Tarot Card Readings: What Do They Mean and How To Interpret Them

tarot card meanings
tarot card meanings

As the thirst for all things mystical, spiritual, occult and witchy expands into the mainstream, tarot cards are experiencing an enormous, almost cultish following. A lot of people associate Tarot cards with famous witches. A lot of fiction features characters who use tarot cards. DC’s Madame Xanadu is one of the most famous users of tarot cards in comics. There is a mystical superheroine called Tarot in the world of comics as well. She was created by famous 90s comic book artist, Jim balent. Tarot cards are a sort of divination, which accurately means working with the divine, or your higher self, which is that the ultimate purpose of tarot cards, a bit like yoga. We’ve weakened everything you would like to understand about them, from sorts of decks to what each card represents.

How did tarot card readings start?

Essentially, a tarot is the map of a soul. It’s a deep psychological guide that helps you attain self empowerment with the help of 78 symbolic cards. 

Tarot card readings have long surpassed the chintzy, neon “Fortune Teller” sign store front stereotype, which provides tarot a nasty name and will be avoided. Scholarly research indicates that the cards originated in Italy in the 1500s where they were used as a game known as Tarocchi, by the very wealthy. They weren’t interpreted for spiritual divination until the 18th century. There are tarot schools where you’ll study and large communities with thousands of Tarosophists who meet online and at conventions all over the world.

How do tarot cards work?

The process is known as synchronicity, a term coined by psychologist Carl Jung to describe the temporally coincident occurrence of events. In synchronicity, there is no distinction between inner and outer. The choice of a card is strictly what your higher self already knows. This is what tarot occultists call the conversation together with your higher self. The cards always work. It’s not magic—tarot cards are a sacred mirror.

Should you read Tarot Cards by yourself?

You need to figure with the cards to become conversant in them but none folks are often totally objective as we all have blind spots. Consult an experienced tarot card reader whom you can trust. Modern serious authentic and ethical tarot readers aren’t “fortune tellers” or mind readers. Real tarot readings can also serve as a therapeutic process for gaining insights. A good tarot reading will affirm your own intuition and open you up to more questions and options as part of a process. For that reason, ensure that you choose your Tarot card reader very carefully.   

What are the types of Tarot Card decks?

There are now thousands of sorts of tarot decks to settle on from, Hello Kitty to zombies. A traditional tarot card deck has 22 Major Arcana (or trumps) which consist of archetypal images. There are 56 Minor Arcana cards, sixteen Court or Personality cards; the Kings, Queens, Princes and Pages, a bit like modern playing cards. There are four suits as well, named after the elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water. A tarot deck is devoid of inherently negative cards.

There are many ways of working with the deck. You should choose your own deck by being drawn to it intuitively. There are layers upon layers of systems to learn, including Kabbalah, the tree of life, colour scales, Hebrew letters, numerology, pathways, symbolism, alchemy, astrology, mythology and learning to meditate with each card directly. The more layers you learn the deeper your knowledge and insight into the cards.

Major Arcana cards

The Fool

UPRIGHT: Beginnings, innocence, spontaneity, a free spirit

REVERSED: Holding back, recklessness, risk-taking

The Fool’s number of 0 is a number that signifies unlimited potential. As a result, it lacks a specific place in a Tarot card sequence. The Fool can be at the beginning or the end of the Major Arcana. The Major Arcana is often construed as the Fool’s journey through life. He is ubiquitous and doesn’t require a number.

The Magician 

UPRIGHT: Manifestation, resourcefulness, power, inspired action

REVERSED: Manipulation, poor planning, untapped talents

THE MAGICIAN DESCRIPTION

The Magician card is numbered One in the Major Arcana tarot deck. It’s a number of new beginnings and opportunities, associated with the planet Mercury. He stands with one arm stretched upwards towards the Universe, and the other pointing down to the earth. His positioning represents his connection between the spiritual realms and the material realms. The Magician uses it to create and manifest his goals within the physical realm. He is the conduit that converts energy into matter. He wears a white robe which symbolizes purity, and his cloak is red, representing worldly experience and knowledge.

