncommon to create personal meanings due to experiences with the cards.
If you want to learn more about the meanings of all the tarot cards, you find all the keywords and other parameters on the Tarot card cheat sheet page.