Major Arcana: a Person Maturing
In Tarot, card meanings of Major arcana are where the important stuff comes to play…
Most tarot decks have 22 major arcana cards, usually beginning with “The Fool” and ending with “The World.” Major arcana cards don’t belong to any suite and are the heart of a tarot deck. Those special cards don’t deal with mundane and everyday worries. Each major arcana card depicts an experience that changes us.
In other words, major arcana are big lessons in life.
Those lessons put together make a natural progression. Everybody goes through this progression while accumulating experience and integrating it into part of him or herself. There are steps we all take, either in the same or similar order. As new situations arise, we, first, analyze them with our rational mind, but we mature only when we integrate, on an emotional level, everything we have learned.
Sometimes, we talk about major arcana as experiences we gather from birth to death. Don’t take it too literally. The beginning of major arcana represents the beginning of new cycle in life, and with ending of major arcana, this cycle is complete, but everything is getting ready for new beginning. The is somewhat like a person graduating on this “plane” and continuing life on higher and more balanced level with new challenges coming.
So, how exactly do the cards represent those steps in one’s self-actualization? Major arcana begins with “0 The Fool”, a person naive and open to new experiences just starting on the journey. On this path, the person will have many realizations and overcome many challenges (each represented with profoundly different major arcana cards) coming from outside world, as well as from the person’s own emotions and beliefs. With each challenge, each person matures and gains confidence, as well as understanding of the world. All towards the card “XXI The World”, which is the successful completion of the cycle and getting ready for the next journey.
Some of the cards themselves actually talk about “summing things up.” They are check-points in life. For example, “Justice” represents accepting responsibility for your own life and realizing the impact of your actions, and “Judgment” tells us about stopping to take inventory of all that is behind us, in order to rise above our ego and our limitations.
There are other kinds of checkpoints, too. Those are cards that represent transitions from one way of existence to the next. With “Chariot”, you become aware of your value and stop being a child, finally taking off alone into the wide world. “Death” represents the great pain of the whole life phase ending, but also, a new beginning with confidence you are on the right track. “Tower” talks about freeing of the chains and misery, but only with bringing down your whole world as you know it.
You could also say that major arcana represents our inner selves, struggling to find our higher purpose.
So, when a major arcana card shows up in a reading, it requires special attention. Each reading is a story. And major arcana, if present, is a heart of that story.
And what about several major arcana cards in a spread?
When this happens, we are completely sure the problem doesn’t lie with mundane things. It is the lessons to be learned that we must focus on, and uncover the story about them.
Major arcana is about life, as well as tarot as a whole, and often in life, the outcome of some specific situation is far less important than the experiences we gather and lessons that get imprinted on us. It’s like the old saying: “Sometimes you win, and sometimes you – LEARN.”