The Meanings of the Major Arcana: The Fools Journey
The Magician stands for Mastery and hidden skills that allow him to produce results that often appear to be ‘magical’ to others. In the Rider-Waite card, The Magician’s pose signifies, “As above, so below,” and the ability to draw on Universal power to bring about results on the material plane. This card speaks of the inner strengths and skills that allow you to transform your thoughts into reality.
The High Priestess teaches us that by accessing your intuition, wise decisions can be made. The two pillars and the book (sometime considered to be the Akashic record of the collective unconscious) represent wisdom that comes from within, and teaches that you must search within yourself for the answers to your questions.
The Empress is the archetypal Mother. Placed in an outdoor setting, the Empress represents fertility, creativity and the abundance of Nature. Her influence will stimulate your own creativity and allow you to express yourself more effectively. The creative aspect of the universe is especially strong in The Empress.
The Emperor is the archetypal Father and in control of his life. He draws his power from the rational mind, and is courageous enough to recognize the reality of a situation, rather than see only what he wants to see. Always remember that each card carries a little of the previous card. In this case, The Emperor, to be effective, must have a heart and not be totally cold and analytical.
The Hierophant represents Spiritual and Traditional Thinking. He is able to make wise decisions on the basis of tangible evidence and logic, as opposed to the High Priestess whose wise decisions are based solely on intuition. It is interesting to note that both the Empress and the Emperor have their own individual advisor sitting next to them (The High Priestess and The Hierophant), ready to help them rule wisely.
The Lovers represents a choice between two different paths in life. Because of the card’s name, it is often interpreted as a choice between two possible partners. Choices must be made before true love on the human level will be realized, and this is necessary for a full understanding of Universal Love. The angel represents the power of a mature relationship.
The Chariot represents Balance. He must summon the strength of his will to maintain balance and control both the light and dark forces of his nature, and will be able to win the hard race through his continued effort.
Strength shows that the jaws of raw emotion are closed with love, not force. We all have a reserve of Self-Confidence and inner strength for challenging times, especially if we remember that the spiritual (as represented by the symbol over Strength’s head) will always triumph over the material and physical world.
The Hermit teaches us that Inner Guidance and wisdom is often gained through introspection and allows you to light the way for others. This card often represents someone who prefers solitude to work out their problems.
The Wheel of Fortune helps us to realize the eternal truth that Nature operates in cycles, and that “what goes around comes around.” The Wheel is the vision seen by The Hermit after he has reflected on the meaning of Strength. It is important that we remember that while we can’t control The Wheel, we can always control our responses to the events it brings.
The scales of Justice (also known as Karma) will tip in one’s favor according to their intent and effort put forth. Justice is balanced, not blind. This card often represents a decision being made which demonstrates how Cosmic Justice operates. The lesson may not be obvious at first, but the passage of time and careful thought will show the inevitable fairness of Karma.
The Hanged Man shows us that the experience of sacrifice, suffering and surrender, brings us a New Perspective and a deeper understanding of the Universe. A situation may take longer than expected before it resolves itself, especially if you are “hung up” on something. A reversal of attitude may be required before you can move on.
Having absorbed the lesson taught by Justice, The Fool is now ready for some serious change, as seen in the next card.
Death represents Change, and comes in many forms. It is important to realize that we each experience an infinite number of real and symbolic deaths throughout our life. This is the process of regeneration (as symbolized by the coming dawn). Even if this card doesn’t refer directly to physical death (Thank you, Hollywood!), it speaks of dramatic and often painful changes in attitudes, habits and situations. The degree of difficulty experienced during this period is directly related to how you respond to it.
Temperance advises us to practice Moderation. The lesson here is the importance of finding a balance between the spiritual and the material. Only by finding a balance between the spiritual - that which is eternally true - and the physical world, will you be able to develop the ability to rise above the day-to-day concerns that enslave and rule most people. A perfect example of this slavery is seen in the next card.
The Devil represents the trap brought about by Temptation. Although our entrapment is both voluntary and an illusion, there is still an underlying feeling of guilt. This may be due to the demons that lie within each of us, and we must confront them before we can attain enlightenment.
The Tower collapses and disrupts our routine way of looking at life. The lightning of spiritual Truth dislodges the crown of materialistic life, making ways for new ways of thinking. Like the Tower of Babel, if one builds too high, one must be prepared for the consequences. Sudden revelation, as represented by the lightning, may be seen as the source of chaos and upheaval, but is really an agent of freedom, setting us free from self-imposed restrictions.
The Star sends out rays of Hope to us. The maiden has one foot in the water and one foot on solid ground, teaching that good fortune will be yours if you can achieve and maintain a balance between the inner, subconscious world and the outer, material world. By nourishing both your physical and spiritual requirements, you will be able to realize dreams that you have cultivated for a long time.
The Moon represents both illusion and self-delusion. It represents the dark side of the personality, and the dangers of focusing too much energy on this realm. It is not wise to trust the appearance something may take in the light of the moon, and it is best to wait for the light of day before making a rash decision.
The Sun comes brings a new day and allows us to see everything clearly. All things prosper under the Sun’s influence. With the light of day comes Truth and enlightenment, which must be understood clearly before lasting prosperity, abundance and happiness can be enjoyed.
Judgement. After being in a position of being judged, a New Freedom comes from an understanding of a higher Universal principle,signaling Rebirth and Rejuvenation. This understanding allows us to make an informed decision before undertaking the necessary action.
The World teaches us that Enlightenment is obtained through the merging of the subconscious, the ego and the Universal consciousness. This card represents The Fool’s final victory. The enlightenment of The Sun brings the attainment of all things, both spiritual and material. The World is truly your Oyster.