Understanding the Tarot Card Deck, Part 1

One of the first steps toward understanding the Tarot lies in
appreciating the meaning of its two Arcana the Major and the
Minor. But even before that, the novice does well by committing
to memory the meaning of Arcana defined as mysterious
knowledge, language, or information accessible only by the

By its very definition, the word Arcana exudes secrecy and a
certain esoteric eeriness making it the perfect word for the
two branches of the Tarot so important to believers, including
new initiates. To learn about Tarot is one thing; to truly
learn the meaning of the Tarots Arcana is quite another.

Because the Arcana are secret, and because their deeper meanings
are closed to many, learning them takes time, determination, and
perhaps even a gift. This gift belongs to those with a desire to
learn the mysteries and knowledge of the Ancients, the special
few, the Chosen. The Arcana, though seemingly somewhat
simplistic at first glance, are in actuality the great secret to
reading Tarot.

The first of the Arcana, termed the Major Arcana, symbolically
relate to our physical, as well as intellectual, emotional, and
spiritual states of being. These 22 powerful cards illuminate
our strengths, weaknesses, fears, wishes, and the light and dark
portions of our souls. The Major Arcana in a commonly used Tarot
deck include the fool, the magician, the high priestess, the
empress, the emperor, the hierophant (wise man or teacher), the
lovers, the chariot, strength, the hermit, the wheel of fortune,
justice, the hanged man, death, temperance, the devil, the
tower, the star, the sun, the moon, judgment, and the world.

A number of the Major Arcana cards serve as archetypal
representatives of real people in our lives, either as a whole
or in symbolic parts. Some archetypes, for instance, would be
authority figures, mysterious or mystical people, or parental,
sibling, or other familial figures.

The Major Arcana cards each represent, through their images,
positive and negative forces. The interpretation of the meanings
of the cards, however, relies on many factors. Some of these
factors include how the cards are laid, which cards surround
others, the information sought, the reader, and the person for
whom the reading is being performed. So even though each
individual Major Arcana symbol or card holds its own unique
meanings, it must be taken as only one part of a whole with the
above critical dynamics taken into account.

When dealing with the Major Arcana, one deals with some of the
ancient, mystical, and hidden secrets of the universe and
should do so with the caution attributed to the wisest among us.
But be cautious, not afraid! Some may say, Curiosity killed the
cat! But we also know: Satisfaction brought it back! And even
though cats do purportedly have nine lives, youll have to
consult the Major Arcana to even hazard a guess as to which life
the cat in question is now living once youve learned the
Major Arcanas secrets, that is!

(c) All About Tarot
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