Major Arcana

The major arcana cards are indicative of large moves, powerful forces at work that may seem greater than our own – fate, destiny, etc. They may serve as a catalyst for bringing about events that require energies more massive than the individual feels capable of handling alone. The querist is advised to look closely at core issues in the psyche and to explore the workings of one’s own interactions with the universe.

0 – THE FOOL

A dreamer, perhaps a “holy Fool” or someone setting out on a spiritual quest. This is a great card for artists, indicating the materialization of creative thought forms. There is excitement, something new; an adventure beginning. It may not be so good for non-creative types, where it’s likely to manifest as foolishness and lack of discipline. The desire to accomplish a great goal or begin a new project or journey; enthusiasm uncluttered by details. Frenzy, intoxication, unrestrained excess.

Reversed: Recklessness, indiscretion, thoughtless action. Missing crucial cues while brazenly plunging ahead. The choice is likely to be faulty. Negligence, carelessness of promises.

I – THE MAGICIAN

Someone who can “make things happen.” Will, mastery, organizational skills, creative talents. The ability to pull in the power from a greater source and focus it through desire into manifestation. A card of skill, self-confidence, willpower and psychic talent. A good time for performing magickal deeds, directing psychic forces. Initiative, creativity & originality, dexterity, craft (which may include trickery, deception, sleight of hand). Transmutation. May indicate medical knowledge and abilities (not necessarily traditional).

Reversed: Indecision, weak will, ineptitude. The use of power for destructive ends. Could indicate mental imbalance.

II – THE HIGH PRIESTESS

Oracular knowledge and insight. Hidden influences at work. Clarity; knowing what is good for you and what isn’t. Good judgment and common sense. Knowledge gained through intuition, dreams. Serenity (possibly to the point of seeming aloof, reserved or emotionally cold). Secrets and mystery. Could also represent a woman who interests the querist.

Reversed: Conceit, sensual enjoyment. Accepting surface answers, not digging too deeply for the necessary information. Physical passion, conceit, superficial knowledge, lack of patience.

III – THE EMPRESS

Material wealth, marriage; fertility for would-be parents, for farmers or for people in the creative arts. If its position is not in the best placement in regard to other cards, it sometimes indicates luxury or dissipation. Fruitfulness in ideas and action. Love relationships, “feminine” influences, generosity, sunny outlook. Abundance and plenty; having enough to share.

Reversed: Infertility, loss of material possessions, inaction, frittering away of resources. Possibility of destruction by conflict and inability to meet basic needs. Poverty may disrupt home. Psychological problems may cause instability. Barrenness. May indicate some of the more “negative feminine influences” (vacillation, overspending, nagging and whining).

IV – THE EMPEROR

Leadership, mental activity, domination. War-making power, authority, paternity. Status attained through merit as well as age. The fruits of toil, the results of action. Controlled and directed sexual drive. Power in general, and the stability to wield it. Preoccupation with where power comes from, how to get it, how to use it. “Masculine” influences. Could indicate going back to school, getting degrees or certification, public life, running for office, etc.

Reversed: Loss of control. Serious injury in battle. Emotional immaturity and bondage to parents. Possibility of being defrauded of one’s inheritance. Relying on the benevolence and compassion of others. May also indicate “negative masculine influences” (stubbornness, immaturity, confrontation, etc.) Possible abuse of power. Condescension.

V – THE HIEROPHANT

A mentor figure. Good advice; someone to whom the querist may turn for help. Could also indicate alliance or marriage but not generally in an egalitarian sense; a definite imbalance of power. Preference for the outer forms of religion, the ritual, the creed, the ceremony. May also indicate an emphasis on the importance of social approval and adherence to formalities; the need to conform to society.

Reversed: Openness to new ideas, unconventionality. The card of the inventor as well as the free spirit. Disregard for established rules; the outlaw. Take care that you do not become superstitious. Weakness, lack of conviction, unwillingness to face facts. Overprotection.

VI – THE LOVERS

Choice, temptation, attraction. The struggle between sacred and profane love. Harmony of the inner and outer aspects of life. Love relationship of equals. A new love affair. Attraction (with definite sexual elements to it), romance, infatuation. Harmony. Obstacles and trials overcome. Freedom of emotion.

Reversed: Quarrels, infidelity, danger of a broken marriage. Need to stabilize the emotions. Possibility of a wrong choice. Foolish designs; being oblivious to or disregarding possible consequences.

VII – THE CHARIOT

Triumph, success, control over the forces of nature – thus, triumph over ill health as well as money difficulties or enemies of any sort, including one’s own lower animal passions. The capacity for discipline and self-control. This is a card of those who achieve greatness. Mental and physical prowess should lead to fulfillment. Vengeance. War. Going into battle with the promise of victory. It may also indicate travel in comfort, an easy journey.

