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The Major Arcana

Tarot Card Meaning

  • List of cards:

    The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess., The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, The Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgment, The World

  • What does the Major Arcana represent?

    The Major Arcana represents life's karmic and spiritual lessons. It stands for one's entire journey through life, including major events, challenges, and opportunities for personal growth and transformation. Each card embodies deep archetypal themes and personal development paths.


The Major Arcana, which consists of 22 cards, is the representation of the most significant things we deal with over the course of our lives. Unlike the Minor Arcana, it rarely addressed the minor stuff we deal with every day. Instead, the Major Arcana cards are a roadmap for our entire life journey.

This article is reviewed and verified by our advisor

Major Arcana Tarot Cards

In a full tarot deck, there are two tarot classes or, more accurately, Arcanas: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.

Each card in the Major Arcana is the reflection of situations we encounter in our lives, and all of them reveal a specific message and provide guidance for unanswered questions and unsolved problems we face.

During the reading, we come across common points between our life circumstances and the hidden meanings of the cards. Rather than offering us short-term solutions, the Major Arcana cards usually give us a long-term direction.

Which Cards Make Up the Major Arcana

All Minor Arcana cards include the name of the suit—Cups, Pentacles, Swords, or Wands—and the number, for example, The Two of Cups. The rest of the tarot deck is the Major Arcana.

If you use your tarot deck to play standard card games like the Fool (which you shouldn't do to avoid interfering with the energy of your deck), you need to take all Major cards out. They include cards like The Magician, Devil, The Wheel of Fortune, The High Priestess, and others.

Now, let's explore the Major Arcana meaning of each of them.

Major Arcana Card Meanings

A Major Arcana tarot card is always the core of your tarot reading (as long as one of the cards you draw in a spread is part of the Major Arcana). The meaning of other cards is related to the core Major Arcana card’s meaning and complements it.

If most of the cards you draw belong to the Major Arcana, it is an indication of life-changing situations with long-lasting effects on your life. There are lessons you are about to learn that will progress your life journey. So, here's what each of the Major Arcana tarot cards means:

  • The Fool
  • The Magician
  • The High Priestess.
  • The Empress
  • The Emperor
  • The Hierophant
  • The Lovers
  • The Chariot
  • Strength
  • The Hermit
  • The Wheel of Fortune
  • Justice
  • The Hanged Man
  • Death
  • Temperance
  • Devil
  • The Tower
  • The Star
  • The Moon
  • The Sun
  • Judgment
  • The World

However, there's one essential thing to know about tarot readings. When you draw a few cards in a spread (say, five or ten of them), the meaning of each card changes a bit. The cards you draw next to it affect its interpretation, so it makes sense to analyze them as a group as opposed to individually.

A Word of Caution: Pay Attention to the Major Arcana Tarot Card Meanings in Reverse, Too

Keep in mind that the Major Arcana meanings you see here apply to the Major Arcana tarot cards in an upright position. However, as they teach everyone in tarot guides and classes, each tarot meaning changes dramatically if you draw the card in a reversed position.

In fact, in most cases, the meaning becomes basically the complete opposite. To explore full tarot cards Major Arcana meanings and be able to perform a tarot reading competently, you need to look up each of the cards individually.

What If You Draw Mostly Reversed Cards

If most of the Arcana cards you draw in a spread are reversed, it may be an indication that you are either ignoring or refusing to learn from your past experiences. Learning from past experiences is the key to moving ahead in your spiritual life journey. So, listen to the deck and analyze your past for any important lessons you might have missed.

An Afterward

The Major Arcana might be the core part of the full tarot deck, but the Minor Arcana matters as well. You need to understand both to be able to talk to the deck and understand what it's trying to tell you. Use our full tarot guide to get an in-depth interpretation of all tarot trumps (which are the tarot cards Major Arcana) as well as the entire Minor Arcana.


How many Major Arcana cards are there?

The Major Arcana cards, also known as The Trump Cards, are considered to be the most important and powerful cards in a tarot spread. They include 22 cards—21 numbered cards and one card with no number (the Fool card). They are the base, the core foundation of the tarot deck.

What are the Major Arcana cards?

Everything that isn't the Minor Arcana is the Major Arcana. It's quite easy to recognize the cards that belong to the Major Arcana. Unlike those that make up the Minor Arcana, the names of Major Arcana tarot cards don't consist of the number and the name of the suit; there is no differentiation in the Major Arcana cards by suit at all.

What is Major Arcana?

Each of the Major Arcana cards has its own tarot meaning. For example, The Fool stands for free spirit, new beginnings, and adventure. However, the cards you draw together in a spread affect the meaning of your tarot card reading. Basically, the meaning may differ depending on the combination of cards.