Welcome to lesson 1
In this lesson you will:
- Be introduced to the 78 tarot card deck
- Learn the purpose of the major and minor arcana
- learn the meaning of each number on the number cards
- Review the Major Arcana’s associated element, planet and astrological sign
- Be introduced to card symbology
Remember – The course is designed to introduce you to the wonderful world of Tarot and help you to start reading the cards yourself.
Lesson 1 – The Purpose of Tarot Cards
Nothing happens “randomly”. The law of synchronicity states even seemingly random events are done with precision. If you’re constantly wondering what the meaning of life is you can discover this in the tarot cards and lessons about them. Tarot cards are the hierarchies of life defined in pictures.
The Tarot card suits is to categorize four major areas of life. The underlying thought here is that all of us deal with thoughts, emotions, finances, health, and relationships on a daily basis. Tarot card suits classify each of these separate issues so that interpreters of the cards can more clearly grasp the essence of the larger picture. The cards just give you the map, you have to create the journey that uses it.
I see the tarot as an individuals (YOUR) JOURNEY through life. By looking at where you are now through the message of the tarot, you will again insight into your current situation or obstacle. By drawing more cards, you can again insight as to what you COULD do, and perhaps what outcome or action you could take (and what would be the result of taking that action.)
– Savannah aka BWS
That is a little more advanced, and getting more into tarot cards for spell casting, as some witches such as BWS does for herself and her clients. The cards don’t tell your future. They do provide the probable outcome. Our destiny is not 100% carved in stone!
The numbers, the suit, the picture on the card, and the place in the hierarchy, all network and mean something on their own but when mixed with where they land in the “spread” and what cards land near them or in other key spots in the spread, will mean different things.
So for right now, let’s stick to the basics of just understanding the tarot deck.
The Classic 78 Card Deck
Looking at the seventy-eight tarot cards, the first thing to note is that there are two major categories of cards within a deck; the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The word Arcana is derived from the word ‘arcane,’ which means hidden secrets.
There are 2 main parts to the tarot deck:
- The Major Arcana which consists of 22 cards
- The Minor Arcana which consists of 56 cards.
The Major Arcana, or Trump cards, is comprised of twenty-two cards typically numbered zero through twenty-one. Many see the Major Arcana as being archetypes or energies greater than ourselves. The first card, the Fool (Number 0) is said to move through the other twenty-one cards in an archetypal journey known as the Fool’s Journey. Each card explores a step in the self-actualization process. The World card (Number 21) marks the completion of the journey. The symbolism within the Major Arcana is often seen as allegories of universal human experiences along the path of life.
The second group of 56 cards comprises the Minor Arcana, which explores the details of day-to-day activities and minor events in life.
The minor arcana is divided into four classifications:
- Tarot Pentacles
- Tarot Wands
- Tarot Cups
- Tarot Swords
Like playing card decks, the Minor Arcana is divided into four suits, which are usually called Cups, Wands, Coins (or Pentacles), and Swords.
Within the world of tarot these suits have a variety of names. It is easiest to understand that these four suits represent the four elements that make up everything in the cosmos. The most widely recognized associations are Swords as Air, Wands as Fire, Cups as Water and Coins as Earth.
I believe it is now important for you to understand the differences or PURPOSE of the two arcanas:
- Major Arcana represent more significant events or decisions, practically, emotionally and spiritually
- Minor Arcana represent the more mundane, everyday aspects or events
The Major Arcana:
The Major Arcana cards are numbered 0-21, each card telling a story or conveying a message.
The Major Arcana is often described as a journey of the soul, or called ‘The Fool’s Journey’, that represents our journey from earliest awareness (The Fool numbered 0), to fulfillment (The World numbered 21).
“Seeing these cards in a reading traditionally means the subject it is commenting on is very important right now as the Major Arcana represent principles, concepts and ideals.”
The cards represent the qualities and experiences we must incorporate into our lives before we can realize our full potential – emotionally, spiritually and physically.
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.
NOTE – There is a specific order for the Major Arcana, but some decks deviate from this, for example, the Rider-Waite deck has the Strength card coming before the Justice card, and hence is numbered differently.
The Minor Arcana:
This half of the deck represents the ups and downs in daily life!
The 56 Minor Arcana cards are divided into four suits, similar to your average card deck. You have four suits Wands (representing Fire and relating to your average clubs), Swords (representing Air or your average spade suit), Cups/Chalices (representing Water and related to hearts) and Pentacles (representing Earth and diamonds).
Each suit has:
- numbered cards 1-10
- 4 court cards (16 all together in the deck):
The Court Cards
The 16 Court Cards often represent people at different stages of development. They can also be seen as personality types, based on their rank and elemental associations.
Pages represent early stages of learning and potential.
Knights represent action and quests. They are often messengers.
Queens represent mastery, emotional manifestation and maturity.
Kings represent power, authority and leadership.