Reversed: Decadent desires, restlessness and the need for change and novelty in one’s passions. Possibility of ill health. An unethical victory. Quarrel, dispute, turmoil; may indicate litigation. Conflicting influences; indecision or rushing to a decision. May mean escape or flight from reality.

VIII – STRENGTH

Force of character, spiritual power overcoming material power, love triumphing over hate, the higher nature over carnal desires. Mind over matter. Courage, energy, action. Controlling situations with mind-strength. Conviction, fortitude and determination. May indicate attainment despite considerable peril.

Reversed: Domination of the material. Discord. Lack of moral force. Fear of the unknown in ourselves. Abuse of power. Weakness. Having your own strength turned against you.

IX – THE HERMIT

Silent counsel, prudence, discretion, circumspection. Receiving wisdom from above; instruction from an expert in your field. A meeting with one who will guide the seeker on the path to material or spiritual ends. A journey may be necessary in order to seek answers or gain knowledge. Spiritual guidance from within, manifesting in attractions and repulsions. Withdrawal and introspection. May indicate a time for the querist to be cautious, postpone movement or activity. Heavy dreams; pay close attention to these.

Reversed: Refusal to listen to wisdom. Immaturity, foolish vices. Rejection of maturity; the tendency to be a perpetual Peter Pan. Can also mean irrational caution. Fear; paranoia. Withholding emotion. May indicate concealment or disguise due to fear of discovery.

X – WHEEL OF FORTUNE

Success, unexpected turn of luck, change of fortune for the better, new conditions. Creative evolution within the laws of chance. Predestined good events; a karmic turn for the better – just stay out of your own way and let it happen. A new and lucky direction of one’s life. Can also mean the end to a problem or resolving a question or dilemma. May indicate a more general approaching change, the nature of which may be indicated by nearby cards. The moves here are large and could include major life changes (goal changes, devotion changes, etc.).

Reversed: Failure of an enterprise, setbacks. New conditions require courage. You will reap as you have sown. Increase, abundance; perhaps too much of a good thing. The changes here seem inevitable.

XI – JUSTICE

Justice will be done. Balance is required. Lawsuits in the works at this time will be won, or at least resolved fairly. The balanced personality demands elimination of all excess baggage, wrong ideas, useless forms of education. A mixture of the right ingredients is welcomed–as in science, chemistry, and cooking. May betoken the desire for education with a well-balanced mind as its objective. Fairness and equity, just rewards. Reasonableness, balance and harmony. May indicate good intentions, well-meaning actions. You may become involved with general legal matters or court dealings – taxes, licensure, etc.

Reversed: Injustice, inequality, legal complications. You are reminded to use mercy and understanding when judging others, and to avoid excessive tendency to severity. May indicate bias or bigotry. Advice you receive at this time may be serving someone else’s interests. The frustrations of dealing with bureaucracy.

XII – THE HANGED MAN

In spiritual matters, wisdom, prophetic power. A pause in one’s life; suspended decisions. Self-surrender leads to the transformation of the personality. Material temptation is conquered. This is a transition card, preceding a change. There is a “click” experience: a sudden realization. The mind undergoes a major turnaround when the last piece of the puzzle falls into place. Intuition, divination, prophecy. Clarification of an issue. Becoming aware of the true nature of one’s circumstances and the consequences of one’s actions. Can also indicate surrender, abandonment, renunciation; letting go of outmoded ideas that are no longer useful.

Reversed: Arrogance, preoccupation with the ego, resistance to spiritual influences. Absorption in physical matters. Wasted effort. False prophecy. Selfishness. Maintaining the status quo; “people-pleasing.”

XIII – DEATH

Transformation, a radical change, destruction followed by renewal. This is usually a sudden, unexpected change. The change may be in consciousness or perspective, heralding new ideas and opportunities which arise as a result of letting go of that which is no longer necessary. Death of an old way, possibly death of a relationship. Possibly a blessing in disguise. Look at the surrounding cards to see what area of the querist’s life may be concerned in this change.

Reversed: Disaster, political upheaval, revolution, anarchy. Death of a political figure. Temporary stagnation. Tendency toward inertia. Lethargy. Resistance to change; refusal to evolve.

XIV – TEMPERANCE

Moderation; management of resources. Economy and frugality. Adaptation, modification, tempering; coordination and planning, self-control. Patience and adjustment. Working in harmony with others; good administrative management. Successful combinations will be achieved. May indicate compromise and accommodation, consolidation. What has been imagined will come to pass.

