Uncover the Meaning of your Tarot
Playing cards are believed to have originated in Persia or Arabia and then reached Mamluk era Egypt around the 11th century. They entered Southern Europe in the late 14th century and originally contained the suits of cups, sticks, coins and swords. The first documented tarot cards were used in the mid 1400's when additional trump cards with allegorical illustrations were added to the four-suit deck and used for playing games such as Italian tarocchini and French tarot. In the late 18th century, tarot began to be used for divination in the form of tarotology and fortune-telling– sometimes by a nomadic culture of people known as Gypsies.
The tarot may seem enigmatic and mysterious but we like to use its positive messages for fun and creative inspiration. Tarot definitions are by no means complete and there is no single meaning or interpretation to each card. Some believe that tarot is all about your intuition, or inner voice that can help embrace its message. These tarot definitions are meant to help you understand the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana, the 78 cards in a tarot deck, and the energy of the Cups, Wands, Pentacles, and Swords of the tarot. Let your intuition guide you to the secrets that the tarot has to share.
*Please Note: The Tarot card descriptions on our website are based on the Rider Waite cards and our interpretations are sourced from BiddyTarot.com. For our marketing purposes, we only use the Tarot's positive messages and all interpretations are based on "upright" card meanings.
The Major Arcana (aka Trump Cards)
These 22 Major Arcana cards represent archetypal images and energies and tell the story of the Fool, as he starts at number 0 and travels through all of life’s experiences, ending with the World card at number 21. They represent life’s karmic and spiritual lessons and a path to spiritual self-awareness.
The imagery on the trump cards is taken from a myriad of cultures, and not all of these pictures are pretty or peaceful. Some are also disturbing —yet they reflect life and the situations faced. They depict the various stages we encounter as we search for greater meaning and understanding. In this way, the Major Arcana cards hold deeply meaningful lessons on a soul level and may signify an area of importance in your life, and ask that particular attention be paid to this issue.
The Minor Arcana
The 56 Minor Arcana cards reflect the trials and tribulations that we experience on a daily basis. These Tarot cards highlight the more practical aspects of life and can refer to current issues that have a temporary or minor influence.
Within the Minor Arcana cards, there are 16 Tarot Court cards each representing 16 different personality characteristics or archetypal energies we may choose to express at any given time, although sometimes they can point to an actual person. There are also the 40 numbered cards organized into 4 Suits – Cups, Pentacles, Swords and Wands – each with 10 cards, representing various situations that we encounter day-to-day.
The Suit of Cups Tarot Cards represents the element of Water, and is associated with Hearts in playing cards. This Suit deals with the emotional level of consciousness and is associated with love, feelings, relationships and connections.
Water is fluid, agile and ‘in flow’ but it’s also very powerful and formative. It can be soft and gentle, like waves lapping against the sandy shore, or it can be powerful and even forceful, like a raging river. The element of water is symbolic of fluidity, feelings and emotions, intuition, relationships, healing, and cleansing. It is a feminine element and reflects the subtle power that often resides within women. It is receptive, adaptable, purifying and flowing.
Cups Tarot cards indicate that you are thinking with your heart rather than your head, and thus reflect your spontaneous responses and your habitual reactions to situations. Cups are also linked to creativity, romanticism, fantasy and imagination. The negative aspects of the Suit of Cups include being overly emotional or completely disengaged and dispassionate, having unrealistic expectations and fantasizing about what could be. There may be repressed emotions, an inability to truly express oneself and a lack of creativity.
Cups Tarot cards often represent the astrological signs of Water – Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio. When you see a Cups Court Card in a Tarot reading, it often relates to a person with a Pisces, Cancer, and Scorpio star sign. Generally, Cups people are emotional, artistic, humane and creative. They are connected with their emotional selves and will draw energy from what they feel within.
The Suit of Pentacles Tarot cards represents the element of Earth, and is associated with Diamonds in a deck of playing cards. This suit deals with the physical or external level of consciousness and thus mirror the outer situations of your health, finances, work, and creativity. They have to do with what we make of our outer surroundings – how we create it, shape it, transform it and grow it. On a more esoteric level, Pentacles are associated with the ego, self-esteem and self-image.
