Tarot Icons and Symbolism: A Look Into Tarot Imagery

The Origins of Tarot Imagery

The Origins Of Tarot Imagery
The origins of Tarot imagery are rooted in the late fourteenth century when Italian aristocrats began playing a new game called Tarot. At that time, Tarot cards were used only for gaming purposes, and they looked quite different from what we know today. Traditional playing cards of that period consisted of four suits, each with ten cards, plus three court cards. However, the Tarot decks were illustrated with an extra 22 trump cards that bore no suits.

These trump cards had symbolic images such as “The Pope,” “The Emperor,” “The Lovers,” and “The Sun” that are still prevalent in Tarot decks today. However, they were not intended to be used for mystical or divinatory purposes at that time. Instead, Tarot was just another popular card game in the Italian courts.

The development of Tarot symbolism as an integral part of the deck’s purpose came much later. It wasn’t until the 18th century that the first divinatory interpretations appeared. One of the first Tarot decks intended explicitly for divination was the French Tarot of Marseilles, which gained popularity throughout Europe in the late 1700s.

Some scholars believe that Tarot’s imagery has roots in Egyptian or even biblical stories. However, there is no direct proof for these claims. Other theories suggest that the Renaissance’s fascination with Neoplatonic philosophy and Hermeticism may have influenced Tarot’s symbolism.

Whatever its origins, Tarot’s imagery has evolved and developed over centuries, spanning continents and cultures. It has gone from a mere game to a tool for divination and introspection, becoming deeply interwoven with mysticism and spirituality along the way. As such, Tarot has become a fascinating subject for those interested in esoteric knowledge, spiritual traditions, and psychological inquiry.

The Evolution of Tarot Iconography

Throughout the centuries, tarot iconography has undergone an evolution, from its earliest origins to its present-day use in divination. The earliest tarot decks were hand-painted and featured only the Major Arcana, with the images depicting allegorical scenes. The minor arcana, which comprised of the four suits, did not become a part of tarot iconography until the 15th century. In the 18th and 19th centuries, tarot decks were used for gaming purposes in Europe. During this time, the images of the tarot began to shift towards a more stylized form. It was only in the 20th century that tarot cards became popularly associated with fortune-telling and divination. The Rider-Waite-Smith deck, created in 1909, is considered a turning point in tarot iconography and remains the most widely used deck to this day. Its images and symbolism influenced the creation of numerous later decks, and tarot iconography continues to evolve and transform.

The Major Arcana

The Major Arcana is a set of 22 cards in a Tarot deck that holds some of the most significant and profound images that Tarot has to offer. Every card in the Major Arcana has a unique significance and symbolism that makes it a cornerstone of Tarot divination. These cards are numbered from 0 to 21 and are often referred to as “trumps” or “atouts”.

Each card in the Major Arcana represents a significant element of human life, challenges, triumphs, and introspection. These cards are deeply rooted in ancient archetypes, and each card has a connection to a spiritual or philosophical concept. The symbolism of the Major Arcana is so potent that most tarot readers regard the cards as the critical indicators of success or the obstacles the user might face.

The Major Arcana starts with the Fool card, represented by a man in a jester’s outfit, carrying a bag on his stick. This card represents new beginnings, potential, and hope. The Magician card showcases a magician at his table with the symbol of infinity over his head, signifying the infinite possibilities of creation. Next is the High Priestess card, representing our intuitive and subconscious mind, as well as our spiritual potential.

The Empress and Emperor cards symbolize worldly power and authority. The first is related to creation, art, and abundance, while the latter is tied to stability and earthly governance. The Hierophant card moves us towards religious, social, and spiritual order. It also represents conformity and traditional values.

The Lovers and Chariot cards focus on different aspects of human relationships, both interpersonal and intrapersonal. The Strength card raises the topic of inner and outer fortitude, while the Hermit leads us on our journey of introspection and contemplation. The Wheel of Fortune card suggests luck, changing fortunes, or the cyclical nature of life.