Reversed: Competing interests, unfortunate combinations. Quarreling, corruption, separation. Possibility of shipwreck or some other disaster. May also indicate things connected with churches, religions. Moralizing. Control issues.

XV – THE DEVIL

Being chained by one’s own choices. Subordination and subservience (may include oppressive places of work, long and uninteresting study, etc.–anything which takes your energies away without replenishing you). Emotional dependency upon another person. Being subject to unhealthy outside influences or advice. Discontent, depression. Illness. Bondage to the material; sensation divorced from understanding. Wrong use of force. Violence. Might indicate an ill-tempered or mean-spirited person; someone being deliberately adversarial.

Reversed: The beginning of spiritual understanding. Removing the chains of bondage to the material. The overcoming of pride and self-interest. May indicate a voluntary bondage. Can also indicate weakness, pettiness, lack of principles, someone easily led astray. Being blind to something. Timidity, failure to break through and make one’s own decisions.

XVI – THE TOWER

Upheaval; all hell breaking loose. Changing of the cast; loss or abandonment of past relationships, new players coming in. Change, conflict, catastrophe. Overthrow of existing ways of life, old notions upset. Disruption will bring enlightenment in its wake. Breakdown of old beliefs and breakthrough into new areas. Can also indicate calamity, misery and adversity, ruin for some (may or may not be the querist). Selfish ambitions will come to nothing. Bankruptcy.

Reversed: The gain of freedom at great cost. False accusations, false imprisonment, conviction by association. Tyranny, oppression. A lesser degree of disruption and upheaval. Possibly a failed coup, or an uprising quelled.

XVII – THE STAR

Insight, inspiration, hope. Unselfish aid. Good health. The gifts of the Spirit. Great love will be given and received. Bright prospects. Can also indicate someone who might be easily influenced (may or may not be the querist).

Reversed: Pessimism, doubt, stubbornness, lack of perception. Chance of physical or mental illness. Arrogance. Impotence. Lack of inspiration, dullness.

XVIII – THE MOON

Intuition and imagination. Unfolding of latent psychic powers. A slow and gradual change, probably voluntary; the time frame indicated is most likely to be about one month. The possibility of error is great at this time; exercise caution. You are working in the dark; be aware that you may not be able to see all the details at this time. Unforeseen perils. This card can also indicate the presence of hidden or unknown enemies, danger, conspiracy. Deception. This can also be a card indicating an auspicious time to undertake any activities which you need to do covertly.

Reversed: Imagination will be reined in by practical considerations. Storms will be weathered, peace gained at a cost. No risk should be taken. Wait out any situations where you must assess detailed information to make a decision; important factors which are likely to come to your attention later are apt to be missed or obscured under the present circumstances. Instability. Lesser degrees of deception and error. Ulterior motives and insincerity.

XIX – THE SUN

Material happiness, success, attainment. A good marriage. Happy reunions. Achievements in the arts, science and agriculture. Studies completed; liberation. Accomplishment. This is also a card of new friendships and indicates affection, sincerity, warmth, devotion, trust.

Reversed: The same in a lesser sense. May indicate a fortunate alliance or a marriage of convenience. Contentment, though not as full as it could be. A new situation may seem too good to be true, or too good to last. Future plans clouded, trouble in marriage, a broken engagement, possible loss of a job or home.

XX – JUDGMENT

A life well-lived, a work well-done. Judgments in one’s favor. Awakening, renewal. A change of personal consciousness, which is now on the verge of blending with the universal. Knowledge brings power but also responsibility. Rebirth, readjustment, rejuvenation. Development of denied, dead parts of the personality; rekindling of forgotten goals, interests. Resurfacing of dreams and memories; pay attention to these. Can also indicate a decision, result or outcome, or a reminder of the necessity of making one’s own decisions and doing so in a timely manner.

Reversed: Weakness, disillusion. Fear of death; failure to find happiness. Existential angst. Separation, divorce. Possible loss of worldly goods. Estrangement. Deliberation, weakness, vacillation. Circumstances, repercussions and reactions arising from indecision. May also indicate apologies and forgiveness.

XXI – THE WORLD

Completion, reward, certain success, triumph in all undertakings. Definitely a card of travel, possibly change of residence, arrival at a state of “cosmic consciousness.” The path of liberation.

Reversed: Success yet to be won; fear of change or travel, too great an attachment to one’s place of residence or job. Lack of vision. Stagnation, impermanence. Inertia. Rigidity.

© Copyright 1993 by D.V. Gray, Queen Z & Hunter MacKenzie. Revised and republished 2005, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2015.

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