We are all the heroes of our own stories. We are the bright-eyed youth starting down a path with no clear knowledge of what lies ahead. We are the main character fighting the good fight against all odds. We are the helper that comes in to assist the fresh-faced yet clueless beginning, and yes, sometimes we are the villain that the hero has to overcome. And inevitably, we are the wizened traveler who has done it all and is nearing the end of the journey, in most cases returning to the beginning to begin a new chapter as the bright-eyed youth, whether it be in this life or the next. So how do we get from point A to point B? How are we to complete one journey so another can begin again? We may find valuable clues to navigating our journey hidden in the major arcana of the tarot.
The tarot consists of 78 cards, 22 major and 56 minor. The minor arcana refers to happenings in our day-to-day life and can comprise an entire card spread, but most often, they are “modifiers” for major cards, which signify major life events, as the name suggests.
Exploring the Major Arcana Tarot Cards
The major arcana begins with The Fool, which bears the number “0”. This stage of a journey is so new that it hasn’t even started. It’s pure potential with no concept of the dangers, successes, challenges, and lessons that lie ahead. It is followed by card 1, The Magician, which bears the sign of Infiniti above his head and has all 4 elements laid out before him on the table. This card is also a sign of pure potential, indicating the beginning stages of a journey, and it bears the reminder that we always have what we need to walk our paths.
The last card in the major arcana is card 21, The World. It indicates completion and coming full circle. The World is preceded by Judgment, card 20, which is sometimes misunderstood. Judgment does not refer to a superficial judgment on another person or situation. Instead, it’s more an indication of a “judgment day” where the entire Fool’s Journey is considered, this journey is completed, and a different one is about to begin anew. But what about what lies in the middle?
The cards between the Initiation and the Culmination describe the small victories, challenges, and lessons that we encounter. It’s a beautiful process, although, on some days, it may not feel that way, and on those days, we’re asked to learn and grow.
Cards such as the Emperor and the Empress speak to what we’re trying to create, while the High Priestess can indicate secrets we’ve yet to uncover that may lie within us already and are simply waiting to be awakened by the wisdom we gain through our journey. The Hierophant can indicate a wise teacher we encounter that assists us, or it can simply indicate we are craving the structure of marriage. Depending on what cards are around it, it can mean either we desire to be taken into the folds of tradition, or that we are being called to break away from it. As they lie towards the beginning, the presence of these cards can indicate we still have a lot to learn!
Middle Cards of the Major Arcana
Towards the middle of the major arcana, we encounter cards indicating we may be beginning to realize where we are limited or need to make choices and grow from them. We know a choice is before us when we see The Lovers, and the outcomes will be very different. We’re asked to look inside as how we feel about these choices is a powerful indication of our inner world. As we plow ahead with The Chariot, we’re called to balance these forces. With Strength, we’re called to temper our forceful energy with grace and perhaps look at how we solve our challenges with a new lens. The Hermit is the first indication we began to grasp the full severity of what it means to go within to walk our path. We may have to make difficult choices as indicated with Judgment, and we may be called to embody The Hanged Man and either accept or break away from a sacrifice. Our increasing inner wisdom will help guide us to know which, and the tarot is there to support us all the way. When the Wheel of Fortune presents itself, we begin to see the outward manifestation of some of these actions that began from within.
Every journey has its peaks and valleys. Some of these valleys can seem like a downright abyss, and as we progress through the major arcana, we can encounter challenges such as Death, which pictures a fearsome image of a skeletal figure on a passage of some sort. This indicates an ending, an intense transition that incorporates a change that is likely not reversing. The Devil wants us or our attachments in the material world. It speaks to chains that we can most likely remove from ourselves with the proper introspection but are probably still around our necks if this shows up. This can indicate habits of overindulgence or interpersonal relationships that no longer serve us. Or we can draw The Tower, which is indicative of a sudden and drastic change to our structures that can leave us in an unsettling feeling of freefall. But around these lovelies, we also see the likes of Temperance, which guides us to refill and rebuild with a greater sense of balance. After, Death or The Star introduces beautiful ground-up healing energy which infuses us after the crash of The Tower.
End Tarot Cards of the Major Arcana
Near the end, we find The Moon and the Sun, which shine a light on anything left unseen in our inner or external worlds and take us into the bright light of all we’ve accomplished as we ride towards the completion of Judgment and The World so we can begin again.
Let the Cards Be Your Guide
The 56 minor arcana cards can assist and support you in your interpretations through speaking to signs and synchronicities, day-to-day events, and people you may encounter along the way - a journey would not be complete without them. So you can see the journey is as important as the destination! Consider where you’ve seen these cards show up for you in the past. Where were you on your journey? Where do you feel you are today?
Book your next tarot reading to explore your own inner hero!