TAROT CARD MEANINGS
What The 78 Tarot Cards Mean in a Tarot Card Reading
TAROT CARD MEANINGS
The following is the 78 Tarot card meanings with their corresponding Tarot card images. Remember, Tarot card meanings are just interpretations with not one meaning. And vary from reader to reader. Also with the various Tarot decks available. The cards meaning can/will differ depending on the cards surrounding the key card or Tarot spread used. The meanings below are a general meaning. Based on the Rider Waite Tarot card deck.
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THE MAJOR ARCANA TAROT CARD MEANINGS
As Tarot card number zero in the pack the Fool represents all that is new, fresh and innovative. In medieval times the court jester was someone who was not expected to follow the same rules and conventions as everyone else. So he was free to be spontaneous and creative. He was laughed at for being simple and naive. But in reality it is he who gets the last laugh because these are the qualities that sustain him and bring him happiness. The card reminds us of the power in adopting a child-like simplicity. It warns against being cynical. There are many people who have achieved great things simply because they didn’t listen to anyone telling them it wasn’t possible. However, the card can also warn us of impetuousness and childishness. Stepping out into the unknown may bring you adventures and exciting new possibilities. But it may also get you into trouble and result in you turning back with your tail between your legs!
Tarot card shows a powerful figure performing his tricks with us as his audience. He is about to make things happen before our eyes that we never thought possible. The message of this card is that you know what you are doing and you have the energy of commitment behind you. You can achieve incredible things. The Magician demonstrates well the qualities of skilfulness and mastery. If you have ever seen a magician at work you can’t help but marvel at this skill. He also demonstrates the quality of power. Whether it be a divine power he is drawing upon, the power of concentration or even just the power to make things happen. He is an impressive figure and there are many lessons we can learn from him.
If she could speak she would probably say something like People are always trying to do so much these days. We are not human ‘doings’ but human ‘beings’! Yet she doesn’t speak, she only listens. She is a woman of God who sits in silence and contemplation. She seeks understanding and looks for the greater meaning behind everything. The card reminds us that there are times when it is better not to act. But instead observe and only make a move when we really know what’s going on. If we preoccupy ourselves only with activity and fill our lives with things to do, we risk missing out on the deeper aspects of our life. And hearing the call which tells us who we really are and why we’re here. here
In the Tarot deck there is both an Emperor and an Empress. The difference between them is that the Empress rules her dominion in a more feminine way. She is the mother of the nation. Her approach is to look after and care for her subjects as if they were her own children. She is both compassionate and forgiving. She believes that the way to get the most out of people is to nurture and care for them. And that this is the only responsible way for anyone in authority to behave. The Empress urges us to look at our own lives and the way we treat the people around us. Do we always act with compassion and understanding? This card also asks us to extend compassion to ourselves. Which for many can be the hardest lesson to take from this card.
Tarot card is the ruler of not just a nation but of an empire. He is the supreme commander at the top of the tree and he decides the structure and rules of the game and fully expects everyone to play by them. Neither a tyrant nor a compassionate leader. He simply believes in getting things done. And feels the best way to do this is to have someone in a position of authority making sure everything is done correctly. One message the Emperor card has for us is that we all have our own ’empire’ to rule over. We should act as he does, firmly taking charge of our lives.
Tarot card is a wise man and a teacher. He is an excellent adviser but is an orthodox thinker. So if you go to him with a problem he will give you a good answer. But won’t be able to think laterally or imaginatively. The essence of this card is about doing things in a conventional way and following traditional wisdom. The Hierophant asks ‘The conventional way has been tried and tested and it works. Why try to reinvent the wheel?’. In this age of individualism where people often want to do things their own way the message of the Hierophant is probably not a very popular one. But yet is still worth listening to. There are times when it is better to fit in and go along with the crowd. And sometimes being different can be more trouble than it’s worth!
Falling in love is often thought to be something outside of our control. We have all heard tales of seduction by love potions. The launch of Cupid’s Arrow or being bewitched by magic spells. The Lovers card does refer to these aspects of love and romance. Yet it has an additional story to tell. Traditionally this card shows a man making a choice between two women. Its message is that, like love, most things in life come down to a matter of choice. If we are in a relationship with someone it is because we chose to be with them and we are choosing to stay with them. Also, whether we find ourselves fighting, loving or being distant from others is down to our choosing. This can also represent the relationship we have with ourselves. As, if we are kind or caring towards ourselves we are likely to act this way towards others.
When faced with decisions in any part of our lives, we are not being asked to make ‘perfect’ choices. Life may or may not provide us with a wonderful soul-mate or career which will make all our dreams come true. We may just be given someone who is ‘good enough’ but who will love us and teach us to love ourselves. Or a job may come our way which is not quite what we hoped for, but which will offer us a valuable learning experience. Thus the Lovers card asks us to be as conscious as we can about the decisions we make in our life and relationships. And be open to new possibilities which maybe we hadn’t originally planned for.
Just imagine a Chariot hurtling into battle, being driven by a team of charging horses. It must have been an awesome sight. That is the image that this card summons up. A powerful one-man fighting unit ready to do battle and take on the world. The Chariot represents this spirit and the determination to succeed in all the battles we face in life. There are times when it is right to go with the flow. And there are times when compromise is the best approach. Yet when this card turns up it often indicates that what is needed is a gritty determination to win. It is important to remember, however, that many of our conflicts are internal ones. So this card should not be taken as a license to go out and do battle with the world.
Tarot card is one of the most important human qualities we can possess. Compassion, integrity and wisdom may seem equally if not more important. But without the strength of will and character to see them through they will come to nothing. Thus the strength referred to here is not an outer or physical one, but rather an inner strength. The ability to endure difficulties and persevere under pressure are all aspects of this.
The image of a lion that often appears on this card is appropriate because strength is tied up very much with courage. The lion can afford to be brave because it knows it has the physical strength to handle any situation it finds itself in. In people also, courage of conviction and strength of character are two sides of the same coin.
Tarot card is a straightforward one to understand. It depicts the traditional image of a hermit. One who withdraws from everyday life in order to be alone and discover deeper meanings. The card represents those times in our life when we need to take time out and take stock of where and who we are. The Hermit understands that we can be influenced by other people and their opinions. That the only way to discover who we truly are is to spend some time in solitude and rediscover ourselves. This can be difficult of course. As other people may not recognise or want to accept this change in us. However, it is important to heed this call to turn inwards in order that we can grow into the person we are meant to be.