The High Priestess

UPRIGHT: Intuition, sacred knowledge, divine feminine, the subconscious mind

REVERSED: Secrets, disconnected from intuition, withdrawal and silence

HIGH PRIESTESS DESCRIPTION

The High Priestess sits elegantly with a thin veil decorated with pomegranates in the background. The veil is a representation of the separate conscious and subconscious realms, the seen and the unseen, and it also serves the purpose of keeping casual onlookers at bay. Only the initiated can enter. The pomegranates on the veil symbolize abundance, fertility and divine femininity. This fruit is sacred to Persephone who as per legends, ate a pomegranate seed in the underworld and was forced to return to it each year.

The Empress

UPRIGHT: Femininity, beauty, nature, nurturing, abundance

REVERSED: Creative block, dependence on others

THE EMPRESS DESCRIPTION

The Empress is a beautiful, full-figured woman who has blonde hair and a peaceful aura surrounding her. She wears a crown of twelve stars on her head which shows her connection with the mystical realm and the cycles of the natural world (the twelve months of the year and the twelve planets). Her robe features a pattern of pomegranates. These fruits are symbolic of fertility. The Empress sits upon a luxurious array of cushions and beautiful, flowing red velvet. One of the cushions has the symbol of Venus, the planet of love, creativity, fertility, beauty and grace, the aspects of what the Empress stands for.

The Emperor 

UPRIGHT: Authority, establishment, structure, a father figure

REVERSED: Domination, excessive control, lack of discipline, inflexibility

THE EMPEROR DESCRIPTION

The Empress is the Mother archetype of the Tarot deck, and logically, the Emperor is the Father figure. The Emperor sits upon a large stone throne. The throne is embellished with four rams’ heads (symbolizing the Emperor’s connection with Aries and the planet Mars). The Emperor holds an ankh, the Egyptian symbol of life in his right hand. He holds an orb in his left hand which represents the world which is his kingdom.

The Hierophant

UPRIGHT: Spiritual wisdom, religious beliefs, conformity, tradition,institutions

REVERSED: Personal beliefs, freedom, challenging the status quo

HIEROPHANT DESCRIPTION

The Hierophant is the male counterpart of the High Priestess. He is ruled by Taurus and also known as the Teacher or the Pope sometimes. 

The Hierophant is a religious figure who sits between the two pillars of a sacred temple (different from the temple of the Priestess). The Hierophant wears three robes – red, blue and white. He is also adorned with a  three-tier crown, both representing the three worlds: the conscious, sub-conscious and super-conscious which are his domain. He holds the Papal Cross in his left hand. It’s a triple sceptre signifying his religious status. His right hand is raised in a religious blessing, two fingers pointing up towards Heaven and two pointing towards Earth.

The Lovers

UPRIGHT: Love, harmony, relationships, values alignment, choices

REVERSED: Self-love, disharmony, imbalance, misalignment of values

LOVERS DESCRIPTION

The Lovers card features a naked man and woman being overlooked by the angel Raphael. The angel’s name means ‘God heals’ and represents both physical and emotional healing. The angel is blessing the man and woman and reminding them of their union with the Divine power.

The Chariot 

UPRIGHT: Control, willpower, success, action, determination

REVERSED: Self-discipline, opposition, lack of direction

CHARIOT DESCRIPTION

The Chariot Tarot card features a warrior standing in a chariot. His armour is decorated with crescent moons (representing what is coming into being). He also wears a tunic with a square (the strength of will). The tunic also features various other alchemical symbols (representative of spiritual transformation). The laurel and star crown is a symbol of spiritual evolution, victory, and success. Although he appears to be driving the chariot, the charioteer actually holds no reins. He just has a wand like some kind of magician. This pose symbolizes his control through his power of will. 