Earth is tactile, earthy and tangible. It creates the foundation from which the planet can grow and develop, and it supports and nurtures the plants and trees. Earth is grounded, stable, supportive and fertile. It is a feminine element that is receptive – it takes in nutrients and sun rays and then uses this energy to sustain the life that grows out of it.
The Suit of Pentacles Tarot card meanings cover material aspects of life including work, business, trade, property, money and other material possessions. The positive aspects of the Suit of Pentacles include manifestation, realization, proof and prosperity. The negative aspects of the Suit of Pentacles include being possessive, greedy and overly materialistic, over-indulging and not exercising, not effectively managing one’s finances, and being overly focused on career to the detriment of other life priorities. Often what is required to counteract these negative aspects is a return to nature to ground oneself and rediscover what is truly important.
Pentacles Tarot cards often represent the astrological signs of Earth –Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. When you see a Pentacles Court Card in a Tarot reading, it often relates to a person with a Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn star sign. Generally, Pentacles people are practical, career-minded, down-to-earth and generous. They are tactile beings and like to experience the physical, tangible world. They are connected through the senses and seek pleasurable and sometimes indulgent experiences.
The Suit of Swords Tarot cards represents the element of Air, and is associated with Spades in a deck of playing cards. This suit deals with the mental level of consciousness that is centered around the mind and the intellect. Swords mirror the quality of mind present in your thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs. Swords are often double-edged and in this way the Suit of Swords symbolizes the fine balance between intellect and power and how these two elements can be used for good or evil. As such, the Swords must be balanced by spirit (Wands) and feeling (Cups) to have the most positive effect.
Air is intangible and unseen, but also in constant movement. Air can be still and mostly unnoticed, to becoming a breeze or a fierce wind. It is powerful yet refreshing and cleansing. Symbolically, the air element relates to knowledge, action, power, and change. It is a masculine energy that can lead by force and power, even though it remains unseen.
The Suit of Swords Tarot card meanings are associated with action, change, force, power, oppression, ambition, courage and conflict. Action can be constructive and/or destructive. The negative aspects of the Suit of Swords include anger, guilt, harsh judgement, a lack of compassion and verbal and mental abuse.
Swords Tarot cards often represent the astrological signs of Air – Aquarius, Libra and Gemini. When you see a Swords Court Card in a Tarot reading, it often relates to a person with a Aquarius, Libra and Gemini star sign. Generally, Swords people are intelligent, thoughtful, rational, logical and excellent communicators. They are rational beings and like to experience the world by understanding and analyzing what is occurring around them. On the flip-side, Swords people can be ruthless, domineering, confrontational and rigid.
The Suit of Wands Tarot cards represent the element of Fire, and is associated with Clubs in playing cards. This suit's meanings are associated with primal energy, spirituality, inspiration, determination, strength, intuition, creativity, ambition and expansion, original thought and the seeds through which life springs forth.
Fire is hot, wild, unpredictable, and energetic. It can be creative in helping us to cook food or build tools, or it can be destructive, like a devastating bush fire or house fire. Fire is also symbolic of passion, energy, enthusiasm, and sexuality. It is a masculine element and reflects the drive and willpower of the masculine energy.
The meanings of the Wands Tarot cards deal with the spiritual level of consciousness and mirror what is important to you at the core of your being. They address what makes you tick – your personality, ego, enthusiasm, self-concept, and personal energy, both internal and external. The negative aspects of the Suit of Wands include illusion, egotistical behaviour, impulsiveness, a lack of direction or purpose, or feeling meaningless.
Wands Tarot cards often represent the astrological signs of Fire – Leo, Sagittarius and Aries. When you see a Wands Court Card in a Tarot reading, it often relates to a person with a Leo, Sagittarius or Aries star sign. Generally, Wands people are energetic, charismatic, warm, spiritual.