List Of Tarot Cards And The Meaning Of Major & Minor Arcana

Photo: Suppawit Rmmabut / shutterstock
tarot cards

Before delving into the world of Tarot, it's important to understand the basic makeup of a deck, as well as each of the 78 Tarot card's upright and reversed meanings.

The list of Tarot cards below offers an introduction to the 78 cards found in a typical deck, including the 22 cards in the Major Arcana and the 56 cards in the Minor Arcana.

While today most of us only known Tarot card readings as a way of predicting of the future or understanding our present situation, Tarot cards, invented in 15th century Italy, were historically used to play games, including Tarocchini in Italy, Königrufen in Austria, and jeu de tarot in France.

The first record of Tarot decks back dates to 1440. Standard playing cards were decorated with hand-painted illustrations and called triumph cards, which we now refer to as trump cards. The original assortment of suits and trump suits later became known as the Minor Arcana and Major Arcana, respectively.

By the end of the 18th century, the use of Tarot cards for divination and the occult had begun to be popularized in France.

RELATED: Which Tarot Card Are You, According To Numerology & Your Birthdate

As mentioned above, each deck of Tarot cards is made of Major Arcana and Minor Arcana cards. As the name implies, the Major Arcana focuses on major life events, which the Minor Arcana is made up of four suits that deal with life's everyday events.

List of 78 Tarot Cards and Their Meanings

Major Arcana

Because the Major Arcana deals with the greatest events in life, these cards are considered to be the most important in a Tarot card reading.

Numbered from 0 to 21, the order tells an allegorical story, beginning with the Fool as a metaphor for your life’s journey, as well as the problems and phases you’ll experience.

0. The Fool

Photo: volkovslava / shutterstock

The Fool represents the start of a new journey filled with opportunities and an optimistic outlook. Receiving this card also provides a reminder not to rush ahead, being aware of what you don’t know, and following the path to self-realization.

Upright meaning: New beginnings, spontaneity, leap of faith, innocence

Reversed meaning: Folly, recklessness, bad judgment, chaos

1. The Magician

Photo: volkovslava / shutterstock

The second card of the Major Arcana, the Magician symbolizes talent, sacrifice, mystery and knowledge. It can also indicate bad health and loss in a metaphorical sense; it’s loss of ability or dignity brought on by taking the wrong direction.

Upright meaning: Power, skill, manifestation, concentration, willpower, psychic powers

Reversed meaning: Bad planning, manipulation, greed, untrustworthiness

2. The High Priestess

Photo: shutterstock

In a Tarot card reading, the High Priestess has great significance in terms of our intuition and trusting our gut. To receive this spiritual divine card symbolizes the need to trust your intuition, and if you’re blocking it.

Upright meaning: Truth, Intuition, subconscious mind, higher power or self

Reversed meaning: Repressed feelings, frustration, mental blocks, holding secrets

3. The Empress

Photo: shutterstock

The Empress holds a powerful message dedicated to divine feminine energy. A call to womanhood and motherhood, receiving this card symbolizes the need to indulge in your nurturing side and home life, as well as taking a new path of spirituality.

Upright meaning: Divine femininity, motherhood, creativity, pregnancy, womanhood

Reversed meaning: Insecurity, trouble conceiving, lack of growth, domineering

4. The Emperor

Photo: volkovslava / shutterstock

The Emperor is a symbol of leadership and the desire to attract a strong mate. This leader is also a symbol of wisdom, only attainable through life experiences. He’s the Father archetype, where the Empress is the Mother.

Upright meaning: Stability, control, discipline, a father figure

Reversed meaning: Stubborn, reckless, lack of control, inflexibility

5. The Hierophant

Photo: volkovslava / shutterstock

The sixth card in the Major Arcana, receiving the Hierophant means tradition, the old way of doing things, and aligning with a large institution to achieve your goals. His purpose is to set you in the right direction to find your truth with the help of his guidance.

Upright meaning: Traditional values, religion, commitment, conformity

Reversed meaning: Freedom, challenging traditions, role-reversal

6. The Lovers

Photo: shutterstock

To receive the Lovers Tarot card means you have a decision to make, and two paths to choose from. With this crossroads, this card encourages finding balance in yourself, despite uncertainty with those in your life.

Upright meaning: Harmony, love, complementary energy, attraction

Reversed meaning: Imbalance, fear of commitment, coldness, failure

7. The Chariot

Photo: volkovslava / shutterstock

The Chariot represents the need to push forward and be unwavering, as well as overcoming challenges. It can mean good things will come to us, but it’s also a reminder that we must do the work to reap the benefits.

Upright meaning: Success, persistence, strength, ambition, overcoming obstacles

Reversed meaning: Lack of direction, lack of willpower, being out of control

8. Strength

Photo: shutterstock

Just as the word suggests, Strength indicates courage and an upcoming victory. This card presents itself when we need a reminder to push forward, and that we will see success if we put our all into something.

