Tarot Lessons: Introduction to the Major Arcana.

by Jo-Anne Penn-Kast June 04, 2009 08:38 AM EST


Ok, for those of you wishing to learn more about Tarot (or at least my unique approach to it), I'm starting with an overview of the essentials with this article. 

What is Tarot?

In some form or other Tarot (pronounced "ta-row"), has been around as long as a picture has been worth a thousand words and one thing has led to another.  Collectively, the traditional 78 card Tarot deck includes 22 Major Arcana images, 16 Court Cards and 40 Minor Arcana cards. 

Knowing the predictive and divinatory secrets of the cards you can then use them to work on rebuilding and transforming the future as you will.

But before we can explore what's what and translate it into a 21st century discussion or lesson let's first blow down the house of esoteric cards and any remaining assumptions about Tarot belonging only to the occult oracles of foreboding dark alleys, charlatan fortune-tellers, or flighty new agers .

The Major Arcana

The Major Cards of the Tarot provide context for the other Minor and Court Cards. They are physically 22 in count and are labeled using Roman Numerals 1-21, with the "22nd" card being The Fool, labeled O (not simply "zero" or nothing, but also representing "all".)  We'll address the mathematical concepts, scientific principles, and formulas at a later date.

Anyway, The Fool is the Participant/Observer, or the Hero-Self who always goes along for the ride. He is representative of the hub of trust, resolve, and potential each of us expresses or withholds relative to the other cards. Thus, The Fool maintains an implied presence throughout because it is his journey; his story -- your story, that is unfolding.

In general all of the Major Tarot Cards can be thought of as universal "desktop icons," belief-system parables, or symbolic "hub" portraits which link us to various states, rites of passage, and opportunities by degree, or by quantum leap through the pattern language of our common human experience.

Therefore no card is inherently "bad" or "good" and none should be feared.  A Tower card, for example, could just as easily be the "brainstorm" or surprising breakthrough you've been hoping for as it is a revolutionary overthrow of an obsolete or fully saturated status-quo. Or a wake-up call against perpetual dependence by arrogant assumptions for that matter.  Depends too on whether you place your Fool in the positions of the lightning , the still standing stone tower, as the recipient of some long overdue liberation, or stand in for both or either of the abdicating (or deposed) crowned heads -- one of whom is resistant, the other who goes with the flow, and so on.

Another case in point is the Sun card.  Others will usually point to an isolated, one-dimensional scenario of vacations and bright days ahead, but get real. Aside from the obvious shortcomings, this approach can only hold true if you perform Tarot readings only once in a blue Moon so that this "prediction" can eventually be born out.

More typically in real-life or with regular experience, your Fool may assume the position of the "vacant-victor" or joyfully liberated cowboy -- whooping it up and clueless to surroundings, or temporarily absolved from stress and perhaps becoming as the "Golden Child" safely contained in his garden, unaware of any vulnerability and ignoring the cost to the sad-sack horse that supports him -- or from whom his youthful indulgence is free to drain energy like a vampire -- just so he can remain "on." 

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In any given situation you may even take on the role of the horse with a burden or assumed debt to bear. What happens to the scenario if your Fool is instead one of the sunflower "fans" who thrive on, or otherwise perpetuate such exhausting, non-sustainable expectations? Will "the source" be stuck keeping up appearances at any cost so as not to pale by comparison or dim the hopes of others? How far might he or she go to ensure a façade of eternal youth and self-centered glory? What might prompt either the ordinary horse, or the "light" to finally say "no more!"? 

Consider how such a sudden "dawning" or "setting" can initiate gratitude or redemption, or open the portal to a quantum leap opportunity stemming from awareness, or by the simple response: "I was so caught up in ___ I didn't realize..."?

Speaking of Major cards, I have some new Tarot readings available on the website that use the Major cards exclusively.  The series is called "Postcards from the Edge" and they can be used for predicting or resolving, what else -- major relationship or personal issues.  These readings are a bit edgy and totally different from any I've done before -- the tone ranges from the humorous to the raw. So good or bad I would appreciate any of your comments or feedback.

Wrapping up this lesson on the Majors, the main thing to remember is that they tend to act as calling-cards or postcards; they're like the top-fold news, the "nearest cross street," landmark, or "major" city on the GPS you use to guide or inform a cohesive theme from the network of mundane events, blended ingredients, and multiple unfolding connections -- kind of like a website portal!

When you learn to see these coming or can recognize someone else's state, you start to automatically spot the signs which lead up to or away from them.  And that's when you really start to gain predictive power, extraordinary insight, and control over the direction of your life.

For beginners and experienced users, Major card readings or meditations can really help to cut to the chase and clarify navigational prospects towards the bigger picture or highlight exceptional opportunities in the grander scheme of things. 

Looking Ahead: Exploring the Minor and Court Cards, and more on the Majors. Plus a harmless diversionary peek behind the curtain to see "If a Mayan Prophesy fell in the woods and no one was there to hear it, would it make a sound?"                                                                                   

Salutations until next time, Jo


Meanwhile, don't forget to check out my updated Unlimited Tarot Readings subscription offer under my Tarot section here at astrology.com or the latest version of my itarot (free, deluxe, and extreme) apps for iphone and the ipad over at the itunes store. Both with exclusive features, including free daily email readings and the "be your own tarot reader" options!

Some of my related articles and stuff:

Speaking of Fools, Mayan Prophesy a la Mode, Anytime Tarot for Everyday People...et, al.  at Quantum Tarot 

What Tarot Can Do For You: Steps to Success:

Card of the Day: Get a boost with my free Power Card du jour

Tarot 101: Why it Works 




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