Major Arcana

This post will help you:

  • Familiarise with your deck
  • Understand the key concepts of the Major Arcana.

There are a total of 78 cards in a Tarot deck, out of which 22 cards are Major Arcana.

Each Major Arcana has archetypal images and because of this it is easy for most people to understand and read it.

The famous psychiatrist Carl Jung was the one who made the term archetype popular. According to Carl Jung, archetypes are symbols of our collective unconscious. Archetypes are not developed individually but are inherited collectively by all humans, so when these symbols appear we automatically extend and reinforce their meaning by all the conscious means at our disposal.

What it means, is the images on the cards can be used to trigger ideas in your subconscious mind, which relate to the human experience as a whole. By bringing these often buried ideas to the surface you actually get to provide yourself with an opportunity to self-development.

When Major Arcana appears in a reading it suggests, that the circumstances and forces influencing you at present, are not in your control.
The issue/s you face now are not temporary and they represent your concerns and feelings.


The Fool’s Journey

The Fool’s Journey is an exercise to help you understand, interpret and remember the key words of the Major Arcana.

The Major Arcana represents the Fool’s (soul’s, individual’s, yours) journey of spiritual growth, enlightenment and self-awareness.

When you view the Major Arcana together in a numerical order you will be able to see the outstanding story of the fool’s spiritual experience.

The Fool journey’s through 21 stages, where he meets different people and faces different situations, which teach him lessons of life. In life, however we don’t always learn our lessons in this order, but this process will give us an insight on the meaning of the cards.

Separate the Major Arcana from your deck and lay the cards as shown in the image. Lay the Fool on the top and then divide the remaining 21 cards equally in 3 rows.


Major arcana

  • In the 1st row, cards 1 through 7 depict the stages of self-development from birth through adulthood and how you should live in a society.
  • The 2nd row includes, card numbers 8 through 14, these cover the universal laws and/or norms of the society that you must conform to and discover who you are.
  • The 3rd row covers, numbers 15 through 21, which is the final journey to your spiritual development.


0 Fool:

The images on this first card implies that the Fool is ready to begin his journey and even though he has no idea where his journey is going to lead him he sets out with hopes and dreams in his heart and takes a leap of faith in to the unknown. During his journey he will get many opportunities, discover love, face hardships, temptations, loss, sorrow, victory etc. He will keep on travelling till he reaches his quest for self-awareness.


1 Magician:

As the Fool starts his journey; he first encounters the Magician who has mastered the four elements of the world: fire, air, water and earth. The Magician sees potential in the Fool and provides him with the knowledge, that magic is within us and we can all create our own magic. With this awareness the Fool starts focusing on developing his inner tools of self-awareness and will power.


2 The High Priestess:

Next the Fool meets the High Priestess who rules the inner world, she offers to teach him to tap into the sub-conscious and connect with his intuition.


3 The Empress:

The Empress represents the mother archetype, love, growth and fertility. She showers the Fool with love and blessings and teaches him to give and receive love. She also introduces the Fool to her consort the Emperor.


4 The Emperor:

The Emperor represents the father archetype, structure and authority. He teaches the Fool discipline and to abide by rules. The Fool faces the frustration of living within these rules but slowly understands the importance of discipline in life.


5 The Hierophant:

The Fool is no longer dependent on his parents, he has completed this phase of his journey and has gained all the skills that he needs from the home front. He must now venture into the wider world. On his journey he comes in contact with the Hierophant who has moral authority above the Emperor. The Hierophant is a priest or a teacher who teaches the Fool traditions, morals, customs and values. The Fool tries to assess his values and belief system and once he feels a sense of belonging he moves on.


 6 Lovers:

In the next stage the Fool enters into the realm of lovers, here he is faced with a dilemma; he desires a relationship but is not sure whether he is ready to make such a commitment. He realizes that there is a lot of give and take in the world; there is a lot of interconnectedness, which may be based on compromise or passion. He will be ready for a relationship only once he makes a decision.


