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The tarot deck of cards, usually 78 in number, is divided into two separate categories, the major and the minor arcana (arcana from the Latin meaning of closed or secret). There are 21 individual cards, referred to as trumps, and the fool card in the major arcana. The minor arcana have 56 cards consisting of 10 cards numbered from Ace to ten in four different suits. In a traditional tarot deck of cards, the suits include batons, wands, rods, or staves; cups, swords, and coins, disks, or pentacles. In addition, there are four court cards, or face cards, in a tarot deck, including the page or knave, queen, knight and king in each of the same four suits.
One of the most interesting cards in a tarot deck is the Fool. He represents both the number 22 and zero. Twenty-two completes the cycle or journey of the major arcana, whereas zero represents the god of force, a symbol of our unlimited potential. A circle, therefore, has no end but continues on and on, a symbol of God and infinity. The bright sun above the Fool is a sign of energy that melts the snow on the mountains, bringing life and nourishment to those below. In addition, there is more significance to the Fool card in the tarot deck, such as the bag representing memories, the eagle for aspirations, the white rose for purity, and the dog symbolizing the eventual course of evolution.
The number two card, the Magician, signifies the conscious mind or the ability to control from above what occurs below by the wand, the cup, the sword, and the coins. Thoughts of passion and desire are held in check by the wisdom and purity of the Magician. The High Priestess, the subconscious mind, reflects a balance or impartiality between the light and dark pillars, the two opposites of male and female. Her knowledge and experience provide the proper and wisest course of action in the link between the conscious and the subconscious.
An older version of the Magician is the Emperor, the ruler who controls the system needed for effective management of thoughts and desires. The Empress in a tarot deck is simply an indication of time. It represents the 12 signs of the zodiac, an indicator that eventually all thoughts and aspirations will become realties. Another interesting card in the tarot deck is the Hierophant, the teacher or our inner self. The Hierophant makes decisions based on reason and intuition, which he has gathered in the cycle of life through experience and wisdom.
The Lovers card symbolizes relationships and partners, the compatibility of male and female. In this card, the woman is the subconscious, the male is the conscious mind, and the angel above them represents the superconscious. In time the female gains the wisdom and inspiration to give to the relationship, raising it to a spiritual level.above the physical or materialistic world. Our will is controlled through strength and driven by the Chariot. The Hermit might well be considered the creator; he stands alone above the rest simply by virtue of his wisdom and success. The lantern he holds offers enlightenment for those who would follow. Furthermore, the Wheel of Fortune reveals to us who we really are and Justice corrects the mistakes of our past and makes them right. Interestingly enough, the Hanged Man is upside down, the way that others see us in contrast to the way we really are. In the cycle of life, the tarot deck includes the Death card, for death must come to everyone. However, the meaning of Death in the tarot cards is a transformation and rebirth of consciousness to a higher level.
In addition, the Temperance card depicts an angel, with one foot in the water and one on the earth. Similar to the High Priestess, she too balances wisdom and introspection with desire and doubt, further solidifying the link between the conscious and the subconscious. The Devil card symbolizes the lies and misconceptions we may encounter on our journey. Eventually, however we will reach the Tower with its bolt of lightning, an indication that we have achieved true knowledge and understanding.
The major arcana also includes the Star, often presented as a woman who takes from the pool of knowledge and relays what she has learned to the five senses of man. The Moon card represents our spiritual evolution from creation to creator. The tarot cards also emphasize the importance of the Sun for light and energy and the Judgment needed for an understanding of the link between the universal conscious of man and humanity. A final card in the major arcana is the World, which represents our place in the unending cycle of life, in relationship to an unchanging Universe.
The four suits of the minor arcana portray the various material aspects of life and the numbers, as interpreted through numerology, indicate the strength of the vibrations in each card. In the suit of wands, we see the realm of spirit, ideas, ambition, and growth in the fire, club, and creative cards. Our desires and feelings, not outwardly apparent, are reflected in the suit of cups by heart, emotions, and water. In the suits of swords, spades, air and intellect, the cards symbolize the struggles to bring ideas into reality. The final desired result is found in the suit of pentacles, where diamonds and earth represent the completion of the link between the conscious and the subconscious.
There are many types of tarot decks of cards, in a variety of styles, shapes, and number; however, their interpretation is basically the same in every deck. The reading of the tarot cards may prove fascinating to study. The tarot provides great pursuit for an occultist, or if you believe in the supernatural, or if you are simply curious about life and its ups and downs, and such aspects as love, career, and success. If you're seeking insight into the past, the present, or the future, perhaps you'll find it in the tarot deck of cards.