Deck of Cards Tarot Meaning: Understanding the Symbolism

Tarot cards have been used for centuries as a tool for divination and self-discovery. A deck of tarot cards typically consists of 78 cards, each with its own unique meaning and symbolism. While some people view tarot readings as a form of fortune-telling, others see them as a way to gain insight into their own thoughts and emotions.

One of the most popular types of tarot decks is the Rider-Waite deck, which was first published in 1910. This deck includes 22 major arcana cards and 56 minor arcana cards, each with its own distinct imagery and symbolism. The major arcana cards represent major life events and spiritual lessons, while the minor arcana cards offer guidance on everyday situations and challenges. Whether you are a seasoned tarot reader or just starting out, understanding the meanings of each card is essential to unlocking the full potential of your tarot readings.

Understanding Tarot Cards

Tarot cards are a deck of cards that have been used for centuries to gain insight into the past, present, and future. Each card has its own unique meaning and symbolism, which can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Understanding tarot cards can be a bit overwhelming at first, but with a little bit of practice and patience, anyone can learn to read them.

The tarot deck is made up of 78 cards, which are divided into two main sections: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards that represent major life events and themes, while the Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards that represent more specific situations and emotions.

When reading tarot cards, it’s important to understand the meaning of each card and how it relates to the question being asked. For example, the Fool card represents new beginnings and taking risks, while the Death card represents change and transformation.

It’s also important to pay attention to the position of the card in the reading. For example, a card in the past position may represent events or emotions from the past that are influencing the present, while a card in the future position may represent potential outcomes or opportunities.

When interpreting tarot cards, it’s important to trust your intuition and use your own personal experiences and knowledge to guide you. While there are traditional meanings associated with each card, the interpretation of the card can vary depending on the individual reading it.

In a nutshell, understanding tarot cards takes time and practice, but with patience and an open mind, anyone can learn to read them. By understanding the meaning of each card and paying attention to the position in the reading, you can gain insight into your past, present, and future.

Major Arcana

The Major Arcana cards are the most recognizable and impactful cards in a Tarot deck. These 22 cards represent situations we all face in the grand scheme of life, with each carrying specific messages of perspective and guidance to help you in times of need.

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The Fool to The Chariot

The first set of Major Arcana cards is The Fool to The Chariot. These cards represent the beginning of a journey, with The Fool symbolizing the start of a new adventure. The Magician represents manifestation and creativity, while The High Priestess represents intuition and inner wisdom. The Empress represents nurturing and abundance, and The Emperor represents structure and authority. The Hierophant represents tradition and spirituality, and The Lovers represent partnership and harmony. The Chariot represents determination and willpower.

Strength to Temperance

The next set of Major Arcana cards is Strength to Temperance. These cards represent the middle of the journey, with Strength symbolizing courage and perseverance. The Hermit represents introspection and solitude, while The Wheel of Fortune represents change and cycles. Justice represents balance and fairness, and The Hanged Man represents surrender and letting go. Death represents transformation and rebirth, and Temperance represents balance and harmony.

The Devil to The World

The final set of Major Arcana cards is The Devil to The World. These cards represent the end of the journey, with The Devil symbolizing temptation and materialism. The Tower represents upheaval and destruction, while The Star represents hope and inspiration. The Moon represents intuition and mystery, and The Sun represents joy and success. Judgment represents rebirth and renewal, and The World represents completion and fulfillment.

In summary, the Major Arcana cards offer guidance and perspective on life’s journey. Each card has a specific message and meaning, and understanding these meanings can help you navigate through life’s challenges and opportunities with greater clarity and confidence.

Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana is made up of 56 cards, and it represents the day-to-day issues that we face in our lives. These cards are divided into four suits: Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands. Each suit has its own unique meaning and represents different aspects of our lives.

The Suit of Cups

The Suit of Cups represents emotions, relationships, and creativity. It is associated with the element of water, which represents intuition and the subconscious mind. The Cups cards can indicate emotional highs and lows, and they often represent matters of the heart.

Some of the Cups cards include:

  • Ace of Cups: new beginnings, emotional fulfillment
  • Two of Cups: partnerships, harmony
  • Three of Cups: celebration, friendship
  • Four of Cups: apathy, discontent
  • Five of Cups: loss, grief
  • Six of Cups: nostalgia, childhood memories

The Suit of Pentacles

The Suit of Pentacles represents material possessions, finances, and practical matters. It is associated with the element of earth, which represents stability and groundedness. The Pentacles cards can indicate financial success or struggles, and they often represent our relationship with money.

Some of the Pentacles cards include:

  • Ace of Pentacles: new opportunities, financial gain
  • Two of Pentacles: balance, juggling priorities
  • Three of Pentacles: teamwork, skill-building
  • Four of Pentacles: greed, possessiveness
  • Five of Pentacles: poverty, hardship
  • Six of Pentacles: generosity, charity

The Suit of Swords

The Suit of Swords represents thoughts, communication, and conflict. It is associated with the element of air, which represents intellect and communication. The Swords cards can indicate mental clarity or confusion, and they often represent challenges or conflicts we face.