Strength 

UPRIGHT: Strength, courage, persuasion, influence, compassion

REVERSED: Inner strength, self-doubt, low energy, raw emotion

STRENGTH DESCRIPTION

In the Strength Tarot card features a woman who gently strokes a lion on its forehead and jaw. The imagery symbolizes the fact that the woman has tamed this ferocious, wild beast with her love and calmness. The lion symbolizes all of our raw passions and desires. The woman tames him and shows that animal instinct and raw passion can be expressed in positive ways with the help of inner strength and resilience. She doesn’t use force or coercion to subdue the lion, she subtly controls it through love and calmness. 

The Hermit

UPRIGHT: Soul-searching, introspection, being alone, inner guidance

REVERSED: Isolation, loneliness, withdrawal

HERMIT DESCRIPTION

The Hermit stands alone on the highest point of a mountain. The snow-capped mountain peaks symbolise his spiritual mastery, growth and accomplishment. He has chosen this path of self-discovery and, as a result, has reached a heightened state of awareness.

Wheel Of Fortune

UPRIGHT: Good luck, karma, life cycles, destiny, a turning point

REVERSED: Bad luck, resistance to change, breaking cycles

WHEEL OF FORTUNE DESCRIPTION

The Wheel of Fortune card shows an enormous wheel, with three figures on the outer edges. Four Hebrew letters inscribe the wheel’s face. The letters are:  YHVH (Yod Heh Vau Heh), the unpronounceable name of God. There also are the letters TORA, thought to be a version of the word Torah, meaning ‘law’, or TAROT, or maybe ROTA (Latin for ‘wheel’). The middle wheel features the alchemical symbols for the building blocks of life: mercury, sulphur, water and salt and stand for formative power. 

Justice

UPRIGHT: Justice, fairness, truth, cause and effect, law

REVERSED: Unfairness, lack of accountability, dishonesty

JUSTICE DESCRIPTION

A compassion signifying loosely hung purple veil is in the background of the seated figure of Justice. The veil is similar to those framing the High Priestess and the Hierophant, which symbolizes balance, law and structure.

The Hanged Man 

UPRIGHT: Pause, surrender, letting go, new perspectives

REVERSED: Delays, resistance, stalling, indecision

HANGED MAN DESCRIPTION

The Hanged Man shows a person suspended from a T-shaped cross made from living wood. He is hanging upside-down, viewing the planet from a totally different perspective, and his countenance is calm and serene, suggesting that he’s during this hanging position by his own choice.

Death 

UPRIGHT: Endings, change, transformation, transition

REVERSED: Resistance to change, personal transformation, inner purging

DEATH DESCRIPTION

The Death card shows the Messenger of Death – a skeleton wearing black armour, riding a white horse. The skeleton represents the part of the body which survives long after life has left it; the armour symbolises invincibility which death will come regardless of what. Its dark colour is that of mourning and therefore the mysterious, while the horse is that the colour of purity and acts as a logo of strength and power. Death carries a pirate flag decorated with a white, five-petal rose, reflecting beauty, purification and immortality and number five represents change. Together, these symbols reveal that death isn’t almost life ending. Death is symbolic of beginnings and endings, birth and rebirth, change and transformation. Death is an inherent part of life, and carries a certain amount of beauty. 

Temperance 

UPRIGHT: Balance, moderation, patience, purpose

REVERSED: Imbalance, excess, self-healing, re-alignment

TEMPERANCE DESCRIPTION

The Temperance card shows an outsized , winged angel who is both masculine and female . She wears a light-weight blue robe with a triangle enclosed during a square on the front, representing that humans (the triangle) are bound by the world and law (square). The angel balances between one foot on the rocks, expressing the necessity to remain grounded, and one foot within the water, showing the necessity to be in flow. The water being poured between the two cups is symbolic of the flow and alchemy of life.

The Devil 

UPRIGHT: Shadow self, attachment, addiction, restriction, sexuality

REVERSED: Releasing limiting beliefs, exploring dark thoughts, detachment

DEVIL DESCRIPTION

The Devil card shows Baphomet, or the Horned Goat of Mendes, a creature that’s half man, half goat. Baphomet originally represented the balance between good and evil, male and female, and human and animal; however, more recently, this figure has been linked to the occult and has become a scapegoat for all things considered ‘evil’.

