Although the original Tarot Cards were to keep secret records of history they have evolved over time to other uses as well. These days they are most popular with divination. The Tarot Card has also recently been used for playing games and gambling. They are also potent in casting spells. The more experienced will use the Tarot Card for casting spells, while others use the Tarot Card in paintings, gifts and even for decoration. There have spawned many different styles of the Tarot Card over the years with the most popular still being the Rider Waite Tarot card deck.
STRUCTURE OF TAROT CARD DECK:
There are 78 cards to a tarot deck. This is made up of 22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana and the fool. Arcana is the plural form of the Latin word arcanum, meaning “closed” or “secret”.
The fool is numbered 0. The major arcana which represent the original tarot deck are numbered 1 to XX1.
The minor arcana are made up of 4 kings, 4 queens, 4 knights, four aces, and the cards numbered 2 to 10.
Tarot Cards have originated from various countries. In the traditional Italian card, there are Swords, Batons, Coins and Cups. In more modern tarot card, the Batons are called called Wands, Rods or Staves. The Coins are called Pentacles. Because these days the Tarot Card serve many purposes there are a large variety of Tarot decks.
The exact origins and beginnings of the tarot card are unsure. There is no factual evidence that shows these beginnings. Most of this evidence was long since destroyed during the times of the inquisition and religious persecutions of the times. What we do know, is what was the original purpose and meaning of the tarot card. The tarot card were originally a way of recording the true history of the Celtic church and bloodlines of Jesus. It must be realized that during these times to say or do anything that was against the beliefs of the church would see you tortured and killed. Just being in possession of tarot cards would mean death. The church knew the people were using tarot cards as a form of recording history and as such During the inquisition were people were tortured, burned and killed. As the church rewrote the history of Jesus and the Celtic church to suit their purpose the people kept the true history alive through such things as tarot cards. Famous painters such as Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci painted hidden messages in their paintings recording the truth of the bloodlines of Jesus. The earliest date attributed to the tarot card is seen in European museums is 1390. But the actual origins of the cards is thought to go back far earlier. King Edward the 4th in the 15th century banned the importation of tarot cards. However, many people did keep the Tarot cards, especially the nobility. With the eventual collapse of the inquisition times, freedom swept Europe, and as it did, tarot cards became the fashion. The fact that gypsies subsequently used the tarot card for divination was quite incidental to there original purpose. The meaning of the Tarot Card in divination is vastly different to the meaning of the tarot Card in History.
The major arcana represent the original deck of tarot cards. The minor arcana were added much later to the Tarot Cards. The major arcana are made up of 22 cards in the Tarot pack which are numbered 1 to XX1. The major arcana are the most important cards in a Tarot Card Meaning spread and the minor arcana are built around them. Each tarot card has a name, number and symbol which can be traced back over hundreds of years.
The minor arcana consists of 56 cards in the Tarot deck. It consists of four suits – wands, pentacles, clubs, swords. The court cards consist of king, queen, knight, page and ace. The court cards usually represent people. The aces are the beginning of the sequence of the ten cards of a Tarot suit of the minor arcana. Their meaning may also represent the different seasons. The other cards of the minor arcana are the situation cards which are numbered 11 to X in the Tarot deck.
Rider-Waite Tarot Card Deck:
It was in December 1909 that the first deck were published. The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by A.E. Waite was published in 1910. Since then the Rider-Waite tarot card deck has been used all the world over. When one looks at the tarot card you may sem to think that the images are very simple in nature. But this is in fact very deceptive of their true value and the information they contain. When one looks more closely at the tarot cards you will soon find vast amounts of information. The tarot cards of the Rider-Waite deck are in many ways still similar to early tarot cards. What Waite has done with his deck of tarot is tone down some of the Christian influence. We can see that the Pope card has changed to the Hierophant.
Tarot Card Meaning:
It should be noted that there are three basic meanings to the tarot card. The first is the Symbolic meaning of the tarot card. Both what the symbols on the tarot card mean individually and also as a collective symbol. The second is the divinational meaning of the tarot card. That is the divinational meaning of the individual card in a reading or as part of a tarot card layout. The third is reversed. When the tarot is reversed in a spread the meaning becomes very different. Usually it will indicate the negative or opposite of the upright card. For example when the lovers card is upright it means Faithful but when it is reversed it means unfaithful. Another example may be the magician card, which when upright may mean talented but when reversed may mean no talent. The reverse meaning helps establish the line of direction the inquirer is headed for.
The Major Arcana
0 – The Fool
Innocence, optimism, blind faith, risk. Carefree, foolish, indiscreet, vague. This card represents inexperience. It is the direction of the unknown. The wallet tied to the wand over his shoulder carries the four magic symbols he will need to learn. The fool is about to pass into a path of life that each soul must journey. Divination Meaning – the subject of the reading is a dreamer. They must be very careful in their decision making. Reversed – Thoughtlessness, gambler or gambling, mania a warning to look before you leap.
