meaning: Beginnings, innocence, spontaneity, a free spirit
The Fool depicts a youth walking joyfully into the world. He is taking his first steps, and he is exuberant, joyful, excited. He carries nothing with him except a small sack, caring nothing for the possible dangers that lie in his path. Indeed, he is soon to encounter the first of these possible dangers, for if he takes just a step more, he he topple over the cliff that he is reaching. But this doesn't seem to concern him - we are unsure whether he is just naive or simply unaware. The dog at his heels barks at him in warning, and if he does not become more aware of his surroundings soon, he may never see all the adventures that he dreams of encountering.
meaning: Manifestation, resourcefulness, power, inspired action
The Magician is one tarot card that is filled with symbolism. The central figure depicts someone with one hand pointed to the sky, while the other hand points to the ground, as if to say "as above, so below". This is a rather complicated phrase, but its summarization is that earth reflects heaven, the outer world reflects within, the microcosm reflects the macrocosm, earth reflects God. It can also be interpreted here that the magician symbolizes the ability to act as a go-between between the world above and the contemporary, human world.
On his table, the magician also wields all the suits of the tarot. This symbolizes the four elements being connected by this magician - the four elements being earth, water, air, and fire. The infinity sign on his head indicates the infinite possibilities of creation with the will.
The High Priestess
meaning: Intuition, sacred knowledge, divine feminine, the subconscious mind
You've most likely encountered the High Priestess before, but in other forms - she can be seen in the archetypes of Persephone, Artemis, Isis and many more. When you encounter her, you will see her sitting on a cubic stone between the two pillars at Solomon’s Temple, Jachin, and Boaz. Jachin (right) is generally referred to as the Pillar of Establishment and Boaz (left) is the Pillar of Strength. The pillars also depict the duality of nature; masculine and feminine, good and evil, negative and positive.
The High Priestess's location between the two suggests that it is her responsibility to serve as a mediator between the depths of the reality. She is the third pillar - the path between. She believes that both pillars are equal and there is knowledge to be learned in both worlds. You will also notice that she wears the crown of Isis which can mean that she is a believer of magic. The high priestess wearing of the solar cross denotes that she is connected to the season of the earth and the earth itself. The crescent moon at her feet is seen also in many depictions of the Virgin Mary, and means that she has a complete grasp over her emotion and the pomegranates refer to the ambition of the priestess.
meaning: Femininity, beauty, nature, nurturing, abundance
The Empress depicts a woman sitting on a throne. From the abundant nature that surrounds her, we can assume that this woman represents the Earth Mother archetype, a goddess of fertility. Her world is ruled by venus which means that there is complete love, harmony, fertility and luxury by the grace of this goddess. The woman herself has blonde hair crowned with stars, signaling her divine connection with the mystical realm. She is dressed in a pomegranate-patterned robe that represents fertility, and she is seated on cushions embroidered with a venus sign. She is surrounded by an enchanting green forest with a river streaming through it. The Empress brings abundance and blessings in the readings of those she meets.
meaning: Authority, establishment, structure, a father figure
In the Emperor tarot card, a stoic ruler figure can be seen on his throne, which is adorned with the heads of four rams, representing his astrological sign - Aries. In one hand, he carries a scepter, representing his reign and his right to rule, and in the other an orb, a symbol of the kingdom that he watches over. The long beard of the emperor represents his vast experience; over time he has learned much about what it takes to rule, to establish power, authority and complete order for the benefit of his people.
Behind him, the barren mountains shows his determination, his ambition for greater heights and his leadership capability. Contrast this with his complement, the Empress, whose flowing fields are filled with nurturing kindness. The Emperor instead rules with grit, strength and force.
meaning: Spiritual wisdom, religious beliefs, conformity, tradition,institutions
The card depicts a religious figure that sits in a rather formal environment characteristic for a church. He is wearing three elaborate vestments which are designated to represent the three different worlds. His right hand is properly raised in an act of benediction, a sign of blessing – it’s the same hand that the Magician has raised. In his other hand, he carries a triple cross, which is associated traditionally with the pope. Each of the horizontal bars in the cross are thought to represent the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Beneath him, two acolytes are seated, representing the transfer of sacred knowledge within institutions. Through these acolytes, the card also comes to represent following the path to knowledge and education.
This card is also known as the High Priest in certain decks - as well as the Pope. He is acting as the masculine counterpart of another card which is known as the High Priestess. This card is ruled by Taurus.
meaning: love, alignment, kindred spirits, shared values, relationships
In the Lovers card, the man and the woman in the image are being protected and blessed by an angel above. The couple seems secure and happy in their home, which appears to be the Garden of Eden. The fruit tree with the snake behind the woman is a reference to that story, which tells of humanity's fall into temptation and into the realm of flesh and sensuality. The angel depicted here is Raphael, the angel of air - who is of the same element of the zodiac sign that governs this card: Gemini. Air is associated with mental activity, and communication in particular, which is the foundation for healthy relationships. His blessing seems to give this card a sense of balance and harmony, the symbolization of union in a grand and cosmic sense between two opposing forces.
meaning: Control, willpower, success, action, determination
The Chariot tarot card depicts a figure sitting inside a vehicle that is being driven by two black and white sphinxes. The whole card has a bit of a celestial influence; the figure sits underneath a blue canopy adorned by white stars. On his shoulders, he carries the sign of the crescent moon, representing the spiritual influence under which he is guided. On his head sits a crown, meaning that he is enlightened, and that his will is pure. Emblazoned on his chest is a square, denoting the element of earth, of the material world, which grounds him and his actions.
The sphinxes are colored in black and white, a symbol of opposing forces that the charioteer must learn to control. Here they are calm, but they frequently get into scuffles as they seem to want to move in different directions. His task is to guide these sphinxes towards a destination, one that is marked by the cosmic forces that he represents.
The Chariot is linked to the Cancer zodiac sign.
Meaning: power, courage, determination, influence, compassion, perseverance
In this tarot card, you will see a woman who calmly holds the jaws of a fully grown lion. Despite the fact that the lion looks menacing and strong, the woman seems to have dominion over it. What is captivating is how gracefully she controls the lion. She is calm and collected, which is representative for being in control and disciplined especially in times of great adversities.
The fact that she is also holding the jaws of a lion also shows that she has courage. Her control of the lion without being too rough shows love and compassion. The blue background over the mountains shows stability and the kind of calmness that comes with being stable.
The lion is a symbol of courage, passion and desire which are very much part of the human feelings that are necessary for survival. But if these feelings are not put in check can lead to our eventual destruction.
meaning: Soul-searching, introspection, being alone, inner guidance
The Hermit stands alone on the top of a mountain. The snow-capped range symbolises his spiritual mastery, growth and accomplishment. He has chosen this path of self-discovery and, as a result, has reached a heightened state of awareness.
In his right hand, he holds a lantern with a six-pointed star inside; it is the Seal of Solomon, a symbol of wisdom. As the Hermit walks his path, the lamp lights his way – but it only illuminates his next few steps rather than the full journey. He must step forward to see where to go next, knowing that not everything will be revealed at once. In his left hand, the side of the subconscious mind, the Hermit holds a long staff (a sign of his power and authority), which he uses to guide and balance him.
Wheel of Fortune
meaning: life cycle, good luck, karma, destiny, fortune, success
The Wheel of Fortune is one of the most highly symbolic cards in the deck, filled with signs that each have its own meaning. At the center of the card, lies a giant wheel, covered in esoteric symbols. There are different creatures that surround the wheel; the angel, the eagle, the bull and the lion. They are related to four fixed signs in the zodiac - leo, taurus, scorpio and aquarius. These four animals are also representatives for the four evangelists in Christian traditions, which is perhaps the reason that they are all adorned with wings.
The books that each of the creatures hold represents the Torah which communicates wisdom and self-understanding. The snake indicates the act of descending into material world. On the wheel itself, rides a sphinx that sits at the top, and what appears to be either a devil, or Anubis himself arising at the bottom. These two Egyptian figures are representative of both the wisdom of the gods and kings (in the case of the sphinx) and the underworld (Anubis). They are rotating forever, in a cycle, and suggests that as one comes up, the other goes down.
meaning: Justice, fairness, truth, cause and effect, law
The Justice tarot card is a symbol of truth, fairness, and law. As she sits in her chair, the scales in her left hand represent how intuition should balance logic. She symbolizes impartiality with the double-edged sword in her right hand. The clarity in thought which is required to dispense justice are symbolized by the square on the crown she wears. Behind her, there is a purple cloak and standing grey pillars. Beneath her red cloak, which is held together by a clasp, she shows the tip of a white shoe. This is a spiritual reminder that what she delivers are the outcomes of their actions.
The Hanged Man
meaning: Pause, surrender, letting go, new perspectives
In this card, it depicts a man who is suspended upside-down, and he is hanging by his foot from the living world tree. This tree is rooted deep down in the underworld, and it is known to support the heavens. It is believed that the hanging man is actually positioned there by his own free will. We believe this because of the serene expression which is on his face. His right foot is bound to the branches, but his left foot remains perfectly free. At the same time, he is holding his hands behind his back in a way which forms an inverted triangle. His wearing of red pants are a representation of the physical body and human’s passion, while the blue that he wears in his shirt are representative of calm emotions, a color combination that is commonly seen in saints. His intellect is symbolized by the yellow color of his shoes, hair and halo.
meaning: Endings, change, transformation, transition
Here, we see Death riding a beautiful white horse while holding up a black flag with a white pattern. It is portrayed as a living skeleton, the bones being the only part of the human body existing after death. He wears armor, which gives him his invincibility - signaling that no one can destroy Death. The white horse that he rides stands for purity, as Death purifies everyone. Beneath him, all classes of humans lie in the dirt - a king, and a pauper, meant to remind us that death does not differentiate between class, race, gender.
meaning: Balance, moderation, patience, purpose
On the Temperance card, there is an angel with wings, whose gender is not immediately obvious, which suggests that there is a balance between the sexes. One foot of the angel is in water, to represent the subconscious, while the other foot is on dry land, a representation of the material world. On her robe, there is a square, which has a triangle inscribed inside, another echo of the tangible earth in union with the holy trinity. She holds two cups in a manner where she can mix the waters, which represent the super and subconscious minds. The water flows between them, suggesting union and infinity.