The Tower 

UPRIGHT: Sudden change, upheaval, chaos, revelation, awakening

REVERSED: Personal transformation, fear of change, averting disaster

TOWER DESCRIPTION

The Tower shows a tall tower perched on the highest of a Rocky Mountain. The tower is set on fire by lightning. Two people are jumping out of the windows, head first and arms outstretched. The scene represents chaos and destruction.

The Tower is a solid structure built on shaky foundations, which results in only one bolt of lightning being enough to bring it down. The whole scenario is representative of ambitions and goals made on false premises.

The Star 

UPRIGHT: Hope, faith, purpose, renewal, spirituality

REVERSED: Lack of faith, despair, self-trust, disconnection

STAR DESCRIPTION

The Star card shows an unadorned woman kneeling at the edge of a small pool. She holds two containers of water: one in her left hand (the subconscious) and one in her right (the conscious). She pours the water which is meant to nourish the world and to continue the cycle of fertility, represented by the luxurious greenery round her. The other container pours the water onto land in five rivulets, representing the five senses.

The Moon 

UPRIGHT: Illusion, fear, anxiety, subconscious, intuition

REVERSED: Release of fear, repressed emotions, inner confusion

MOON DESCRIPTION

The Moon card shows a full-of-the-moon within the night’s sky, positioned between two large towers. The Moon may be a symbol of intuition, dreams, and therefore the unconscious. Compared to the sun, the moon is dim and only slightly illuminates the trail to higher consciousness winding between both of the towers

The Sun

UPRIGHT: Positivity, fun, warmth, success, vitality

REVERSED: Inner child, feeling down, overly optimistic

SUN DESCRIPTION

The Sun tarot card radiates with a lot of optimism and positivity. A large, bright sun shines across the sky, representing the source of all life on Earth. Underneath, four sunflowers grow tall above a brick wall, representing the four suits of the Minor Arcana and therefore the four elements.

Judgement 

UPRIGHT: Judgement, rebirth, inner calling, absolution

REVERSED: Self-doubt, inner critic, ignoring the call

JUDGEMENT DESCRIPTION

The Judgement card shows naked men, women, and youngsters rising from their graves, arms outspread and searching up into the sky. The Messenger of God, Archangel Gabriel, blows his trumpet, announcing the imminent arrival of judgement day. The people respond to his call, ready to be judged and to find out if they will be accepted into the heavens or not. In the background is an extensive mountain range, signifying the insurmountable obstacles and the impossibility of avoiding judgement.

The World

UPRIGHT: Completion, integration, accomplishment, travel

REVERSED: Seeking personal closure, short-cuts, delays

WORLD DESCRIPTION

The World card shows a nude woman who is wrapped in just a purple cloth, dancing inside an outsized laurel wreath. She looks behind her to the past, while her body moves forward to the future. In her hands are two wands or batons, just like the one the Magician holds. It is a logo that what was manifested with the Magician has now come to completion with the planet . The wreath is circular, symbolising a continuing cycle of successful completion and new beginnings because, because the woman steps through the wreath, she is completing one phase but beginning another one almost straight away.

Minor Arcana Suits

There are four suits of the Minor Arcana cards: The Suit of Cups, The Suit of Swords, The Suit of Pentacles, The Suit of Wands.

Let’s take a look at the different Minor Arcana suits in detail.

The Suit of Cups

The Meanings Of The Suit Of Cups

The Suit of Cups Tarot cards affect the emotional level of consciousness and are related to love, feelings, relationships and connections.

The Suit of Cups is associated with the element of water. Water is fluid, agile and ‘in flow’ but it is also very powerful and formative. It is often soft and delicate , like waves lapping against the sandy shore, or it is often powerful and even forceful, sort of a raging river.

The element of water is symbolic of fluidity, feelings and emotions, intuition, relationships, healing, and cleansing. It is a female element and reflects the subtle power that always resides within women. It is receptive, adaptable,purifying and flowing.

Analogous to a deck of playing cards, Cups correspond to Hearts.

