The Tarot Deck – Major Arcana

The tarot card deck includes 78 cards in total; the first 22 are called the ‘major arcana.’

The cards within the major arcana represent life lessons and the more common themes that are influencing your life. Even though these cards deal with more general themes, they are usually very deep and complex – the general themes apply to everyone, but the meaning behind each of these themes is different for each individual.

Before you receive your tarot online reading – physical or online – it would be helpful for you to understand the meanings behind the major arcana cards. Knowing the meaning behind the cards can help you understand the reading you receive and may help you formulate questions to ask, enhancing your tarot online reading experience.

Out of the 22 major arcana cards, 21 are numbered, while the first card is not. The first card is called ‘The Fool’. The major arcana cards tell his story; the fool goes through all of the cards representing his different teachers until he reaches the last card, ‘The World.’ The major arcana cards tell the story of the fool’s journey and how he learns lessons as he goes through each of his teachers.

So, let us explore each card within the major arcana.

The Fool

  • Upright – A new beginning, being spontaneous, innocence, and one who has a free spirit
  • Reversed – One who is reckless and takes risks without thinking; one who is being held back (by their own faults or personality traits)

The Magician

  • Upright – One who is inspired and resourceful; the manifestation of goals and power
  • Reversed – Unexplored talents and manipulation; one who plans poorly

The High Priestess

  • Upright – One who is ruled by the subconscious mind; they have intuition and sacred knowledge, representation of the divine feminine figure.
  • Reversed – One who is not connected to their subconsciousness; one who is withdrawn and silent.

The Empress

  • Upright – Nature and nurturing; one who is abundant in beauty and femininity
  • Reversed – Block in creativity (leading to) dependence on others

The Emperor

  • Upright – The father figure who establishes authority and structure
  • Reversed – One who is dominating and holds control in excess, they are inflexible and lack discipline

The Hierophant

  • Upright – One who conforms to institutions and traditions; they hold religious and spiritual knowledge
  • Reversed – One who is free and follows their personal beliefs or one who has trouble going against the current

The Lovers

  • Upright – One who lives in relationships with love and harmony; there is an alignment in values and choices
  • Reversed – One who loves themselves; misalignment of values; lack of harmony

The Chariot

  • Upright – One who achieves success through action, determination, and willpower
  • Reversed – Self-discipline; one who faces opposition and a lack of direction


  • Upright – Courage, compassion, and strength
  • Reversed – One who feels their raw emotions, they have inner strength but experience low energy and self-doubt

The Hermit

  • Upright – One who prefers being alone for introspection; soul-searching
  • Reversed – Loneliness and isolation

Wheel of Fortune

  • Upright – A turning point where one might face good luck; represents karma and destiny
  • Reversed – Represents bad luck and resistance to change; one who wants to break the cycle of life


  • Upright – Fairness, truth, and law
  • Reversed – Unfairness, dishonesty, and one who fails to hold themselves accountable

The Hanged Man

  • Upright – One who takes a break, surrenders, and let’s go; they are exposed to new opportunities
  • Reversed – Indecision and delays


  • Upright – One who faces an ending that will lead to change and transformation
  • Reversed – One who is resistant to change; personal change or purging due to change


  • Upright – One who is balanced and patient; they live with purpose and in moderation
  • Reversed – One who lives in excess; self-healing and realignment

The Devil

  • Upright – One who lives in the shadow of themselves; they experience attachment, addiction, and restriction
  • Reversed – Detaching and releasing oneself from personal beliefs; exploring one’s dark thoughts

The Tower

  • Upright – One who experiences a sudden change leading to chaos, upheaval, awakening, and revelation
  • Reversed – Escaping disaster and personal transformation

The Star

  • Upright – Hope, faith, and purpose
  • Reversed – Lack of faith and disconnection; self-trust

The Moon

  • Upright – Intuition and subconsciousness; one who suffers from fear and anxiety
  • Reversed – The release of fear; experiencing inner confusion

The Sun

  • Upright – One who is positive; they experience warmth, success, and vitality
  • Reversed – One who is a child on the inside and is overly optimistic; feelings of sadness


  • Upright – An inner-calling; one who is rebirthed
  • Reversed – One who ignores their inner-calling and experiences self-doubt; they have an inner critic

The World

  • Upright – Accomplishment and completion; one who is worldly and well-traveled
  • Reversed – One who seeks closure; one who takes short-cuts (which may cause even more further delays)

(All meanings are based on the Rider-Waite tarot card deck)

This list should give you a good overview of all the cards within the major arcana and the themes they center upon. Knowing the meaning behind the cards before your tarot card reading could help you have a better insight into the reading you receive. This can be especially helpful if you choose to receive an online reading and don’t have a professional reader to guide you through it.

Knowing the meanings behind the cards and receiving an online tarot card reading can also be helpful when you do not know or do not have access to a tarot reader in your area.

To start you on your tarot reading journey, visit this page (inset external link) to receive a free online reading today!