The Major Arcana
Major Arcana aka Trumps represent well-known archetypal energies, stages of development, life lessons and/or milestones we commonly experience throughout our lives. They hold more weight than the Minor cards in a reading because they involve growth and self-discovery and are associated with pivotal events that permeate our lives. In addition, they don’t have the flexibility the Minors offer; instead they are fixed. The Majors act as signposts on the road of life and it’s our choice which path to take but we should listen to their message.
The Major Arcana and Elemental and Astrological/Planetary Correspondences:
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn linked the Hebrew alphabet to the Major Arcana, based on the Sepher Yetzirah and they began with The Fool as Aleph. In addition, they added the four elements, planets, and zodiac signs to the Major Arcana.
The Four Elements Associations:
- Air – The Fool (Lord of the Spirit of Aether)
- Water – The Hanged Man (Lord of the Spirit of Mighty Waters)
- Fire – Judgement (Lord of the Spirit of Primal Fire)
- Earth* – The World (Lord of the Great One of the Night of Time)
*Initially only the Fool, Hanged Man, and Judgement were assigned elements. They correspond with the ‘mother letters’ of the Hebrew alphabet: Aleph, Mem, and Shin respectively.
The Planetary Associations:
- Jupiter – Wheel of Fortune
- Mars – Tower
- Mercury – Magician
- Moon – High Priestess
- Saturn – World
- Sun – Sun
- Venus – Empress
Zodiac Sign Associations:
- Aries – Emperor
- Taurus – Hierophant
- Gemini – Lovers
- Cancer – Chariot
- Leo – Strength
- Virgo – Hermit
- Libra – Justice
- Scorpio – Death
- Sagittarius – Temperance
- Capricorn – Devil
- Aquarius – Star
- Pisces – Moon
These are the Golden Dawn associations however, there are many alternatives to this list of correspondences. Some Tarotists will also associate elements (based on the zodiac sign) along with a ruling planets to each Major card. While other, correspond them to the Tree of Life in Kabbalah.
Further, some Tarot readers do not follow any of these. Instead, they attribute the entire Major Arcana to the fifth element Aether only and I am one of those readers.
Personally, I believe the Trumps represent a path to our higher self, deeper awareness, and involve esoteric lessons. Therefore, the Major Arcana is the Animus Mundi of the Tarot deck. They represent lessons of our spirit, of our soul, and in my humble opinion, it’s a logical choice. The four elements are represented by the four suits in the Minor Arcana and it’s logical the fifth is represented by the Major Arcana.
Note: Please use the correspondences that work best for you. This is extremely important and can not be emphasizes enough. You must feel comfortable when reading in order to give the best reading possible.
Beginning March 19, 2017, I began drawing a new Tarot card each week to study and learn. Click here to see all the Weekly Tarot Cards in one place.
I dive deep into each card and this is what I cover in each post:
- card description
- RWS card for comparison (if it’s a different deck)
- esoteric title
- the suit meaning
- correspondences – a list of Nine
- numerical meaning
- symbols, 2-3 important ones
- the card’s meaning – general, career, & romance
- questions to ask with this card
As a beginner, it is understandable that you have the urge to ‘memorize’ the card meanings – we all did. While I feel it’s fine to memorize a few keywords that resonate with you the most, it is crucial to learn and devise your own interpretation for each card. I suggest taking those keywords and use mind mapping to expand on each word. You’ll be amazed how this exercise can open and broaden your mind.
Major Arcana cards I have since drawn:
To see the Major Arcana keywords for each card click here.