The World, The Lovers, The Devil, and The High Priestess — just to name a few — are some of the most recognizable parts of tarot card decks. You can even find them on nails these days. Known as the Major Arcana, these archetypes are the anchors of every tarot reading.
The Major Arcana are the first 22 cards in most tarot decks, while the Minor Arcana consists of the wands, cups, swords, and pentacles. Although all the cards carry a special meaning, the Major Arcana, in particular, represents universal human experiences, like challenging authority, falling in love, and even unexpected bad news.
Understanding what each of the 22 Major Arcana cards means is important to navigating readings, such as knowing why the Wheel of Fortune card is a good omen or the Devil isn’t so scary after all. As Allure‘s resident astrologer, I’ll break down the basics of the entire Major Arcana, so you’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with.
Those new to tarot could mistake The Fool as a card of silly, uninformed actions on the horizon. This Major Arcana holds a much more positive meaning, though. The Fool represents fresh starts and new beginnings. You may be about to embark on a journey with a child-like wonder. Take this card as an indication to stay in the present and have a hopeful attitude in your endeavors.
The Magician is the card of manifestation. Most decks show a man with one hand to the ground and the other to the sky, representing his abilities to turn dreams into reality. Pulling The Magician is a sign you’ll be able to create what you desire with hard work and a bit of imagination.
The High Priestess
The High Priestess is all about divine female intuition, which every one of us possesses, regardless of our gender. She rules emotions, mystery, and psychic ability. This card is an omen that it’s best to step back, meditate, and get in touch with your intuition before making any major decisions.
The Empress is a card of sex, fertility, and beauty. She also represents beauty and self-care, reminding you of the importance of making time for yourself. She wants you to get more sleep and even pamper yourself with a spa visit.
Rules and regulations drive The Emperor, but — don’t worry — he governs fairly. Drawing The Emperor could indicate the advantage of adding more structure to your life. He wants you to keep in mind that if you’re embarking on a new project or relationship, you should take your time, and focus on getting all of the details right.
The Hierophant is the masculine counterpart to the High Priestess, but remember, we all contain masculine and feminine energy. Consider The Hierophant as the card of institutions and collectivism. Pulling it may indicate it’s time to organize your workplace or become more politically involved.