Psychic Morgan takes a deep dive on the artistic and symbolic meaning of the Sun Tarot card and why it’s one of the most positive cards in the tarot major arcana.
“The sun, --the bright sun, that brings back, not light alone, but new life, and hope, and freshness to man--burst upon the crowded city in clear and radiant glory. Through costly-coloured glass and paper-mended window, through cathedral dome and rotten crevice, it shed its equal ray.” - Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist
The Sun Tarot Card is number nineteen (XIX) in the Major Arcana and associated with the zodiac sign of Leo and the element of Fire and represents positive self-esteem, success, and optimism. It’s no accident that the sun card follows the moon in the Major Arcana. The sun will always shine after darkness.
The Sun card is arguably the most positive card in the tarot deck. Using the Rider Waite version of the Sun tarot card as an example, a curly blond innocent toddler with a feather in their hair, holds a red banner while riding bareback on a white foal. Under a sun with a human face, twenty-one rays of light beam down, while four sunflowers bloom beside a gray brick wall behind the toddler.
The Sun Tarot Card in the Upright
The toddler is happy and going forward with no cares; life is looking sunny, bright, and optimistic. the Sun card represents all that’s right in the world. It’s the card of happiness, light, and embracing of the self. Even positioned in the reverse, the Sun card tells us to “lighten up.”
The Sun Tarot Card in the Reverse
Is it possible to read such a positive card in the reverse? Sure! The Sun card’s reversed meaning could be the same as the upright only with a delay in outcome. The reverse could also represent too much of a good thing or not enough good things. It can also indicate reluctance to look at the bright side of life. Dark intrusive thoughts and feelings might be clouding your thoughts, but the sun’s warmth is still there, even if it’s temporarily hidden. The Sun card is so powerful, even in the reverse, that we just need to look into ourselves to find the answers.
Symbolism in the Sun Tarot Card
The toddler being au naturel represents being comfortable and free in our own skin. The toddler is free of any self-doubt and is happily putting themself out for the world to see. There’s not a single self-conscious thought in The toddler’s head. The nudity in this card represents the urge to be our most authentic self. If nakedness symbolizes freedom to be ourselves, being clothed would represent a socially acceptable mask we wear to both protect ourselves from our environment and to show the outside world how we want (or don't) want to be perceived. In the reversed meaning of the card, this translates as being too serious, not embracing the happy good times and needing to have fun. Somewhere along the way we grounded our inner child and there could be an unhealthy bitterness about a particular situation.
The Red Feather
The toddler sports a red feather in their curly hair. A red feather can be seen in The Fool Tarot card as well in The Death Tarot card. The feather in The Fool’s hat is vibrant and fresh, while the feather we see in The Death card is worn and weathered.
The feather, representing hope, courage, or even prosperity, may have been a gift or it may have been found by the toddler as they went along their journey. Feathers also share the same symbolism as the bird from which they originated, which in this case is a red bird. Cardinals, for example, are associated with self-confidence, assertiveness, loyalty, and a connection to the divine. In the reverse, the divine is giving us messages that we’re ignoring. Doubting these messages leave us feeling disconnected from divine energy. Insecurities have crept into our thoughts. It’s time to remember that sometimes it’s not best to believe everything you think.
The toddler rides bareback on a white foal. Riding bareback represents balance. The foal represents freedom as well as companionship. There must be communication and trust between the rider and foal, not just to keep moving forward, but also so The Toddler doesn’t fall off and get hurt. The toddler and the foal are both free of restraint and ideology. In the reverse, there’s a feeling of being stuck, lack of trust, or simply the inability to trust. Trusting is an act of making ourselves vulnerable to outside influences and sources. The bravest thing we can do is admit vulnerability.
The Red Banner
The toddler holds a bright red banner in their left hand. This banner is a symbol of victory and achievement. We see this red banner appear again as clothing in the Eight of Cups. In that card, the sun is eclipsed and looks down on a person who is walking away from a situation. In The Ten of Swords the red banner covers a body, yet the sunrise in the background tells the start of a new day. The Sun’s influence is seen in both of these cards, that there is victory in possibly dire situations. In the reverse, the Sun card could indicate that we’ve won a victory that is bitter-sweet or not earned. If it’s too easy, was it really a success? The victory may have been driven by ego instead of our higher self.
Maturing sunflowers will move with the sun. Once a sunflower reaches maturity, the flower will permanently face east. In the Sun card, there are four mature sunflowers facing the toddler. These flowers can represent the ancestors looking over their descendants as they ride into life. The number four also is significant. There are four suits in the tarot deck, Pentacles (Coins), Wands (Staffs), Chalices (Cups), & Swords; as well as the four seasons in a year. There are four elements: air, earth, fire, & water. And our human experience can be divided into the elements of the emotional, the mental, the physical & the spiritual. In the reverse Sun meaning, we’re disconnected from ourselves and there’s a need to find direction. It would also be beneficial to spend time in nature to rediscover ourselves.
The toddler is outside a wall and free of any confinement, no longer bound by limitations or divided. They can be seen as having broken through the dreaded metaphoric wall and are on the other side of a challenging obstacle. The toddler has safely returned victorious. In the reverse meaning, the toddler being on the other side of the wall shows they’re leaving the safety and security of the protected walls to venture out into an unknown world.
A human face appears in the sun, emotionless watching over the toddler as they go forward in their adventure. The Sun radiates twenty-one rays. Each ray represents the other twenty-one cards in the major arcana. Twenty-one could also represent the approximate date of the Summer Solstice, June 21st, the approximate date of the winter solstice on December 21st , as well as the Spring and Autumn equinoxes. In the reverse, it suggests feeling out of sync with the world and needing to take a break. Given the strength of the sun, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. The Sun needs to set, just as we need to rest.
The Sun Tarot Card in Different Positions of a Reading
The Sun Tarot Card Positioned in the Past
When the Sun appears in a position representing the past, you have come through the darkness and are victorious. Take pride in what you’ve accomplished and learned. In the Reverse, you may find that you are questioning if the victory was worth all the effort. The work can be more rewarding than the actual goal.
The Sun Tarot Card Positioned in the Present
If the Sun comes up in a position representing the present, you’ve won. You made it through the trials and broke free of what was holding you back. In the reverse, it may mean that sometimes getting everything you ever wanted isn’t really what you needed. It can also be a reminder to keep the ego in check.
The Sun Tarot Card Positioned in the Future
If the Sun appears in a position representing the future, it’s letting you know to keep going forward. Your hard work is paying off and quitting now won’t help. If it is reversed, reevaluate your plans and how to get to where you want to be. Somewhere you’ve lost sight of what you want. It’s time to regain focus and direction. Stoke the fire of desire before continuing.
Final Thoughts on The Sun Tarot Card
The Sun card shows us the darkness has passed, and it’s a new day filled with warmth and happiness. Even in the reverse a quick look inward can help clear up confusion and darkness. The Sun Tarot card shows us living our best lives. Even on the coldest of days, as long as the sun’s out shining on us, it’s a good day.