Tarot Card Meanings ( Quick Reference Guide)
If you are just learning the Tarot, print off this list of tarot card meanings to keep as a handy reference – it can be easier to look up meanings on a sheet of paper rather than flipping through the little white booklet that comes with most Tarot decks.
The Tarot deck is made up of 78 Tarot cards, each with its own unique Tarot card meaning. There are 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards across four suits (Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands). The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards that reflect key archetypes or spiritual lessons in our lives.
The 22 cards of the major arcana are the heart of the deck. Each of these cards symbolizes some universal aspect of human experience. They represent the archetypes – consistent, directing patterns of influence that are an inherent part of human nature.
Each card in the major arcana has a name and number. Some names convey a card’s meaning directly, such as Strength, Justice, and Temperance. Other cards are individuals who personify a particular approach to life, such as the Magician or the Hermit. There are also cards with astronomical names, such as the Star, Sun, and Moon. They represent the elusive forces associated with these heavenly bodies.
0 The Fool – New beginnings, optimism, trust in life; Reversed: Delays
1 The Magician – Action, the power to manifest; Reversed: Misunderstandings.
2 The High Priestess – Inaction, going within, the subconscious; Reversed: Manipulations.
3 The Empress – Abundance, nurturing, fertility, life in bloom; Reversed: Neglect
4 The Emperor – Structure, stability, rules, and power; Reversed: Chaos
5 The Hierophant – Institutions, tradition, society and its rules; Reversed: Hypocrisy
6 The Lovers – Sexuality, passion, choice, uniting; Reversed: Separation
7 The Chariot – Movement, progress, integration; Reversed: Defeat
8 Strength – Courage, subtle power, integration of animal self; Reversed: Fear
9 The Hermit – Meditation, solitude, consciousness; Reversed: Isolation
10 Wheel of Fortune – Cycles, change, ups, and downs; Reversed: Stagnation
11 Justice – Fairness, equality, balance; Reversed: Lies
12 The Hanged Man – Surrender, a new perspective, enlightenment; Reversed: Stubbornness.
13 Death – The end of something, change, the impermeability of all things; Reversed: Limbo
14 Temperance – Balance, moderation, being sensible; Reversed: Impatience
15 The Devil – Destructive patterns, addiction, giving away your power; Reversed: Freedom
16 The Tower – Collapse of stable structures, release, sudden insight; Reversed: Control
17 The Star – Hope, calm, a good omen; Reversed: Darkness
18 The Moon – Mystery, the subconscious, dreams; Reversed: Paranoia
19 The Sun – Success, happiness, all will be well; Reversed: Failure
20 Judgment – Rebirth, a new phase, inner calling; Reversed: Regrets
21 The World – Completion, wholeness, attainment, celebration of life; Reversed: Incomplete
There are 56 cards in the minor arcana divided into four suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. Each of these suits stands for a particular approach to life:
The Swords are the suit of intellect, thought and reason. They are concerned with justice, truth, and ethical principles. Swords are associated with the element Air. A cloudless sky, open and light-filled, is a symbol of the mental clarity that is the Swords ideal. This suit is also associated with states that lead to disharmony and unhappiness. Our intellect is a valuable asset, but as an agent of ego, it can lead us astray if it is not infused with the wisdom of our Inner Guide.
The Cups are the suit of emotions and spiritual experience. They describe inner states, feelings and relationship patterns. The energy of this suit flows inward. Cups correspond to the yin, or feminine principle, in Chinese philosophy and are associated with the element Water. The ability of water to flow and fill up spaces, to sustain and to reflect changing moods makes it the ideal symbol of the Cups suit.
The Wands are the suit of creativity, action, and movement. They are associated with such qualities as enthusiasm, adventure, risk-taking, and confidence. This suit corresponds to the yang, or masculine principle, in Chinese philosophy and is associated with the element Fire. A flickering flame is the perfect symbol of the Wands force. This energy flows outward and generates passionate involvement.
The Pentacles are the suit of practicality, security and material concerns. They are associated with the element Earth and the concrete requirements of working with matter. In Pentacles, we celebrate the beauty of nature, our interactions with plants and animals and our physical experiences in the body. Pentacles also represent prosperity and wealth of all kinds. Sometimes this suit is called the Coins, an obvious symbol of the exchange of goods and services in the physical world.
- Other Names: Staves, arrows, spades
- Element: Air
- Attributes: Active, male
- Astrological Signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
- Direction: West
- Season: Pagan – Spring / Esoteric – Autumn
- Self: Mind, thoughts, intellect
- Jungian Function: Thinking
- Body Part: Head
- Qabalistic World: Yetzirah – the Formative World
Air is seen as the intellect, logic, and reasoning. An active element, Air circulates and so cleanses; it carries your thoughts and dreams; is also expansive when hot and is said to be expressive. Your mind or thoughts can be seen as clear or clouded; speech requires breath, which requires air.
