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Basic Tarot Guide


There are 78 cards in the entire Tarot deck. The deck is divided into two groups, the Minor Arcana and the Major Arcana. The Minor Arcana resembles, in some ways, the traditional playing card deck. It consists of 56 cards, 14 cards of each of 4 suits.

The Major Arcana is a group of 22 individually named cards, each with a distinct meaning and symbolism. These cards are often called the "Triumph" cards and feature the Tarot "celebrities" like "Death", "The Devil" and "The Fool". To follow is a list of Tarot cards that may be rendered for the ARCANA project along with a list of common symbols and interpretations that pertain to the suits and cards.

The cards listed will each be accompanied by a brief summary of common imagery used and traditional meanings/interpretations. Though the card-code is mandatory, the meanings and symbolism expressed and used by the cards you design doesn't have to follow those expressed here...though it would be keen to use stick to the traditional cards in some regard.


There are four suits in the Minor Arcana: Pentacles, Wands, Cups and Swords. Each suit consists of 14 cards: ace(1), 2 through 10, Page, Knight, Queen and King. The latter four cards are called the "Court Cards".

[collaboration project info taken out for brevity]

Each suit holds it's own traditional sphere of influence and meaning. Indeed, each card of every suit holds some special significance. I'll provide the general overviews here. If you're curious as to individual interpretations, please take a look at some of the books in the bibliography.

PENTACLES (money, coins, stars, pentagrams) Lowest suit of the deck. Symbolism/Interpretation: pure sensation, material gain, man, winter, new moon, night, old age, four elements of human nature

WANDS (leaf, wands, tree-branches, twigs) Symbolism/Interpretation: fire, inspiration, intellect, creativity, glory, air, feasting, dawn, childhood, animation, growth, will CUPS (grail, chalice, mugs, vessels, water) Symbolism/Interpretation: intuition, water, pleasure, merriment, powers of water, instincts, lovemaking, lion, summer, full moon, noon, youth, love and happiness

SWORDS (blades, swords) Symbolism/Interpretation: air, thought, misfortune, intellect, trouble, sadness, sickness, death, powers of air, aggression, strife, stress, authority, autumn, last quarter of moon, evening, maturity, hatred, the bull


There are 22 cards, numbered 0 through 21, in the Major Arcana. Each represents an individual character or force and holds it's own unique traditional meanings.

[more collab info deleted, for your pleasure]

Listed here are the 22 cards and brief descriptions gleaned from a few of the books in the bibliography.

0- The Fool: a jester figure, sometimes shown beginning a journey and being attacked by some sort of cat, sometimes accompanied by a dog, representing impulse, birth and youth Associated with URANUS 1- The Magician: sometimes shown as a juggler or illusionist at a fair, sometimes playing with the symbols of the four suits, representing consciousness, sense of self, control, dexterity Associated with MERCURY

2- High Priestess or Papess: shown as a female religious leader, representing women's liberation, wisdom, independence Associated with the MOON

3- Empress: shown as queen on throne or mother goddess, representing illumination, intelligence, understanding, maternity, creativity Associated with VENUS

4- Emperor: sometimes shown holding sphere and scepter, king on throne, representing sight, vision, realization, power, strength Associated with ARIES

5- Hierophant or Pope: sometimes shown as pope seated on throne, religious leader, representing the link between god and man, spiritual discovery, paternal, transcendent, teacher Associated with TAURUS

6- Lovers: shown as two people orbited by cupids, flowerbeds, representing struggle, beauty, sovereignty, synthesis, union Associated with GEMINI

7- Chariot: sometimes shown as warriors parading triumphant in chariot or an icon of a hero being paraded around, representing victory, domination of man over nature, power, war, self-control Associated with CANCER

8- Strength or Lust: representing love as a source of strength, endurance, will to survive, strong desires, perserverence Associated with LEO

9- Hermit: representing withdrawal, solitude, abandonment of convention via inner conviction, preoccupation with details, often shown as a hermit holding an hourglass Associated with VIRGO

10- Wheel of Fortune: representing karma, reincarnation, consequences of chance happenings, cycles, motifs, optimism, generosity Associated with JUPITER

11- Justice: often shown as "lady justice" (blindfolded with scale), representing decision, equilibrium Associated with LIBRA

12- Hanged Man: representing sacrifice, violence, transition Associated with NEPTUNE

13- Death: often shown as skeleton or grim reaper, representing stagnation, constipated, sticking in a rut, beginning anew, clean slate, liberation, renewal Associated with SCORPIO

14- Temperance or Art: representing enthusiasm, moderation, truthfulness, mixing of opposite ingredients in proper proportion, working together Associated with SAGITTARIUS

15- The Devil: representing superficiality, confusion, ignorance, apathy, limitations, unconscious mind, police, sexual problems Associated with CAPRICORN

16- The Tower: representing downing of the defenses, spiritual awakening, destiny, often shown as "house of god" or a ruins Associated with MARS

17- The Star: representing meditation, inexhaustible inspiration, hope, immortality, often shown as a woman kneeling on a sea shore Associated with AQUARIUS

18- The Moon: representing illusion, self-deception, confusion, primitivity Associated with PISCES

19- The Sun: representing enlightenment, clarity, understanding, comprehension, wisdom, happiness, splendor Associated with THE SUN

20- Judgment or Aeon: often showing angels blowing trumpets, representing awakening to new, rebirth Associated with PLUTO

21- The World or Universe: representing conscious of limitations, prize, reward, perfection, unity of positive and negative Associated with SATURN

Copyright © by The Book of THOTH - The complete guide to the Tarot, Magick and the Occult All Right Reserved.

Published on: 2005-09-20 (4835 reads)

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