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Some of the Swords cards include:

  • Ace of Swords: mental clarity, breakthroughs
  • Two of Swords: decision-making, indecision
  • Three of Swords: heartbreak, betrayal
  • Four of Swords: rest, recuperation
  • Five of Swords: defeat, loss
  • Six of Swords: transition, moving on

The Suit of Wands

The Suit of Wands represents passion, creativity, and inspiration. It is associated with the element of fire, which represents energy and enthusiasm. The Wands cards can indicate personal growth or stagnation, and they often represent our ambitions and goals.

Some of the Wands cards include:

  • Ace of Wands: inspiration, new beginnings
  • Two of Wands: planning, foresight
  • Three of Wands: expansion, progress
  • Four of Wands: celebration, stability
  • Five of Wands: competition, conflict
  • Six of Wands: success, recognition

Understanding the Minor Arcana is essential for interpreting Tarot readings accurately. By familiarizing yourself with the meanings of each card, you can gain insight into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Tarot Card Spreads

Tarot card spreads are the way in which tarot readers lay out the cards to interpret their meanings. There are many different tarot card spreads, each with their own unique purpose and interpretation. In this section, we will discuss three popular tarot card spreads: The Celtic Cross, The Three Card Spread, and The Horseshoe Spread.

The Celtic Cross

The Celtic Cross is one of the most well-known tarot card spreads and is often used by professional tarot readers. It uses ten cards, each representing a different aspect of the querent’s life. The cards are laid out in a cross shape, with one card in the center and four cards surrounding it on each side.

The following table shows the meaning of each card position in the Celtic Cross spread:

Card Position Meaning
1 The present situation
2 The challenge
3 The past
4 The future
5 The above
6 The below
7 The querent’s attitude
8 The people around the querent
9 The hopes and fears
10 The outcome

The Three Card Spread

The Three Card Spread is a simple yet effective spread that can be used for a variety of questions. It uses three cards, each representing the past, present, and future.

The following bullet points show the meaning of each card position in the Three Card Spread:

  • Card 1: The past
  • Card 2: The present
  • Card 3: The future

The Horseshoe Spread

The Horseshoe Spread is a seven-card spread that can provide insight into a specific situation or question. It is shaped like a horseshoe, with one card at the top and six cards below it.

The following bullet points show the meaning of each card position in the Horseshoe Spread:

  • Card 1: The present situation
  • Card 2: Obstacles and challenges
  • Card 3: The root of the problem
  • Card 4: The past
  • Card 5: Possible solutions
  • Card 6: The future
  • Card 7: The final outcome

Overall, tarot card spreads are a powerful tool for interpreting the meanings of the cards. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced tarot reader, there is a spread that can help you gain insight into any situation or question.

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Interpreting Tarot Cards

Understanding Symbolism

When interpreting tarot cards, it is important to understand the symbolism of each card. The imagery and symbolism on each card can provide insight into the meaning and message of the card. For example, the Fool card often represents new beginnings and taking risks, while the Death card can represent transformation and change.

Considering Card Positions

The position of a tarot card in a spread can also affect its meaning. For example, the card in the “past” position may represent events or influences that have led up to the present situation. The card in the “future” position may represent potential outcomes or what may happen if certain actions are taken.

Reading Reversed Cards

Reversed cards, or cards that appear upside down in a spread, can also provide important information. They may indicate blocked energy or a need to approach a situation from a different perspective. However, it is important to remember that reversed cards should not always be interpreted negatively and can sometimes provide a more nuanced understanding of the situation.

Overall, interpreting tarot cards requires a combination of understanding symbolism, considering card positions, and reading reversed cards. By taking these factors into account, you can gain a deeper understanding of the messages and insights provided by the cards.

Common Misconceptions About Tarot

Tarot cards have been around for centuries, and with that comes a lot of myths and misconceptions. Here are a few common ones:

  • Tarot is only for fortune-telling: While tarot cards can provide insight into the future, they are not solely used for predicting it. Tarot is a tool for self-reflection and can help individuals gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their situations.

  • Tarot is evil or associated with the devil: This is a common misconception that has been perpetuated in popular culture. Tarot is not evil and is not associated with the devil or any dark forces. It is simply a tool for self-exploration and growth.

  • Tarot is always accurate: While tarot can provide guidance and insight, it is not always accurate. The interpretation of the cards is subjective and can vary depending on the reader and the individual receiving the reading.

  • Tarot is only for psychics or clairvoyants: Anyone can learn to read tarot cards. While some people may have a natural gift for it, anyone can learn to interpret the cards with practice and dedication.

It’s important to approach tarot with an open mind and an understanding that it is simply a tool for personal growth and self-reflection. By dispelling these common misconceptions, individuals can gain a deeper appreciation for the power and potential of tarot readings.


In a nutshell, learning about tarot cards and their meanings can be a fascinating and rewarding experience. By understanding the symbolism and imagery of each card, you can gain insight into your own life and the world around you.

Remember that there is no one “right” way to interpret tarot cards. Different readers may have different interpretations of the same card, and ultimately, the meaning of a reading is up to the individual receiving it.

If you are new to tarot, it can be helpful to start with a standard Rider-Waite deck and a guidebook that explains the meanings of each card. As you become more comfortable with the cards, you may want to explore different decks and interpretations to find what resonates with you.

Whether you are using tarot cards for divination, self-discovery, or simply as a tool for reflection, remember to approach them with an open mind and a willingness to explore the mysteries of the universe.

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