The Major Arcana Tarot cards (also known as the trump cards) form the foundation of the Tarot deck and consists of twenty-one numbered cards and one unnumbered card (the Fool).

They represent a path to spiritual self-awareness and depict the various stages we encounter as we search for greater meaning and understanding. In this way, they hold deeply meaningful lessons.

The Major Arcana Tarot card meanings illustrate the structure of human consciousness and, as such, hold the keys to life lessons passed down through the ages. The imagery of the Major Arcana Tarot cards is filled with wisdom from multiple cultures and esoteric traditions, including the Egyptian, Buddhist, Hindu, Sufi, Hebrew and Christian religions.

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In his book Pocket Guide to Tarot, Alan Oken suggests that the twenty-two Major Arcana cards are like the mandalas of the Tarot. Mandalas are detailed images painted onto canvas and used as spiritual study and meditation aids by the Tibetans.

Therefore it is important to study the images of the Major Arcana cards and contemplate their messages. Look beyond the simple keywords and traditional Tarot card meanings, and seek out your own personal meanings of these significant cards. The more you understand about their symbolism, the deeper your understanding of what they represent.

The Major Arcana cards can also represent Carl Jung’s archetypes – consistent, directing patterns of influence that are an inherent part of human nature. They are themes which mark, portray and symbolise stages in our psyche whereby we aim to become a balanced and integrated person. Along this journey, we encounter challenges, face adversity, perform labours, make hard decisions and fight opposing forces. Each step of the way brings us closer to enlightenment. This is often referred to as the journey of the Fool.

Major Arcana Cards in a Tarot Reading

When a Tarot reading is predominantly made up of Major Arcana Tarot cards, the client is experiencing life-changing events which will have long-term influences. There are important lessons which the client must pay attention to in order to progress further in their spiritual and personal quest.
If many of the Major Arcana Tarot cards are reversed, however, it is indicative that the client is not paying attention to these important life lessons and must return to the lesson of the previous card before moving forward.

Major Arcana Tarot Spreads

It is possible to conduct a Tarot reading only using the twenty-two Major Arcana cards. This method is typically used for Tarot readings relating to spiritual self-awareness or where you require deep insight from the collective unconscious..

Major Arcana – Tarot Card Meanings

Click on each Tarot card below to find out more about its Tarot card meaning, including the upright and reversed Tarot card meanings.

Ace

Upright

Beginnings, innocence, spontaneity, a free spirit

Reversed

Naivety, foolishness, recklessness, risk-taking

Fool

Magician

Upright

Power, skill, concentration, action, resourcefulness

Reversed

Manipulation, poor planning, latent talents

The Magician

High Priestess

Upright

Intuition, Higher powers, mystery, subconscious mind

Reversed

Hidden agendas, need to listen to inner voice

High Priestess

The Empress

Upright

Fertility, femininity, beauty, nature, abundance

Reversed

Creative block, dependence on others

The Empress

The Emperor

Upright

Authority, father-figure, structure, solid foundation

Reversed

Domination, excessive control, rigidity, inflexibility

The Emperor

Hierophant

Upright

Religion, group identification, conformity, tradition, beliefs

Reversed

Restriction, challenging the status quo

Hierophant

Lovers

Upright

Love, union, relationships, values alignment, choices

Reversed

Disharmony, imbalance, misalignment of values

Lovers

Chariot

Upright

Control, will power, victory, assertion, determination

Reversed

Lack of control and direction, aggression

Chariot

Strength

Upright

Strength, courage, patience, control, compassion

Reversed

Weakness, self-doubt, lack of self-discipline

Strength

Hermit

Upright

Soul-searching, introspection, being alone, inner guidance

Reversed

Isolation, loneliness, withdrawal

Hermit

Wheel of Fortune

Upright

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

Reversed

Bad luck, negative external forces, out of control

Wheel of Fortune

Justice

Upright

Justice, fairness, truth, cause and effect, law

Reversed

Unfairness, lack of accountability, dishonesty

Justice

Hanged Man

Upright

Suspension, restriction, letting go, sacrifice

Reversed

Martyrdom, indecision, delay

Hanged Man

Death

Upright

Endings, beginnings, change, transformation, transition

Reversed

Resistance to change, unable to move on

Death

Temperance

Upright

Balance, moderation, patience, purpose, meaning

Reversed

Imbalance, excess, lack of long-term vision

Temperance

Devil

Upright

Bondage, addiction, sexuality, materialism

Reversed

Detachment, breaking free, power reclaimed

Devil

Tower

Upright

Disaster, upheaval, sudden change, revelation

Reversed

Avoidance of disaster, fear of change

Tower

Star

Upright

Hope, spirituality, renewal, inspiration, serenity

Reversed

Lack of faith, despair, discouragement

Star

Moon

Upright

Illusion, fear, anxiety, insecurity, subconscious

Reversed

Release of fear, unhappiness, confusion

Moon

Sun

Upright

Fun, warmth, success, positivity, vitality

Reversed

Temporary depression, lack of success

Sun

Judgement

Upright

Judgement, rebirth, inner calling, absolution

Reversed

Self-doubt, refusal of self-examination

Judgement

World

Upright

Completion, integration, accomplishment, travel

Reversed

Lack of completion, lack of closure

World

Learn more about the Major Arcana Tarot card meanings, including what each card means in a career, work, finance, relationship, spiritual or health reading, in my latest Tarot Guide The Ultimate Guide to Tarot Card Meanings. This comprehensive 330+ page Guide has everything you need to know about the Tarot card meanings and much more.