back The Basic Meanings of Tarot Cards

There are 78 Tarot Cards divided into two main groups: 22 Major Arcana numbered 0 to 21 and 56 Minor Arcana divided into 4 suits. (Arcana means secret) The Major Arcana take dominance over the Minor Arcana in a reading. Some novices prefer to begin using only the Major Arcana cards, get to know these, and then introduce the rest of the pack later.

The Tarot Cards can be shuffled so that they are upright or reversed and the Tarot Cards meaning then changes. My feeling is that the Tarot Cards contain an equal balance of positive and negative imagery anyway and that reversing Tarot Cards adds little to the overall reading. I rarely use reversed cards and for a beginner it overcomplicates the meanings.

Here are the traditional Tarot Card Meanings:

0. THE FOOL: Youthful folly, innocence, blinded by ignorance, listen to warnings, the novice.
1. THE MAGICIAN- Self-control, skill, action, taking charge.
2. THE HIGH PRIESTESS- Intuition, wisdom, mysteries, secrets, tenacity.
3. THE EMPRESS: Fertility, abundance, mother, health, kindliness.
4. THE EMPEROR: Willpower, ambition, stability, father, benefactor.
5. THE HIEROPHANT: Marriage, good advice, religion, the higher self, mercy.
6. THE LOVERS: Love, sexual union, beauty, emotional success, trials overcome.
7. THE CHARIOT: The driving force, triumph, war, vengeance, providence.
8. STRENGTH: Fortitude, courage, energy, success, self-discipline.
9. THE HERMIT: Prudence, a lonely spiritual quest, treason, caution, inertia.
10. WHEEL OF FORTUNE: The hand of fate, a turn for the better, luck, destiny, abundance.
11. JUSTICE: The law, truth, balance, control, a contract.
12. THE HANGED MAN: Wisdom in difficulties, self-sacrifice, intuition, initiation, prophesy.
13. DEATH: Transformation, events beyond your control, ending corruption, a new but difficult start, inevitable major changes. (the tarot will not predict an actual death)
14. TEMPERANCE: Management, economy, spirit transcending matter, moderation, wise counsel
15 THE DEVIL: Anger, violence, jealousy, greed, deceit, instinct, sexual passion.
16. THE TOWER: Catastrophe, repossession, ruin, adversity, calamity.
17. THE STAR: Hope, goals, expectations, guiding force, enlightenment, bright prospects.
18. THE MOON: Dark forces, nightmares, illusion, hidden fears, danger overcome through intuition..
19. THE SUN: Happiness, joy, rebirth, freedom, happy marriage, success.
20. THE LAST JUDGEMENT: A major decision, outcome, final result, rebirth, problems overcome.
21. THE WORLD: Successful completion, assured success, recognition, long distance travel, harmony.

The minor arcana is divided into four suits:

WANDS: This suit covers intellectual activities and career.
CUPS: Represents emotions, love, pleasure and sensitivity.
SWORDS: Involves struggles, difficulties and illness.
PENTACLES: Deal with material world, finances and property.

There are four court Tarot Cards to each suit: King, Queen, Knight, and Page. These can represent people in the querant's life or aspects of personality. Pages & Knights can represent children or young people of either sex. The aces indicate the beginning of a new activity and the Tarot Cards from two to ten represent aspects of the querant's life, past, present and future.

Here's the basic meanings for the minor Tarot cards:

ACE: A new job or enterprise, initiative, ideas, invention.
2- dissatisfaction with material things, restlessness, thinking about events happening elsewhere.
3.- Overseas trade, planned travel, commerce, established strength.
4.- Celebration, country life, socializing, prosperity, peace and concord.
5.- Petty arguments between groups of people. A sham fight. Squabbles.
6.- Victory achieved. Good news. The support of others. Recognition.
7.- Valour. Winning against the odds. Overcoming opposition. Getting on top of your troubles.
8.- Communication. A message or letter. Swiftness. A speedy conclusion.
9.- An uncomfortable wait. Gathering strength. Problems still to be dealt with.
10.- Oppression. A burden that's hard to carry. Overwork. Emotional pressure. Unpleasant news.
KING- A cleaver, honest, man who gives good advice.
QUEEN- An astute woman with a good business sense.
KNIGHT- Change of residence. An enterprising young person.
PAGE- Good news announced. Faithful young person or child.

ACE- The beginnings of emotional happiness. A new love or re-kindling of marriage. Joy, contentment, fertility.
2.- Emotional and spiritual love. Love blessed by heaven.
3.- Celebration, merriment, good friends.
4.- Discontentment or depression may cause the loss of a golden opportunity. Weariness.
5.- Crying over spilt milk. Opportunity is at hand and there's new bridges to cross.
6.- Childhood memories or friends bring happiness. Happy childhood.
7.- Fantasy and illusion distract the seeker.
8.- Putting the past behind you. A brave but difficult decision.
9.- Satisfaction guaranteed- but beware of complacency.
10.- Ecstatic personal and family happiness.
KING- Sensitive and creative fatherly man.
QUEEN.-Sensitive, visionary woman. Can sometimes get depressed.
KNIGHT.-The grail knight. Romantic, artistic, imaginative. A message of love.
PAGE.- A sensitive youngster. A bright idea. News. .

ACE- Triumph of the will. The start of a forceful attitude.
2.-A decision that requires an unprejudiced attitude .Intuitive understanding. Amnesty.
3.- Heartache. Rupture. Division .Delay.
4.- Rest, retreat and solitude. A time of recovery.
5.- Dishonor and loss. Betrayal by friend.
6.- Travel or holiday. Escaping difficulties.
7.- Theft, deceit, trickery. Beware of impostor.
8.- Frustration, imprisonment. Criticism and sickness.
9.- Worry, despair and neurosis. Bad dreams and pressing problems.
10- Failure, tears, sadness or illness. But the worst is over and a new dawn comes.
KING- Critical man in authority. His decision is final.
QUEEN- Sorrowful woman in authority. She understands pain and sadness.
KNIGHT- A ruthless person. Acts quickly and will try to twist the law to their advantage.
PAGE- An untrustworthy younger person. A spy who will stab you in the back.

ACE- A golden opportunity. Abundance and improved financial prospects.
2.- Emotional ups and downs. Juggling the finances.
3.- Skills appreciated. Esteem, honor and reward.
4.- Saving money. Caution with money. Covetousness. Wealth invested wisely.
5.- Poverty and hardship. Material troubles. Entangled relationship. Spiritual poverty.
6.- Gifts, presents, help at hand and generosity. Don't let money pass through your fingers.
7.- Impatience. Things will come in the fullness of time. Anxiety about money.
8.- Success achieved by hard work. Skills in craft and business. Job improvements.
9.- A legacy, unearned money, material contentment, rewards. pleasure.
10.- Stable home, riches, family life, success achieved.
KING- Wealthy intelligent man. Valor, stability.
QUEEN- Serious, intelligent, motherly woman. Opulence, security, generosity.
KNIGHT- Dependable, responsible man. A bank manager or investor. Hard work, perseverance.
PAGE- An ambitious young person. Success in study and career. Management skills, materialist.