Your tarot deck is a tool that gives you insight into yourself and the world around you. If you read using a standard Rider-Waite-Smith-based tarot deck, the first twenty two cards are called the Major Arcana, or the Majors.
These cards represent the major archetypes and lessons of life.
Although there are standard tarot meanings for each card, both the designer of your tarot deck and you, the reader, may interpret them in any way you wish. This gives the tarot a lot of flexibility – as well as a lot of room for confusion!
So, this video will cover the standard meanings, patterns, and stories behind those first twenty-two cards, the Majors. You can play along by pulling out the Major Arcana cards from your deck, and following along with each card, one by one.
In the Hero’s Journey, The Fool represents The Ordinary World, which begins and ends each cycle. This is where the hero is enjoying his everyday life, secure and happy that nothing bad will happen.
I look at this card and see a young man setting out for an adventure, and not having a freaking clue what’s in front of him. He’s optimistic, self-focused, and blind to reality. But, he’s also got a cute dog and a nice purse.
I like to think of The Fool as being out of space & time. The Fool is the protagonist in our story, and the remaining cards of the Major Arcana are all players or events that happen to The Fool.
The Magician is the first card The Fool “meets.” This is why The Magician is numbered 1 (one), even though this card is not the first card in the deck.
The High Priestess
The High Priestess is paired with the active, and outwardly-focused Magician, which precedes it in the Major Arcana.
There’s nothing wild here – it’s all solid ambition, discipline, and good hard work.
This card honors tradition and established rules. Not all established rules and traditions are bad, and sometimes it’s better not to rock the boat. Especially when you’re sitting in it.
But it’s not just for love. This card suggests a true, soul-level partnership where the personalities or elements are in total, healthy balance. This could be in a friendship, business partnership, or any place where two vibrant forces come together.
The Chariot rides into the tarot right after the balanced partnership of The Lovers. When you have a wonderful partnership, you’re ready to take action and tackle the big problems.
It’s like you know, deep in your soul, you have the inner strength to overcome any obstacle in your path.
Yeah, you’ll be tested, but you don’t even care. You’ve got this.
There might be lessons about trust and betrayal, friends and enemies, facade versus reality. But you have the courage and inner confidence to survive and thrive through them all.
When you are faced with a tough situation, or difficult decision, The Hermit whispers, “You already have all of the answers you need. You just need to go deep within yourself to find them.”
You must trust yourself. Maturity comes when you feel confident in your own voice, and The Hermit wants you to get there.
The Wheel of Fortune
Of course, not all luck is good, so the meaning of this card does depend on the other cards that are read with it. Regardless, if you get The Wheel of Fortune in a tarot card reading, your luck is about to change.
This card represents a lesson about control – no matter how much you prepare or how hard you work, you can’t always control the outcome. Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes luck is not on your side.
This card represents the lesson of the ultimate law – the law of cause and effect.
If things seem out of whack, the Justice card has a message for you: the Universe is playing fair. You may not like the outcome, but it will be based on harmony and fairness for the greater good.
In a literal sense, this card anticipates a legal situation or judgment.
The Hanged Man
You need to release the tight grip you hold on your ideas and the situation at hand. That won’t work anymore, so become the agent of change by making a sacrifice (i.e. being the ‘better man’) to break the old patterns.
When you feel betrayed, like a victim, or ashamed of your own actions, look at things from a different point of view. You need perspective.
But it doesn’t mean what people think it means. This card rarely has anything to do with actual, physical death. Instead, it’s a card of rebirth.
Like the mythical Phoenix that rises from the ashes, one cycle is ending and another is beginning. There is a major transition happening where you must leave your old life, and start something new.
The Temperance card serves as a reminder to remain patient, and go with the flow. You can’t always (or, really, ever) control a situation, but you can wait it out. I hate that, but it’s the truth.
This card is a reminder that renewal and rejuvenation are coming, so don’t go to extremes or force something to happen. Exercise self-control, and keep your emotions in check.
This card is usually seen as a warning against obsessions, compulsions, and addictions. It is so easy to become a slave to the material and physical world. It can quickly turn towards greed, exploitation, and oppression.
This isn’t always a negative card, though. You’ll have to read the other cards around it to get a feel for the situation.
Start enjoying the pleasures of life and let yourself become spontaneous and playful. Start exploring your deepest desires – but explore them without fear, shame, or excess.
The change is ultimately for the better, but some shit is about to go down. You are under attack from forces beyond your control or understanding. There’s nothing you can do. It’s an unexpected attack, too, so you won’t see it coming, and you can’t really prepare for it.
Have faith and believe things are going to be okay – even better than okay.
The Star card is the first in the 3-card cycle of The Star, The Moon, and The Sun. It takes the turmoil of The Tower that precedes it, and turns that energy into renewal, hope, and peace.
Be on the lookout for unseen problems, deceptions, and haters.
You could easily let your imagination and intuition take you to dark and unfriendly places, so keep your anxiety in check.
Proceed with caution and prudence, but let your intuition be your guide. This card is a very strong call to follow your intuition.
This is an active card, asking you to celebrate and honor your growth.
It’s a card of closure for the life lessons the hero has learned.
If you want to go deeper
Learning the tarot card meanings takes time, patience, and practice. If you want the full Tarot Card Meanings for each individual card we covered here today, check out the Tarot Card Meanings Index or the Simple Tarot Card Meanings book, which is available everywhere fine books are sold.