major arcana

What is the Major Arcana?

Your tarot deck comprises two parts: 56 cards from the Minor Arcana and 22 cards from the Major Arcana. Here I explain what Major Arcana is.

Where the Minor Arcana is about your day-to-day life, the Major Arcana is about an image from above. The cards give a glimpse into experiences that everyone can have and the archetypes that influence your life. Think of the Major Arcana as themes like love, hope, seduction, desires, order, rules, etc.

These themes are also reflected in the Minor Arcana, but much more so in the daily challenges we experience.

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

The Fool’s Journey

The Fool’s Journey is a story in which the story of the Major Arcana is told. One by one, the card’s characters present themselves in the story. It all starts with the Fool who goes on a journey and encounters the rest of the characters. It is an intriguing journey in which he learns and stumbles. Every time he has to get up and move on, because stopping is not an option.

It is a bit like a hero story in myths and legends in which the hero experiences everything until (s) he reaches the end of the story at the World.

You don’t have to know the Fool’s Journey by heart, but it helps with interpreting your tarot card to know that this story exists and that there is a logical order with these cards, as a kind of progression.

The Major Arcana Archetypes

When we talk about the archetypes in the Major Arcana, we are actually talking about the motifs of these characters; a character that we recognize and understand. They help us understand concepts that are otherwise very complex.

Just think of the Death card. Many people hold their breath when they see this card, but if you look at the archetype, we see the Grim Reaper hanging around with a black cape and a large scythe. It reminds us we are only here temporarily, and that it is important to fulfill our desire here on this planet. Maybe it won’t end immediately, but then it’s necessary to change things.

And so there are other archetypes, such as the jester, the strict king, the elusive priestess (or witch?); and what do you say of mother nature depicted as the empress? They are all recognizable characters and it is easy to feel how that person could play a role in your life or how they can give you advice.

In fact, we ourselves also live, one by one, a mythical life. Each of us represents an archetype that also has his or her influence in the lives of others. The Great Arcana gives you the chance to reflect on that.