The tarot Fool's journey is a tale human progress and individual growth.
The Major Arcana represent the milestones in one's life, the major changes and the important events.
The trump cards or Major Arcana are twenty-two cards, numbered from zero to twenty-one. They represent a progression, the meaning of each one of them coming from the previous and leading to the next.
Try this little experiment, place the cards in order on a table and carefully observe them.
The characters, situations and the meaning of each tarot card seem to tell us a story that can be read as the tale of the Fool’s voyage. This voyage represents also the course of human development or individual growth. Let’s read the story the tarots are telling us and examine in detail the meaning of each tarot card.
Some tarot scholars recon that the twenty-two trumps can be divided into three equal parts of seven cards each, with the Fool, the number zero, in an independent position.
The number seven itself has a strong symbolic value: it is not a coincidence that we find seven days in a week, seven chakras, seven hills and kings of Rome, seven Wonders of the ancient world and so on.
If we spread the twenty-one tarot trumps on three lines, we can group them as symbols related to three different categories of experiences.
The first line with the Magician, the High Priestess, the Empress, the Emperor, the Hierophant, the Lovers and the Chariot, refers to the major characters of the archetypal theater. These Major Arcana meanings deal with the basic learning of living in society.
The second line with the Strength, the Hermit, the Wheel of Fortune, the Justice, the Hanged Man, Death and Temperance, deals with the Earthly Reality and the law of society we must confront as soon as we emerge into the world. These cards act as mediators between the realm of main archetypes above and the realm of self-realization below.
The last line with the Devil, the Tower, the Moon, the Sun, the Judgement and the World is about confronting the great forces of life, spiritual development and self-realization.
It is interesting to note the imagery of the first cards in each line: the Magician, the Strength and the Devil.
They are all cards that speak of power. Both the Magician and the Strength have an infinity sign on their heads and the Devil bears a pentacle. Also, the posture of the Devil reflects faithfully that of the Magician.
In the same way, if we observe closely, we can discover more intriguing correspondences between the Major Arcana meanings of the three cards on each vertical line.
0 The Fool
This card represents a young men at the beginning of his travel
through life. He is innocent and confident, the world is full of
promises. He is totally unaware of the dangers and faces life armed only
with his courage and naive ignorance. The Fool tarot card meaning is the first step in this voyage.
1 The Magician
The fool has learned to exercise his abilities and expertly uses his devices to manipulate the world to his advantage.
2 The High Priestess
The high Priestess represents what is missing in the magician’s
material world, the spiritual side of things that is veiled to the
3 The Empress
The fool is now ready to acknowledge his archetypal parents. The
Empress is the mother earth, she is nurturing and the source of all the
riches and unconditional love.
4 The Emperor
The Emperor is the counterpart of the Mother, the Father. This
card represents authority, power, order and reason but also protection
and love for those who follow the Father’s rules.
5 The Hierophant or Pope
The Pope is the guardian of wisdom and religious teaching. With him the fool learns about moral values and traditions.
6 The Lovers
The voyager is now able to relate to another individual. He will
learn about duality in a romantic relation or in friendship. He
discovers attraction, sex, temptations and choices.
7 The Chariot
With duality comes conflict. Our hero learns to manage and control opposite forces that move in different directions.
Our hero has now a chance to learn about his capabilities and becomes confident in his own strength and powers.
9 The Hermit
Meditating and reflecting in solitude helps the voyager to get to know himself and control his energy.
10 The Wheel of Fortune
Not everything is under our control and the fool here comes to terms with the ups and downs of life.
11 The Justice
Although life is often unpredictable, a form of justice is
detectable in the events of life. All our actions have consequences,
this is the lesson for the fool at this stage.
12 The Hanged Man
The symbol of this card is a man suspended upside down. This
picture represents a moment of suspension and the need to see things
from a different perspective.
This card reflects a transition, an important moment of transformation
and the need to abandon our old self in order to learn something new.
The fool has met death, the ultimate change. He has learned to
see the world from a new perspective with equanimity and moderation.
15 The Devil
The Devil is an impediment that stops the voyager’s journey. The
fool must face and conquer his personal demons that limit his
16 The Tower
A lightning strikes without warning the safe refuge the Fool
built for himself. The destruction leaves the fool homeless but also
free from his ties. Our voyager learns about abrupt life changes and
freedom from the unnecessary.
17 The Star
The Fool is now free and ready for new hope, the stars show him a new path to enlightenment.
18 The Moon
The light of the moon is misleading, it shows things under a
deceptive light. The Fool must learn to move among illusion and hidden
19 The Sun
Finally after a long night, the Fool sees the light of the day.
Warm, vital forces reinvigorate the voyager and he feels he is finally
close to his achievement.
20 The Judgment
The trumpets of the Judgment announce resurrection and rebirth for the Fool at the end of his journey.
21 The World
This card symbolizes the achievement, the reaching of the Fool’s goal and the end of a difficult but propitious travel.
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