1.2 Structure of Tarot

1.2 Structure of Tarot

Understanding the structure of a tarot deck is fundamental to appreciating and interpreting the nuanced messages the cards can convey. A typical tarot deck contains 78 cards, split between the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. These two sections offer different lenses through which we can view and make sense of various life situations.

1.2.1 Understanding the Major Arcana

The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards, starting with The Fool and ending with The World. Each card in this set represents significant life events, spiritual lessons, or universal human experiences. They often emerge in a reading when one is going through a significant transformation or when profound inner changes are happening.

The Fool’s Journey

Often, the Major Arcana is described as the Fool’s journey. This journey is an allegorical narrative for the human experience. The Fool, numbered 0 or sometimes placed at the end as 22, stands for the naive individual embarking on a new adventure. Each subsequent card signifies the different stages and experiences that the Fool encounters on this journey of self-discovery.

The Fool (0) embarks on the journey with a sense of curiosity and wonder. As the Fool moves forward, they meet the Magician (1) and the High Priestess (2), symbolic of the masculine and feminine principles and the dual nature of reality. The Empress (3) and the Emperor (4) signify motherhood and fatherhood respectively, and the Hierophant (5) represents established social structures and institutions.

The Lovers (6) represents relationships and choices, while the Chariot (7) signifies a moment of victory and willpower. Cards like Strength (8), the Hermit (9), and Justice (11) stand for personal virtues and moral principles, while the Wheel of Fortune (10) reminds us of the cyclical nature of life.

The Hanged Man (12), Death (13), and Temperance (14) signify transition, change, and balance respectively. The Devil (15) and the Tower (16) reflect life’s challenges and moments of upheaval. The Star (17), the Moon (18), and the Sun (19) represent hope, illusion, and enlightenment respectively.

Finally, Judgement (20) stands for self-evaluation and accountability, and the World (21) symbolizes the end of a cycle and the start of another.

Symbolism in the Major Arcana

Every Major Arcana card is rich with symbolism. The images, numbers, and even colors on the cards carry significant meaning and can drastically influence the interpretation. For example, in the Death card, the rising sun in the background represents the promise of rebirth and new beginnings following an end. The number on the card also holds symbolic meaning.

1.2.2 Understanding the Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards divided into four suits: Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands. Each suit contains ten numbered cards (Ace through Ten) and four court cards (Page, Knight, Queen, and King). These cards deal with the day-to-day aspects of our lives and are reflections of our thoughts, feelings, actions, and experiences.

Suits and Elements

Each suit in the Minor Arcana corresponds to one of the four elements: Water, Earth, Air, and Fire.

Cups (Water): The suit of Cups is tied to the element of water, symbolizing emotions, relationships, love, and intuition.

Pentacles (Earth): The suit of Pentacles corresponds to the element of earth, representing material aspects, practical matters, work, and financial matters.

Swords (Air): The suit

of Swords is associated with air, representing thoughts, intellect, conflict, and power.

Wands (Fire): The suit of Wands, corresponding to fire, symbolizes passion, energy, creativity, and ambition.

The suits provide context to the card’s meaning. A card from the Cups suit in a reading might point towards emotional matters, while one from the Pentacles suit may indicate issues or achievements in material realms.

Court Cards

The Court Cards within each suit - the Page, Knight, Queen, and King - usually represent people in our lives or aspects of our own personality. They can also signify events or situations.

Page: Pages are often seen as messages or new beginnings in their respective suit’s aspect. They can represent children or people who are inexperienced or naive.

Knight: Knights represent the active, outgoing energy of their suit. They may indicate a person, an event, or a part of the querent’s personality marked by impulsivity, ambition, or drive.

Queen: Queens represent the mature, nurturing, and inward-focused aspects of their suit. They can symbolize a mother figure or the feminine side of the querent’s personality.

King: Kings are seen as figures of authority and control. They represent the dominating aspects of their suit and can symbolize a father figure or the masculine side of the querent’s personality.

1.2.3 About the Four Suits

The four suits of the Minor Arcana - Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands - are often seen as a representation of our daily lives. Each suit encapsulates a specific domain of human experience. They can give insights into different facets of the querent’s life depending on where they appear in a reading.

Cups: The suit of Cups focuses on emotions, feelings, relationships, and the psychic realm. It talks about love, happiness, sadness, and all the nuances of emotional experiences. It is inward-facing, reflecting how we feel and respond emotionally to situations.

Pentacles: The suit of Pentacles is concerned with the material and physical aspects of life, such as wealth, work, health, property, and nature. It’s about the tangible, the things we can touch, feel, and experience with our physical senses.

Swords: The suit of Swords deals with the realm of the mind, including thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and communication. It often reflects conflict, change, and power. This suit is about our intellectual understanding of the world and how we communicate that understanding to others.

Wands: The suit of Wands represents inspiration, energy, passion, and creativity. It’s about our personal growth, our dreams, and our ambitions. It reflects our inner fire and the driving force that propels us forward in life.

In conclusion, a tarot deck’s structure is a complex system filled with symbols and archetypes that mirror human life’s many facets. By understanding the tarot’s structure, we can begin to tap into the profound wisdom and guidance that it offers, allowing us to navigate our lives with greater clarity and insight.