Tarot card is one of the few Tarot cards in the traditional Tarot deck which doesn’t include a human figure. This is fitting because it is about those things which are outside human control. Depending on one’s beliefs this could be seen as the Power of God. The Law of Karma or just simple fate. This card serves as a reminder that although many of us would like to believe we are in total control of our lives, there are forces acting upon us. Which are beyond our influence and understanding. The idea of a wheel is revealing because it suggests there are underlying cycles and patterns to these forces that influence us.
In the Justice Tarot card we see the familiar figure of Lady Justice. In one hand she holds a set of scales. With which she weighs up each opposing side of an argument as well as right and wrong. And in the other she holds the sword of decision. With which she will inevitably administer her considered verdict. The message this card has for us is that the universe is ultimately a fair place. Even though it may not seem so on a day-to-day level. Whether this is due to karmic law, divine retribution or simply that people are inherently good, is not revealed. The card also reminds us that we each have a responsibility to act in an ethical way. And, if we do this, our good deeds will in time come back to us. In the same way if we don’t make amends, our mistakes will come back to haunt us.
Tarot card is one of the most unusual cards in the Tarot deck and its meaning is a little out of the ordinary. The image of a man hanging upside down from one leg seems on first appearance to depict quite a morbid scene. However, the man is in fact quite content with his predicament! What the Hanged Man represents is the act of doing the opposite to what your head tells you should do. The message the Hanged Man gives is that there are times when the only way to get what we want is to let go and not try. Particularly with the mind. Sometimes in order to go forward we need to take a step backward. And to win we need to surrender. When the Hanged Man turns up you really should try seeing the world from his point of view: upside down.
With it’s depiction of The Grim Reaper and hooded skeletal figure. The Death card is one of the most disturbing, but also one of the most misunderstood cards in the Tarot deck. In fact this card rarely, if ever, reflects someone actually dying. But rather relates to the concept of endings. This could be the ending of a friendship or relationship. A stage in one’s life or maybe even the letting go of a personality trait. In the past death was not seen quite so negatively as it is today. It was sometimes thought of as a welcome release from an arduous life to the more serene after-life. A natural part of life which teaches us about completion and resolution and gives us meaning. When this card turns up we shouldn’t dwell on what has passed from our lives but think about the space this has created for something new to enter in.
This card has the simple message of moderation in all things. Temperance means showing restraint in our actions and feelings. Being caught up in extreme situations and powerful emotions can be exciting. But does it get us anywhere? Probably not in the long-term. To temper something is to take it and soften it. The temperance card asks us to look at our life and see if we can take this softer approach. Rather than trying to force things to happen, it asks us to try gently coaxing and exercise patience instead.
Tarot card is usually seen as the ultimate embodiment of evil. But in Tarot he is used more to represent temptation. Traditionally the Devil doesn’t have a great deal of power himself. His power lies in his ability to entice human beings into doing things which will ultimately lead to their downfall. Therefore, if we have anything to fear in this card it is ourselves. The card is a reminder of how we are often enslaved by our own weaknesses. The reason we are trapped is because we are no longer in charge of our destiny. For a heavy drinker it is the bottle that is in charge. While for a compulsive pessimist it is the negative thoughts that call the shots. When this card turns up it often warns of an unhealthy situation developing where we are losing control of our lives.
The meaning of the Tower is a simple but sometimes unsettling one. It stands for dramatic upheaval and change. The card depicts a scene of devastation. Where a tower is brought crashing down by a fork of lightning, representing a sudden dramatic reversal in fortune. For those who don’t like change this card will not be welcome. As sometimes change does not give us time to adapt but can be abrupt and come without warning. However, sometimes that’s just what we need. To be shaken up or given a wake-up call. Although it may not seem so as it’s happening, it is times like these that can be most beneficial to us.
Tarot card can be seen as a symbol of guidance and hope. Long before the invention of the compass, mariners used the stars to steer their ships. When out at sea and far from recognisable landmarks, a familiar star could be used as a sign-post to keep on the right course. We may now look up to the stars. Hoping that, as long as we keep on the right path down here on earth, we will be rewarded with a heavenly existence after death.
The Star points to where we should be heading and holds out the promise of a better future. When the card turns up it can be a sign that we are on the right track. If we are going through a time of despair, the appearance of the Star can be a positive sign. That there is light at the end of the tunnel. It is important, however, to remember that the most important guiding light we have access to in our lives is the one found inside us.
Tarot card has long been a symbol of illusion and enchantment. Its intoxicating rays were said to be the cause of madness and delusions. The Moon card represents those times in our lives when we face confusion and doubt. Not knowing is scary. Not just because it makes us feel out of control and vulnerable. But also because uncertainty can allow our imaginations to run wild. Inventing demons and horrible fates that will befall us. The lesson this card has for us, however, is that our fears are mostly figments of our imagination. And our delusions generally self-delusions.
Tarot card light has always been a metaphor for truth. When we say we can ‘see the light’ we mean we can see the truth in a situation. When we talk about becoming ‘enlightened’ we mean achieving a level of understanding. As the supreme source of light the Sun is therefore a powerful symbol of knowledge and understanding. Ignorance may be bliss but knowledge is power. Only when we really understand a situation do we have the power to transform it and get what we want. The Sun is also associated with greatness and success. So when this card turns up it is a positive reminder that we too can be ‘brilliant’ and truly ‘shine.’
Tarot card depicts Judgement Day or the final day of reckoning. This is supposedly the day on which good souls are awakened by a trumpet call and finally rewarded for their hard work. We don’t, however, have to wait till then to experience such a life-changing event. Because we are continually being presented with opportunities to transform ourselves and our lives. The trick is listening out for that trumpet blast and recognising it when we hear it. And that comes down to good judgement.
Tarot card represents fulfilment and completeness. It reflects a state of inner contentment and peace. Particularly when we complete something in our lives. Having the World at one’s fingertips means having everything one could possibly want. Therefore being self-contained and satisfied. In reality, however, fulfilment is not just about what we have but also about how we feel. A monk or hermit may feel content with just his begging bowl and a cave to sleep in. Whilst a rich man may find little peace no matter how much of the world he owns. The card thus reminds us to appreciate what we have in our lives, rather than believing we must have more to make us happy.
