Tarot Major Arcana

What Are The Major Arcana?

The Major Arcana are the Tarot cards with the most symbolic and divinatory importance. There are 22 Major Arcana, numbered from 0 to 21, each of which is individually named and illustrated.

The Major Arcana are also known as the “trumps” (from “triumphs”) of the Tarot deck. Some call them Atu – hence “Atu XVIII” refers to The Moon.

A full 78 card Tarot deck contains both Major and Minor Arcana. However you sometimes come across a Major Arcana only “deck”. Whilst these might be artistically interesting and worth buying as collectibles, I find them of little practical use.

Meanings

People often ask what the cards “mean”. That’s an impossible question. Each individual Tarot deck has its own imagery and symbolism which must then be filtered through the psyche of the reader and the context of the question. Understanding the meaning of Tarot cards is ultimately a very personal thing. That’s why it’s important to try several different decks before settling on one – even then you’ll probably find that different decks are best suited to different questions or just different moods.

That said, for the benefit of beginners I’ve put together a very basic introduction to the most common interpretations of the Major Arcana. The exact names and numbering of the cards along with their symbolism vary depending on your deck preferences.

Tarot Major Arcana
0 The Fool 11 Justice
1 The Magician 12 The Hanged Man
2 The High Priestess 13 Death
3 The Empress 14 Temperance
4 The Emperor 15 The Devil
5 The Hierophant 16 The Tower
6 The Lovers 17 The Star
7 The Chariot 18 The Moon
8 Strength 19 The Sun
9 The Hermit 20 Judgement
10 The Wheel of Fortune 21 The World