Tarot Card Meanings

This article contains tips to accelerate your learning of tarot card meanings—and links to individual tarot card meanings.

The Major Arcana

The Minor Arcana—Pentacles

The Minor Arcana—Cups

The Minor Arcana—Swords

The Minor Arcana—Wands

Learning the individual meanings, while necessary if you wish to gain a deeper understanding of tarot, takes time and effort. 

But there are ways to accelerate your learning. Understanding the structure of the tarot deck helps when understanding the meaning of the cards.

The Structure and Meaning of The Tarot

There are 78 cards in a typical tarot deck, and they are divided into the Major Arcana (22 picture cards) and Minor Arcana (56 numbered and court cards—sometimes with pictures.)

Arcana just means secrets or mysteries

The Major Arcana

The Fool—Original RWS deckThe Fool from the original RWS deck

The Major Arcana are the 22 picture cards—each one having a number from 0 (The Fool) to 22 (The World). These are the tarot cards most people think of when they think of the Tarot. 

The Major Arcana represents the most significant situations we face in life, encompassing major aspects of human experience, karmic influences on our lives, and important lessons that we need to learn. For some, the Major Arcana represents a spiritual quest for enlightenment.

Each card is a step of a journey—sometimes called the Fool’s Journey. The story is often read following the order of the cards, but stories are created in any order, and in our lives, our stories are told in their own unique way.

Intuition Versus Book Meaning

Intuition is the most important part of reading and interpreting the cards, whatever the book meaning of each card. However, learning the book meanings helps your intuition function at a higher level. 

The tarot card meanings the Major Arcana, can be found in the names of the cards and their images. 

While it’s partly feeling—notice which parts of the picture you are drawn to, perhaps a colour or expression—a lot of information is inside the stories being told in the pictures. 

The numbers also have significance—and for anyone with a basic understanding of numerology (which I’ll explore with you on this website) more meaning is uncovered.

Symbols in The Tarot

Understanding the meaning of the many symbols in the images, will help a lot in learning the individual tarot card meanings. Knowing the astrological correspondence of each card helps, too. Even if you only have a basic understanding of the characteristics of the 12 sun signs. This is a good start.

The Wheel of Fortune—Original RWS deckThe Wheel of Fortune from the original RWS deck

The Minor Arcana

These are the 56 numbered cards (or pip cards) from the ace to ten, and the court cards (usually the page, knight, queen, and king—although some decks use other names). The Minor Arcana is also be subdivided into the four suits (pentacles, cups, swords, and wands). 

The numbered cards represent everyday events and situations in our lives—the smaller (but not unimportant) issues.

The court cards represent aspects of our personality, the people we will meet, or situations we will come across.

To learn tarot card meanings of the Minor Arcana, it’s important to know the meanings of the four suits—if you even have a basic knowledge of astrology, you will be know more than many.

If you’re familiar with the water, earth, air and fire signs of astrology, then you will have a head start in understanding the meanings.

The suits in tarot represent the four elements: cups are water, swords are air, pentacles are earth, and wands are fire. 

Two of Cups—Original RWS deckThe Two of Cups from the original RWS deck

In many ways, learning the meanings of these 56 cards is easier than learning the 22 cards of the Major Arcana because you only need to combine the meanings of the four elements with the basic numerology. I explain this in the individual tarot card meaning pages. 

If you’ve chosen a tarot deck with a picture based Minor Arcana—like the Rider Waite—then the pictures will help you tell the story, and at the same time serve as inspiration for your intuition.

Tarot Card Meanings 

The Major Arcana

The Minor Arcana—Pentacles

The Minor Arcana—Cups

The Minor Arcana—Swords

The Minor Arcana—Wands

I'm in the process of creating new pages for the meaning of each tarot card. Please sign-up to my newsletter, RSS feed, of follow Tarot Deep on Facebook to keep up-to-date on new articles.


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