PENTACLES (COINS) TAROT CARD MEANINGS
Tarot card represents a doorway into a new, more prosperous way of being. It is a good card to turn up when you need more concrete changes in your life and it speaks of solidity and of achieving visible results. It is not a card of fanciful dreams and pie-in-the-sky ideas. And does not imply that everything we need will suddenly fall out of the heavens, making our dreams come true. But if we can work hard, the card will work with us. Providing great hope for a successful outcome in whatever we set our minds to. One of the things we are being asked is to trust that the path which takes care of our practical and material needs is not as arduous as we so often believe it to be. How much happier would we be if we could get money to be our slave, not the other way round? The Ace of Coins suggests that with the right attitude, we can achieve this more healthy relationship with the material world. And is so doing, relieve pressures on other areas of our life also. Such as family and relationships. Therefore, although some work on our part is required to fulfil its promise, the Ace of Pentacles is ultimately a very optimistic card.
Tarot card is the card which represents going with the flow. It is that feeling of ease we experience when we take on something and do it so well it feels like we’re sailing. We’re not trying to push the river but are flowing with it. Yet the fact that there are two pentacles suggests that we can take on more than one task at a time. And we are able to keep many plates in the air. Being in this flow state and being able to juggle our tasks easily and effortlessly makes us feel we are in tune with the unfolding process of life.
Tarot card represents a need for competence. It is simply about planning, knuckling down and getting the job done. Many people focus on ‘what can we have now?’. Without carefully planning or having strategies to achieve something worthwhile in the mid or long-term. Planning our lives more carefully can provide us with more fulfilment and meaningfulness. Yet we do not need to do this alone. The three symbolises a team. Thus suggesting our plans can often best be made with more heads than just our own.
From the moment we come out of the womb we start wanting. As babies we cry out for food, comfort, love and attention. As we grow older our desires turn to such things as worldly goods, sex and money. But this feeling of wanting remains the same. It is quite easy for humans to get locked into traps such as always wanting bigger, better, faster. The more we get, the more we want. In a sense, therefore, one could say the Four of Pentacles is the card of the three year old, demanding its needs are met. In a well balanced human being, our wants are counteracted by a mature sense of life’s purpose. Enabling the individual to stay on track. Unfortunately, our quiet inner soul can get trampled in the rush to acquire more things and to fulfil our short-term needs. So this card reminds us that it is important to remember what life is really about. And to keep a sense of proportion when assessing what our needs truly are.
Tarot card represents times of hardship and struggle in our lives. When everything can seem mundane or even meaningless. Difficulties can have a huge impact on our health, sense of well-being and security. There is, however, a deep patience and courage we can find within our human spirit during these times. And many important lessons we can learn. The world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming it. Times of hardship can test our attachment to the world and remind us of the impermanence of material things. Along with hardship comes an appreciation of the times in our lives when things are good. Recovering from a bout of illness can make us appreciative of good health. Going through financial difficulty can help us to focus on the important things in life. Treat this card not just as a bringer of doom but also as an encouragement to be grateful for what we have.
Tarot card is the card of giving and sharing. It asks us to look at those times when we have been generous to others or when others have been generous to us. On a deeper level the card asks us to look more philosophically at the ideas of ownership and impermanence. What do we actually ‘have’ that ‘belongs’ to us? Do we ‘own’ things or are we merely borrowing them for this lifetime? We are asked also to remember that everything changes. And that sometimes we come out on top, able to give. But at other times when we go through bad patches, we are reliant on the kindness of friends. We may not realise that there is always something we can give to others. Money might be the first resource that springs to mind. But this is not always practical or appropriate. What about love? Friendship? Time? Knowledge? We can make a difference to the lives of others. The Six of Pentacles asks us to consider in what ways we may achieve this.
Tarot card is the card of assessment. It represents those plateaus along the path of life. The times when we can and need to rest and take stock of where we are and what we should do next. It is not uncommon for us to find ourselves in a rut in life. Banging our heads up against the same brick wall and trying out the same solution to the same problem. We may repeat patterns and habits for lack of finding any alternatives, and past a certain point in life. It becomes very difficult to change these ways of doing things. If we are to grow as human beings and not be content with revisiting the same plateau all our lives we need to make sure we are making good and conscious choices. These choices need to reflect where we are in our life today. Our feelings, dreams, ambitions. Not our goals from yesterday. Or those unconsciously passed on to us from our parents. It is fine to drop once-held ambitions which are no longer relevant to us. This does not equate to a failure if we did not complete these goals. But rather a success that we are able to be honest with ourselves and move forward in a more truthful way. Perhaps our dreams are now more ambitious as we realise we are stronger than we previously thought. Or maybe they are less as we feel the need to slow down. Either way, the most important element to consider is the truth derived from sincere and honest contemplation of who we are now and what we need or want for ourselves at this time.
Tarot card represents diligence and the joy of hard work and attention to detail. It is the card of delaying gratification, of ‘knuckling down’ until the job is done. It indicates a need to block out all outside influences and temporal pleasures. So that the heart may achieve what it sets out to do. The sort of person who can commit themselves to a goal in this way is often seen as a role model. As so few of us have the patience and tenacity to persevere through hard times or even manage to get past the first few hurdles. The Eight of Pentacles is a card of guaranteed success. For even if one does not achieve what one sets out to do, the actual success is in the commitment and the trying. Put another way – the greatest failure is to not try at all.
Tarot card symbolises enjoyment of the ‘finer’ things in life. This card may appear when we are deserving of some luxury in our lives. Such as a spa, a pampering or just some simple nurturing. This may come after a period of hard work. When we reach saturation or exhaustion and need to be rewarded and revitalised. When we are feeling ‘heavy’ in ourselves. This is often a sign that it is time for the pleasures recommended by this card. We may feel sometimes as if these luxuries are not as abundant as we might wish. And that we deserve more pampering than we can afford. However, the pleasures associated with this card also come when we are able to open our curiosity to the beauty of the world. And of all the sights, smells, tastes and sounds around us which are free to enjoy. Unfortunately, this appreciation is not handed to us on a plate. But is something we need to work for, requiring patience, persistence and discipline. Yet when we are able to open our senses to this deeper appreciation of life, we can be fed by its generous and complimentary offerings forever.