What Do The Cups Tarot Cards Mean during a Reading?

Cups Tarot cards indicate that you simply are thinking together with your heart instead of your head, and thus reflect your spontaneous responses and your habitual reactions to situations. Cups are also linked to creativity, romanticism, fantasy and imagination.

The negative aspects of the Suit of Cups include being overly emotional or completely disengaged and dispassionate, having unrealistic expectations and fantasising about what could be. There could also be repressed emotions, an inability to really express oneself and a scarcity of creativity.

Cups Tarot cards are often associated with the astrological symbols of Water – Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio. When you see a Cups face card during a Tarot reading, it often relates to an individual with a Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio sign of the zodiac . Generally, Cups people are emotional, artistic, humane and artistic . They are connected with their emotional selves and can draw energy from what they feel within.

What Does It Mean When A Tarot Reading is usually Cups Tarot Cards?

A tarot reading which predominantly features Cups cards, represents that you’re seeking solutions to primarily emotional conflicts, personal interactions, love matters, feelings and creativity.

Names of Cups Cards:

Ace of Cups, Two of Cups, Three of Cups, Four of Cups, Five of Cups, Six of Cups, Seven of Cups, Eight of Cups, Nine of Cups, Ten of Cups, Page of Cups, Knight of Cups, King of Cups, Queen of Cups. 

The Suit of Swords

The Meanings Of The Suit Of Swords

The Suit of Swords Tarot cards affect the mental level of consciousness that’s centered round the mind and therefore the intellect. Swords mirror the standard of mind present in your thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs.

Swords are often double-edged and during this way the Suit of Swords symbolises the fine balance between intellect and power and the way these two elements are often used permanently or evil. As such, the Swords must be balanced by spirit (Wands) and feeling (Cups) to possess the foremost positive effect.

The Suit of Swords is related to the element of Air. Air is both intangible and invisible, but also in constant movement. Air is often still and mostly unnoticed until it transforms into a breeze or a fierce wind. It is powerful yet refreshing and cleansing. Symbolically, the air element relates to knowledge, action, power, and alter. It is a type pf masculine energy which will lead by force and power, albeit it remains unseen.

Analogous to a deck of playing cards, Swords correspond to Spades.

What Do The Swords Tarot Cards Mean during a Reading?

The Suit of Swords tarot meanings are related to action, change, force, power, oppression, ambition, courage and conflict. Action can be constructive and/or destructive.

The negative aspects of the Suit of Swords include anger, guilt, harsh judgement, a scarcity of compassion and verbal and mental abuse.

Swords Tarot cards often represent the astrological signs of Air – Aquarius, Libra and Gemini. When you see a Swords face card during a Tarot reading, it often relates to an individual with an Aquarius, Libra and Gemini sign of the zodiac . Generally, Swords people are intelligent, thoughtful, rational, logical and excellent communicators. They are rational beings and like to experience the world by understanding and analysing what is occurring around them. On the flipside, Swords people can be ruthless, domineering, confrontational and rigid.

What does it mean when your tarot reading is Mostly Swords Tarot Cards?

A tarot reading which predominantly consists of Swords symbolizes that you’re seeking solutions to what are primarily mental struggles, conflict and arguments, and decisions that need to be made. Also, there might be many arguments or even violence at the present in your life. While Swords can carry with them many negative or very strong, forceful messages, Swords also serve as a warning to be more cautious of what’s occurring around you.

Names of Swords cards: 

Ace of Swords, Two of Swords, Three of Swords, Four of Swords, Five of Swords, Six of Swords, Seven of Swords, Eight of Swords, Nine of Swords, Ten of Swords, Page of Swords, Knight of Swords, King of Swords, Queen of Swords. 

The Suit of Pentacles 

The Meanings Of The Suit Of Pentacles

The Suit of Pentacles Tarot cards have an impact on the physical or external level of consciousness. As a result, they mirror the outer situations of your health, finances, work, and creativity. They have to try to do with what they make of their outer surroundings – how they create it, shape it, transform it and grow it. On a more esoteric level, Pentacles are related to the ego, self-esteem and self-image.

