The Major Arcana are the most ancient cards in the Tarot deck. Their significance in divination is immense and cannot be overstated: they predict the pivotal moments in a person's destiny.
It's the Major Arcana that, when appearing in a spread, describe the principal events of human life. They also relate to fundamental principles such as spirituality, morality, and interactions with the surrounding world.
Typically, spreads for the most important, landmark events in life are primarily done with the Major Arcana. In such cases, the Tarot offers not only a short-term forecast for the current situation but also a glimpse into the future.
If the Major Arcana cards land on key positions in the spread, it always signifies the seriousness of the circumstances or the life episode under consideration during the reading.
All Cards of the Suit
Interpreting the Major Arcana in Divination
The Core Idea of the Major Arcana
The rich, mystical, and evocative language of the Major Arcana, filled with imagery, colors, and symbols, allows for a more precise unveiling of each card's essence. Only an uninitiated person would see the cards as merely a set of pictures. In reality, the images serve as a springboard for intuition, each possessing deep philosophical meaning and allegorically reflecting the rich tapestry of life's phenomena, actions, and events.
The Tarot speaks in images and narratives, conveying information through associations and analogies. The same drawing can be interpreted differently depending on the level of understanding at which the individual operates.
Each graphic symbol of the Major Arcana contains invaluable keys to knowledge — centuries-old wisdom passed down from previous generations. But these keys open only to those who have learned to "read" and understand these fascinating images. And the deeper one dives into the mysteries of the Tarot cards, the more facets of these unique images come to light.
Major Arcana: A Human Life Spanning 22 Tarot Cards
The Major Arcana of the Tarot tell the story of a hero's journey and reflect all the stages of his spiritual growth. It's easy to surmise that this hero is each one of us. Each of the 22 Major Arcana represents a milestone in the journey of life. Starting our path in the guise of The Fool, making mistakes and gaining wisdom, we progress and mature through all stages of personal development to attain wisdom.
Despite the existence of numerous decks and changing historical eras, the essence of the Major Arcana remains constant. The 22 cards represent certain archetypes and images, the profound meaning of which is universally understood. The symbolism of the cards is universal: the narratives the Arcana tell are as old as time itself.
The heroes of the Tarot cards — The Fool, The Magician, The Empress, and the others — are not random. The 22 figures of the Major Arcana offer a composite portrait of humanity, encapsulating all the main types of human nature.
The Tarot cards can reveal the most pertinent inner experiences affecting a person's behavior. It's no coincidence that Tarot cards are included in the toolkit of certified psychologists.
Evaluating Life Situations
For divination, both Major and Minor Arcana can be used either together or separately. If a full Tarot deck is used for the reading, the significance of the events is indicated by the presence of Major Arcana cards in the spread.
The presence and predominance of Major Arcana cards always signal the actual seriousness of the situation. A lack or absence of Major Arcana cards in the spread indicates that the events under consideration are temporary and inconsequential.
Tarot Advice and the Opportunity to Change Destiny
With the help of the Major Arcana, any situation — whether it's in the present, past, or impending in the future — can be analyzed. This allows for the avoidance of many mistakes, as the cards provide wise counsel for navigating difficult situations. However, it's important to understand that no Tarot card meaning is absolute during a reading. People have the power to change their destiny by heeding the advice given during the reading.
Analysis of Life Path Stages
When reading Tarot cards, it is essential to evaluate not only the individual meanings of the cards but also their categorization into specific groups
According to the level of a person's interaction with the external world and the development of personality along the life path, the Major Arcana are tentatively divided into three groups, each containing seven cards.
- The first seven cards relate to the mind, the intellectual and spiritual sphere of human life, representing the beginning of the journey and youth. The Magician and the High Priestess, the Emperor and the Empress, symbolize the celestial and earthly parents of the querent. The Hierophant symbolizes teachers and school, and at the stage of The Lovers, the hero makes a choice and ventures into adulthood, entering The Chariot;
- The next set of seven cards relates to feelings, the emotional and ethical components of life, corresponding to maturity and the period of gaining experience. Here, the person learns to take responsibility for their actions, symbolized by the card Justice. During The Hermit stage, the hero understands their true nature, the Wheel of Fortune symbolizes their life's task, and Strength represents efforts to realize life plans. The Hanged Man and Death bring crisis, dispelling illusions and renewal. The second stage concludes with Temperance, embodying the attainment of harmony;
- The remaining cards relate to reactions, material and physical aspects of life, corresponding to the time of old age and wisdom. Major Arcana cards from 15 to 21 guide the hero on a path of temptation, diving deep into the cosmos and the subconscious, forcing them to share their inner light with others and to review their accumulated experiences. Upon reaching the end of the journey, the hero attains true paradise.
The Fool card occupies a unique position, serving as either the 22nd or the zero card in various decks, symbolizing a transitional state.