Having a general understanding of tarot card meanings is helpful whether you're receiving a reading or giving a reading. A deeper understanding of what the deck is telling you comes from knowing what each of the cards represents.
Now, while I don't use only the specific meanings of the cards to do a reading (I read them as a story, if you will), I do rely on them as a starting point. You'll find the following pages quite helpful for any tarot reading you have done (or that you give). Feel free to reference it at any point and look at the specifics (health, money/career, romance/relationships, spirituality) to deepen your insight into what the tarot cards are showing you.
I really like the original Rider-Wait deck, so that is the one I use most often. If you're looking to start reading tarot you will probably start with this deck, but you certainly don't have to. There are many, many beautiful decks out there so buy the one (or two, or three!) that really resonates with your soul. You'll get a much better interpretation of the tarot card meanings when the artistry on the cards speaks to you.
A tarot deck consists of 78 cards:
These are the cards most people immediately think of when they think of tarot cards. They have descriptive names such as “Strength”, “The World”, “The Devil”, and “The Fool”. They are the most “big picture” of the cards.
These cards are numbered 0-22, starting with “The Fool” and ending with “The World”. In the most general sense these cards represent the path of life and the major issues most of us will face. We will all start our lives and we will all complete our lives. In between there will be happiness, sadness, gaiety, loss, anger, success, love, hate, devastation, rebuilding, and adventure.
The cards show an outline of the arc of life from “The Fool” starting out on his journey to the end of “The World” when the cycle is complete. It always feels good to come full circle and have resolution. That's why so many people hate movies and books with ambiguous endings. They don't have a resolution! We like things tied up nice & neat. “The World” emphasizes looking back on our lives and being satisfied and grateful. Maybe everything didn't go as planned, maybe there were things we didn't get to do, or maybe we were luckier than we ever could have imagined but regardless, everyone's goal is to be happy and content with a life well-lived.
All the cards in between can, and do, happen in any order in our lives, so the numbers are there more as an organizational tool, not a specific order of events.
Read more about the Major Arcana here.
These are the “number”, or "pip", cards. They are divided into four suits, a familiar style to anyone who has used a deck of regular playing cards before.
The cards are numbered from Ace to King. Ace is always representative of a new start or a fresh beginning. You can correlate it to “The Fool” as both are a starting point. In readings where trouble is coming the Ace signifies the lowest level of trouble or stress. As the numbers increase towards ten it is like a volume knob. Whatever topic you're facing (money, love, spirituality) becomes a stronger presence or force in your life the higher the number up to ten. So, Ace will be the most mellow and ten will generally be the most strong.
Tarot card meanings for the face cards- the page, knight, queen, and king- don't translate as the numbered cards do. Instead, these cards point out personality traits; who we are as a person or the type of person we will be dealing with. They bring up momentum; knights are always moving forward whereas queens and kings are very stable and not moving. They also represent the amount of power a person has in the situation; pages have far less power than a king.
Read more about the Minor Arcana here.
Each suit has its own meaning too. There are four basic personality types (fire, water, earth, air) and each of those correlates with a zodiac symbol.
Cups- Represent water. They are concerned with thoughts, feelings, and
emotions. They represent the zodiac water signs of Cancer, Scorpio,
and Pisces. Read more about the Suit of Cups here.
Represent earth. They highlight material possessions, the physical
world, and practicality. They represent the zodiac earth signs of
Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. Read more about the Suit of Pentacles here.
Represent air. They show communication, language, and social
interactions. They represent the zodiac air signs of Gemini, Libra,
and Aquarius. Read more about the Suit of Swords here.
Wands- Represent fire. They are focused on passion, drive, and energy. They represent the zodiac fire signs of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.
I know this is a lot of information and you're anxious to get started, but I also know you have one last question...
Arcana means a
secret knowledge that isn't held by the average
person. It is a special, mysterious knowledge that only a few people
possess. It's considered a very deep secret that a person must be initiated into knowing. That means it must be taught by someone who already has the knowledge.
You may rely on an expert tarot reader to use their arcana to interpret the cards and answer your questions. You may also choose to build your own arcana by learning tarot card meanings for yourself.
Luckily, Tarotastic offers you both solutions!
Welcome to the wonderful world of tarot! Once you start learning tarot card meanings and applying them to your life you'll be surprised how much they can reveal.
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