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The Major Arcana: An Introduction


If you’ve looked into online Tarot, or indeed tarot in general, you are likely to have come across the term ‘Major Arcana’. But what are the Major Arcana cards and what do they do? Read on for a short introduction into the Major Arcana cards and understand their significance within Tarot reading.

The Major Arcana cards are also known as the Tarot trump cards and are said to hold the most importance within Tarot, symbolising major life events of significance. There are 22 Major Arcana cards in total, numbered 0-21, with individual names and pictures on each. Each card holds a different meaning, but the meaning can vary depending on if the card is read on its own, if it is read as part of a larger Tarot spread and where in the spread the card is. On top of these factors, the meaning of the card will vary greatly depending on who is receiving the reading, their own personal circumstances and their own individual story. The Major Arcana cards do not necessarily have the same meanings for different people.

It is however possible to assign a general meaning to each of the Major Arcana cards, which can be useful if you are learning tarot reading. These meanings should be seen as the most popular, rather than definitive meanings. For example, the Fool is often said to be a card of contradictions, as it can represent bravery and cowardice, as well as innocence and wisdom; The Magician represents power over the self; the High Priestess symbolises intuition; the Empress is nurturing; the Devil can be seen to represent greed and bitterness; the Hermit can represent contemplation as well as isolation; the Lovers can represent trust and openness as well as the opposite depending on which other cards are dealt in the spread and, finally; Death represents change, as without death there cannot be new life – it rarely represents literal death.

Of course, there are more Major Arcana cards than this, as you will see when you experience a Tarot reading. You will also see to what extent the other cards can influence the meaning of the cards around them, and therefore how fluid and subject to interpretation the Tarot cards are.


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