The Justice card represents balance and fairness, while the Hanged Man implies making sacrifices and changing perspectives. The Death card is one of the most dreaded cards to get in a reading, but it also symbolizes change and new beginnings. The Temperance card teaches us to find balance and moderation in life. The Devil card reflects our carnal desires and impulses, while the Tower card denotes sudden upheavals and misfortune.

The Star, Moon, and Sun cards are related to our spiritual, emotional, and creative energy levels. The last two cards, Judgment and The World signify rebirth, awakening, success, and completion of a cycle.

The Major Arcana highlights significant themes of human life and experience and inspires us to take on each challenge as it presents itself. The images of these cards can be interpreted in numerous ways, and the possibilities are endless. By using the Major Arcana, Tarot readers can offer insights into spiritual transformation, psychological patterns, achieving personal growth, and healing.

The Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana consists of four suits, which are often referred to as wands, cups, swords, and pentacles. Each of these suits contains cards numbered from one to ten and four face cards: the Page, Knight, Queen, and King.

The wands suit is often associated with creativity, inspiration, and ambition, while the cups suit represents emotions, relationships, and intuition. The swords suit is related to conflict, challenges, and decision-making, and the pentacles suit symbolizes material wealth, stability, and practicality.

The Minor Arcana cards represent the day-to-day aspects of life and reflect the struggles, challenges, and triumphs that people experience regularly. These cards are often more focused on the mundane aspects of life, compared to the Major Arcana, which represent more significant life events.

The Minor Arcana often provides insight into the details of a situation or problem and can shed light on how to handle it or how it may play out. For example, if someone is struggling with a decision, drawing a card from the swords suit may indicate that they need to make a choice based on logic rather than emotion.

The Minor Arcana provides a more nuanced look at everyday life and can help individuals navigate the ups and downs that come their way. It is an essential part of any Tarot reading and provides the necessary balance between the big picture and the small details.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of Tarot and how it evolved over time, check out our article on the evolution of Tarot popularity. If you want to understand how Tarot readings became associated with fortune-telling in the 19th century, be sure to read our article on Tarot fortune-telling in the 19th century.

The Court Cards

The court cards of tarot decks depict the twelve members of a royal court, divided into four different suits: Pentacles, Cups, Swords, and Wands. These cards are usually interpreted as representative of personality types or archetypes we encounter in our lives. Each court card has its own meaning and interpretation.

The Kings: The four Kings of tarot, one for each suit, represent the dominant male energy in their respective domains. They are often regarded as protective and authoritative figures. The King of Swords is a logical thinker, the King of Wands is a visionary, the King of Pentacles is known for his material wealth, and the King of Cups is emotionally intelligent.

The Queens: Like the Kings, the four Queens correspond to their respective suits. They embody the feminine energy within their domains. The Queen of Swords is analytical and intelligent, the Queen of Wands is fiercely independent, the Queen of Pentacles is nurturing and practical, and the Queen of Cups is known for her empathy.

The Knights: The Knights correspond to their respective suits and usually represent a journey or movement towards something. They are often associated with adventures and taking risks. The Knight of Swords is agile and quick-witted, the Knight of Wands is bold and daring, the Knight of Pentacles is cautious and grounded, and the Knight of Cups is idealistic and romantic.

The Pages: The Pages correspond to their respective suits. They are often interpreted as messengers or apprentices. The Page of Swords is analytical and curious, the Page of Wands is enthusiastic and creative, the Page of Pentacles is diligent and practical, and the Page of Cups is introspective and emotional.

The court cards of tarot decks are a rich source of symbolism and can provide great insight into different personality types and situations. Understanding these archetypes can be useful for interpreting tarot spreads and gaining deeper insights into one’s own life and relationships.

The origins of tarot imagery can also shed light on the development of court cards in tarot decks, as they have evolved over time. Additionally, the history of tarot spreads can be helpful in understanding how court cards fit into different types of readings.