Tarot card represents stability and the arrival at a safe base, from which to enjoy the fruits of our labour. The card is like a sigh of relief at the end of a period of work and diligence. A sign that all is okay. It does not mean that we can stop working on our lives altogether. But instead suggests a plateau from which we may take stock of how far we’ve come. The card is thus akin to a reward. Providing us with a safe, happy place from which we can look back and celebrate and congratulate our efforts. The card can often show up at times when we have been feeling unsettled. Perhaps after struggling for a seemingly endless time on some aspect of our work, spiritual, social or romantic lives. Maybe we feel we are not getting anywhere. Even though we have been putting the work in. There may be many ups and downs along the way to getting what we want. The fluctuations between success and failure are an inevitable part of life. Yet their uncertainty can make us feel insecure and leave us longing for a basic foundation of stability. The Ten of Pentacles represents just that place.
Tarot card represents the manifestation of dreams and goals. He has an entrepreneurial spirit. And, like the other Pages, takes action to make his ideas a reality, through learning and application. He may not know everything there is to know about a subject or aspect of life. But he is willing to try his best and make an effort, with the humility of an apprentice.
This card also represents the importance of reputation to a successful life. That the quality of one’s being is just as important as the quality of one’s work. For the Page of Pentacles what he does and who he is are one and the same. Therefore, in a sense he represents the balance of personal as well as material enrichment.
Tarot card represents stubbornness and inflexibility. He is like a dog with a bone in his teeth. Once he’s got an idea about something, that’s it. He’s not letting it go. Sometimes this sort of doggedness can be useful. You know with someone like that all jobs will get done. The problem is that you also know it’s not always going to be fun being around with this person! This card can also speak of perfectionism. Representing the part of our characters which is never satisfied with ourselves or others. No matter what we do or how hard we try we can never measure up to how things should be, whatever that means. This judgement of ourselves and others often hides a suppressed feeling that we aren’t ‘good enough.’ It is wise to look at this aspect of our natures and work on self-acceptance where possible. As not only this personality is not much fun to be around for others. It can also be a nightmare for ourselves…
Tarot card is the card representing the wonderful mother. She is the sort of person who is always there for you. In times of need, insecurity and distress. She is always ready with a shoulder for you to cry on and offering a non-judgemental ear. For the Queen of Coins, love, support and practical common-sense are the most important qualities a person can possess. She would drop everything for those who seek her support. Never questioning, never watching the clock, never resenting. Just simply being there. The Queen of Pentacles speaks of reliability and of making others more important than yourself. And we know in what short supply these qualities are!
Tarot card represents success and stability. It symbolises the sort of person who has worked hard, shown commitment and diligence in various aspects of his life. And quite deservedly achieved the rewards that many of us envy. This person (or perhaps ‘role model’) is able to make money, ideas and people work for him. But without being greedy, dictatorial or controlling. He is truly in control of his life by being able to hold high ideals whilst still being firmly grounded in the real world. This card tells us we can all achieve success in our lives. But so many of us believe good fortune is not for us. The truth is that reality follows belief. Believe in the dream and you’re half-way there.
SWORDS TAROT CARD MEANINGS
Tarot card represents our ability to fight life’s battles, not with might but with reason, truth and justice. There are many stories of heroes overcoming great obstacles. Winning through to greater inner strength, outer justice or higher truth. Seeing our lives in this way deepens its meaning and gives us a sense of purpose. Most of us do not recognise our potential to follow this path or are too scared to even face the first hurdle. But could we see the true value of human beings, we would not hesitate to lift the sword which strikes at injustice.
is the card of avoidance, particularly the avoidance of difficult thoughts and feelings. It represents the state we can find ourselves in. When we don’t want to face something. We may deal with our difficulties by shutting down inside. Or by pretending to ourselves and others that nothing is wrong. We may then put on our happy face in an attempt to hide the pain. Unfortunately, difficulties don’t disappear when we run away from them. Life is often painful. To pretend otherwise is to miss out on the opportunity to work through our blocks and transform ourselves.
represents the loneliness and heartbreak we face in life. In fact the card often depicts a ‘bleeding heart’ pierced by three swords. Heartbreak can affect every area of our life. We may end up not willing to risk ourselves. Or venture into relationships without our defences or a feeling that we are in control. Experiences of heartbreak can be a replay of an earlier betrayal. For instance by our parents, a lover or close friend. These can leave us with an open wound, making us vulnerable to further betrayal. Our experience of heartbreak as adults can then feel more painful as a result and we may feel we will never recover.
There are however many powerful lessons which can be learned at these times. For instance we may develop deeper compassion for ourselves and others. And a greater strength and tenacity to deal with the difficulties in life as well as the times when things are going smoothly. Approaching our current pain in a positive way can also provide an opportunity for us to revisit and heal from those hurtful experiences in our past.
heralds the need for peace and quiet. It is the recognition that we cannot always be goal-setting or achieving. Sometimes we need to step back a little and contemplate how to deal with a particular situation. Perhaps sometimes we even need to contemplate whether we should be in a particular situation at all! This card often appears when we have been over-exerting ourselves. Thus we may need to slow down or stop altogether and recharge our batteries. When we quieten our lives enough, we are more likely to hear our inner voice which can advise us on the healthiest path forward. This may be to rest awhile, regroup our resources. Or just to learn to enjoy our times of stillness. This can represent a battle for many of us, as there are so many distractions in life. Thus we should remember the words: ‘What profiteth a man who gaineth the world yet loses his soul?’
relates to the feeling of being overwhelmed and the belief that we must struggle in our quest for survival. At times like these we may want to just look after ourselves. Feeling that perhaps we might sink if we don’t. After all, if we don’t look after ourselves, who will? It is true that we cannot expect anyone else to take care of our needs. But too often this perspective is taken too far. Thus we may act selfishly, adopting a philosophy of ‘looking out for number one.’
