The Major Arcana
TL;DRAn exploration of the cards of the Major Arcana and their meanings with Mysticsense.
One of the most popular methods of getting a psychic reading is through a Tarot Card Reading. Perhaps the most famous tarot deck, The Rider Waite tarot cards have 78 cards to the deck, and the first 22 are called The Major Arcana. These 22 cards, numbered 0-21 deal with major things we face in life on our journeys, while the remaining cards deal with day-to-day things. Originally used as playing cards, the Major Arcana were the trump cards, and the deck gained popularity for psychic readings in the 18th century.
Most readers will read from the full deck of cards, but some will do just a Major Arcana reading. What this means is that the Minor Arcana cards are set aside, and only the cards of the Major Arcana are used. This is done by some readers to do an especially deep reading about significant things in the lifepath or personal spirituality. This can be done with a whole deck or any oracle deck also, but some readers and clients swear by this as the best method.
Each of the cards have their own meaning when read in the classic style, and there is a reversed as well as right side up meaning. Mysticsense has explored a bit about the history of Tarot and how the readings work here:
The cards of the Major Arcana including the meaning of them are to be studied and understood before beginning reading Tarot for clients. Intuition is also necessary, as there are multiple meanings attached to the cards, and it is imperative you know which meaning the cards are indicating in the reading. The reversed meaning of these cards is typically the opposite of what the card means right side up.
The Major Arcana Tarot Cards
The Fool is at the very beginning of their journey. Note the images in the card show the Fool with the loyalty of the dog companion, and all their worldly possessions on their back. They are tossing their seeds to the wind, and look to be about to walk off the cliff- while some decks show the dog pulling the Fool’s britches down, exposing their vulnerabilities. The look on the Fool’s face, however shows that he or she knows exactly what they are doing, despite what other’s might think, and it’s the beginning of a wonderful thing. Reversed, something is keeping the journey from beginning, and maybe it’s just not time to start yet. You may need to regroup, come up with a plan B, or you might just need to be patient until the time is right to begin.
The Magician is who we all want to be. They are in control of their lives, calling the shots with much power and skill. The Magician adapts, and changes as needed, and knows just what to do to meet all of their goals. Reversed, you are hesitant to roll with the punches and make necessary changes. It might not be an unwillingness to change, but self-doubt to have the ability to succeed. You are still the Magician, though, and you absolutely CAN succeed and change approach as needed, as you have all the tools and abilities you need. The question is, WILL you do what it takes?
The High Priestess
The High Priestess Tarot Card represents inner wisdom. This card is about intuitively knowing all things and having a very good sense of judgement. The High Priestess has a good grasp of who she is, and harnesses all her strengths, even using her weaknesses to her advantage. She is a much sought-after life coach, and guides many. Reversed, the card is telling you that you are not listening to yourself, and you need to go within for the answers. An off balanced High Priestess cannot be her true self and needs to trust above all others herself, shutting out negative messages that come from elsewhere.
The ultimate indication of abundance, fertility, and nurturing, the Empress can indicate a woman who is in her fullness as a Mother figure, and one who keeps the fires of hearth and home burning brightly. However, don’t assume this is all abut being female, because males have it in them to embody all these things as well. Right side up, this card indicates all these wonderful qualities are present, and all is in harmony. Reversed, it’s all out of balance and this needs restored. It could point to a hostile living environment, or not getting the nurturing needed from family. It can also indicate the querant has had their nurturing and generosity taken advantage of and they need to put their foot down.
Similar to the Empress, the Emperor card is about many strengths. It’s about leadership, being a good protector, being fair, and personal strength. Right side up, it’s showing you to go ahead and wield that power, and use it for your own success and the benefit of those you watch over. Reversed, it indicates a misuse of that power. Somebody is being authoritative, or a dictator, and it’s unfair to other people. It can also indicate you have had too much responsibility dumped on you.
The Hierophant Tarot Card is also referred to as the Pope Card. This card represents tradition, following rules, comfort within a group, but can indicate religious structure as well. The Hierophant is the one who is good at quelling anxiety and knows what to do to “bless” and diffuse uncomfortable situations. Reversed, intuition can discern whether this means that you should go against convention, or whether there is a disruption within your social circle. This card reversed can be a very powerful encouragement to cast off norms and taboos, and do what you feel is best, despite what others may think.
This card is all about relationships, partnerships and making good decisions that positively impacts your life and the lives of those you are connected to. In a love reading, right side up, it means you and your romantic partner are a good fit for one another. While it’s not always about romantic love, it is about good things that make life better and worthwhile. Reversed, it’s quite the opposite. In a love reading, it means mismatched lovers or a doomed romance. In non-love readings, it coincides with friendships being destroyed, work relationships that are not going well, or bad decisions you make that wreck lives.
The Chariot Tarot card has to do with progress whether it’s reversed or right side up. Right side up, the chariot’s meaning is that things are going splendidly forward, and no obstacles stand in your way. Take advantage of this time to make leeway towards your goals. Reversed, the chariot tarot card indicates obstacles in the path that keep you from going forward. You are going to have to deal with those things before you progress, and then you can be on your way forward once more.
The Strength Tarot Card represents strength of course, but focuses more on using that for courage and action. It may focus on inner strength or more on the physical things we are called to do in our daily lives. Reversed it can indicate procrastination, apathy, or caving into fears and lack of confidence which hold you back from action. Reversed, you are being advised to JUST DO IT!!!!