1 – The Magician
Creativity, control over worldly events, a powerful person. Skill, diplomacy, will and confidence. Masculine, talented, creative, gifted. The magician stands before a table on which are the Wand, Sword, Cup and Pentacle, which represent the minor arcana. He is about to draw power from the universe. The magician represents man’s will in union with the divine in achieving the power and knowledge. Divination Meaning – Has the ability to take power from above and direct it through desire into manifestation. Indicates organizational skills. Strong ability to take charge and organize. Reversed – Negative use of power, magus, depression, stopping and starting some activity.
2 – The High priestess
Secrets, mystery, intuition, psychic powers, a virgin or widow. Feminine, secrets, confidant, mystery. The High Priestess sits between the two pillars of the Temple of Solomon. Boaz, the black pillar represents the negative life force while, Jachin, the white pillar, represents the positive life force. The High Priestess has on her lap a scroll of esoteric wisdom. Divination Meaning – When this card appears in a man`s reading it indicates the perfect woman he dreams of. In a woman`s reading it may indicate she can find such values in herself. Hidden influences here at work. This person may have talents in the area of art, music or poetry. Reversed – Hidden enemies usually female, superficial people.
3 – The Empress
Mental and physical fertility, sensual, abundance, maternal, fruitfullness and domesticity. Feminine, motherly, fertility, creation. The Empress is the Earth mother. The Empress hair is bound by a wreath of myrtle. The heart shaped shield has the symbol of Venus. She wears a crown of twelve stars. The Empress is the Goddess of love, Venus and the symbol of universal fecundity. Divination Meaning – Represents the mother or sometimes the grandmother. Reversed – Loss, lack of money, a difficult pregnancy or miscarriage.
4 – The Emperor
Ambition, organization, leadership, a successful man. Masculine, fatherly, advisor. The Emperor sits in a throne commanding and stately. In his right hand he holds an Egyptian Ankh and in his left hand is the globe of domination. The Emperor is the active father force. Divination Meaning – The fruits of toil, the results of action. Represents the father or figure of authority. Reversed – Weakness, lack of power or direction.
5 – The Hierophant
Convention, religion, education, ideas. Marriage, union, relationships, blessing, consent. The Hierophant sits between the two pillars of the Tree of Life from the Kabalah. The capitals of the pillars are decorated with mystic symbols of sexual union. The Hierophant is the ruling power of external Religion. Divination Meaning – Indicates religion, ceremony and ritual. Sometimes indicative of the star sign Taurus. The importance of social approval. Reversed – Eccentricity, rebellion, desire for freedom.
6 – The Lovers
Love and romance, sexual attraction, a choice between two distinct paths. Lovers, partners, union, relationships. We find Raphael pouring down cosmic benediction on the man and woman. Divination Meaning – The struggle between sacred love and profane harmony. Refers to love and relationships. Reversed – A warning against any new relationship, infidelity, a difficult patch with a partner.
7 – The Chariot
Travel usually associated with work, success through hard work and personal effort, News from abroad. Transportation, movement, journey, progress. Signifies victory for the triumphant king who has conquered on all planes. The chariot stands for the human personality. The symbol on the front of the chariot shows the wings of inspiration. Divination Meaning – Decisions to be made as the enquirer is being pulled in two different directions. May indicate travel. Mental and physical powers should lead to fulfillment. Reversed – Overwhelming ambition, scattering of energy.
8 – Justice
Balance, harmony, fairness, a court case or legal matter. Legal, balance, justice, equality. Justice is seated between the positive and negative forces. Her sword is lifted in defence of justice. Divination Meaning – Justice will be done. Indicates some sort of legal activity. Whether it is favourable will depend on the follow on card. Reversed – Unfairness, indecisiveness, problems with decisions.
9 – The Hermit
A helpful wise person, the need to be alone, silence is golden, roguery, corruption, treason. Solitude, guidance, thinking, reflection. The Hermit stands isolated on a snow covered peak. He holds a lantern to guide those below. This is the lamp of truth. Divination Meaning – A journey may be necessary in order to gain knowledge. A chance meeting will guide the seeker on the right path. Reversed – Refusing to listen to good advice, unable to settle down.
10 – Wheel of Fortune
Unexpected good luck, a sudden turn of events, a fresh start. Destiny, direction, future, change. The Wheel of Fortune carries destinies up and down. The Sphinx at the top of the wheel is Wisdom, suggesting that we are not always governed by chance or fate, and that we have the ability to change our lives. Divination Meaning- Success and good luck. Fate is about to make a change in your life for the better. Reversed – Delay for hoped for changes, difficulties that are outside your control.
