Major Arcana

Similar: Minor Arcana, Tarot, Tarot Card

In your Tarot deck, there are two types of cards. There are 78 tarot cards in a deck, 22 of these are the major arcana and 56 are minor arcana. 

The Major Arcana are the ‘master’ cards in a Tarot deck, as they represent archetypal images and energies, and tell a story. The story is following the Fool, as he starts at number 0 and travels through all of life’s experiences, ending with the World card at number 21. All of the numbers that appear on major and minor arcana cards are written in roman numerals, even though some decks have strayed away from featuring the numbers at all. 

Tarot cards on a marble table.

Prior to the 17th century, these cards were used as part of gambling decks, meaning that they were separated from the divination filled meaning they have today. Later these cards were viewed in the occult and divinatory practices as part of esoteric Tarot - giving specific meaning and influence to the interpretation of these cards in ritual settings. 

While the Minor Arcana is broken up by the 4 Tarot suits, the imagery on the major cards are taken from a myriad of traditions and cultures, often depicting people, animals, angels, and symbols. While lots of the cards have beautiful iconic imagery, not all of these pictures are pretty or peaceful. Some of them are disturbing or creepy, but the meaning that these cards represent is not supposed to be candy-coated, the major arcana cards reflect the life and the situations faced. 

Often, if a Major Arcana card is pulled it can be tied to a specific person or sign in your life, which makes these cards valuable in readings. These cards can also signify an area of importance, an overall theme, or point attention towards a specific issue. 

Take our quiz: Which Tarot Card are You? 

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