The Hermit Tarot Card speaks of going within. Sometimes is speaks of solitude and others it indicates waiting until another time to act. Sometimes the card is telling us to pull back from things and people who overwhelm us, and “hibernate”. It can also indicate keeping information to ourselves instead of sharing it with people whose business it isn’t. The ultimate introvert, the Hermit uses their “me time” to their advantage. Reversed, it indicates coming back out of this “hibernation” and it can be good or bad. Reversed it sometimes means you are TOO much in your own World and need to come out of that, or you are unreasonably worrying about coming out of solitude. Other times it means you had good reason to be more cloistered, and that time is at an end, so come out and enjoy everything again.
The Wheel of Fortune
Right side up, the Wheel of Fortune moves forward for you, and good things are coming in the form of change. Reversed, can indicate stagnation, or even bad things happening as the Wheel turns. The good thing about this Wheel though, is it is never shut down, but always moving back towards the upside of things. Toughing out the bad times to get to the good times, and doing what it takes to get that Wheel back to the top is what the reversed Wheel of Fortune is advising you to do.
This card indicates orderly proceedings, fair verdicts, and wrongs being righted. If there are any lies being told, they will come to light. If it’s justice you are seeking, it will come about, but if you are the one acting unfairly, this card upright is putting you on notice you are about to be held accountable. Reversed, unfortunately, quite the opposite is true, and it’s not your imagination. Justice is not being served, or there is some imbalance of fairness. Maybe the truth is hidden, or you need to fight to turn things around. Keep fighting, and if you are the one who is being unfair, correct your actions to turn Justice right side up.
The Hanged Man
The Hanged Man meaning is not so simple. It can mean a plethora of things. It can mean sacrifice, wisdom, weathering difficulties, magic, and being suspended and unable to create positive change. In this position, no matter exactly what it is indicating, this card counsels letting go and surrendering to the way things are. Reversed, it can indicate more stagnation than before, or bad decisions based on knee jerk reactions and inability to be patient during the stagnation. Remember, this time will pass, and you can move forward at some point. Just don’t do anything you will regret in the meantime.
The Death card tends to terrify people more than any other card in the Major Arcana, but you needn’t fear. What it indicates is change, and ending a way of being or a situation, not biological death. SOME readers can portend an actual death, but that gift is very rare, and is not the focus of Major Arcana cards. Their focus is on your personal life path and guidance on action, not worrying about mortality. Reversed, the Death card can indicate that it’s either not time to change, or something is holding that up, and quite often that something will be you. Transformation is not happening, and lack of hope can be indicated.
The Temperance card is very straightforward. Right side up, it means you have your mind, soul, and emotions well balanced and you are in a good place with your coping mechanisms. Reversed means quite the opposite. You are put on notice with a reversed Temperance card to stop, collect yourself, and be rational. You may be overindulging, or behaving recklessly, and this care reversed is telling you to stop.
The Devil Tarot card has terrifying imagery of two people chained by a wicked looking devil beast. It’s a sad looking card of being bound and feeling hopeless. The devil card meaning is not so simple, however. The devil card can mean you are stuck due to addiction, bad decisions, or outside influences binding you to a situation that does not serve you, but don’t dismay. There is almost always a way out if you find a way to break the chains most versions of this card show the people bound by. Reversed- guess what? The things keeping you trapped are POOF, gone! You can move forward without hindrance.
Nobody likes drawing the Tower card in a reading. It typically means everything is going wrong and you’ve got to go into survival mode immediately when it does. Self-preservation is the main thing you need to focus on, and accept the fact you cannot control what is going on, just your reaction. Reversed is much better! It means the bad times are over, and you can begin picking up the pieces. Don’t dismay if you get the Tower right side up- because it’s a disaster- not the end. You will get through this!
When you get the Star Tarot Card upright in a reading, it’s very good news. Your hopes and dreams are being fulfilled and you have a bright outlook and great future. Reversed, indicates that your dreams may be dashed, or you are about to give up. You may have gotten all you worked for , but it’s not what you expected and that’s upsetting you. Remember though, sometimes we have worked for things that are temporary and it’s okay to regroup and make other plans.
The Moon Tarot card represents emotions and fears that can get the better of us. Harness those before they control you! The card addresses dreams and psychic abilities as well. When upright in the deck, be aware you need to keep a handle on your emotional and psychic self- two of the best parts of you! Reversed, you are dealing with your emotions and fears quite well, and things that flared up worry are going away. Very good news!
The Sun Tarot Card is one you will be thrilled to get right side up in a reading. It indicates happiness, a positive attitude, energy, vitality, and success. Reversed, it’s not always exactly the opposite. At times it means no success, or a negative attitude, but it can also mean that with more hard work your successes will grow. It can be telling you to keep your chin up and not let anything discourage you!
This card is all about change and remaking yourself. This can be on a mundane level or more about becoming your higher self. It’s sometimes called a resurrection card. If you’ve been through a difficult time that has got you bogged down, this card upright is advising you to rise from the pain, and thrive again. Reversed, you feel blocked from rising up and being your best self. This is advising you keep trying and work at living your best life despite whatever is holding you back. So take heart and know that your resurrection won’t be hindered forever.
The World Tarot card right side up indicates you have accomplished all you set out to and you are reaping the benefits. This can be telling you that your whole life is coming together just the way you have wanted it to and you are celebrating that success! Reversed, it’s not time to celebrate yet, but to put your nose to the grindstone and continue hard work. You will get there!
The Major Arcana tells the story of your journey from the beginning, The Fool, to the joyous completion, The World. In readings, where you are on your path will come up, and your reader will guide you through every step of the way. You may love getting a Major Arcana reading so much, you won’t want any other kind of reading. The illumination it can give your path can be like no other kind of reading, and you will never forget the wonderful things you learn.
Start your reading with Mysticsense today!