The Suit of Pentacles is related to the element of Earth. Earth is tactile, earthy and tangible. It creates the foundation from which the planet can grow and develop, and it supports and nurtures the plants and trees. Earth is grounded, stable, supportive and fertile. It is a female element that’s receptive – it takes in nutrients and sun rays, then uses this energy to sustain the life that grows out of it.

Analogous to a deck of playing cards, Pentacles correspond to Diamonds.

What Do The Pentacles Tarot Cards Mean during a Reading?

The Suit of Pentacles tarot meanings cover all the material aspects of life such as work, business, trade, property, money and various other material possessions. Some of the positive aspects of the Suit of Pentacles are manifestation, realisation, proof and prosperity.

Suit of Pentacles also has some negative aspects such as being possessive, greedy and overly materialistic, over-indulging and not exercising, not effectively managing one’s finances, and being overly focused on career while ignoring other aspects of life. Often what’s required to counteract these negative aspects may be a return to nature in order to ground oneself and rediscover what’s truly important.

Pentacles Tarot cards are usually associated with the astrological symbols of Earth –Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. When you see a Pentacles face card during a Tarot reading, it often relates to an individual with a Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn sign of the zodiac. Pentacles people are usually very practical, career-minded, down-to-earth and generous. They are tactile beings and wish to experience the physical, tangible world. They are connected through the senses and seek pleasurable and sometimes indulgent experiences.

What Does It Mean When A Tarot Reading is usually Pentacles Tarot Cards?

Should a Tarot reading be predominantly Pentacles cards, you’re seeking solutions to what are primarily material conflicts, financial matters and concerns with career and work.

Names of Pentacles cards: 

Ace of Pentacles, Two of Pentacles, Three of Pentacles, Four of Pentacles, Five of Pentacles, Six of Pentacles, Seven of Pentacles, Eight of Pentacles, Nine of Pentacles, Ten of Pentacles, Page of Pentacles, Knight of Pentacles, King of Pentacles, Queen of Pentacles. 

The Suit of Wands

The Meanings Of The Suit Of Wands

The Suit of Wands tarot cards is usually associated with primal energy, spirituality, inspiration, determination, strength, intuition, creativity, ambition and expansion and original thought. Ultimately representing the seeds of life. 

The Suit of Wands is related to the element of fireside. Fire is hot, wild, unpredictable, and energetic. It are often creative in helping us to cook food or build tools, or it are often destructive, sort of a devastating bushfire or house fire.

Fire is symbolic of passion, energy, enthusiasm, and sexuality. It is a masculine element and reflects the drive and willpower of the masculine energy.

Analogous to a deck of playing cards, Wands correspond to Clubs.

What Do The Wands Tarot Cards Mean during a Reading?

The meanings of the Wands Tarot cards affect the spiritual level of consciousness and mirror what’s important to you at the core of your being. They address what causes you to tick – your personality, ego, enthusiasm, self-concept, and private energy, both internal and external.

The negative aspects of the Suit of Wands include illusion, egotistical behaviour, impulsiveness, a scarcity of direction or purpose, or feeling meaningless.

Wands Tarot cards often represent the astrological signs of fireside – Leo, Sagittarius and Aries. When you see a Wands face card during a Tarot reading, it often relates to an individual with a Leo, Sagittarius or Aries sign of the zodiac. Generally, Wands people are energetic, charismatic, warm, spiritual.

What Does It Mean When A Tarot Reading is usually Wands Tarot Cards?

Should a Tarot reading be predominantly Wands cards, you’ll make certain that you simply are seeking solutions to issues that are based mainly within the realm of thought, or that are in the first stages of development. You may also be seeking greater purpose and meaning in your life and will want to understand more about what motivates and energises you.

Names of Wands cards:

Ace of Wands, Two of Wands, Three of Wands, Four of Wands, Five of Wands, Six of Wands, Seven of Wands, Eight of Wands, Nine of Wands, Ten of Wands, Page of Wands, Knight of Wands, King of Wands, Queen of Wands. 

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