Many of us experience situations which damage our trust in others and lead us to believe we can only rely on ourselves. Yet it is worth remembering that love is a greater force in the world than scarcity. That there are enough resources available to take care of all our needs. The fear of scarcity can unfortunately make it a self-fulfilling prophecy. So it is important to revise our negative beliefs and trust again.
represents a period of transition. A time when we need to pull back from life temporarily. In order to get to a better place and/or perspective inside ourselves and outside in the world. At these times we may experience a drop in self-esteem. As it is difficult living in the world today whilst being unclear about what we are doing. As a result we may doubt ourselves. Forget any successes we may have had previously. And fear we will stay stuck in this transitional phase. However, this card always promises a better future. If we can be patient, have faith and see it through. This card essentially reminds us of the ‘otherness’ of life. Whilst the busy rush of plans are being implemented in the heady whirlwind of life ‘out there,’ there is a whole other life going on inside us. When we face traumas or breakdowns in life we are reminded of this otherness. Yet the Six of Swords does not require us to have a breakdown in order to receive its wisdom! We simply need to hear and follow the inner call. To pay more attention to our spiritual natures. In so doing we may begin to understand the wisdom underlying change and the transient nature of life. Within this understanding we can also realise how so much of what we do is unimportant. Whilst in contrast our spiritual nature reveals its true value, moving us forward and keeping us safe.
represents avoidance of responsibility. The bit of us that wants to remain a helpless child. This card also speaks of a hidden, darker aspect of our psyches. A side of us which behaves dishonourably. Even when we don’t want to and know we’re behaving badly. It is the little devil within us that wants to cast mischief, to see what we can get away with. This rebellious part of us comes from a feeling that we are in some ways out of control of our lives. Whether we believe life has meaning or not, there can often be a part of us which feels it is meaningless. Thus we believe that whatever we do doesn’t matter. So when we lie, cheat, steal or let someone else take the blame for something we have done, we are in fact lying to ourselves. Telling ourselves that this stuff doesn’t matter when of course we know it does.
signals lost direction and confusion. It speaks of those times when we suddenly think ‘How did I get here? What happened to my life? Where did my dreams go?’. At such times we may feel hopeless about our situation. After all, we may have worked incredibly hard to get where we are today. And, as the saying goes, we now find the ladder is lying against the wrong wall. The Eight of Swords is a real wake-up call for us and one that may make us feel fearful. Realising the truth of our lives can be daunting, but to not realise it is worse. Thus we are trapped: we need to change things in order to live more authentic lives. But we are aware of what hard work this will be. Our existing lifestyles may be trapping us in these inauthentic lives. And to be honest about who we really are may run the risk of a great deal of change and perhaps also great discomfort. However, it is necessary for us to face up to the truth of our situation in order that we can be who we really are. And not look back on our lives with regret.
is the card of anxiety. Worrying can warn us when we’re on the wrong path. Facing difficult times or are avoiding something that needs doing. However, this worry can turn to anguish. As we repeatedly torture ourselves with questions such as ‘Did I do the right thing?’ or ‘Will it work out?’
It is worth remembering that, although distressing, anxiety can be seen as a positive sign that we want for a better life. Most often at the root of anxiety is a lack of trust. We doubt that things will work out for us. And we lack the faith that the universe is actually a benign place, in which we are always loved and cared for.
relates to the times in our lives when we feel at our lowest. However, the positive aspect of this card is that it is often our perceptions which make these situations feel worse than they really are. Thus this card speaks more of our beliefs that everything is going wrong. Or that life is on top of us, rather than the reality. This message should of course be heartening. However, there are times when changing our perceptions and gaining a more realistic world view can in its own way represent a challenge. Sometimes life feels difficult and we are called to face its trials. We may tell ourselves and others that no matter how hard we try or how good we are, things always turn out bad. Our stories about self-sacrifice or martyrdom can feel very nourishing. But in our statements lies a hidden and subtle pay-off. There is a bit in many of us that wants to be misunderstood, ignored or picked on. Because it gives us an excuse for not having to be braver or become stronger. I did try and I failed so what’s the point?. Thereby we can bypass our fears of failure or success. And avoid the legitimate suffering that accompanies real growth. However, once we realise this we can once again face the challenges of life with renewed courage. In the knowledge that we are much stronger than we previously thought.
represents an apprenticeship of some kind. He speaks of the spirit of learning and the adventure of tackling new things in life. This is not necessarily in a traditional set-up. E.g. in a university or classroom. It can also represent inner learning or self-discovery. There are times in our lives when we need to go back to the drawing board. To become students again at the University of Life. This card is a reminder that we need to find the humility in ourselves. To admit that we all still have a lot to learn.
is the card of the rebellious teenager who rails at the world and all its injustice. He speaks his mind without consideration for the consequences. Such as hurting people’s feelings along the way. This card may represent an aspect of ourselves which doesn’t want to let go of our anger. And admit that what lies beneath it may be vulnerability or a feeling that we are out of control. These feelings may have come from a time when we were criticised or put down. Causing us to feel dis-empowered and to suppress some of our life energy. If we can turn this around, however, we can harness this energy and use it to our advantage. We can then be in a good position to right some of the wrongs in our lives. Or even in the world. And use our strong voices for speaking out in a more considered, compassionate and effective way.
…few of us have the courage and integrity to stand up for what we truly believe in. The Queen of Swords, however, is such a person. She has the bravery to say how she feels and to call attention to injustice she sees. The Queen of Swords is a woman of the world. She has seen every trick in the book. So it is not easy to pull the wool over her eyes. She is the people’s champion and a powerful force for good in the world. Choosing this card can be a call to us to look at where deceptions or injustices are occurring around us. Or even within our own psyches, and fight them with all our strength.
represents justice and ethics. The ultimate in logical thought and reasoning. The card speaks of the part of us which is able to see, understand and solve all problems easily and effortlessly. We may attribute the qualities of the King of Swords to others in authority. ‘They’ are clever, ‘They’ are articulate, ‘They’ are the ones who can solve problems and change nations. Yet this card represents the judgement, intellect and foresight to be found within each one of us. This is a powerful card to draw when you are feeling confused because the King of Swords’ mental capacity is great. Yet, unlike so many so-called ‘great’ thinkers, he is also just and ethical. Making him comparable to the sort of judge or leader the world so needs today.
