Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Quick Guide to Tarot Card Meanings

 Card meanings can vary depending on position within the spread and relationship to surrounding cards, but these are some basic descriptions. These are not meant to be all-inclusive, as there are other card meanings as well. 
For instance, several cards have come to be traditional indicators for marriage, birth of a child, moving to a new residence and other momentous events. This is meant to be a quick guide that you could print on one piece of paper and keep as a handy reference but perhaps we will devote some entries in the future to some simple, traditional meanings that have developed. 
But first it is good to understand how the general card meanings developed from elemental themes and numerology. Astrology and Qabbalah also are used in some systems of tarot interpretation, but those are beyond the basics and will not be included here. I tend to rely on association with the elements heavily in my interpretation, especially for the court cards and the rest of the minor arcana, so this will primarily focus on the elemental basics.

Major Arcana - these cards indicate life's major factors at work, often referring to situations outside of your control.

0 - The Fool – naivete, initiation, optimism, embarking, nonconformity, folly, innocence, exploration
1 - The Magician – mastery, manifestation, talent, skill, persuasion, charm, intelligence
2 - High Priestess – faith, insight, inspiration, duality, independence, intuition, art/science
3 - The Empress – creation, nurture, mother, abundance, empathy, security, fertility
4 - The Emperor – control, dominion, stability, father, protection, ethics, reason
5 - The Hierophant – tradition, teaching, guidance, mentor, authority, orthodoxy, clemency, ritual
6 - The Lovers – affinity, enthusiasm, choice, marriage, partnership, attraction, sharing, fusion
7 - The Chariot – ambition, victory, action, challenge, success, leadership, harmony, equilibrium, rescue
8 - Strength – courage, wisdom, kindness, perseverance, faith, steadfast, persistence
9 - The Hermit – retreat, seeking truth, introspection, search, reflection, recuperation, celibacy, clarity, isolation
10 - The Wheel of Fortune – change, luck, surprise, breakthrough,
11 - Justice – right, balance, reap as sown, weighing option, decisions, truth, logic, right action, civil justice
12 - The Hanged Man – sacrifice, suspension, waiting, surrender, restraint, stalemate, atonement, change in attitude
13 - Death – end, rebirth, transformation, change, growth, renewal, release from suffering
14 - Temperance – inner peace, mediation, moderation, grace under pressure, visionary art, health, repose
15 - The Devil – nature, instinct, primal knowledge, temptation, excess, enslavement, wrong choices
16 - The Tower – breakdown or breakthrough, dramatic change, pride, revolution,
17 - The Star – hope, waiting, guidance, healing, peace, freedom, planning, inspiration, renewal
18 - The Moon – illusion, deception, dreams, fantasy, emotion, fears, feminine energy
19 - The Sun – triumph, glory, thriving, joy, accomplishment, celebration, optimism, masculine sexual energy
20 - Judgement – awakening, healing, evolving, destiny, opportunity, accepting responsibility, courage to change
21 - The World – completion of a goal, travel, reward, pride in accomplishment

Minor Arcana cards indicate an action or influence you or others may have on the situation at hand. These consist of four suits with numbers 1-10 and the court cards in each suit.

Suits and their elemental associations (See chart above)

Wands (spears, staffs, rods, clubs) Fire/Summer/South. passion, desire, ambition, creative endeavors, religion, patriotism,
Cups (chalices, bowls, cauldrons, hearts) Water/Fall/West. Romance, poetry, bliss, sorrow, nostalgia, relationships, empathy, beauty, illusion, esoteric realm, art
Swords (knives, daggers, blades, spades) Air/Spring/East. Mind, voice, problem-solving, debate, discussion, ideas, gossip, worry, anxiety, strife, communication, science, math, medicine, music
Pentacles (coins, stones, disks, diamonds) Earth/Winter/North. Wealth, home, construction, social interaction, agriculture, nature, trade, banking, business

Numbered cards are associated with the 1-10 major arcana as well as the elemental meaning of the particular suit. i.e. four of wands might be a sense of stability in your endeavor that elicits celebration. Five of Swords, conflict in debate or gossip causing strife. Rely on your intuition to guide your interpretations as each card can have many different meanings

One - (Magician) beginning, potential, gift, creativity, fertility, imagination, opportunity,truth
Two - (Priestess)  duality, choice, partnership
Three - (Empress) fulfillment, abundance, expansion vs loss
Four - (Emperor) stability, foundation, celebration, rest
Five – (Hierophant) conflict, change, strife,disappointment, adversity
Six– (Lovers) love, happiness, generosity, nostalgia, remembrance
Seven – (Chariot) imagination, illusion, speculation, anxiety, defensiveness
Eight – (Strength) movement/reassessment vs stability/inaction
Nine – (Hermit) challenge/anxiety vs accomplishment/fulfillment/satisfaction
Ten – (Wheel) completion, change, contentment, prosperity, responsibility

Court cards each blend two elements. i.e., Knight of Wands is 'Air of Fire' as it merges Air (Knight) with Fire (Wands). A thought or idea that one is passionate about or acting upon, could be one interpretation. King of Wands is 'Fire of Fire' and this could mean making a decision about a job offer or control over a successful business. The court cards may also represent people in your life, depending on the issue or the position in the spread.

Page/Princess(Earth) message, learning, beginning, student
Knight/Prince (Air) travel, action, assertion,
Queen(Water) insight, guidance, empathy
King(Fire) dominion, control, decisions