Tarot Cards Meaning: A Complete Guide to the Major and Minor Arcana

Tarot Cards Meaning - Major and Minor Arcana spread

Table of Contents

Tarot cards, with roots tracing back to the 15th century, have long been revered as a tool for divination and self-reflection.

Initially used for playing games, their more profound symbolic significance evolved over time, guiding seekers in understanding their past, present, and future.

Recognizing the meanings of individual cards and the nuances of card combinations is pivotal for accurate readings, ensuring a genuine connection between the reader and the age-old wisdom of the tarot.

What is a Tarot Reading?

A tarot reading involves interpreting cards drawn from a Tarot Card Deck to gain insights and guidance.

At its core, it’s a tool for introspection, helping individuals uncover life lessons and navigate their journey. The deck is divided into Major and Minor Arcana.

While the Major Arcana, featuring cards like the Death card, represents significant life events and spiritual lessons, the Minor Arcana focuses on daily occurrences and emotions.

Comprising numbered cards and court cards, the Minor Arcana offers detailed perspectives on the past, present, and future, making tarot readings a comprehensive window into one’s life path.

Tarot Cards Meaning in readings showing past, present, and future

How to Read Tarot Cards

Reading tarot cards is an art steeped in tradition and intuition. It begins with a deck of cards, each bearing symbolic imagery.

The process involves selecting and interpreting these cards in relation to one’s questions or life situations.

While there are established meanings, the true essence of a reading emerges from understanding the intricate relationships between cards and the reader’s connection to them.

Preparing for a Reading

Before diving into the mysteries of the tarot deck, it’s essential to prepare both yourself and the cards.

Start by cleansing the deck, which can be done by placing it under moonlight, using sage smoke, or simply visualizing a white light enveloping it.

This step ensures any lingering energies from past readings or handlers are cleared, making way for new insights.

Next, shuffle the cards while focusing on your question or intention. Be clear and specific if you’re seeking guidance on life lessons, personal growth, career advice, or insights into a future event.

As you shuffle, visualize your question and the answers you hope to receive. This helps in aligning the deck’s energy with your own.

Lastly, set your intentions. Take a deep breath and center yourself.

Remember, tarot readings are not just about predicting the future; they’re tools for reflection, understanding, and growth.

Approach the reading with an open heart, ready to embrace whatever the cards reveal, and use it as a stepping stone for your journey ahead.

Tarot Cards Meaning - art of interpreting symbolic imagery

Tarot Cards Meanings

The tarot deck comprises the Major Arcana’s 22 transformative cards and the Minor Arcana’s 56 cards, split into four suits. While the Major Arcana highlights profound life lessons, the Minor Arcana captures daily nuances. Together, they offer a rich tapestry of symbols for introspection and insight.

Major Arcana

The Major Arcana represents life’s significant lessons, spiritual insights, and overarching themes. Comprising 22 cards, from The Fool to The World, it chronicles the soul’s journey through challenges and milestones, reflecting profound transformations and universal experiences that shape our personal and collective evolution.

The Fool Tarot Card

The Fool

The Fool carries youthful energy, innocence, and spontaneity. It suggests unexpected adventures and stepping into the unknown with faith.

The Magician tarot card

The Magician

Representing willpower and manifestation, The Magician has all the tools necessary to create and shape reality, symbolizing skill and transformation.

High Priestess Tarot Card

The High Priestess

A symbol of intuition, subconscious knowledge, and the feminine divine. She encourages introspection and trusting one's inner wisdom.

The Empress tarot card

The Empress

Fertility, nurturing, and abundance. The Empress embodies the power of creation, maternal instincts, and sensuality.

The Emperor tarot card

The Emperor

Symbolizing authority, structure, and stability. The Emperor represents leadership and establishing order in chaos.

The Pope Tarot Card

The Pope

Spiritual wisdom and religious beliefs. Also known as the Hierophant, this card suggests tradition, conformity, and seeking spiritual guidance.

The Lovers Tarot Card

The Lovers

Signifying love, harmony, and choices. The Lovers can represent a romantic union or a significant life decision.

The Chariot Tarot Card

The Chariot

Overcoming obstacles and achieving victory through willpower and determination. The Chariot signifies control and movement forward.

The Justice Tarot Card


Balance, fairness, and truth. Justice highlights the importance of making impartial decisions and facing consequences.

The Hermit Tarot Card

The Hermit

Introspection, solitude, and inner guidance. The Hermit seeks spiritual enlightenment and self-reflection.