The Symbolism of Tarot Imagery

Tarot imagery is rich with symbolism that can be challenging to interpret. Each card is packed with meaning, from the characters depicted to the colors and symbols used. It’s important to consider the context of the reading and the specific card’s placement within the spread. For example, The Fool represents new beginnings, but can also signify recklessness or naivete. The Magician represents manifestation and taking action, while The High Priestess represents intuition and inner wisdom. Other cards, like Death and The Tower, can be intimidating, but also represent transformation and growth. Understanding the symbols and meanings of each card is essential to conducting meaningful tarot readings.

The Fool

The Fool is often considered the most enigmatic card in the Tarot deck. This card does not have a specific number, unlike other cards, such as the Emperor or the High Priestess. Additionally, it is usually depicted as a person who appears to be carefree and happy, with a backpack and a staff in hand. However, upon closer inspection, one may notice that the Fool is standing dangerously close to the edge of a cliff, seemingly unaware of the danger.

The Tarot symbolism of the card is quite complex. The Fool can represent many things, including innocence, naivety, recklessness, and new beginnings. Some readers interpret the card as a warning to be cautious and mindful of potential danger, while others view it as a symbol of taking risks and embracing opportunities.

Table for The Fool:

Keywords Interpretations
Innocence The Fool can represent a state of pure and uncorrupted innocence, free from the burdens and responsibilities of the world.
Recklessness Alternatively, the card can signify recklessness and a disregard for rules or safety measures. The Fool may be a warning against acting impulsively without considering the consequences.
New beginnings Many Tarot readers view the Fool as a symbol of new beginnings and fresh starts. The card can represent a person who is starting a new journey in life, taking risks, and embracing the unknown.
Creativity Some interpretations of the Fool emphasize the card’s association with creativity, innovation, and thinking outside the box. The Fool may represent a person who is unafraid to be unconventional or take risks in pursuit of their passions and goals.

Ultimately, the meaning of the Fool card will depend on the context in which it appears in a reading. However, its iconic imagery and archetypal symbolism make it a powerful and intriguing card that continues to fascinate Tarot readers and enthusiasts alike.

The Magician

The Magician card is one of the most popular and recognized cards in the Tarot deck. This card is represented by a figure standing behind a table on which are placed various objects. The objects on the table represent the four elements: earth, air, fire, and water. The Magician is depicted holding a wand or a staff in one hand and pointing to the sky with the other. This card is associated with power, creativity, and manifestation.

The Magician symbolizes the power of the mind and the ability to use it to create the reality we desire. This card suggests that we have the power to control our thoughts and actions to achieve our goals. The wand or staff in the Magician’s hand represents the power of creation, transformation, and manifestation. The Magician’s pointing finger represents the ability to focus the mind on a specific goal and to use the power of intention to achieve it.

The objects on the table represent the four elements, and they symbolize the divine forces of nature. The wand represents fire, the cup represents water, the sword represents air, and the pentacle represents earth. Together, they represent the balance and harmony that exist within the universe.

In a Tarot reading, the Magician card may suggest that the querent has the power to achieve anything they desire. It may also indicate that the querent is creative, innovative and has an extraordinary ability to adapt to any situation. The Magician card may also represent a new beginning in the querent’s life, a call to action, or a reminder to use their creativity to achieve their goals.

The Magician card is a powerful symbol of the creative force of the universe and the ability to manifest our desires. It reminds us of the power of our thoughts and the importance of focusing our minds on our goals. By harnessing the energy of the Magician, we can discover and unlock our true potential and create the reality we desire.

The High Priestess

The High Priestess is one of the most enigmatic cards in the tarot deck. Sitting motionless, she represents the mysteries of the unconscious mind and the hidden knowledge that lies within us all. She is a symbol of spiritual and intellectual transformation, and her presence suggests that the querent should pay attention to their intuition and inner wisdom.

In some depictions, the High Priestess is accompanied by two columns or pillars, one white and one black, symbolizing the duality of all things in the universe. Behind her, a veil hangs, concealing whatever secrets lie beyond. The veil suggests that some answers may be hidden, even from the High Priestess herself.

The High Priestess is often associated with the moon, another symbol of mystery and hidden knowledge. She represents the cooperative feminine energy, the goddess, and is a reminder that women have played a significant role in spiritual practices throughout history.

