In the last post we talked about a standard tarot card deck. To recap, it has 78 cards with a major arcana (22 cards) and a minor arcana (4 suits of 14 cards). Each card has a different picture on it. We also learned that the tarot deck was originally designed for a game similar to modern day bridge.

Let’s start with the cards of the major arcana. (An interesting side note: the cards of the major arcana were trump cards in the game.) These cards represent the journey we take in life. Sometimes it is called the fool’s journey and sometimes the hero’s journey. During the journey, we learn lessons along the way and the tarot cards in the major arcana are representative of the different lessons or can represent some aspect of ourselves.

Each card has a number and a picture on it (though early versions did not). The card pictures are as follows:

  • Fool
  • Magician
  • Priestess
  • Empress
  • Emperor
  • Hierophant
  • Lovers
  • Chariot
  • Strength
  • Hermit
  • Wheel
  • Justice
  • Hanged Man
  • Death
  • Temperance
  • Devil
  • Tower
  • Star
  • Moon
  • Sun
  • Judgment
  • World

These cards are usually numbered in order from 1-22 or sometimes 0-21, all though not all decks are ordered the same. The numbers on the cards are not nearly as important as the pictures.

Let’s look at the symbolism of the fool card.

Usually the fool card has the number zero on it. This is representative of the fool himself (as the fool on the card is usually male): innocent of knowledge and empty of experience. Most times there is a dog on the fool card. The dog represents reality or real life. While the fool is happy and carefree, the dog is always there, yapping away to remind the fool that life is close at his heels and he better take note.

Usually when the fool turns up in a tarot reading, it means a new journey is beginning. This could be a physical journey of the body or a spiritual one of the mind and soul. The rest of the tarot cards that turn up in the reading help fill in the blanks and, of course, a skilled tarot card reader can help you figure out what the fool is trying to tell you.

Next time we will look at some of the symbolism of other cards of interest like the lovers and the death cards.