Upright meaning: Good health, inner strength, courage, bravery, compassion

Reversed meaning: Weakness, lack of confidence, vulnerability, insecurity

9. The Hermit

Photo: volkovslava / shutterstock

When you receive this card in a reading, the Hermit means you need to connect with yourself, taking a step back to prepare for a task that needs wisdom and strength. It’s a need to retreat and find spiritual renewal.

Upright meaning: Introspection, looking inward, inner guidance, spiritual enlightenment

Reversed meaning: Isolation, loneliness, withdrawal

10. Wheel of Fortune

Photo: shutterstock

Just like its name, the Wheel of Fortune card symbolizes an opportunity coming your way. But it’s all about what you choose to do with the opportunity that will determine the outcome.

Upright meaning: Good luck, soulmates, good karma, taking positive risks

Reversed meaning: Bad luck, misunderstandings, lateness, interruptions, delays

11. Justice

Photo: shutterstock

A symbol of fairness and balance, the Justice card appears as a reminder to trust your intuition, just like the High Priestess. This card represents the need to make decisions using logic, as well as clarity.

Upright meaning: Justice, law, karmic justice, truth, honesty

Reversed meaning: Dishonesty, poor treatment, imbalance

12. The Hanged Man

Photo: volkovslava / shutterstock

The Hanged Man symbolizes waiting on someone else, and feeling impatient. It appears when you need to take a step back and realize what you have in your life, the consequences of your choices, and accepting your situations without expecting something different.

Upright meaning: Uncertainty, surrender, lack of direction

Reversed meaning: Indecision, stagnation, apathy, resistance, detachment

13. Death

Photo: shutterstock

While you may think the Death card is a bad sign, it actually symbolizes the start of a new beginning; one chapter is ending so another can begin. It’s a chance to welcome in new energy or circumstances, removing all that no longer serve us.

Upright meaning: New beginnings, transitions, unexpected change, spiritual transformation

Reversed meaning: Inability to move forward, resistance to change, fear, unhealthy patterns

14. Temperance

Photo: volkovslava / shutterstock

Though Temperance symbolizes thinking and worry, it is also a welcome sign and means attaining balance in life after the challenges. To receive this card means to do the best you can, every day, for true peace.

Upright meaning: Balance, inner peace, soulmate connections

Reversed meaning: Imbalance, chaos, closed-mindedness, lack of caring

15. The Devil

Photo: shutterstock

The Devil appears when you have fallen into bad habits and lean on your vices. It’s a warning to be weary of difficult situations, as things are not what they seem.

Upright meaning: Dishonesty, abuse, immoral activity, mental health issues

Reversed meaning: Independence, freedom, insight

16. The Tower

Photo: volkovslava / shutterstock

A card of sudden trouble, the Tower means that change is coming and it’s impossible to avoid, no matter how unpleasant it may be. It also symbolizes the truth coming out, as well as reaching the point of no return.

Upright meaning: Chaos, disaster, transformation, unexpected change

Reversed meaning: Avoiding change, delaying inevitable situations

17. The Star

Photo: Fer Gregory / shutterstock

Receiving the Star Tarot card in a reading means you should pay attention to your spirituality, as you are being gifted with opportunity and blessings. It’s also associated with angels and positive omens.

Upright meaning: Hope, faith, creativity, spirituality, inspiration

Reversed meaning: Disconnection, despair, lack of creativity, lack of inspiration

18. The Moon

Photo: volkovslava / shutterstock

In Tarot, the Moon is a chance to try again, accepting fate or changing yourself for the better. It’s an indicator that balance is needed in life if you want good things to come your way.

Upright meaning: Uncertainty, illusion, confusion, secrets, instability, fear

Reversed meaning: Repressed emotion, subsiding anxiety, truth, composure, clarity

19. The Sun

Photo: shutterstock

As a metaphorical and literal source of light, the Sun card means good times, even during adversity. Good fortune is in the future, as is a warning to stop straining yourself.

Upright meaning: Confidence, good luck, truth, success, positivity

Reversed meaning: Indifference, pessimism, conceit

20. Judgement

Photo: shutterstock

When you receive the Judgement card, it symbolizes the need to think for yourself, giving us the push to make better decisions and free yourself from inner turmoil.

Upright meaning: Self-awareness, forgiveness, new beginnings, closure

Reversed meaning: Indecision, self-hate, ignorance, blaming others

21. The World

Photo: shutterstock

The last card of the Major Arcana, the World signifies the circle of life and the start of a new period of time. The efforts you have put in are coming to fruition, leading to completion and achievement.

Upright meaning: Achievement, positivity, creation, fulfillment

Reversed meaning: Failure, loss, stagnation, laziness

RELATED: What Tarot Cards Represent Each Of The Zodiac Signs In Astrology

Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana is comprised of 56 cards divided into 4 suits of 14 — the Suit of Wands, the Suit of Cups, the Suit of Swords and the Suit of Pentacles. Each suit includes 10 numbered cards and four face cards: King, Queen, Knight, and Page.

Unlike the Major Arcana, which represents significant turning points in life, Minor Arcana cards deal with the everyday events of life, with the different suits and numbers pertaining to different things that can happen.

