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Tarot cards are ambiguous in their designs and profound meaning, becoming the fascination of humankind for thousands of years. Besides their explanations, the miniatures on these cards have significant connotations in their often serving as pictures which help one understand each message better. And so we begin our journey through the Major Arcana, where design and meaning come together in these intriguing images.

Different Tarot Cards

The Fool: The journey begins with The Fool, depicted as a carefree wanderer about to embark upon adventure. The card often features a figure holding a white rose, symbolising purity and innocence. The cliff The Fool stands upon represents the leap of faith required to begin anew.

The MagicianThe Magician is depicted standing before a table adorned with symbols representing the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. This image serves to show his control over creation-in both formative forces and actual manifestation. The infinity symbol above his head suggests unlimited potential, that life is cyclical.

The High Priestess: Veiled in mystery and seated between two pillars, The High Priestess represents intuition, wisdom, and the subconscious mind. Among the symbols often found on this card are pomegranates, crescent moons, and running water, suggesting depths of unconscious and unspoken meanings.

The Empress: A symbol of fertility and abundance, The Empress is nurturing, creative and maternal. The lush view in the background can be interpreted as signifying the fecundity of nature and also the nurturing love one would expect from a mother.

The Emperor: Seated on a throne of authority and power, The Emperor represents leadership, structure and security. His armour and sceptre indicate he is a protector, one who gives life; while the ram’s heads on his throne signify centreedness or action.

The Hierophant: The hierophant signifies tradition, religion, and conformity, dressed in religious garb and seated between two acolytes. His feet also support the keys indicative of secret wisdom and the importance of unlocking spiritual truths through discipline, training and prayer.

The Lovers: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden are depicted by The Lovers, conveying love, harmony, and union. Meanwhile keeping them in check is the angel from above, symbolising God’s laws and making choices that fit with your innermost spirit.

The ChariotThe Chariot, pulled by two Sphinxes in different directions, represents determination, willpower and overcoming adversity. The armour and laurel wreath worn by the charioteer indicate victory and success achieved through concentrated effort and self-restraint.

Strength: The representation of inner resilience, strength, and courage, Strength features a woman who gently tames a lion. Infinity is shown in the symbol above her head representing infinite strength, and the ability to overcome any obstacle through gentleness and love.

The Hermit: Holding a lantern out into the darkness, The Hermit represents meditation, solitude, and guidance from within. The snowcapped mountains behind him symbolise spiritual ascension and the inward journey towards enlightenment.

The Wheel of FortuneThe Wheel of Fortune, showing a revolving wheel with figures rising and falling, suggests cycles, fate, and destiny. The four figures around the rim of the wheel represent the four elements; they are mankind’s existence in flux.

JusticeJustice holds a sword and scales, epitomising equity, balance, responsibility. The double-edged sword symbolises the imperative of impartiality and consequences for one’s actions, while the scales are in response to evidence and seeking truth.

The Hanged Man: Hung upside down from a tree, The Hanged Man represents sacrifice, surrender, and seeing things in a new light. The halo around his head represents spiritual insight gained through letting go of desires.

Death: Despite the ominous name, Death means rebirth, transformation and the inevitability of change. The dawning sun in back shows new beginnings and fresh birth after old life has gone to death.

Temperance: Pitching water back and forth between two cups serves to symbolise equilibrium, moderation and harmony. Angel’s wings show divine guidance and our ability to rise above material desires through spiritual alchemy.

Devil: Bound to a pedestal and armed with horns, The Devil indicates bondage, materialism and temptation. His chains tell how we limit ourselves, and must shatter restrictions for real progress to be made.

Tower: Struck by lightning and falling, The Tower is upheaval, chaos and sudden change. The crown which falls from tower top stands the destruction of self-pride and false vanities, and release into spiritual freedom.

Star: Bathed in the light of heaven, The Star represents vision, hope and inspiration. The seven stars above the figure are symbols of the chakras, and spiritual energy which emanates in universe itself in order to light your path ahead.

Moon: Covered in mystery, surrounded by symbols of illusion, the Moon represents intuition, subconscious fears, the nameless unknown. Barking dogs at the moon mean one’s conscious and unconscious minds, telling us to explore deeply inside ourselves.

Sun: Shining with warmth and light, The Sun means success, happiness, and enlightenment. In the background, the petals of a large sunflower show growth and vitality, while in front, this child riding white horse is symbol of innocence and beginning for a new day.

Judgement: People are seen rising from their graves, Judgement indicates new birth, salvation, awakening of spirit. The trumpet held in the angel’s hand means a call to awaken from spiritual torpor, an opportunity for transformation.

The World: The first of tarot card symbols drew a wreath and its fruits, and dances to chorus figures. In fulfilment, the card standalone represents in completion and unity throughout evolution. The four figures in each of the corners symbolise the four elements and so serve as a reminder that spiritual integration is reached by maintaining balance among body, mind and soul.

Tarot Card Facts

  • Tarot card designs often incorporate esoteric symbols and archetypal imagery borrowed from a variety of religious and mystical traditions, such as astrology, alchemy, Kabbalah.
  • Many different styles of tarot card are available today, each utilising intricate artwork created by skilled artists and adding its own interpretation to the conventional symbolism of the cards.
  • Tarot cards have been used for centuries as tools for meditation, inner reflection, and spiritual growth. They provide ways to go deep into your own experience of life, to find fuller meaning in what is happening now and around you all the time.
  • Although the meanings of tarot cards may vary slightly from deck to deck and according to interpretations of the reader, the basic symbolism remains consistent. This gives a universal language for exploring human experience anew.
  • There is a website which has great animated tarot cards, you can try tarot readings for free there.

In short, the tarot card designs and meanings are a rich tapestry of symbols, both a reflection on human life and insight into its mysteries. Each card in the Major Arcana represents some aspect of life’s journey, calling us to explore within ourselves, face challenges head-on, and break free of the transforming power of self-discovery. As a tool for divination or even just personal reflection, tarot cards offer endless fascination and inspiration to modern seekers questing after meaning in an ever-changing world.

Luke Hickman is a printmaker and artist with over 15 years of experience. He studied at Norwich University, graduating with a BA (Hons) Fine Art, and has worked in both the commercial printing and digital marketing industries for over 7 years. Luke's work revolves around the idea of creating art that can illustrate a story with topics covering war, politics and history.

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