card meanings & reading

By Stefan Stenudd
Stefan Stenudd, Swedish author of fiction and non-fiction.
About me
I'm a Swedish author. In addition to fiction, I've written books about the Tarot, Taoism, astrology and other metaphysical traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching ancient thought and mythology. My personal website: stenudd.com

Tarot Online Reading
Free Celtic Cross card reading.

Major Arcana
The 22 Tarot trump cards and their meanings.

Minor Arcana
The 56 suited Tarot cards and their meanings.

The Celtic Cross
The most famous and used Tarot card divination spread explained.

Tarot Card Decks
Some of the Tarot designs through the centuries.

The Rider-Waite Tarot
The most famous Tarot card deck.

Tarot vs. Playing Cards
The same ancestry but evolving for different purposes.

What to Make of It
Is Tarot divination accurate, and if so - how?

Tarot Archetypes
The symbolic ingredients in the cards.

Tarot Speaks to You
The cards mean what they mean to you.

Tarot Copyright
The Tarot in the public domain.

Tarot Unfolded
My book on the Tarot and its symbolic imagery.

How to get in touch with me.

Major Arcana
Click the image to get the card reading.

The Fool Tarot Card The Magician Tarot Card The High Priestess Tarot Card The Empress Tarot Card The Emperor Tarot Card The Hierophant Tarot Card The Lovers Tarot Card The Chariot Tarot Card Strength Tarot Card The Hermit Tarot Card Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card Justice Tarot Card The Hanged Man Tarot Card Death Tarot Card Temperance Tarot Card The Devil Tarot Card The Tower Tarot Card The Star Tarot Card The Moon Tarot Card The Sun Tarot Card Judgement Tarot Card The World Tarot Card

Complete Horoscope
How predictions are done by classical astrology and the full horoscope chart, with many examples.

I Ching Online
The 64 hexagrams of the Chinese classic I Ching and what they mean in divination. Try it online for free.

Taoism, the old Chinese philosophy of life, based on Tao, the Way. Also, the complete Tao Te Ching translated and explained.

Book by Stefan Stenudd:

Your Health in Your Horoscope. Book by Stefan Stenudd.

Your Health in Your Horoscope
What your horoscope says about your health, according to the old tradition of medical astrology. You learn what the planets, the Zodiac signs and the other ingredients of the horoscope reveal about many health issues. Click the image to see the book (and Kindle ebook) at Amazon.

Life Energy Encyclopedia. Book by Stefan Stenudd.
Life Energy Encyclopedia
Qi, prana, spirit, ruach, pneuma, and many other life forces around the world explained and compared. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

Tarot Major Arcana

The Major Arcana of Tarot.

The 22 Trumps of the Tarot Card Deck

The Tarot card deck consists of two parts - the Major Arcana (also called Trumps) with 22 cards, and the Minor Arcana with the remaining 56 cards in four suits. Here are all the Tarot's Major Arcana cards and what they mean in divination.

     The Major Arcana are the unsuited cards of the Tarot deck. The 22 Major Arcana cards don't belong to any of the four suits of the Tarot: Wands, Pentacles, Cups, and Swords. Instead, each Major Arcana card represents a dignity all of its own: a character of great significance, a mythical component, or an event of crucial importance.

     Each Major Arcana card of the Tarot can be described as an archetype, a symbolic figure or situation of great significance and meaning in human thought and culture. The Major Arcana figures are larger than life, representing different basic aspects of what it is to be human and to live in this world.

     Some of the Tarot Major Arcana cards are easily recognizable and their meanings are intuitively clear to just about anyone familiar with Western culture and tradition. The Devil, the Lovers, the Hermit, the Emperor, and so on - these are Major Arcana characters we can relate to because they are well-established symbols in our culture, and have been so for thousands of years.

     Other Major Arcana cards of the Tarot may be slightly less familiar to modern minds, such as the Chariot, the Wheel of Fortune, and the Hanged Man. But you only have to glance at the descriptions of those Major Arcana cards to recognize what they represent and relate to it. All the 22 Major Arcana cards are archetypes, their meanings obvious to us all, once we're introduced to them.

     In Tarot divination you should pay particular attention to Major Arcana cards appearing in your spread. Not only does each Major Arcana card carry its archetypical meaning, but it also points out the gravity of it. Someone very important enters, or some very significant event is afoot. I can't stress this enough.

     The Tarot's Major Arcana cards don't bother with everyday events and people you meet daily. They appear when something extraordinary happens, something that you'd remember to put in your autobiography. So, pay attention when a Major Arcana card pops up in your Tarot spread.

     Here are all the 22 cards of the Major Arcana and what they mean in Tarot card divination:

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Magician

1 The Magician

A sudden solution, as if by magic - but it may be just an illusion.

A. E. Waite's description:
Skill, diplomacy, address, subtlety; sickness, pain, loss, disaster, snares of enemies; self-confidence, will; the Querent, if male. Reversed: Physician, Magus, mental disease, disgrace, disquiet.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The High Priestess

2 The High Priestess

Secrets and hidden circumstances stand in the way and need to be understood.

A. E. Waite's description:
Secrets, mystery, the future as yet unrevealed; the woman who interests the Querent, if male; the Querent herself, if female; silence, tenacity; mystery, wisdom, science. Reversed: Passion, moral or physical ardour, conceit, surface knowledge.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Empress

3 The Empress

The gentle power that still rules, almost unnoticed and rarely opposed.

A. E. Waite's description:
Fruitfulness, action, initiative, length of days; the unknown, clandestine; also difficulty, doubt, ignorance. Reversed: Light, truth, the unravelling of involved matters, public rejoicings; according to another reading, vacillation.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Emperor

4 The Emperor

You're up against real power, so yield or suffer the consequences.