Wheel of Fortune Tarot Cards

Wheel of Fortune

Cycles, destiny, and inevitable change. This card suggests the ebb and flow of life events and fortunes.

The Strength Tarot Card


Inner strength, courage, and patience. This card represents the power of the human spirit and resilience.

The Hanged Man Tarot card

The Hanged Man

Letting go, surrendering, and gaining a new perspective. The Hanged Man implies sacrifice for a higher understanding.

The Death Tarot Card


Endings, transformation, and new beginnings. While it often sparks fear, Death signifies necessary change.

Temperance Tarot Card


Balance, patience, and moderation. Temperance suggests finding equilibrium and blending opposites harmoniously.

The Devil Tarot card

The Devil

Temptation, bondage, and materialism. The Devil signifies being trapped, often by one's desires or fears.

The Tower Tarot Card

The Tower

Sudden upheaval, chaos, and revelation. The Tower suggests an unexpected event that shakes foundations.

The Star Tarot Card

The Star

Hope, inspiration, and serenity. The Star shines a light on healing and rejuvenation.

The Moon Tarot Card

The Moon

Illusion, intuition, and dreams. The Moon speaks of the subconscious, emotions, and things not as they appear.

The Sun Tarot

The Sun

Joy, success, and vitality. The Sun radiates positivity, clarity, and warmth.

The Judgement Tarot Card

The Judgement

Reflection, rebirth, and inner calling. Judgement implies assessing the past and making amends.

The World Tarot Card

The World

Completion, wholeness, and accomplishment. The World signifies the end of a journey, culminating in harmony and balance.

Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana in Tarot comprises 56 cards across four suits: Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands. Each suit has 14 cards, including ten numbered and four court cards (Page, Knight, Queen, King).

These cards symbolize everyday life aspects: Cups deal with emotions, Pentacles with material matters, Swords with intellect, and Wands with creativity and action. They offer detailed insights into daily experiences and challenges, enriching Tarot readings with nuanced perspectives.

Suit of Wands

Representing the element of fire, the Suit of Wands symbolizes creativity, passion, and action. It resonates with ambition, inspiration, and spiritual quests, emphasizing the drive and energy behind one’s pursuits. Wands often herald new beginnings and the challenges faced with enthusiasm and determination.

Ace of Wands tarot card

Ace of Wands

New beginnings, inspiration, creativity, and potential.

Two of Wands tarot card

Two of Wands

Planning, future decisions, progress, and discovery.

Three of Wands tarot card

Three of Wands

Expansion, foresight, overseas opportunities, and waiting for results.

Four of Wands tarot card

Four of Wands

Celebration, joy, harmony, and relaxation.

Five of Wands tarot card

Five of Wands

Conflict, disagreements, competition, and tension.

Six of Wands tarot card

Six of Wands

Success, public recognition, progress, and self-confidence.

Seven of Wands tarot card

Seven of Wands

Defense, perseverance, maintaining control, and challenges.

Eight of Wands tarot card

Eight of Wands

Rapid action, movement, quick decisions, and news.

Nine of Wands tarot card

Nine of Wands

Resilience, courage, persistence, and nearing completion.

Ten of Wands tarot card

Ten of Wands

Burden, responsibility, hard work, and stress.

Page of Wands tarot card

Page of Wands

Enthusiasm, exploration, discovery, and free spirit.

Knight of Wands tarot card

Knight of Wands

Energy, passion, impulsiveness, and adventure.

Queen of Wands tarot card

Queen of Wands

Confidence, courage, determination, and social butterfly.

King of Wands tarot card

King of Wands

Leadership, vision, entrepreneur, and honor.

Suit of Cups

The Suit of Cups delves into the realm of emotions, relationships, and connections. Representing the element of water, it captures the ebb and flow of feelings, intuitive insights, and the depth of human experience.

Ace Of Cups Tarot Card

Ace of Cups

New emotional beginnings, love, and intuition.

Two Of Cups Tarot Card

Two of Cups

Partnership, mutual attraction, and deep connection.

Three Of Cups Tarot Card

Three of Cups

Celebration, friendship, and joyous gatherings.

Four of Cups Tarot Card

Four of Cups

Contemplation, apathy, and missed opportunities.

Five Of Cups Tarot Card

Five of Cups

Grief, disappointment, and focusing on loss.

Six Of Cups Tarot Cards

Six of Cups

Nostalgia, happy memories, and reunions

Seven of Cups Tarot Cards

Seven of Cups

Choices, illusions, and wishful thinking.

Eight Of Cups Tarot Card

Eight of Cups

Walking away, seeking deeper meaning, and disillusionment.

