Tarot Card Meanings - Overview
Tarot cards represent lessons, situations, events, interactions and influences that affect people. The cards feature descriptive imagery designed to project the possibilities of a situation or influence. When reading Tarot cards, one should look carefully at the entire picture, both the foreground and the background. It is important for the reader to pay attention to the possibilities presented by the cards.
Unlike some types of playing cards, Tarot cards typically are not reversible. If turned over, the image on the card is upside down. This characteristic is used in readings to glean additional information from the cards. The Tarot deck may be shuffled with some of the cards upright and others reversed. When the cards are dealt, leave the reversed cards in position and use the reversed card meanings to interpret them.
As with Astrology, Tarot is associated with the elemental forces of Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Each suit represents the influence of one of the elemental forces. The Wands relate to Fire. The Cups relate to Water. The Swords relate to Air, and the Pentacles relate to Earth. The Major Arcana cards also each have an elemental connection.
Tarot readings encompass a number of different spreads. A spread is an arrangement of the cards designed for a particular type of question. A card may have a somewhat different meaning depending on what spread is being used, what type of question is being asked, and the card's position in the spread. Ten popular Tarot spreads are described on our Free Tarot Readings page.
The Tarot Deck
The Tarot deck is composed of 78 cards. For the purpose of divination, the deck is segmented into two parts, the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Minor Arcana is separated further into the group of face cards, known as the Court Cards, and the remaining numbered, or pip cards. The lessons, issues and influences presented by the Major Arcana cards tend to be of a more significant and persistent nature. Although they answer questions and influence other cards in individual readings, the Major Arcana are also about life lessons. There is a well known story in Tarot, called The Fool’s Journey. The Fool card represents a young, inexperienced, open minded person starting down the road of life. The Fool’s Journey tells of the learning experiences and lessons along the way, illustrated by the cards of the Major Arcana, and finally reaching The World, or Worldliness. The Court Cards are often used to represent people in the life of the subject, or the person for whom the reading is being done. The pip cards more often represent shorter term influences, although they can still have very significant impact. The numbered cards of the Minor Arcana are also very interesting in that they represent a progression of states in the human condition.
Individual Tarot Card Meanings
The Tarot card meanings on this site feature Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot cards, and are indexed according to the segments of the deck. You may select either the Major Arcana, Court Cards or Minor Arcana from the links below for interpretations of the individual cards: