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The traditional Tarot consists of 78 cards which are divided into 22 major arcana card (greater secrets) and 56 minor arcana cards - lesser secrets-. The major arcana depict 22 spiritual lessons in allegorical fashion. The 56 minor arcana are similar to a modern deck of 52 playing cards and consists of four suits, containing ten numbered cards plus four court cards in each suit.
The most used tarot deck, the RIDER-WAITE-SMITH deck was conceived by Arthur Waite , ilustrated by Pamela Colman Smith and published by Rider in 1910.
The following pages on Tarot were written thanks to Lotus Tarot Free lessons.
The Major Arcana naturally fall into two groups, with the Wheel of Fortune significantly at the mid point - this turning point between one half of life and the other is of critical importance.
The Minor Arcana:
The 56 Minor Arcana cards are divided into four suits, much like traditional playing cards. These are Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles.
Some of the suits may have other names:
- Wands are also known as Rods or Batons
- Pentacles are also known as Coins or Discs
Each suit has numbered cards 1-10, and 4 court cards: Page, Knight, Queen and King
Astrological elements and signs associated with each suit are:
Wands – Fire – Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Cups – Water – Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces
Swords – Air – Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Pentacles – Earth – Virgo, Capricorn and Taurus
Wands are associated with career, work, and creativity
Cups are associated with emotions and affairs of the heart
Swords are associated with our thoughts and intellect
Pentacles are associated with money and material matters .
The Major Arcana that describes the element, planet and astrological sign associated with each card.
Major Arcana cards that carry an astrological sign can be used as a guide for timing in a reading, so it’s very useful to familiarize yourself with these cards.
Essentially the dates of each astrological sign can be associated with the corresponding Major Arcana card in a reading.
For example if The Emperor came up in a spread, it may be signifying a date between 21st March and 20th April. Here’s a table to help you learn the dates.
Number Card Title Astrological Sign Dates :
4 The Emperor - Aries 21st March – 20th April
5 The Hierophant - Taurus 21st April – 21st May
6 The Lovers - Gemini 22nd May – 21st June
7 The Chariot - Cancer 22nd June – 23rd July
11 Strength - Leo 24th July – 23rd August
9 The Hermit Virgo 24th August – 23rd September
8 Justice - Libra 24th September – 23rd October
13 Death - Scorpio 24th October – 22nd November
14 Temperance - Sagittarius 23rd November – 21st December
15 The Devil - Capricorn 22nd December – 20th January
17 The Star - Aquarius 21st January – 19th February
18 The Moon - Pisces 20th February – 20th March
We also touched on the fact that the Major Arcana represents a journey from earliest awareness (The Fool numbered 0) to fulfillment (The World numbered 21), and that the cards represent the qualities and experiences we must incorporate in our lives before we can realize our full potential, emotionally, spiritually and physically.
Also that the Major Arcana naturally falls into two groups with the Wheel of Fortune significantly at mid point, this turning point between one half of life’s experiences and the other is very important.
Try to keep these factors in mind as you learn the Major Arcana cards, however, will be referring to this in more detail in covering spreads.
Each card in the Tarot deck, both Major and Minor Arcana, has a positive meaning and a reversed or negative meaning.
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