Tarot Cards have ancient origins, we know that, but what are Tarot Cards based on? How do we end up having our traditional Rider-Waite Tarot Card deck as a divination tool to read our past, present and future? Let’s find out more with this article.
Major Arcana Cards: What are they based on?
The Major Arcana Cards are based on life lessons, karmic influences and great archetypal themes that influence our lives and our soul’s journey towards enlightenment. The meanings of the Arcana Cards are deep and complex. These cards represent the structure of human consciousness and have the keys to life lessons handed down through the centuries.
Major Arcana Cards are made up of 21 numbered cards and 1 card considered the Fool. The Fool is the main character of the Arcana Cards and makes his journey through each of the other cards, he meets new teachers and learns new life lessons along the way, and eventually he reaches the completion of his journey with the World card.
This is known as The Journey of the Fool and is a useful way to understand the story behind the meanings of the Arcana Cards. When you see a Major Arcana Card in a Tarot Card reading, you are asked to reflect on life lessons and what you are facing right now.
The Major Arcana Cards will often set the background for the entire Tarot Card reading, with the other cards referring to that fundamental message.
Minor Arcana Cards: What are they based on?
The Minor Arcana Cards are divided into four groups: the suit of Cups, the suit of Swords, the suit of Sticks and the suit of Coins or Pentacles.
Each suit includes the cards from Ace (One) to 10 and the so-called court cards, that is the Jack, the Knight, the King and the Queen.
In all we therefore have 56 Minor Arcana Cards. Despite being called ‘Minor’, these cards nevertheless contain valuable indications and advice.
Normally cards from Ace to 10 are based on events and situations, while court cards represent people.
In the Rider-Waite deck, which is what I recommend as a good starting deck, in each card of the Minor Arcana there is an image that illustrates its meaning.
After reviewing the first 40 cards of the Minor Arcana, you can move on to the approach to the remaining 16 cards, known collectively as “the Court Cards”.
Generally, it is said that the Court Cards do not represent conditions, moods or periods of life (as the previous 40 instead) but are mostly based on the people who are part of the life of the consultant.
For this reason, during a consultation, these cards particularly attract the attention of the interested party who is driven to associate a known face with the card. This system of interpretation is indeed very useful, in fact, it is important that the consultant abandons themself to their sensations and unconsciously associates a real person with a character on the cards, beyond an association or a “canonical” meaning linked to the type of character and the suit (element).
Court cards can also indicate a profession, a social role, a person of a certain age, a stage of life or cultural and / or spiritual evolution.
One of these cards can be the same consultant in a particular moment of one’s existence, because one is not always the same card, but always changes.
So, what are Tarot Cards based on?
We can say that Tarot Cards have two different basis; Major Arcana Cards are based on universal forces and on more natural scenarios (as we can find the Moon, the Sun, the Star and so on), but also to some of the more intriguing high figures linked to the psychic realm, like the High Priestess, the Hierophant etc.
Minor Arcana Cards are about the court life, but not only referring to the highest ranks but to the community within the “castle” life. That is why we can find soldiers, travelers, workers and families.
I bet this kind of pattern was created as the first people interested in Tarot Cards were those from the nobility and they felt a connection with old-fashioned tradition. But, there is more.
Tarot Cards based on numbers: Numerology and Tarot
In the Tarot Card deck, the numbers 3 and 7 are particularly important, two combinations in relation to the world of the sacred. They are divine numbers full of meaning in many cultures.
What is even more surprising is the recurrence of this combination everywhere in both the Arcana Cards and in the blade’s cards.
We have the following three cycles:
- The 1st consists of cards from 1 to 19, and corresponds to the path of life, all the tests that must be faced, the feelings, and the most current actions (work, love, failures, beginnings, studies). The Sun represents the arrival point of this tortuous and demanding path.
- The 2nd group would include cards 20 to 21 (Judgment and the World) which symbolize the arrival or achievement of a higher goal.
- The 3rd group would be made up of a single card, that of the Fool, which is a bit apart from the others, and which can act at any time in human life.
Other types of combinations and divisions are then possible, and have the advantage of being all convincing, since the Tarot Cards form a whole so united and so coherent, that each card refers to a whole, to this whole.
The interactions between the cards, or the magic of the number 7
The High Priestess (II) (which is the fruitful principle) opposes the Pope (V). The sum of the two cards 2 + 5 = 7.
Same thing with the Empress (III) and the Emperor (IV) who also form an opposite pair (also in this case the sum of the cards is 7).
It is same thing regarding the Magician card (I), which opposes that of the Lovers (VI), an undecided boy who must choose the right path. 6 + 1 = 7
The Arcana Cards seem to have been placed in a specific order, which makes one think of the pilgrim’s progress along the path that is life. Man passes from the beginning, from creation (the Fool) to the apogee (The World) where he reaches the peak after numerous tests.
Numbers and their meanings
The numbers are divided into odds and evens. The evens represent the male element, and are considered beneficial and positive, while the odds represent the female element, and are considered threatening and secretive. However, this rule has some exceptions, such as the number 18 which represents the Moon.
Here are some more numbers and their meanings:
- The number 1 is the symbol of unity, of God, of perfection.
- The number 2 is the symbol of division and duality, of conflicts, of man’s destiny, which always leads him to make continuous choices.
- The number 3 is linked to psychics, the soul and the divine.
- The number 4 represents matter and all that is material, it is the number of stability, and all that is earthly.
- The number 5 corresponds to man, the human aspiration and knowledge through spirituality.
- The number 6 announces the transitions, the changes.
- The numbers 7 and 9, they announce the strength, the end of a cycle and for the beginning of a new one.
- The number 8 gives you balance, stability and solidity in all your projects.
- The number 10 is conducive to fullness, calm, and serenity.
- The number 12 represents the cycle, the perpetual beginning.
- The number 13 reveals the rupture and imbalance.
- The number 16 is the material power.
- The number 20 is a sign of future achievement.