Swords represent logic, the mind, and your thoughts. They deal with problems and troubles, planning, communication, ideas, your intellect and how you use it. They represent your daily and life struggles, problems in general. The very nature of a sword is aggressive and warlike. Combined with the swiftness of air, the combination can see situations arise quickly. The ability to see clearly means the resolution is quick also. Swords people are great thinkers. You will find them in the study, research, academia, the sciences, law courts, and libraries. They love to learn and live to do it in any capacity.
Keywords: decisions, worries, problems, issues, tension, communication, intelligence, disagreements; arguments, logic, reason, cognition, ideas, inspirations, balance, equilibrium, the mind, mentalism, thinking, facts and figures, definition.
Reversed: vicious, ruthless, manipulative, cold, unemotional, spite and malice, accidents, inertia, indecision, confusion, mental blockages, biased, illogical, mental health issues, negative life changes.
- King – Serious, controlling, rational and mind/intellect-focused; Reversed: Foolish
- Queen – Intelligent, writer, communicative yet cold; Reversed: Ineffective
- Knight – Fierce, determined, aggressively pursues goals; Reversed: Boredom
- Page – mentally unstable or intellectually immature, acts without thinking; Reversed: Stupidity
- Ace of Swords – A fresh start, a sudden opportunity or idea, clarity; Reversed: Improbable
- 2 – Indecision; Reversed: Conflicts
- 3– Heartbreak, betrayal; Reversed: Torment
- 4 – Meditation, rest, retreat; Reversed: Disturbance
- 5 – Mind games, hostility; Reversed: Treachery
- 6 – Leaving, accepting help, going somewhere better; Reversed: Trouble
- 7 – Secret plans, abandoning ship; Reversed: Clumsiness
- 8 – feeling powerless and stuck; Reversed: Escaping
- 9 – Overactive mind, anxiety; Reversed: Martyrdom
- 10 – Feeling defeated, self-sabotage; Reversed: Sabotage
- Other Names: Chalices, Grails, Cauldrons, Hearts, Vessels
- Element: Water
- Attributes: Passive, female; cold, wet
- Astrological Signs: Pisces, Cancer, Scorpio
- Direction: East
- Season: Pagan – Autumn- / Esoteric – Summer
- Self: Emotions, love, receptivity
- Jungian Function: Feeling
- Body Part: Heart
- Qabalistic World: Briah – the Creative World
Water is seen as the emotions, your feelings, and your intuition. Considered passive, water can be deep or shallow; you like the ocean, are responsive to the moon; your tears can rise and fall; out of control, your emotions flood;
Cups represent your emotions, feelings, your subconscious, intuition, and psychism. They deal with love affairs, all relationships, inner expression, your reactions or responses and the pursuit of happiness. Generally passive and not outwardly extrovert, creativity through expression are some of the traits of this suit. Careers are usually in the arts or creative pursuits, they are, poets, painters, florists and designers, nurses, social workers, and caregivers. Cups people are happy in the background doing their own thing, though they are often actors distinguishing the limelight from the private time like no others.
Keywords: creative, intuitive, clairsentient, psychic, passive, affectionate, receptive, imaginative, caring, relationships, love, dreams, sensitivity, romantic, artistic, spiritual, compassionate, tactile, nurturing, the unconscious mind, domesticity, culture, expression, flexibility, fluidity, calm motion, serenity, empathetic, aesthetics and beauty.
Reversed: needy, co-dependent, intense, neglectful, fantasists, uncaring, cold, unfeeling, moody, unresponsive, illogical, lost, negative, pessimistic, emotional, overly sentimental, tearful, selfish.
- King – Repression of deep feelings, possible alcoholism; Reversed: Selfishness
- Queen – Emotionally nurturing, intuitive, sensitive; Reversed: Ignorance
- Knight – Romantic, adventurous, following one’s heart; Reversed: Pessimism
- Page – Creative, inspired, learning artistic skill; Reversed: Gloomy
- Ace of Cups – emotional fulfillment, joy; Reversed: Indifferent
- 2 – Partnership, mutual attraction, compatibility; Reversed: Abandonment
- 3 – Celebration, fun with friends, laughter; Reversed: Jealousy
- 4 – Boredom, dissatisfaction with what is being offered; Reversed: Avoidance
- 5 – Dwelling on the negative, self-pity; Reversed: Alienation
- 6 – Sentimentality, kindness, help; Reversed: Discouraging
- 7 – So many choices, indecision, getting lost in fantasy, wishing and dreaming; Reversed: Lethargic
- 8 – Abandoning something in search of something better, vision; Reversed: Sacrifice
- 9 – Indulgence, self-satisfaction; Reversed: Disintegration
- 10 – Emotional bliss, happiness, attainment; Reversed: Disruption
- Other Names: Batons, Staves, Rods, Clubs, Staffs, Scepters
- Element: Fire
- Attributes: Active, masculine; hot, dry
- Astrological Signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
- Direction: South
- Season: Pagan – Summer / Esoteric – Spring
- Self: Will, actions, desire
- Jungian Function: Intuition
- Body Part: Genitals
- Qabalistic World: Atziluth – the Archetypal World
Fire is energy and action, passion, drive, and ambition. An active element, it can cause permanent change; is expansive; can be aggressive; is proactive and undeterred.
