A traditional Tarot deck consists of 78 cards; Twenty-two of these cards are known as the Major Arcana with titles to indicate their specific symbolism. There are many ways to work with these archetypal energies. Most readers of the Tarot either see the Major Arcana as individual entities or they see them as a progression of meanings. The first perspective understands each card as presenting unique traits or experiences as relevant to a person’s spiritual advancement. For example, the Hermit represents application of knowledge, the Wheel represents a change in circumstances, and so on. This approach considers numbers on each card as significant according to the idea associated with them, instead of seeing the numbers as important due to their succession.
The second perspective approaches the Major Arcana as a progression with each Trump building upon the one before and leading into the next. Number significance is regarded as important but examined within a larger context. Comparisons with other numbers can assist our understanding of the limitations as well as virtues of each card. This is also why we use spreads for reading the Tarot as placement may indicate the context of the singular definition.
I am consistently amazed at how many ways we can examine the 22 Major Arcana cards in the Tarot, alone and together, for meaning. I think of the Tarot as a narrative, much like comic books, and I find that truth can be found by applying that story to your own. The Major Arcana affect us through their artistry, symbolism and archetypes. In The Magician’s Dictionary: An Apocalyptic Cyclopedia of Advanced Magic(k)al arts and Alternate Meanings, E.E. Rehmus lists his version of the Mysteries of the Tarot. In his listing he only gives the numbers for the cards and not their titles. I suspect this was to honor the fact that sometimes the titles are not agreed upon and some have many different iterations. I felt it is was important to add what I consider the traditional titles for easier accessibility. Here are Rehmus’ truths about the Major Arcana:
0. The Fool: The Void begets generation, according to its own natural law, without external implication.
1. The Magician: The first step in any undertaking is the most significant. Upon its character alone depends whether any work will be completed or, if completed, successful.
2. The High Priestess: Everything is everything else–without exception.
3. The Empress: Life itself, on any level, is religion enough.
4. The Emperor: To dare is the secret of creation. To know is the secret of happiness. To persist is the secret of success. To keep silent is the secret of secrets.
5. The Hierophant: Belief can act as a focusing or funneling agent that enables us to express single, powerful ideas without competing distractions. However, belief can be false, and reliable knowledge achieves the same ends.
6. The Lovers: Love is a pragmatic aspect of consciousness and is therefore not an emotion.
7. The Chariot: There are infinite realities. Not all of them are rational.
8. Strength: Gravity is the sum of related or unrelated discrete energies in propinquity.
9. The Hermit: Reality can be changed radically, even in startling ways, by any series of small, deliberate acts.
10. The Wheel of Fortune: Everything evolves on all planes, simultaneously.
11. Justice: Opposites are merely the two ends of the same string–pull one and the other must immediately follow.
12. The Hanged Man: Any knot can be cut, but it is better for the soul to untie it or endure it.
13. Death: Death, like all physical phenomena, is also an illusion. Things come into existence and go out of existence according their will, but nothing is lost. Anything can be retrieved from oblivion at any time.
14. Temperance: All beings are as immortal as they choose to be.
15. The Devil: Good depends on evil in order to exist, is itself thereby evil.
16. The Tower: Man was intended to be the dragoman of all consciousness. Complete intelligence requires at least three elements.
17. The Star: To see the world afresh at every moment is a prerequisite of enlightenment.
18. The Moon: Omniscience and the Akashic Records are available to anyone who is willing to take considerable pains to look.
19. The Sun: Since all things are at the peak of their existence at this moment, they are also at the peak of perfection, yet this perfection will be surpassed in the next moment.
20. Judgment: You are God.
21. The World: As above, so below. As within, so without. As left, so right. As being, so non-being.
This list adds a new perspective to an already burgeoning wealth of information regarding the Major Arcana of the Tarot. I present them as food for thought. I must admit that some of the statements had me stop and examine the meaning behind the statements and decide whether or not I could understand them as my truth. The 6th statement had me analyze my beliefs around love and the idea that it is not an emotion, the 12th quote struck me as very indicative of a Hanged Man situation regarding the untying of a knot, and I was most inspired by the star light of 17th mystery to remember to be present at all times.
Which of the mysteries did you relate to? Were there any you disagreed with or found hard to understand? Leave a comment at the end of this post and let me know!