The Major Arcana is composed of 22 cards. Each card is meant to represent a distinct point in life. The Major arcana is all about the broad themes in your life, like life lessons, karmic patterns, and issues that you will grapple with at some point. Each card holds a message and offers an invitation to explore its meaning on a personal level. Typically, pulling a Major Arcana card is the Tarot's way of letting you know that the issue the reading is about is connected to one of the larger or reoccurring themes in your life.
Think of a tarot card reading as a story, with the cards of the Major Arcana all playing a part. The central character is Card 0: The Fool, representing innocence, potential, and new beginnings. All the other major arcana cards are characters, or more esoterically, archetypal energies, that are encountered in life, presenting challenges that aid in development. It is a journey of personal growth, transformation, and spiritual ascension.
The journey of the Fool is a common archetype found in many stories and mythologies, and it can be interpreted as a journey of self-discovery or a quest for knowledge. The Fool's journey is a metaphor for the human condition. We all start off as the Fool, ignorant of the great mystery of life. As we journey through life, we encounter the various archetypal figures of the Major Arcana. These figures represent the different aspects of our own personality, and each one teaches us a valuable lesson. Ultimately, we all arrive at the World card, which represents enlightenment and self-knowledge. The Fool eventually learns that the most important thing in life is not what they have or what they do, but who they are.
The Tarot is not intended to be simply an entertaining story of a Fool and the challenges he encounters. Nor is it literally a revelation of some predestined future outcome. And as much as a tarot reading is sought out as a divination tool, it is first and foremost a method of reflecting on our own experiences in connection with the cards. The mystery and “magic,” if you will, is how the process responds to the energy we bring to it, so that right cards will appear in a spread, to tell us the story we need to hear.
The enduring power of the Major Arcana is as a prompt for introspection about where we are on our personal journey, starting with where we are now, to the choices we are facing, and the most probable destination given our choice of paths. It’s a story that evolves and changes based on free will and the choices we and others make at any given point, rather than a linear map with a single, predetermined outcome. This is why professional tarot readers will state that nothing is set in stone and that free will can influence any foreseen outcome. In addition, you can learn about the twelve Zodiac Tarot Cards and how you can begin to have a deeper understanding of the Major Arcana and its close connection to astrology.
All of us are somewhere on the Fool's journey from naivete to full understanding, whether that is understanding of a specific relationship, a situation, or even our spiritual evolution. This journey is a never-ending one, and we will continue to learn and grow as long as we live. A tarot reading invites us to pose questions that will lead us to clarity and insight, and the cards of the Major Arcana show up to guide us inward to the answers.
Click on each tarot card to reveal its hidden meanings.