Wands represent creativity, energy, passion, and action. They cover your spiritual pursuits, your career, and creative projects. Leadership, self-growth and general optimism are some traits of this suit. Careers are usually in business, they are leaders, entrepreneurial & sales focused. Wands people like to get ahead and are generally proactive in all their activities. With an unrivaled healthy vitality, they are often accomplished sports people.
Keywords: intuition; creativity; vitality; sexuality; spirituality; vision; energetic; outgoing; impulsive; motivational; pro-active; spirit and spirited; optimistic; enterprise; commerce; business; careers; opportunities; the thrill of the chase; competitive; growth; personal development; inspirational; enthusiastic; sexual; passionate; action; movement; initiation.
Reversed: rash; impetuous; ruthless; greedy; narrow-minded; hyperactive; brash; manipulative; conniving; mean-spirited; overly optimistic; risk takers; heartless; aggressive; selfish; misleading; sadistic; distrusting of others.
- King – Career focused, mature, passionate; Reversed: Impostor
- Queen – Confidant, focused, has zest for life; Reversed: Fatigue
- Knight – An adventurous risk taker who follows his passions; Reversed: Apathy
- Page – newly inspired, excited about life and work; Reversed: Passive
- Ace of Wands – New beginnings, creative spark, fertile ideas; Reversed: Unpromising
- 2 – Contemplation, assessing one’s life direction; Reversed: Dispute
- 3 – Reaping the rewards of your efforts; Reversed: Idleness
- 4 – Celebration, safety, the home; Reversed: Discord
- 5 – Competition, minor struggles or disagreements; Reversed: Timidness
- 6 – Success, accolades, and achievement; Reversed: Disapproval
- 7 – Feeling defensive and on guard; Reversed: Yielding
- 8 – Speed, things manifesting quickly; Reversed: Stagnation
- 9 – Pessimism, gearing up for the worst; Reversed: Weakness
- 10 – Feeling oppressed, exhaustion, too many responsibilities; Reversed: Impractical
- Other Names: Disks, Coins, Deniers, Stones, Diamonds
- Element: Earth
- Attributes: Passive, female
- Astrological Signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
- Direction: North
- Season: Pagan – Winter / Esoteric – Winter
- Self: Body,
- Jungian Function: Sensation
- Body Part: Feet
- Qabalistic World: Assiah
Earth is seen as the material, the physical & the sensual. A Passive element, Earth allows growth & production; promotes prosperity; is the foundation on which anything is built.
Pentacles, represent all things material and physical, what you experience using your senses. They deal with your money, business deals, material possessions, your job, arts, crafts, your home & garden. Working hard & getting the job done are attributes of this suit. Pentacle people don’t mind getting their hands dirty whether that’s working on the land or in a factory. Strong & dependable, often found in the trades, removals, farming, landscaping & homemaking.
Keywords: sensual, sexual; strong; lithe; dependable; reliable; stoic; practical; skilled & skillful; artistic; common sense; traditional; regular; straightforward; grounded; sensible; lush; fertile; growth; luxury; wealth; prosperity; apprenticeships; scholarships; dull; dutiful; realistic; down-to-earth; materialistic; money motivated; domesticity; health & fitness; exercise.
Reversed: miserly; slave drivers; workaholics; pleasure seekers; neglectful; shoddy work; dullards; negative; pessimistic; superstitious; thoughtless; penny pinchers; lazy; unforgiving; selfish; greedy; covetous; moronic.
- King – Enjoys the good life (food, drink, and leisure), financially secure; Reversed: Hoarder
- Queen – Healthy in body and finances, grounded and calm; Reversed: Unreasonable
- Knight – Cautious, sensible and slow to progress; Reversed: Inexperienced
- Page – Student, commitment to learning; Reversed: Rookie
- Ace of Pentacles – Financial reward, clarity of life purpose, goals; Reversed: Debt
- 2 – Balance, multitasking; Reversed: Impractical
- 3 – Meaningful work, enjoying one’s work, suitable career; Reversed: Mediocrity
- 4 – Hoarding, feeling poor, holding self-back out of fear; Reversed: Greed
- 5 – Minor money troubles, health problems, feeling like an outsider; Reversed: Helplessness
- 6 – Charity, accepting and giving help; Reversed: Cruelty
- 7 – Patience, waiting for your plans to bear fruit; Reversed: Unemployment
- 8 – Hard work, focused efforts, laying the groundwork; Reversed: Skill-shortage
- 9 – Luxury, rest, financial and material comforts; Reversed: Dependency
- 10 – Financial success, strong business relationships; Reversed: Restrictions