WANDS TAROT CARD MEANINGS
symbolises the power of creative thought and imagination. We may not always be aware of it but there is in all of us the ability to be original and imaginative in the way we lead our lives. This could mean coming up with new ways of doing things, finding imaginative solutions to problems or having a dream of how life could be. Whatever the result, it is thought that proceeds action and this card reminds us that thinking in straight lines is not always the best way of doing things. This card often appears when things are feeling stagnant and a powerful shift is needed to shake things up and move forward into a brighter future. It speaks of times when all our passion, fire and persistence is required to lift us out of what feels like a hole, and take us to new horizons, which will make us feel vibrant and alive again.
is the card which represents the courage to be oneself. There is a famous quote from Henry Thoreau: If a man does not keep pace with his companions perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away. Imagine if the world were filled with people truly listening to that inner voice, telling them to follow their own path. It would not be a world of alienated or aggressive dancers or distorted, disjointed music, but of joy and harmony; of people feeling safe to be who they truly are. The card speaks also of the courage to be guided by our inner voice or gut instinct when making decisions about where to go in life, which roads to take, which partner to choose etc. None of us can fully predict the future or see what is round the corner, so we must all rely to some extent on that inner light which shines like a torch, illuminating the way forward. We each have this inner guidance but are not all fully attuned to its wisdom. The appearance of this card can often be asking us to polish that torch and to trust that where it shines is where we should follow, with boldness and faith.
is the card of the visionary. It speaks of a great leader standing at a precipice, having to take the long view in order to make the wisest decision as to how to proceed. It is the part of us able to take that bold leap into uncharted territory, which can inspire others to follow. Benjamin Disraeli said: Nurture your mind with great thoughts. To believe in the heroic makes heroes. This card speaks of our capacity to achieve great things, to set examples and be bold in doing so. It is the card of adventure and following new horizons, of acting with fearlessness. Even when fear is present.
is the card of the excited little child, exploding with enthusiasm and the simple joy of being alive. It is a card heralding new ventures and new beginnings in our lives. It represents the chance we have to let go of our limitations and allow new doors to open for our enterprising spirit to flourish. We can, however, be swept away on this tidal wave of delight and do not always remember to balance our excitement with the more cautionary voices inside us, which are important for keeping stability in our lives.
speaks of conflicts, competition and niggling problems that just won’t seem to go away. Our need to fight with and win over others can come from a healthy place, but often it arises from a place of fear. For instance, we may feel the need to protect old patterns of behaviour, or ideals and values which are outdated and ought to be dropped rather than defended. Sometimes feelings of inferiority can also cause us to pick fights, if we feel our egos need protecting. It can be difficult to ignore calls to fight, particularly if we are feeling under threat or if we just love that buzz of adrenaline. However, it is important to keep a look out for what triggers us in life and ask ourselves whether these incidents are really important enough to pursue. It is, after all, better to use one’s energy to work towards a place of inner peace and harmony if possible, rather than a state of conflict.
represents the trials and tribulations we need to go through on the way to victory and success. It is the card of the athlete who trains, sacrifices, sweats and eventually wins. Sometimes when we are persistent and keep trying with little sign of success, it can be the Universe’s way of telling us that we’re barking up the wrong tree. When the Six of Wands turns up, however, it is an indication that our trying is not in vain, but rather success may be just around the corner! The Six of Wands also asks us to recognise that our endeavours are an important part of the journey towards success and that we grow through our persistence. Sometimes when we think we have not succeeded, we fail to notice that all the effort and commitment we’ve put in has made us better people. We should feel good and reward ourselves for our accomplishments when this card turns up, but we should also remember that nothing we achieve is ever solely our success. On the contrary, any achievement to some extent grows on the backs of others: e.g. our friends, partners, colleagues or family. Thus it is worth remembering that our successes are not ours alone, and thus are to be shared and celebrated with those who support and love us.
is the card of assertion, confidence and belief in oneself. It represents strength and defiance – a call to stand up for what we believe is right. This is no wishy-washy card! It is a card of the bold warrior within us, fighting for what we want whilst keeping our integrity intact. Often we may want to hide in the shadows of life. It may seem easier to just lower our heads, let troubles flow by and then look to see if it’s safe to come out from hiding. But this is not what life is about. We may just find at the end of our lives that we missed all the fun stuff, because our philosophy stated it was more important to keep out of trouble than to engage one hundred percent in the meat and juice of life.
reminds us of the deeper meanings behind our life’s journeys. When this card turns up it is to remind us to take a breather and ask why we’re doing what we’re doing and whether it is part of our deeper purpose. We are being asked here to forge more of a relationship between our outer and our inner journeys and not just take action for the sake of it. The card can also, in a sense, symbolise the excitement of those late all-night conversations we have, staying up with friends drinking endless coffee in which we sort out the world’s problems and come to know ourselves a little better. At these times we may feel we have stepped outside our day to day existence and breathed more meaning into our air.
On our journey different pieces of life’s puzzle sometimes just fall into place and we are able to understand our past that bit more, our present makes more sense and our future becomes more exciting. At such times we may feel an amazing sense of timelessness – a realisation that our daily stresses and worries are transient, yet the whole picture is all so meaningful. The Eight of Wands symbolises the times when those pieces fall into place – pieces which, when put together, make the most beautiful puzzle which is our life; our rich tapestry.
speaks of relentless perseverance, of facing all the battles life has to offer and still remaining strong at the end. It is the card of grit, determination, stamina and integrity. It is the card of the hero. We do not all necessarily experience our battles on a grand scale, such as curing world poverty or tackling human rights abuses. Most of the heroic actions in the world are small, involving little steps; and most go unnoticed, even to ourselves. Thus this card can be a sign to us that we need to recognise our own small yet valiant steps towards justice and a better world. There are many great things that this card represents and celebrates. However, it can also remind us of the consequences of engaging in the battles of life. Everything has its price and the Nine of Wands is no exception. It points out how we may become battle-scarred, worn down by the relentlessness of life’s demands. For this reason it may reflect paranoia or defensiveness, which any of us would feel had we been under constant attack for any length of time in our lives.
relates to the burden of responsibility. There are times when we think we should be doing more, that we are not achieving enough. But these thoughts often come from feelings of guilt or failure, not from self-love. Doing things for the ‘wrong’ reasons can result in us leading inauthentic lives, trying to prove we are ‘good’ people. It then becomes difficult for us to be replenished and we spiral further downwards till we burn out. The card also speaks of the ways in which we allow others to subtly ‘dump’ their baggage on us – and in particular their emotional problems. These patterns of relating to others can become so ingrained in our psyches that much of the time we stop differentiating between others’ baggage and our own.
