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Meanings for tarot cards vary quite a bit, depending on the tarot deck you are using, and also how your are interpreting the pictures and symbols of each tarot card. It is important when reading the tarot to always attune to your intuition when interpreting the meaning of a tarot card. It is the interaction between the archetype and symbols of the card, and your own consciousness, that the healing power of the tarot can most clearly be experienced.
The tarot is a collection of ancient symbols that correspond to steps the soul takes on the spiritual journey. Most tarot decks have two parts, called the major arcana and minor arcana. Major arcana cards symbolize the important lessons that a soul goes through in its spiritual journey, and the minor arcana represent the ways that these lessons are carried out in daily life.
The information I share here is based on my own intuitive connection with the tarot, which was first grounded in the work of Amy Klainer. Amy's guidelines and interpretation of the meanings for tarot cards resonated strongly with me and created a foundation of awareness that guides me when I do a tarot reading.
The minor arcana contain four suits that correspond to the four elements of earth, air, fire and water.
These four symbols form the foundation of the tarot deck, and you can discern many of the meanings for tarot cards through understanding this foundation. These four energies must be in balance in our lives. In a tarot reading, much of the meanings for tarot cards unfold through the dynamic relationships between these four elements.
Discs symbolize the Earth element, physical manifestation, birth, prosperity, right livelihood, and a grounded life on the Earth. When you receive discs in a tarot reading, this is often spiritual guidance to help you with your practical, day to day life.
Swords represent the element of air, truth, clarity, mental focus, spiritual guidance, positive affirmation, and mental energy. In today's world many of us can be excessively focused on our thoughts, because we've been taught to rely on our mental processes to navigate in life. A more heart centered consciousness is not yet anchored in our larger collective awareness, and so the presence of swords in a reading can help us to use our higher mind in balance with our heart.
Wands represent the element of fire, and represent passion, true identity, and action that are aligned with divine will. The presence of wands in a tarot reading encourages us to move forward, to harness the full measure of our divine spiritual identity, and to take action from our larger spiritual identity that is that is aligned with divine will, rather than from our smaller, ego based self.
cups represent the water element, emotions, dreams, divine love, the heart, and the subconscious. In today's world there is a powerful process of purification happening on the Earth, which affects us all. The presence of cups in a reading assists us in our own purification and transformation process, and in becoming more grounded in our hearts.
Each suit of the tarot contains numbers from one to ten, which symbolize the different stages possible in the growth of a plant.
The meanings for tarot cards vary depending upon where they are placed within a tarot reading, and also depending upon the tarot deck that is used. Within the minor arcana there are generally three or four court cards which represent both processes within the spiritual path, and can also represent people in your life.
Within most traditional tarot decks the court cards are arranged as follows. The court cards vary widely between tarot decks, there are some tarot that have only three, or which use completely different symbols, or which even omit the court cards.