When the High Priestess appears in a tarot reading, she may be telling the querent to focus on their dreams and inner thoughts. She might also signify the need for the querent to seek a deeper understanding of their own psyche, or to pay attention to the feminine aspects of their life.

The High Priestess is a powerful card that speaks to the need for inner reflection and spiritual growth. Her appearance in a reading suggests that a deeper level of insight is needed in order to move forward. The querent may need to trust their own intuition and inner guidance, and embrace the mysteries of the unknown.

The Empress

The Empress is a powerful symbol of femininity, fertility, motherhood, and abundance. She is a nurturing and caring figure, representing growth, creativity, and the nurturing of new endeavors. Here are some key symbols and interpretations associated with The Empress in tarot iconography:

Symbol Interpretation
Crown of stars and 12 stars around her head – Connection to the cosmos and spiritual realms – Represents the 12 zodiac signs and the cycles of nature
Heart-shaped shield – Represents love, compassion, and emotional strength
Eagle – Symbol of power, penetration, and spiritual insight
Wheat – Represents fertility, growth, and abundance
River and waterfall – Flow of life, emotions, and creativity
Pomegranates – Symbol of fertility, new beginnings, and sensuality
Robust figure – Represents strength, confidence, and femininity

Together, these symbols form a rich tapestry of meanings, highlighting the depth and complexity of The Empress. She reminds us to connect with nature, tap into our creativity, and embrace our feminine power to nurture and grow new ideas and projects. In a tarot reading, The Empress can also indicate new beginnings, creativity, and fertility.

The Emperor

“The Emperor” tarot card is one of the most significant archetypes within the tarot deck. It represents power, authority, structure, and stability. The card is depicted with a regal figure seated on a throne, symbolizing the Emperor’s dominion over his kingdom. He is seen as a symbol of order and control, and his presence commands respect.

The Emperor is characterized by his masculine energy, and he is associated with the zodiac sign Aries, which is ruled by the planet Mars. This connection emphasizes the Emperor’s qualities of leadership and strength. The card’s colors, including red and gold, are also indicative of power and wealth, further emphasizing the Emperor’s importance.

When the Emperor appears in a tarot reading, it can indicate the need for structure and rules. It can suggest a time when order, authority, and discipline are necessary to achieve success. The card may also suggest the presence of a strong, dominant figure in the querent’s life who holds the power and influence to guide them towards their goals.

However, the Emperor card can also represent negative aspects of power, such as overbearing control, rigidity, or even oppression. If these negative qualities are present in the querent’s life, the Emperor can symbolize the need to reassess their approach to leadership, perhaps adopting more compassionate and open-minded qualities.

Overall, “The Emperor” tarot card symbolizes powerful and authoritative energy, with the potential for both positive and negative expressions. Its presence in a reading indicates a time for structure and discipline, but also raises questions about how we use power in our lives and whether we are maintaining a healthy balance between control and compassion.

The Hierophant

The Hierophant in the Tarot is a figure that carries a lot of symbolism and mystique. Represented by a religious or spiritual leader, this card is also known as the High Priest or Pope. The Hierophant is associated with traditional institutions, group identity, and the power of the community.

In some decks, the Hierophant is depicted sitting on a throne, holding a scepter or other religious symbol, while in others he is shown performing a religious ritual or ceremony. The colors red and white are often featured on the Hierophant card, symbolizing passion and purity.

When the Hierophant appears in a Tarot reading, it can represent a need for guidance from authority figures or seeking advice from experts in a particular field. It can also signify traditions, customs, and established beliefs that are to be respected and followed.

However, the Hierophant can also represent conformity and a resistance to change. It encourages the individual to question the authority they follow and find a balance between their own beliefs and the teachings of the community.

In reverse, the Hierophant can indicate rebellion against traditions and rejecting the established norms. This can lead to alienation from one’s community or a search for alternative forms of spirituality.

The Hierophant offers a complex and introspective message, urging the individual to examine their relationship with spiritual and communal authority and find a balance between following tradition and finding their own path.

