Miscellaneous - Tarot - Witchy

A Beginner’s Guide to Tarot: Major Arcana and The 4 Suits

Michelle Lewis, The Blessings Butterfly

Welcome back! In this follow-up article to Get Started Learning Tarot we will cover the meanings of the Major Arcana and each of the 4 Suits (Minor Arcana). The Tarot deck consists of 78 cards divided into two main sections, the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. This is a simplified and very basic overview to help you get a little more comfortable with learning to read Tarot.

You will continue to grow in your expertise and understanding the more you play with your favorite deck, and you’ll soon learn to read the energy of each card. Remember, it takes practice! Take your time, and work with it a little bit each day. Now let’s dive in!

Major Arcana Summary

The Major Arcana cards are the first 22 cards in a Tarot deck that represent significant life events, archetypes, and spiritual themes. Each of these cards has a unique meaning and can be interpreted in a variety of ways. The Major Arcana cards can be very powerful tools for personal growth, spiritual development, and gaining insight into one’s own life journey. I like to remind clients that there are no “bad” cards in Tarot, they are just presenting us with information. So when someone pulls the Death card, it doesn’t necessarily point to their imminent demise!

Here is a brief overview of each of the Major Arcana cards:

  1. The Fool: Represents new beginnings, spontaneity, and taking a leap of faith. Sometimes this card is numbered “0”
  2. The Magician: Symbolizes manifestation, creativity, and personal power.
  3. The High Priestess: Represents intuition, mystery, and hidden knowledge.
  4. The Empress: Symbolizes fertility, nurturing, and abundance.
  5. The Emperor: Represents authority, structure, and order.
  6. The Hierophant: Symbolizes tradition, spiritual guidance, and religious beliefs.
  7. The Lovers: Represents romantic love, relationships, and choices.
  8. The Chariot: Symbolizes victory, control, and determination.
  9. Strength: Represents inner strength, courage, and resilience.
  10. The Hermit: Symbolizes solitude, introspection, and spiritual guidance.
  11. The Wheel of Fortune: Represents destiny, change, and cycles.
  12. Justice: Symbolizes balance, fairness, and truth.
  13. The Hanged Man: Represents surrender, sacrifice, waiting, and a new perspective.
  14. Death: Symbolizes endings, transformation, and rebirth.
  15. Temperance: Represents moderation, balance, and harmony.
  16. The Devil: Symbolizes materialism, addiction, and temptation.
  17. The Tower: Represents upheaval, chaos, and unexpected change.
  18. The Star: Symbolizes hope, inspiration, and a renewed sense of purpose.
  19. The Moon: Represents the unconscious mind, intuition, femininity, and fears.
  20. The Sun: Symbolizes joy, vitality, masculinity, and success.
  21. Judgment: Represents self-evaluation, rebirth, and a spiritual awakening.
  22. The World: Symbolizes completion, achievement, and fulfillment.

Minor Arcana Summary

The Minor Arcana consists of four suits, each with 14 cards, which are similar to the suits in a deck of standard playing cards. In a tarot reading, the suits can provide significant insight into different areas of a person’s life. For example, Swords may represent challenges in one’s career or intellectual pursuits, while Cups may indicate issues related to relationships or emotional well-being.

By understanding the meanings or correspondences associated with each suit, a tarot reader can provide guidance and advice on how to navigate the challenges and opportunities being presented. It is VERY important to remove as much of your own ego and bias when you are reading for someone. Remember, you are there to be a guide and help them understand the message of what you are seeing in the cards.

Here are the four suits of the Tarot deck and their associated meanings:

  1. Swords: This suit represents the element of Air and is associated with the intellect, thoughts, and communication. Swords can symbolize conflict, challenges, and difficult decisions. The higher numbered cards in the suit often represent personal growth, learning, and overcoming obstacles.
  2. Wands: This suit represents the element of Fire and is associated with creativity, passion, and action. Wands can symbolize ambition, inspiration, and enthusiasm. The higher numbered cards in the suit often represent achievement, progress, and success.
  3. Cups: This suit represents the element of Water and is associated with emotions, feelings, and intuition. Cups can symbolize love, relationships, and spiritual growth. The higher numbered cards in the suit often represent emotional fulfillment, happiness, and harmony.
  4. Pentacles (or Coins): This suit represents the element of Earth and is associated with material possessions, structure, money, and practical matters. Pentacles can symbolize security, stability, and financial prosperity. The higher numbered cards in the suit often represent abundance, success, and fulfillment.

A Note About Reversals…

In a Tarot reading, a reversed card is a card that appears upside-down. This can happen either intentionally or accidentally during the shuffling or laying out of the cards. When a card is reversed, its meaning is typically the opposite of its upright meaning, or it indicates a blockage or challenge in the area of life that the card represents.

Here are some common ways that reversed cards can be interpreted in a Tarot reading:

  1. Reversed meaning: Sometimes, a reversed card will simply indicate the opposite meaning of its upright counterpart. For example, an upright Justice card represents fairness and balance, while a reversed Justice card may indicate injustice or imbalance.
  2. Blocked energy: A reversed card can indicate a blockage in the energy or situation represented by the card. For example, a reversed Ace of Wands may indicate that the querent (the person you are reading for) is feeling stuck or lacking inspiration in their creative endeavors.
  3. Inner conflict: A reversed card may indicate an inner conflict or struggle that the querent is facing. For example, a reversed Four of Cups may indicate that the querent is feeling discontent and disconnected from their emotions.
  4. Delays or setbacks: A reversed card can indicate delays or setbacks in the area of life represented by the card. For example, a reversed Five of Pentacles may indicate financial struggles or setbacks.

It’s important to note that reversed cards do not always have negative meanings. They can also indicate a need for introspection or a shift in perspective. A skilled Tarot reader will use their intuition and knowledge of the cards to interpret the meaning of reversed cards in a way that is meaningful and helpful to the querent. And, you do not have to read reversals if you don’t want to! You can flip it right-side up and continue the reading.

hands touching the tarot cards on the table
Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva on Pexels.com

Alright, now that you have a good basic understanding of the Tarot and how to read the cards, I suggest you grab your favorite deck and start practicing! Get comfortable with shuffling, and try pulling 1-3 cards a day to start recognizing what they represent. You’ve got this!

Michelle Lewis (she/her/they) is the creator & founder of The Blessings Butterfly, a holistic coaching & energy healing practice that is teaching people to live a life that they love. She is a writer, speaker, energy witch/healer, and author of the Amazon bestselling positive affirmation books, The Blessings Butterfly and The Blessings Butterfly Companion Guide