Nine Of Cups Tarot Card

Nine of Cups

Contentment, satisfaction, and wishes fulfilled.

Ten Of Cups Tarot Card

Ten of Cups

Emotional fulfillment, happiness, and harmonious relationships.

Page Of Cups Tarot Card

Page of Cups

Intuitive messages, creativity, and emotional exploration.

Knight Of Cups Tarot Card

Knight Of Cups

Romantic offers, following one's heart, and artistic pursuits.

Queen Of Cups Tarot Card

Queen of Cups

Empathy, emotional security, and intuitive clarity.

King Of Cups Tarot Cards

King of Cups

Contemplation, apathy, and missed opportunities.

Suit of Swords

The Suit of Swords, associated with the element of air, delves into the realm of thought, communication, and conflict. It represents intellectual pursuits, decisions made with the mind over heart, and challenges faced in the quest for truth.

Ace Of Swords Tarot Card

Ace of Swords

Clarity, breakthroughs, and sharp intellect.

Two of Swords Tarot Card

Two of Swords

Indecision, stalemate, and choices to be made.

Three of Swords Tarot Cards

Three of Swords

Heartbreak, sorrow, and painful truths.

Four Of Swords Tarot Card

Four of Swords

Rest, recuperation, and contemplation.

Five Of Swords Tarot Card

Five of Swords

Conflict, tension, and winning at a cost.

Six Of Swords Tarot Cards

Six of Swords

Transition, moving on, and finding calm after the storm.

Seven Of Swords Tarot Card

Seven of Swords

Deception, strategy, and sneaky tactics.

Eight Of Swords Tarot Card

Eight of Swords

Restriction, entrapment, and feeling powerless.

Nine Of Swords Tarot Card

Nine of Swords

Anxiety, nightmares, and mental anguish.

Ten of Swords Tarot Cards

Ten of Swords

Betrayal, endings, and feeling defeated.

Page Of Swords Tarot

Page of Swords

Curiosity, new ideas, and a thirst for knowledge.

Knight Of Swords Tarot Card

Knight of Swords

Swift action, assertiveness, and sometimes impulsiveness.

Queen Of Swords Tarot

Queen of Swords

Clear-mindedness, independence, and unbiased judgment.

King of Swords Tarot Card

King of Swords

Intellectual authority, truth-seeker, and clear communicator.

Suit of Pentacles

The Suit of Pentacles, tied to the element of earth, revolves around material aspects, financial matters, and physical experiences. It symbolizes the pursuit of prosperity, security, and tangible achievements, reflecting our relationship with the physical world and our desires for stability.

Ace Of Pentacles Tarot Card

Ace of Pentacles

New financial opportunities, prosperity, and material beginnings.

Two of Pentacles Tarot Card

Two of Pentacles

Balance, adaptability, and juggling multiple responsibilities.

Three Of Pentacles Tarot Card

Three of Pentacles

Teamwork, collaboration, and skilled craftsmanship.

Four Of Pentacles Tarot Cards

Four of Pentacles

Holding onto resources, security, and control.

Five Of Pentacles Tarot Cards

Five of Pentacles

Financial loss, hardship, and feelings of isolation.

Six Of Pentacles Tarot Card

Six of Pentacles

Generosity, charity, and sharing wealth.

Seven Of Pentacles Tarot Card

Seven of Pentacles

Patience, long-term vision, and awaiting results.

Eight Of Pentacles Tarot Card

Eight of Pentacles

Mastery, skill development, and dedication.

Nine Of Pentacles Tarot Cards

Nine of Pentacles

Abundance, luxury, and self-sufficiency.

Ten of Pentacles Tarot Card

Ten of Pentacles

Legacy, wealth, and family foundations.

Page Of Pentacles Tarot Card

Page of Pentacles

Ambition, desire for growth, and new financial ventures.

Knight Of Pentacles Tarot Card

Knight of Pentacles

Dependability, routine, and responsibility.

Queen Of Pentacles Tarot Card

Queen of Pentacles

Nurturing, practicality, and financial security.

King Of Pentacles Tarot Card

King of Pentacles

Wealth, business acumen, and leadership in material ventures.

Spreads and Layouts

In tarot, the arrangement of cards in specific patterns is crucial for accurate card readings. These patterns, known as spreads, provide a structured framework for interpreting the cards’ messages.