Suit of Wands

The Suit of Wands is associated with the element of fire and pertains to will, inspiration, passion and the ability to create new things. Wands bring energy and ambition into a reading, and point out your lack of direction.

Ace of Wands Meaning: New beginnings

Two of Wands Meaning: Thinking of life direction

Three of Wands Meaning: Looking ahead

Four of Wands Meaning: Celebration and safety

Five of Wands Meaning: Competition

Six of Wands Meaning: Victory

Seven of Wands Meaning: Maintaining control

Eight of Wands Meaning: Quick decision-making

Nine of Wands Meaning: Resilience

Ten of Wands Meaning: Accomplishment

Page of Wands Meaning: Exploration and freedom

Knight of Wands Meaning: Adventurous and action-oriented

Queen of Wands Meaning: Focus and courage

King of Wands Meaning: Maturity and fearlessness

Suit of Cups

The Suit of Cups is associated with the element of water and pertains to emotions, Intuition, creativity and unconscious feelings surrounding situations. This suit is connected to relationships in life, as well as imagination and fantasy.

Ace of Cups Meaning: Intuition

Two of Cups Meaning: Connection and unity

Three of Cups Meaning: Friendship and celebration

Four of Cups Meaning: Disconnect

Five of Cups Meaning: Grief and loss

Six of Cups Meaning: Healing and moving forward

Seven of Cups Meaning: Life purpose

Eight of Cups Meaning: Leaving the past behind

Nine of Cups Meaning: Emotionally stable

Ten of Cups Meaning: Fulfillment and happiness

Page of Cups Meaning: Innocence and inner child

Knight of Cups Meaning: Romance or disappointment

Queen of Cups Meaning: Comfort

King of Cups Meaning: Compassion

Suit of Swords

The Suit of Swords is associated with the element of air and pertains to logic, reason, truth, conflict, ambition and communication. This suit is connected to actions and behavior, how a person responds to situations, or what is holding them back.

Ace of Swords Meaning: Clarity

Two of Swords Meaning: Indecision

Three of Swords Meaning: Heartbreak and grief

Four of Swords Meaning: Meditation and rest

Five of Swords Meaning: Hostility and ambition

Six of Swords Meaning: Moving forward

Seven of Swords Meaning: Deception and secrecy

Eight of Swords Meaning: Feeling powerless

Nine of Swords Meaning: Anxiety and trauma

Ten of Swords Meaning: Defeat and self-sabotage

Page of Swords Meaning: Mental instability or restlessness

Knight of Swords Meaning: Impulsiveness

Queen of Swords Meaning: Intelligence and clarity

King of Swords Meaning: Control and discipline

Suit of Pentacles

The Suit of Pentacles is associated with the element of earth and pertains to the material aspects of life, especially finances, security, nature, and health. This suit is also connected to the long-term in career, home, and self.

Ace of Pentacles Meaning: New opportunities

Two of Pentacles Meaning: Changes

Three of Pentacles Meaning: Collaboration

Four of Pentacles Meaning: Frugality and limitations

Five of Pentacles Meaning: Insecurity

Six of Pentacles Meaning: Generosity

Seven of Pentacles Meaning: Diligence and hard work

Eight of Pentacles Meaning: Passion

Nine of Pentacles Meaning: Luxury or recklessness

Ten of Pentacles Meaning: Privilege and affluence

Page of Pentacles Meaning: Desire and learning

Knight of Pentacles Meaning: Responsibility and caution

Queen of Pentacles Meaning: Financial security

King of Pentacles Meaning: Abundance

How to Choose a Tarot Deck

Though there is an endless number of decks to choose from with different variations — such as cat-themed options, decks with vampires, and even decks featuring photos from famous artists — one of the most popular is the Universal Waite deck.

In choosing the best deck for you, try picking one you feel an intuitive connection with that includes imagery you are drawn to and is made of good quality material. You should also take into account your level of experience, the complexity of the deck, and whether you want something traditional or more contemporary.

Above all, remember that it’s just hearsay that you should never buy your own deck!

Learning How to Read Tarot

At first, becoming a Tarot reader may feel overwhelming, but the more you learn about the cards, how Tarot works, and connecting the story, you’ll become more confident in your abilities.

The first step is to figure out what kind of reading you want. This means recognizing your goals and understanding that a reading can bring about truths of which you may be unaware. Think of the cards as a guide.

The next step is to understand the vocabulary of the cards themselves, and what each represents. This also includes how the meaning pertains to your life or the life of someone you are giving the reading to. Each card possesses its own unique meaning, but represents something different for everyone.

Finally, depending on the type of reading or spread you choose, once you draw the cards, piece together the unique story the cards tell. What order are they in? What are the surrounding cards? How does one particular card add to a reading? What does the combination of cards add to the story?

The most important thing to remember is to trust yourself and listen to the cards.

RELATED: What Is The Difference Between Oracle Cards And Tarot Cards?

Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who writes trending news and entertainment pieces, and covers zodiac, relationships, and lifestyle topics.

Kayla Baptista is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.