A. E. Waite's description:
Stability, power, protection, realization; a great person; aid, reason, conviction; also authority and will. Reversed: Benevolence, compassion, credit; also confusion to enemies, obstruction, immaturity.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Hierophant

5 The Hierophant

The dependency on approval from an elevated dignity.

A. E. Waite's description:
Marriage, alliance, captivity, servitude; by another account, mercy and goodness; inspiration; the man to whom the Querent has recourse. Reversed: Society, good understanding, concord, overkindness, weakness.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Lovers

6 The Lovers

Deeply felt mutual attraction - for as long as it lasts.

A. E. Waite's description:
Attraction, love, beauty, trials overcome. Reversed: Failure, foolish designs. Another account speaks of marriage frustrated and contrarieties of all kinds.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Chariot

7 The Chariot

Triumph - but beware of its consequences at length.

A. E. Waite's description:
Succour, providence also war, triumph, presumption, vengeance, trouble. Reversed: Riot, quarrel, dispute, litigation, defeat.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: Strength

8 Strength

Strength of a kind that's superior because of its clever application.

A. E. Waite's description:
Power, energy, action, courage, magnanimity; also complete success and honours. Reversed: Despotism, abuse if power, weakness, discord, sometimes even disgrace.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Hermit

9 The Hermit

The lesson and reward, but also misfortune, of solitude.

A. E. Waite's description:
Prudence, circumspection; also and especially treason, dissimulation, roguery, corruption. Reversed: Concealment, disguise, policy, fear, unreasoned caution.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: Wheel of Fortune

10 Wheel of Fortune

An uncertain outcome, with an aftermath to be carefully considered.

A. E. Waite's description:
Destiny, fortune, success, elevation, luck, felicity. Reversed: Increase, abundance, superfluity.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: Justice

11 Justice

Justice without blindfold is not always fair.

A. E. Waite's description:
Equity, rightness, probity, executive; triumph of the deserving side in law. Reversed: Law in all its departments, legal complications, bigotry, bias, excessive severity.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Hanged Man

12 The Hanged Man

Great personal sacrifice that still doesn't hurt much.

A. E. Waite's description:
Wisdom, circumspection, discernment, trials, sacrifice, intuition, divination, prophecy. Reversed: Selfishness, the crowd, body politic.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: Death

13 Death

A costly loss - sometimes, but not always, the death of someone.

A. E. Waite's description:
End, mortality, destruction, corruption also, for a man, the loss of a benefactor for a woman, many contrarieties; for a maid, failure of marriage projects. Reversed: Inertia, sleep, lethargy, petrifaction, somnambulism; hope destroyed.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: Temperance

14 Temperance

Moderation in all is ultimate persistence.

A. E. Waite's description:
Economy, moderation, frugality, management, accommodation. Reversed: Things connected with churches, religions, sects, the priesthood, sometimes even the priest who will marry the Querent; also disunion, unfortunate combinations, competing interests.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Devil

15 The Devil

The pain and delight of giving in to temptation.

A. E. Waite's description:
Ravage, violence, vehemence, extraordinary efforts, force, fatality; that which is predestined but is not for this reason evil. Reversed: Evil fatality, weakness, pettiness, blindness.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Tower

16 The Tower

A spectacular ambition that ends with disaster.

A. E. Waite's description:
Misery, distress, indigence, adversity, calamity, disgrace, deception, ruin. It is a card in particular of unforeseen catastrophe. Reversed: According to one account, the same in a lesser degree also oppression, imprisonment, tyranny.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Star

17 The Star

Time to pause and reflect, contemplate what's precious and what's not.

A. E. Waite's description:
Loss, theft, privation, abandonment; another reading says-hope and bright prospects, Reversed: Arrogance, haughtiness, impotence.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Moon

18 The Moon

Longing for the sake of longing, and the hope of fulfillment.

A. E. Waite's description:
Hidden enemies, danger, calumny, darkness, terror, deception, occult forces, error. Reversed: Instability, inconstancy, silence, lesser degrees of deception and error.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Sun

19 The Sun

Great resources at your disposal, but constrain yourself since it's possible to have too much.

A. E. Waite's description:
Material happiness, fortunate marriage, contentment. Reversed: The same in a lesser sense.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: Judgement

20 Judgement

Ultimate judgment, whether we welcome it or not.

A. E. Waite's description:
Change of position, renewal, outcome. Another account specifies total loss though lawsuit. Reversed: Weakness, pusillanimity, simplicity; also deliberation, decision, sentence.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The World

21 The World

Success in anything worldly, but not for free.

A. E. Waite's description:
Assured success, recompense, voyage, route, emigration, flight, change of place. Reversed: Inertia, fixity, stagnation, permanence.
More about the card's meaning here.

Tarot Major Arcana card: The Fool

0 The Fool

Blissful carelessness, the power of ignorance.

A. E. Waite's description:
Folly, mania, extravagance, intoxication, delirium, frenzy, bewrayment. Reversed: Negligence, absence, distribution, carelessness, apathy, nullity, vanity.
More about the card's meaning here.

The Book

Tarot Unfolded. Book by Stefan Stenudd.
Tarot Unfolded

This book by Stefan Stenudd presents an imaginative reading of the divination cards, i.e. focusing on what impressions the images and their symbols give. Several spreads are introduced, as well as the meanings of all the 78 cards and their pictures. Also, it gives many examples of symbolic and allegorical imagery within and beyond the Tarot. This book will help you find your own intuitive way of making inspired Tarot card readings. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.