NOTE – They may be assigned different names in various tarot decks, but in typical Rider-Waite structure the Court Cards generally follow this pattern.
The Numbered cards:
In numerology according to Author of the tarot bible the tarot numbers mean:
- one = The Number of actions. Single minded. Independent. The number one informs you that you need to be innovative, and motivated to succeed in your plan
- Two = The number of negotiation. Cooperative and laid back, this number is telling you to adapt to circumstances to fulfill your dreams.
- Three = The number of communication. Express yourself through creative outlets and your life journey will benefit from fun loving relationships.
- Four = The number of realistic thinking.If you are practical and self reliant you will have the motivation to achieve whatever you set out to do, and can turn any situation to your advantage.
- Five = The number of creative adventure. it is time to be more outgoing, exploring and questioning of others’ motives. The expressive side of your nature will enable you to make changes to suit you.
- Six = The Number of the protector. It is time to be of service in some way to bring out your nurturing side. However, six also reminds you not to let others decide your future for you.
- Seven = The number of mysticism. On your life journey you will encounter many people involved in healing. You have an extraordinary talent for understanding the world. Listen to your intuition for the answer to a current dilemma.
- Eight = The number of ambition. Right now you have a secret inner drive for success and power and you’ll feel cheated if you don’t achieve material results. Plan ahead. Sort out finances and the results will be equal to your goal.
- Nine = The number of vision. you have extraordinary vision for the future but following things through will be hard, you must try to avoid making promises you can’t fulfill, then you will gain the top prize.
NOTE: The Ace Card: usually the beginning of something, i.e. in ace of cups could be beginning of new romance (cups are water or emotions flowing)… new job (with hefty raise if the 3 of pentacles is near)
Tarot Card Symbolism
The Tarot is a symbolic oracle, and as such, it is vital for us to recognize and understand its symbol meanings to assure a well-rounded reading of the cards.
I believe it is important that you understand the basic symbolism of every tarot card deck. You will develop your own meanings to each symbol and card in due time. There are certain symbols that have standard meanings. These symbols are the four foundation cards of the suits: Pentacles, Swords, Wands (rods) and Cups.
These four symbols can serve as a highly useful baseline. We can build our readings on the meanings of these four symbols.
Start with the basic meaning of each suit symbol as a foundation before you interpret all the rest of the symbols of Tarot. Here is a table of basic meanings, which I encourage you to use and develop for yourself over time.
|PENTACLES ||WANDS ||CUPS ||SWORDS |
| || || || |
By now, you will have understood that a “Tarot Reading” is an advanced exercise in thinking using picture cards and a programmed hierarchy of placements to help you focus.
In the end, the answers to your question come from you and are generated in your mind, using your intuition, your subconscious and your knowledge base. The cards do nothing more than provoke you to think at a deeper level.
Helpful links for this lesson:
1. Find, buy, or borrow a deck of tarot cards. You may already have a deck, and if you like your own deck, just use that. Here are the most popular decks for beginners as these deck clearly show the images to assist you read the card:
- Painted in 1909 by Pamela Colman Smith under the direction of A.E. Waite, Rider-Waite was the first modern tarot deck to have full pictorial scenes throughout both the Major and Minor Arcana. The majority of tarot decks created since follow the structure and symbolism established by the Rider-Waite deck. And it is the #1 best seller globally!
- There are many variations of the rider waite tarot deck
- For Beginners to tarot consider:
- Rider-waite Tarot Deck By Pamela Colman Smith
- Rider-waite Mini Tarot Deck By Pamela Colman Smith
- Giant Rider-waite Tarot By Pamela Colman Smith
- Universal Waite Tarot By Smith & Hanson-roberts
- Albano Waite Tarot
- Radiant Rider-waite By Virginijus Poshkus
- For those on the Darker Side consider:
- Deviant Moon Tarot and Archeon Tarot.
- Tarot of Dreams and Jungian Tarot delve into dream symbolism and psychological archetypes.
- Esoteric Tarot – decks steeped in esoteric, Egyptian and/or kabbalistic meanings such as Brotherhood of Light Egyptian Tarot, Hermetic Tarot, and the Crowley Thoth decks. Sun and Moon Tarot offers a contemporary take on the esoteric Thoth system.
- Other Popular decks in 2018
Robin Wood Tarot By Robin Wood
- Vibrant with nature imagery and energies that enchant and excite both Pagans and non-Pagans, the entire Robin Wood Tarot, using more current symbolism to bring to life the minor Arcana.
- Aquarian Tarot Tin
- Aquarian Tarot brought medieval tarot symbolism into the modern Aquarian age. The deck has remained a bestseller throughout the four decades
- For Beginners to tarot consider:
2. Spend time studying this information on the Major and Minor Arcana using your cards. Understand the differences of these two arcana’s. Review the chart provided to you, and begin your own chart.
3. If you have not done so as yet, schedule time in your diary for your tarot lessons and study!