It is important when we are feeling weighed down by responsibilities to remember why we are carrying these burdens in the first place. The most challenging aspects of our lives are also usually the most rewarding and bring with them the greatest gifts. Each responsibility we take on – as long as they are our own and not others’ – holds an opportunity for greater ennoblement and strength of character. The choices we make and responsibilities we take on can define us as high and noble beings on a journey to greater and deeper levels of humanity.
is an adventurer. He announces Count me in! to the world and believes in his ability to change things when he makes that commitment. Sometimes it is easier for us to say no to life than to say yes. Sometimes it is even easier to say nothing at all and simply run away. Saying yes and saying no are both contagious. We all have the power to bring ourselves and others ‘up’ or ‘down,’ and all of us constantly face this choice every day. This card asks you to say ‘yes’ to life and see what amazing effects this little word can have.
represents impulsiveness. On the positive side this can indicate a shaking up of one’s life and a leap into a new paradigm with vibrancy, creative inspiration, fire and passion. On the other hand, the card can represent recklessness: the part of us that wants to spend money we don’t have, seduce people we don’t care about and quit a job in the heat of the moment. These characteristics are not always bad ones to manifest. For instance, sometimes that job is simply not right for us and maybe once in a while we do need to push past our comfort zone. However, impulsiveness has its cost – not just for us but for those around us too. The impulsive lifestyle can often mask deeper, unresolved issues which do not disappear when you make big changes. For instance, you cannot change who you are by buying a flash car or by moving to a more glamorous location. Many of us rightly want to lose monotony from our lives and don’t always want to play it safe, but the Knight of Wand’s path is still best approached with caution, in order that we and those around us do not get hurt when we are blazing our trail.
represents vitality and the spark of life. She has fire in her belly and believes that life is for living. This card represents the life energy in all of us which cannot be destroyed, though may be hidden or asleep. Somewhere deep down inside us we all have this aliveness – the sort that made us want to get up in the morning when we were children. The Queen reminds us that this vitality is the source of our energy and inspiration. Therefore we should turn to it when we want to make positive changes in our life.
represents boldness, originality and forthrightness. He speaks of a part of us which is adventurous and powerful, willing to take risks and inspire others to follow. This is the sign of the great leader within us – the powerful King who can conquer anything he sets his mind to. Something to look out for with this sort of personality, however, is an accompanying feeling of omnipotence, which can often resemble more a child than a great warrior. We may think sometimes that we are all-powerful, able to achieve anything – but we would be wise, when feeling this way, to remember that none of us is omnipotent. We all experience knocks and we all have our Achilles’s Heel.
represents the essence of the heart – the deepest emotional and spiritual love within us and the emotional intelligence that knows how to manifest this love. Often our hearts are blocked with many negative feelings – old hurts, pains, fears, resentments – and we have made this a ‘normal’ state to be in. But really it should be normal to feel joy. To hold onto the hurts and resentments is anathema to the heart – hence the heart disease that is so prevalent in the world today.
is the card of connection. It usually represents the association of two people but could also be the coming together of two minds or two ideas. The Two of Cups is one of those unavoidable You will meet a tall, dark stranger tarot cliches! It can indeed signal a romantic attraction, either presently in your life or about to happen for you. The card can also represent the art of helping one another out: a temporary meeting of two souls, assisting one another on the path and enjoying each others’ company. The essence of this card is relationship. It speaks of the unity of two aspects, and the problems inherent within this. In order for two souls, two minds or even two separate parts of ourselves to come together, there may need to be some fireworks or growing pains as we are stretched into bigger people, able to take in more than just ourselves. However, the card reflects reconciliation also, as the two halves are flung both apart and back together in the dance towards harmony.
is the card of community and its celebration. In cultures which advocate the philosophy that we live to work it can be hard to take seriously our deep need as human beings to bond with one another and celebrate our togetherness. After all, what is the point? What does it achieve? But celebration is an end in itself. We could equally ask ‘What is the point in just living to work? Where is the joy in that?’ but also ‘What greater joy and safety is there than in knowing that one is both loved and able to love?’
…as Groucho Marx once said: I’m fed up talking about me. What do you think of me? The Four of Cups sends just such a message. It is the card of self absorption – those times or that part of us which is disinterested in anyone or anything else outside ourselves. When in this state we do not usually notice how we are affecting others – in fact we may not notice others at all! Sometimes this is appropriate. There are times when we need to just focus on ourselves. Perhaps we have a history of taking care of others first, or perhaps we have been focused on a work activity and need to reintroduce balance to our lives by taking care of number one for a change. The crucial word is balance.
speaks of loss and regret. It appears at those times when we have to say goodbye to something in our lives and find it hard to cope with the empty feeling this leaves behind. One of the reasons loss feels painful is because we struggle to hold on to possessions, people, jobs etc. When the time comes to let go we then find it difficult to disassociate ourselves from these things and thus a part of us feels empty when they’re gone. Although this card feels sad and discouraging, it also signals a happier time. If we are able to deal with loss – to accept and heal it – we leave a space for something new to come into our lives. This could be a new relationship, work opportunities, friends or even new dreams. It is important, therefore, not to resist the passing of something or someone from our lives that no longer belongs, but instead welcome in the changes which are more appropriate for us at this time.
is the card of good intentions and well-meaning. It speaks of a generous heart and spirit and of all the kindnesses we do for others or that they do for us. If we look only at what the media tells us is happening in the world, we might think that doom and gloom prevail. But of course there is also much love; it just doesn’t make the headlines. We help to create our environments by surrounding ourselves with the people and experiences we choose, even if on a subconscious level.