11 – Strength
Triumph over the negative, courage, working with nature, power, energy. Fortitude, strength, energy, vitality. A women covered in flowers who may be opening or closing a lion`s mouth. Above her head is the cosmic lemniscate of eternal life. She is showing spiritual courage. Divination Meaning – Indicates willpower to overcome adversity. Love over hate. Spiritual power overcoming material power. Reversed – Fear, doubt, loneliness, abuse of power.
12 – The Hanged Man
Rebirth, restriction followed by a change of heart, wisdom, discernment. Restricted, stopped, limited, suspend. A young man is suspended by one foot from a T-Cross of wood. To an extent the Hanged Man is still Earthbound. He has attained a measure of perfection but not yet complete freedom. We see in the Hanged Man the dependency on the Cosmic Tree of Life. Divination Meaning – A pause in one’s life. Material temptation is conquered. Reversed – Taking the easy way out, refusal to learn, selfishness.
13 – Death
End of a chapter, new beginnings, major changes. End, finish, final, cease. A skeleton in armor tramples over a fallen king. Death carries a banner which is the symbol of Mars and the Life Force. The river in the background indicates the constant circulation of the Life Force into materialization and out again. Divination Meaning – The end of a situation. Birth of new ideas. Reversed – Boredom, stagnation, lethargy.
14 – Temperance
Peace or the need for it, the countryside, team work, moderation, frugality. Temperate, balance, control, moderate. Represents the archangel Michael. He is pouring the essence of life from the silver cup of the subconscious into the golden cup of the conscious. This shows the entry of the spirit into matter and the influence of matter upon spirit. It also shows the flowing of the past through the present and into the future again. Divination Meaning – A period of peace and harmony. Working in harmony with others. Reversed – Quarrels, difficulties at work or within the family.
15 – The Devil
Money worries, difficult situations, depression, lust, scandal. Anger, violence, jealousy, selfishness. He has a goat`s face and horns. He has donkey ears suggesting materialism. He sits on a half cube indicating half knowledge. In reality there is no Devil, just in man`s creation. The chains around the neck are loose and can be removed at any time. Divination Meaning – Be warned in regards to money and love. Wrong use of force. Bondage to materialism. Reversed – Freedom from care, release, fulfilling and meaningful sexual relationship.
16 – The Tower
Unexpected upheaval, sudden change out of your control, disruption. Destruction, loss, ruin, breakdown. The tower of ambition that is built on false promises. Materialistic thoughts fall from the building. Streaks of lightning come from the Sun and destroy that which is evil. Divination Meaning – Loss, bankruptcy and disaster. Not a good card. What will follow depends on the follow on cards. Reversed – Inability to welcome change, trying to alter things without success, lies.
17 – The Star
Hope, light at the end of the tunnel, a need for rest and relaxation. Prospects, hope, destiny, opportunity. A beautiful maiden kneels with one foot balanced on the water of the subconscious. She is the Empress and Mother Nature pouring the waters of life onto the material Earth. Divination Meaning – Good health. Love will be given and received. Reversed – Longing for the unattainable, stress, negative thoughts.
18 – The Moon
Illusions, dreams, depression caused by blocked imagination. Caution, beware, moody, risk. The Moon in three phases watches over the land. A crayfish appears symbolizing the early stages of conscious powers. The wolf is natures untamed creation. Divination Meaning – Night will be of importance. Mystic dreams. Reversed – Nothing is what it seems, read the small print, having to put something (a dream, relationship or idea) on ice for the time being.
19 – The Sun
Joy, success, happiness, energy, a much loved child. Success, happiness, abundance, productive. A child rides a white horse and holds a banner. The horse is solar energy that needs no control. The child represents perfect control between the conscious and the unconscious. He holds the banner in his left hand to to show that control has now has now passed from the conscious(right hand), into the subconscious(left hand). Divination Meaning – Holidays and success. A happy reunion. Happy marriage. Reversed – Happiness in small measure, a warning about going over the top.
20 – Judgement
New ideas, fresh vitality, a positive decision. Renewal, change, transfer, alter. The angel Gabriel emerges from the heavens blowing on his bannered trumpet. This blast from the trumpet is the word that liberates man from his limitations. The cross on the banner is the solar symbol of the balance of forces. The coffins float on the sea of cosmic mind stuff. Divination Meaning – A life well lived, a work well done. Legal judgement in one’s favour. May also indicate a funeral of someone close. Reversed – Failure, not seeing the heart of the matter, carelessness.
21 – The World
Perfection, completion of a cycle or project, harvest, stability, fame, worldly success. Carefree, foolish, vague, indiscreet. A dancer clad in a scarf, with an oval wreath that surrounds her figure. The wreath symbolizes the mystery of creation. Divination Meaning – Overseas travel or change of residence. Success yet to be won. Reversed – Old habits die hard, difficulty in finishing something properly. Mental, physical or emotional exhaustion. Success blocked by inertia or shyness.