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 Archetypes

The Last Judgment, by Michelangelo 1541.

The Symbolic Ingredients in the Tarot Cards

In divination, the idea of archetypes is instrumental, and used in abundance. Thatís true also for what can be described as the mother of all divination: astrology. The twelve signs of the Zodiac, with their distinct characteristics, are archetypes. So are the planets, having the names of deities. Itís just as true for the Tarot.

     Each of the 78 Tarot cards can be seen as a kind of archetype. Itís the most evident with the 22 cards of the Major Arcana, representing central principles, mostly in personalized forms: the Fool, the Magician, the Empress, the Devil, the Hermit, and so on.

     In a Tarot reading, as well as in readings with ordinary playing cards, itís common to understand a character image on the card as someone significant that you will meet. That can happen, but itís not necessarily the case.

     What the card is really showing is that the archetype in question will be relevant in your life, either in the form of a certain person appearing or in some other way that has the characteristics of the archetype.

     For example, the Fool might mean that you meet somebody who is hard to take seriously, but generally speaking it suggests that something will happen or appear that you do best to treat in a casual manner. Depending on the position of the card in the spread, it can also mean that you are not taken seriously, although you feel you should be. Or the turn of events is such that you can do little more than shrug your shoulders and say: ďThatís life.Ē

     A king or a queen in the spread doesnít necessarily mean that you will have to deal with a certain person of power, but it does imply that you need to tread carefully, because there are powers superior to yours involved. On the other hand, in another position, the card can suggest that you need to act like a king or a queen.

     If you take the habit of treating each card as sort of an archetype, carrying a certain trait that needs to be considered, your reading will be much clearer than if you immediately search for specifics.

     Life is complicated. We need to generalize aspects of it to be able to make decisions, choose between our options, and move on. The archetypes of the Tarot are excellent generalizations of common ingredients in life. Those cards that appear in a spread show what ingredients are particularly relevant and important in regard to the question on which your reading is based.

Allegory of Time unveiling Truth, by Jean FranÁois de Troy, 1733.
Allegory of Time unveiling Truth. An allegory is the artistic way of representing principles and ideas by persons and objects, much like the concept of archetypes. Painting by Jean FranÁois de Troy, 1733.

     Let your imagination go. It will easily find what circumstances would be accurately described by the archetypes appearing in the cards. Thatís why they are archetypes Ė they can be found everywhere, and they do make sense. But thatís only if you take it in and trust your imagination, instead of consulting a manual specifying exactly what each card decides about your future.

     Another illuminating method is to regard the cards as principles: the principle of the Knight of Swords, who bravely hurries to battle against any foe, the principle of the Lovers, who forget everything else when facing each other, the principle of the Hermit, who seeks solitude whatever others might root for, et cetera. The principle is simply the core of an archetype, the meaning it carries.

     Also the structure of myth is applicable to Tarot readings. The myth is a story involving a number of archetypes interacting. The Tarot spread is also a story, told by several cards in a certain order. So, you have to find how this story makes sense, how one thing leads to another in a way that almost seems unavoidable.

     The past leads through the present into the future. Looking at the past, you should understand why the present is as it is. That also means you can get a good idea of what comes next. The cards help you through this mental process and give you the clues to make it more accurate than you would have done without them, simply because life is so complicated, every moment so confusing. Without a systematic approach, itís chaos.

     If you can make the Tarot reading like telling a story, from the beginning to the end, with characters and events making some kind of sense all through, then you manage fine and need no further study, only practice. Practice makes perfect.

     The perspective of the myth, and the archetypes populating it, also reminds us of the basic fact that nothing is really new under the sun. The important and fundamental parts of what happens to us have happened to countless people before, and to a surprisingly high extent in much the same way.

     Not that it solves every problem and dissolves any worry. Itís new when it happens to us.

     But itís far from unique. There is previous experience to learn from. Divination by the Tarot or any other method connects us to the source and essence of all that previous experience Ė if we open up and trust the only means by which this source becomes available to us. Thatís our imagination.

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.