The Tarot Deck

by Saint Reverence

Unbeknownst to many, there are multiple forms of card reading, with tarot being the most popular and oracle (will discuss later) being second most. Many people falsely believe that Tarot can predict the future and only the future, and that is certainly not the case. The Tarot is used as an intuitive tool that helps us see the larger picture and the whys of a situation or energy surrounding us based on a question that is asked of the cards.

While there are several places online to get information, I wanted to point out some important things I see people commonly misconstrue about the tarot deck, and quickly summarize the different suits of The Minor Arcana, The Major Arcana, and their meanings. Tarot Decks are usually sold in two formats - complete (78 cards) or Minor Arcana (56 cards). There are also variations of how tarot is sold, as some are sold with extensive guidebooks (for beginners) and others are sold without (for experienced readers). Tarot decks are sold with a multitude of designs, as many artists and writers have created their own spin on this arcane tool.

Working with tarot isn't something terribly difficult, but it does require some sensitivity and caution. As someone who uses the tarot extensively throughout my craft, I've developed some habits that I use to honor the cards and the messages and want to share them for anyone that is a budding tarot reader. My next lesson will discuss how to work with tarot cards.

After all, safe work is the best work.

The Major Arcana

Major Arcana:

A set of 22 cards that signify the journey of the human life. As humans live their lives, these cards tend to vary when they present themselves - a Death card today might be a Judgement card tomorrow. Many tarot readers use Major Arcana as a part of readings that revolve around those major life questions - "what's happening to me? where are things going for me as a person? how is my soul?." Due to the nature of these cards, they are not always included in a tarot deck, as some argue that these cards can be substituted with the much more detailed Minor Arcana. I like to think of the Major Arcana as a summary of the larger picture (what) and the Minor Arcana helps the details (why). Personally, I enjoy using both in a reading and will mix them in together to deliver my readings. This will vary from reader to reader.

Commonly Misconstrued Cards

With the weight that the Major Arcana carries, cards such as Death, The Devil, and Judgement, tend to deliver a shock. I find that many people, no thanks to films mocking tarot, are terrified of many of the Major Arcana cards, quickly making assumptions that don't match the meaning at all.

Death: The card itself is commonly shown to be a reaper (which Death looks like - will also discuss this wonderful deity in another lesson) or an act of death. As far as media goes, death has been shown to signify that someone, usually the person getting the reading, dying shortly after. This card presenting itself doesn't always specify literal death, as in the end of a life. Instead, it symbolizes the death of a cycle - a habit, a pattern, a relationship, a state of being. Without death there is no chance for future life. This tends to be a pleasant card for me when it appears in a reading, especially when a client has found stagnation in their life. Death means change is coming and an end has arrived.

The Devil: Once again, this card has been shown in movies to mean that a person is going to be contacted by or harassed/haunted by The Devil. Once, I saw it come up in a movie and the reader was "exposing" the devil hiding amongst a group of friends. What this card does show, is that someone's demons are getting the better of them. Whether it be rage, depression, anxiety, laziness, alcoholism, overachieving, etc, The Devil card shows itself to remind us to STOP THE FUCKERY. It reminds us that we, too, can be the blockages in our lives. That our perceptions can be a major cause of us having hard times and being dissatisfied with life.

Judgement: Judgement tends to freak people out because it makes them think that God/Heaven/Spirit, etc is judging us and is getting ready to strike us down. What this card actually wants to highlight is, again, that we can be our own worst enemy. That if we don't focus on finding the actual truth to a situation, we'll easily let ourselves drown in made up bullshit. It wants us to stop placing blames on everyone and anything other than the actual culprit, us. It wants us to take responsibility for our actions and make changes happen. This card also means Forgiveness. It can, depending on the question asked of the deck, signify a need to forgive others and ourselves for not doing better.

The Minor Arcana:

The Minor Arcana, in my opinion, deals with the tiny details and nitty-gritty of our lives. They consist of four suits composed of 14 cards - 10 numbered and four court cards, for a total of 56. Each card has its own meaning and combined together, they help create a response to the questions that are asked of the decks. These cards definitely deliver the WHY to the Major Arcana and can also highlight characteristics, secrets, lies, and more.

The Suits

The four suits (also known as families) are Pentacles, Wands, Cups, and Swords. Based on the interpretation of the deck, these are sometimes replaced with different names, but their focus remain the same throughout all copies of tarot decks:

Wands: Creativity and Inspiration. What are your goals and dreams? What sets your soul alive? Not who, but what? Are you actually working on the goals, or are you just dreaming about them? Wands will reveal the state of your mind and the expression of your soul.

Cups: Emotions and the Heart. Information about relationships with others, with self, and/or with soul is often revealed with Cups. How do we interact with others? Are our close circles toxic or beneficial to us? Is love coming? How, when?

Swords: Action and Mind. Are you acting or remaining stagnant? Are you blocked? How do you resolve conflicts and problems? These cards highlight the strengths and self destruction within us in our daily lives.

Pentacles: Possessions and Manifestations. Many will say they only see Pentacles as possessions, but I personally have seen pentacles show up as manifestations through use of Nature, Spirit, and the other three suits. These tend to focus on material things - financial, home, property, etc.

The Court:

These cards commonly refer to an individual in our life or situation because they tend to deal with personalities and their habits relating to the wands (creativity and inspiration), cups (emotions and the heart), swords (action and mind), pentacles (possessions and manifestations). Although not common, I like to think of the court cards as progress reports in special cases where I have repeat clients. In my next post, Working with Tarot, I'll explain how and why I see them as such. For now, these cards simply refer to the feminine and masculine energies of an individual or multiple individuals.

Each suit has the four court cards - Page, Knight, Queen, and King. Combining them with the meaning of each suit will help you understand the dynamic of masculine and feminine energies, action vs dreaming, balance vs excess. These can be very tricky cards to learn and understand, but for now, I'd like to summarize the court cards as a parallel of the suits:

"Pages conceive ideas, Knights act upon ideas, Queens nurture ideas, and (...) Kings develop those ideas to an established and stable state (Pentacles)." -The Biddy Tarot

Page, Princess, Daughter - Wands: Beginnings, Curiosity, Excitement, Treading Softly

Knights, Prince, Son- Cups: Budding maturity, Action over intellect, Excessive

Queen, Mother - Swords: Nurturing, Influential, Emotional Maturity, Internal Power

King, Father - Pentacles: Complete, External and Internal Power, Respected, Thought coupled with action, Action to goals

I will discuss each of the 78 cards in complete depth as we develop my Tarot Deck Lesson. Remember to approach tarot with respect and caution, first and foremost, and a lot of patience and excitement. These are very powerful tools that have predicted major world events all the way down to a bad hair day.