  • Three-Card Spread: A simple yet powerful layout, it typically represents the past, present, and future. It’s versatile and can be adapted to explore various aspects of one’s life.
  • Celtic Cross: One of the most detailed spreads, the Celtic Cross delves deep into the core of a situation. It examines the present, potential challenges, distant and recent past, possible outcomes, and more. It’s especially useful for complex queries.
  • Horseshoe Spread: Shaped like a horseshoe, this seven-card layout provides insights into the past, present, and future, while also highlighting external influences, personal perspectives, and advice. It’s a comprehensive spread ideal for a variety of questions.

Understanding and mastering these spreads enhances the depth and clarity of card readings, ensuring a richer tarot experience.

Interpreting the Cards

The art of tarot lies not just in drawing cards from the tarot deck but in interpreting their intricate messages. Each card’s position within a spread holds specific significance, shaping the narrative of the reading.

  • Significance of Card Positions: In a spread, each position corresponds to a particular aspect, be it past influences, current challenges, or future possibilities. For instance, a card in the ‘past’ position speaks to events or feelings that have shaped the present, while a ‘future’ card hints at potential outcomes or directions.
  • Combining Card Meanings: A single card can convey a wealth of information, but the true depth of a reading emerges when cards are interpreted in relation to one another. Their combined meanings paint a comprehensive picture, weaving together the conscious mind’s queries with insights from the subconscious mind. For example, the juxtaposition of the ‘Death’ card next to the ‘Sun’ might suggest an end leading to a new beginning or enlightenment.
  • Trusting Your Intuition: While traditional card meanings provide a foundation, your intuition is the bridge connecting you to the cards. The tarot deck is a tool that speaks to both the conscious and subconscious mind. Trusting your gut feelings and initial reactions to the cards deepens the connection, allowing for more authentic and personalized readings.

Remember, tarot is a journey of discovery, and each reading is a dialogue between the seeker, the cards, and the universe.

Tips for Beginners

Embarking on the journey of tarot can be both exciting and overwhelming. Here are some pointers to guide you:

  1. Choosing Your Tarot Deck: The right deck of cards resonates with your energy. While there are countless options available, seek a deck whose imagery and symbolism speak to you personally.
  2. Practice Makes Perfect: Familiarize yourself with card combinations and individual card meanings by practicing regularly. Over time, you’ll develop a deeper connection and understanding of the cards.
  3. Keep a Tarot Journal: Documenting your readings helps track your progress and reflections. Note down the cards drawn, your interpretations, and any insights gained. This practice enhances your learning and offers a retrospective view of your growth.
  4. Seek Guidance: Whether it’s from a psychic medium, experienced tarot readers, or online tarot readings, don’t hesitate to seek guidance. Many also benefit from psychic reading services, which can offer a broader perspective.
  5. Join Tarot Communities: Engaging with like-minded individuals, whether online or offline, provides a platform for discussions, learning, and sharing experiences.

Remember, tarot is a personal journey. Trust your intuition, remain open-minded, and enjoy the process of discovery.

Understanding Tarot Cards Meaning Through Readings

Common Misconceptions About Tarot Cards

Tarot, with its rich symbolism and history, has often been shrouded in myths and misconceptions. One prevalent notion is that a tarot deck is a tool of “evil” or associated with dark arts.

In reality, tarot cards are merely instruments used for reflecting on deeper meaning and insights about various facets of life.

Another common myth is that tarot is “magical” or solely reliant on divine intervention. While some believe in the spiritual aspect of tarot, at its core, the cards are about introspection, emotional maturity, and understanding one’s journey.

Approaching tarot with skepticism or fear can cloud its true essence. It’s vital to approach the cards with an open mind and heart, ready to explore their layers of meaning.

By doing so, one can appreciate tarot as a tool for self-reflection rather than a mystical oracle.

History Of Tarot Cards

The origins of tarot cards can be traced back to the 15th century, where they were initially used in Europe as a pack of cards for games.

It wasn’t until the 18th century that they began to be associated with mysticism and divination. By the 19th century, tarot had evolved, with many esoteric schools and occultists adopting and adapting the cards for spiritual and predictive purposes.

The symbolism and imagery of the cards were enriched over time, drawing from various cultural and philosophical influences.

Fast forward to the digital age, and the tradition has further expanded with online tarot card reading becoming a popular way for seekers to gain insights without the need for a physical deck.

The journey of tarot, from a simple pack of cards to a profound tool of introspection, showcases its enduring appeal and adaptability through the ages.

Griff Williams

MindEasy founder & meditation teacher

Griff Williams is an accredited meditation teacher and founder of MindEasy. He spent 12 years working as a London firefighter before changing paths to pursue building MindEasy. He received his diploma in meditation teaching from The British School of Meditation.