This card represents the choice of goodness, clear consciences and innocence.
represents a world of indulgence, where all our fantasies can come true and our desires can be met. At its extreme the card reflects a culture of all-night parties, of living today as if there were no consequences to face tomorrow; of extravagance and satisfaction of all our desires. However, the appearance of this card usually highlights a general feeling of boredom in our lives, and our desire to lose structure and rules which we think are causing this dissatisfaction. The problem with escaping from life’s seeming dreariness or tedium comes when the pendulum swings too far the other way. We can potentially indulge our fantasies or follow our desires to such an extent that they become our reality; or we may enjoy our disorganised state to the point that our world becomes confused and we forget what we once valued or what is important and needs prioritising in our lives.
represents spiritual journeys – or the ‘Road Less Travelled’ as the poet Robert Frost called it. We may all experience many such journeys on large or small scales in our lives, yet not all of us equate them with spirituality or religious experience. Ultimately these journeys are taking us to greater heights and depths on the way towards our destinies. The card often appears when we need more fulfilment in our lives, or perhaps when things feel meaningless. It is thus a call to go deeper into ourselves and find the beauty and truth that lies within. These journeys can sometimes be compared to small ‘deaths,’ as they may involve giving up something which we no longer need, in order to gain something better for ourselves. As a result we may temporarily experience similar feelings to those of the dying: denial and isolation, resistance and depression for instance. However, this difficult journey eventually leads to acceptance and hope, when we realise there are far greater things in store for us.
is known in tarot as the ‘Wish Card.’ It is the card which tells you that you can have what you want, and represents the contentment and happiness which can come from that. The basis of this happiness, however, does not originate from anything outside ourselves, but rather from the joy which manifests within. It is from this place that we find the bliss of our soul, which then flowers and spreads into all other aspects of life – through the emotional, physical and even material planes. The appearance of this card can of course be a very positive sign, but it is also warns us to watch out for the negative feelings that can be aroused when wishing for something. We may be able to get what we desire, but if in the process we end up being complacent, taking things for granted, desiring the wrong things or becoming impatient or greedy, we have missed the positive, spiritual aspects of this card. We should also remember the responsibility that comes with having our wishes come true. If our dreams are shallow, so will our lives be.
represents the ultimate outcome of human relationships. It is the outpouring of all the love that lies within your heart – a heart which can be as wide and deep as the ocean and the depths of which most of us are unaware. As the Ace of Cups is the base of love, the Ten of Cups is the summit. From the top of the mountain one can see all that has been achieved – and for this card that is all the love that has been planted and harvested throughout one’s life. Therefore, when you turn up this card, one could say that ‘your ten cups runneth over’! Although the card refers mainly to love and relationships it can also represent joy and abundance in other areas – such as work, health or our spiritual life. The card signals an end to trials and hardship, and the receiving of great blessings, gifts and a state of fulfilment. It signals a time when all aspects of our life are in alignment with our values and beliefs, and in a positive position indicates that peace and fulfilment could be on the way.
is the card of instinct, gut feeling and following where your heart tells you to go. It speaks of romance and a honeymoon period in our relationships. It also represents new beginnings, dreams coming to life and following your inner guidance to new horizons and possibilities. The Page of Cups contains a youthful essence, indicating qualities such as flamboyance, sensitivity and naivety. The card speaks of a great emotional intelligence and an ability to read others’ feelings with ease and care. In essence it represents being in touch with one’s emotions, sensitive side and intuition. The Page of Cups is an exciting card. It represents a spirit of adventure – the magic carpet which can take us wherever we want to go, and places we aren’t even aware we want to go! This may happen through surprise connections. This is something we all may have experienced at some point: we meet the right people at the right time; we find ourselves engaged in the right conversations; we experience common goals and shared beliefs with others. All of these coincidences can provide us with clearer direction for our lives. The Page of Cups is deeply connected to this synchronicity within life. This combination of inner emotional intelligence and outer social intelligence, if we can be attuned to it, enables us to flow easily with life and make many dreams come true!
speaks of moodiness, fantasy and temperamental behaviour. It represents the pendulum swings of our emotional lives and their inherent creative power as well as their danger. On the positive side, the card speaks of a profound sensitivity, creativity and self-reflection. On the negative side, however, this card warns of self-indulgence and mood swings – from depression to a high and back again. During these times it is very difficult to gain perspective on our problems – and virtually impossible to find solutions to them. The key to dealing with the power which this card represents is to channel and harness it so that it does not get out of hand. Thus the card signals a danger if we are not in control, but rather allowing our emotions to lead the way. Under these circumstances the Knight of Cups asks us to make a choice. Do we want to take the roller coaster that leads us into unhealthy situations? Or do we want to ride it for fun from time to time, but when life becomes serious, realise it is inappropriate? Sometimes of course our mood swings and fantasies have biological causes. At other times, however, they may be the result of an unwillingness to see the world in an adult way, with wisdom and balance. This may be due to the addictive quality of strong emotions. Although they can cause untold chaos for us, they also make us feel alive.
represents a person filled with love. She embodies an all-encompassing, never-wavering compassion for all human beings, feeling empathy towards them, with a deep concern and understanding for the roots of any problems they may have. She is someone who would react to someone’s hatred by seeing the holiness of that person – the beauty and truth behind their pain and suffering. Anything else would be an illusion for her. Animosity can dissipate when confronted by such a strength of love, as negativity is unable to breed when it is not being fed. The card represents not just a loving person, but also the environment of unconditional support and regard, which we all need in order to grow. It is difficult in competitive environments, where we may be encouraged to outdo one another, to feel close to our humanity and to love others in the way we would like to be loved ourselves. The world and all its inhabitants need this loving atmosphere. Essentially, the card reminds us that this nurturing backdrop to life is one we should all be trying to attain, in order that we can live with mutual respect and harmony. This love, however, cannot be demanded from others, but needs to start from within each one of us.
is a consummate diplomat, who chooses his words and his timing very carefully. There are times when it is important to tell one’s truth and be honest and open. Again, there are times when one needs to hold one’s tongue and be diplomatic. Sometimes harmony is more important than truth and that is the message behind this card. In some sense the King of Cups represents dishonesty. Amongst conflicting emotions and demands he is asked to be political, whilst his own – perhaps contrary – feelings are repressed. Thus the card can speak of a deviation from our true feelings. The message is, however, ultimately a positive one. It points out that sometimes we do need to put our intellect and reason above our baser urges and instincts, and that this represents a sacrifice and healthy suppression of ego.
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