Archetypes & the Major Arcana

Archetypes & the Major Arcana
In Tarot Reading, the Major Arcana are Archetypes That Guide Us on our Journeys

In tarot reading, the Major Arcana tarot cards are the fist 22 cards of the Tarot deck. Each card in the major arcana is rich with symbolism and imagery. Out of all the cards in a Tarot deck, the Major Arcana cards are the most dramatic. They represent characters and themes that are symbolic in nature and often reference monumental and life changing events such as marriages, births, separations, or a change in career or residence.

More importantly, the Major Arcana refers to an individual’s psychological development. Each card represents a various stage in personal growth or level of maturity. In Tarot reading, cards of the Major Arcana typically signify an important life lesson or experience. With each stage of development, one is faced with a new task. The Major Arcana references these particular tasks and how they relate to each person’s level of development.

In tarot reading, the figures and images within the Major Arcana Tarot cards are archetypes. Archetypes are common images, themes or myths that are repeated throughout time. Their symbolism is universal regardless of one’s cultural, religious or educational background. Archetypes are expressed in our myths, fairytales, literature, religions and iconography. They represent a shared experience that each one of us participates in.

Tarot Reading is a unique divinatory art. Not only can be it be predictive in nature, it can also encourage self-growth and self-realization. The cards of the Major Arcana encourage shifts in perspective and can mirror important life transitions or transformations. Each Major Arcana card has its own distinct symbol and archetype. They are there to guide, teach, and help us understand our many life stages and challenges.

The Archetypes of the Major Arcana:

  1. The Fool: The hero as a free spirit and wanderer with a childlike perspective.
  2. The Magician: The master of manifestation, the alchemist, and the skilled and cunning master of his environment
  3. The High Priestess: The protector of secrets and the goddess of mystery.
  4. The Empress: The great mother, mother earth, and the source from which all things grow.
  5. The Emperor: The authoritative father, protector and leader who is ruler of his own civilized domain.
  6. The Hierophant: The teacher or moral principles and traditional values.
  7. The Lovers: The hero as lover. The conflicting forces of attraction and opposition
  8. The Chariot: Serves as the vehicle for movement, change, intention and direction. The Persona.
  9. Strength: The maiden who masters her world with inner courage and compassion.
  10. The Hermit: The recluse who finds wisdom in solitude.
  11. The Wheel of Fortune: The Wheel of fate, fortune, cycles, and destiny.
  12. Justice: The Authoritative figure on equality, justice, and balance.
  13. The Hanged Man: The selfless and sacrificial hero.
  14. Death: The Angel of Death or Grim Reaper, the Angel of Transformation.
  15. Temperance: The angel of moderation and temperance.
  16. The Devil: The darker sides of our nature. The shadow self.
  17. The Tower: Purposeful cleansing, acts of divinity, or restructuring of one’s identity of belief system.
  18. The Star: The spirit of hope, healing, guidance and recovery.
  19. The Moon: Rites of passages where things do not always appear as they seem. Mirrors, reflections and deceptions.
  20. The Sun: The life source, illumination, and enlightenment.
  21. Judgment: Rites of passage in which one must become accountable for past actions. Entrance into a new level of consciousness.
  22. The World: Completion, beginnings, endings, and the cycles of life.

© 2010 All Rights Reserved. Images of individual tarot cards are from the Aquatic Tarot Deck created by Andreas Schröter and are used for example purposes only with his permission.


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