Everything about this card represents balance, the perfect harmony that comes from the union of dualities. Her advice is to test any new waters, before jumping into the deep end.
meaning: Shadow self, attachment, addiction, restriction, sexuality
This card shows the Devil represented in his most well-known satyr form, otherwise known as Baphomet. Along with being half goat and half man, the devil has bat wings and an inverted pentagram on his forehead. He is standing on a pedestal, to which are chained a nude man and woman, as if to show that he has dominion over them.
Both the man and the woman have horns, as if to show that the more time they spend with the Devil, the less human they become. The chains make it appear as though the devil has taken them captive. The man has a flame on his tail while a woman has a bowl of grapes on her tail, which symbolizes their addiction to power and finer things in life, respectively.
Looking closely, both the man and the woman don’t look happy. Their individual power has been taken from them, leaving them exposed and ashamed in their nakedness.
meaning: Sudden change, upheaval, chaos, revelation, awakening
The Tower card depicts a high spire nestled on top of the mountain. A lightning bolt strikes the tower which sets it ablaze. Flames are bursting in the windows and people are jumping out of the windows as an act of desperation. They perhaps signal the same figures we see chained in the Devil card earlier. They want to escape the turmoil and destruction within. The Tower is a symbol for the ambition that is constructed on faulty premises. The destruction of the tower must happen in order to clear out the old ways and welcome something new. Its revelations can come in a flash of truth or inspiration.
meaning: hope, inspiration, positivity, renewal, healing, rejuvenation
The Star card shows a woman kneeling at the edge of a small pond. She is holding two containers of water. One container pours the water out to the dry land, as if to to nourish it and ensure its fertility. The lush green land around her seems to say that it is working. One foot is inside the water which shows the spiritual abilities and inner strength of the woman. The other foot on the ground shows her practical abilities and strengths. Behind her, there is a large central star surrounded by seven small stars which represent the chakras. There is bird standing at a tree branch which represents the holy ibis of thought. The Star's astrological correspondent is Aquarius.
meaning: intuition, subconscious, illusion, secrets, complexity
When we encounter the Moon, we see a path that leads off into the distance. On either side of the path stand a wolf and a dog, representing our animalistic nature - one is civilized, and the other wild and feral. There is a crawfish that is crawling out of the pond from which the path stems from. In the distance, we can see two towers flanking the central path, once again alluding to the doubles visible in this card. Everything in this card seems to echo the other, as if to allude to two possibilities. When we walk down the path, we walk the fine line between conscious and unconscious, between the tamed side of civilization of the dog, and the forces of nature represented by the wolf.
The towers on the opposing ends represent the forces of good and evil, and their similarity in appearance can allude to the difficulties that we face in distinguishing between them.
meaning: happiness, joy, optimism, success, vitality, motivation, confidence.
The Sun card presents an feeling of optimism and fulfillment. This card represents the dawn which follows the darkest of nights. The Sun is the source of all the life on our planet, and it represents life energy itself. There is a child depicted in the card, playing joyfully in the foreground. A symbol of our innocence, it represents the happiness that occurs when you are in alignment with your true self. The child is naked, meaning that he has absolutely nothing to hide. The card also depicts the childhood innocence and absolute purity. This is particularly emphasized through the white horse upon which the child is riding. The horse here is also a symbol of strength and nobility.
meaning: : Judgement, rebirth, inner calling, absolution
This card depicts what one would imagine the last judgment would be, in the various forms that takes in many mythologies. The image in the Judgement card shows women, men, and children who are rising from the grave to respond to Gabriel’s trumpet call. Their outstretched arms symbolize that they are ready to be judged by the universe. They are about to meet their creator, their actions weighed, and find out where they will spend the remainder of eternity: in heaven or in hell. The massive tidal wave in the background signify that judgement is unavoidable, and that this judgement will be final.
Judgement is ruled by Pluto, who is the underworld’s ruler. There are echoes of this card in Death, for they both remind us that everything comes to an end and that a new beginning is coming.
meaning: Completion, integration, accomplishment, travel
The World card in the tarot deck has a dancing figure at the center. The dancing figure on the card has one leg crossed over the other and holds a wand in either hand. She symbolizes balance and evolution in movement. The fulfillment and unity that she represents is not one that is static, but ever-changing, dynamic and eternal.
The green wreath of flowers that surrounds the central figure is a symbol of success, while the red ribbons that wrap around it are reminiscent of infinity. There are four figures on each corner of the card - and they are the same ones that are in the Wheel of Fortune. The four figures represent Scorpio, Leo, Aquarius and Taurus - representative of the four corners of the universe, the four elements, and the four evangelicals. Together, they symbolize the harmony between all of their energies.