7 The Chariot:

The Fool is now on the path of his destiny and understands that pursuit of goal is enjoyable and necessary for contentment of life. He is ready to face the challenges on his path to victory. He is independent and has grown and developed a strong personality. The Fool is ready to take his own decisions on how he wants to move ahead in life.


8 Strength:

This is the second phase of Fool’s journey, where he must discover himself. During his journey he faces many obstacles and situations that he has no control over, he feels frustrated and disheartened but learns to draw on his inner strength and be patient. In this stage he learns to face the challenges in front of him, accept his boundaries and to work within these boundaries. Once he masters this and gains control over his attitude he will manage to move on.


9 The Hermit:

The Fool meets the Hermit during the phase of his life when he is soul searching, he needs to focus on himself at this point; he needs time alone to seek his own truth and to understand where he is right now and where he wants to go from his current position. When he finds his path and what he seeks, he will be ready to move on.


10 The Wheel of Fortune:

After soul searching the Fool reaches a turning point where he understands that life is unpredictable, and the wheels of life go round and round. There are ups and downs that he must face, he realises the fortunes that he enjoys today can be taken away from him suddenly and so he has to learn the art of adaptability if he wishes to survive.


11 Justice:

All our actions have a long-term consequence. What we do today will shape our tomorrow. The Fool looks at his past and takes responsibility for his mistakes or actions. He makes amendments to better his future and lead an honest life. He now understands the relation of cause and effect.


12 Hanged Man:

As the Fool moves on in his journey he finds life difficult and full of challenges. He finds his world upside-down, nothing had gone the way he planned and he feels stuck and frustrated. He has no other alternative but to accept his current situation and surrender. Once he surrenders to his current situation he feels everything begins to work. He feels a sense of relief and joy. Finally he emerges a victor by sacrificing.


13 Death:

The lesson of the Death card is major endings and new beginnings. It represents major transformation and sudden changes in life. The Fool learns that he must let go his past in order to bring new opportunities in his life. Death teaches him humility and humbleness. He discovers that the current situation is not permanent and with this knowledge he move on.


14 Temperance:

With the lessons learnt so far in his journey, the Fool has now understood the importance of balance and patience in life. He has mastered the art of not letting the situations control him, he has learnt not to get stressed and be at peace with ones-self.


15 The Devil:

Even though the Fool has matured, he is still faced with temptations in his life journey. He gets tied down with materialistic things in life and feels imprisoned with his bad habits. He will need to confront and overcome his fears and temptations in order to continue on his spiritual path.


16 The Tower:

At this stage the Fool’s world comes crashing down and he hits rock bottom. This sudden change has forced him out of his comfort zone, he needs to embrace this change and investigate the cause of this disaster or downfall. This sudden change will help him to untie himself from the materialistic things and move towards the spiritual journey.


17 The Star:

Facing the Death, the Devil and the Tower has made the Fool a stronger person. After all the upheaval, he finally finds courage, peace and stability in his life. He feels a sense of calmness now and understands that a better future awaits him. He has a new purpose in life and is open to growth and new opportunities.


18 The Moon:

Though the Fool has opened himself to new opportunities, his past experiences have made him fearful and anxious, he is not ready to trust people and feels that everyone around him is set to deceive him. He needs to overcome his fear in order to move on in his spiritual journey.


19 The Sun:

There is light after darkness. The Fool has learnt to overcome his weakness and fear. The Sun now shines brightly and shows him the path to happiness and success. The Fool is enthusiastic and ready to move on his journey.


20 Judgment:

The Fool so far has had a lot of different experiences. He has faced temptations, sorrow, happiness, regret etc. All his experiences have become lessons of his life and he is now in touch with his higher self. He understands that he needs to change his way of living and move ahead.


21 The World:

The Fool has now reached the end of his journey. He has gained the knowledge of spiritual enlightenment and self-development; he is now a confident person and is ready to face any challenges that life will throw at him.


Over to you

The Fool’s journey helps you remember the keywords of the Major Arcana. Each card manifests in your life to help you solve your problems effectively. This is my understanding of the Major Arcana. Share your views below in comments -I would love to hear from you.

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