The Lovers

The Lovers card is the sixth card in the major arcana of the tarot deck and holds a significant meaning in tarot symbolism. This card represents the union of two individuals, not necessarily in a romantic context but rather a choice that needs to be made. The card is associated with the zodiac sign Gemini, which is symbolically represented by the two pillars in the background of the card.

The imagery in this card shows a man and a woman standing in a paradise-like setting with an angel hovering above them. The man and woman are both naked, symbolizing their authenticity and vulnerability. The man is looking towards the woman with a longing expression, whilst the woman looks towards the angel for guidance. The angel’s presence signifies the decision that needs to be made by the individuals, and the presence of the flames in between the man and woman symbolizes passion and desire.

Additionally, the Lovers card can represent the need for balance and harmony in decision-making, as the two individuals are depicted as equals standing side by side. The card serves as a reminder to consider all choices and not to rush into anything without careful consideration.

In tarot readings, the Lovers card can represent a significant decision that needs to be made, such as choosing between two paths or making a choice that will have a significant impact on one’s life. It can also reflect the need for alignment between the heart and mind and to follow one’s intuition rather than societal norms or expectations.

To summarize, the Lovers card in tarot represents union, choice, balance, and harmony. It holds significant meaning in tarot symbolism and can serve as a guide for decision-making and following one’s intuition.

The Chariot

The Chariot is the seventh card of the Major Arcana and depicts a man riding a chariot being pulled by two horses. In many tarot decks, the horses are depicted as black and white, representing opposing forces, such as good and evil, or positive and negative aspects of the self. The Chariot is often associated with victory and accomplishment, as well as willpower and determination.

One interesting aspect of the Chariot is its connection to the astrological sign of Cancer. In traditional tarot decks, the Chariot is often depicted with a canopy of stars, representing the night sky and the influence of the stars on human destiny. The zodiac sign of Cancer is ruled by the moon, which is also often depicted in Chariot imagery. This connection reinforces the idea of the Chariot as a symbol of personal growth and spiritual evolution.

In some interpretations, the Chariot can represent control and mastery over one’s own impulses and desires. The figure in the card is often seen as a powerful, triumphant hero, but some readers suggest he may represent an individual who has risen to a position of authority through cunning or manipulation.

The Chariot is a card of forward motion and progress, and it can indicate movement and travel, both physical and metaphorical. In a reading, the Chariot may indicate the need to focus on a goal or objective and take decisive action toward it. It may also suggest a need for discipline and self-control. On the flip side, it can indicate a sense of being out of control or feeling like events are moving too quickly.

The Chariot is a complex and multi-faceted card that represents the inner journey of the self as well as an outward journey toward personal growth and achievement. Its symbolism is rich and varied, making it a fascinating card to explore in depth.


Strength is numbered VIII in the tarot deck and typically portrayed as a beautiful woman taming a lion. The card is often associated with courage, fortitude, and inner strength in the face of challenges. Depictions of this card have evolved throughout history, but the central theme of mastering one’s inner nature remains constant.

One important element to note is that Strength stands in contrast to the card of Justice. While Justice focuses on external, objective judgement, Strength represents the power within oneself. This is demonstrated in the card’s imagery, which shows the woman gently holding the lion’s jaws open rather than trying to slay it with a weapon.

In readings, Strength can indicate both physical and emotional strength. It suggests that the querent has the inner strength to overcome obstacles, but may need to exercise patience and self-control in difficult situations. Strength may also signify moral and ethical strength, encouraging the querent to stand firm in their beliefs and convictions.

Symbolism in the Strength card can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Here are some common interpretations of key elements:

Symbol Interpretation
Woman Represents inner strength, grace, and compassion
Lion Represents primal nature, raw energy, and power
Infinity Symbol above woman’s head Represents the eternal nature of the human spirit
Flowers in the woman’s hair Represent a connection with nature, innocence, and beauty
Pillars in the background Represent the balance between opposing forces

Strength is a powerful and complex card that speaks to our innermost nature. When it appears in a reading, it calls on us to summon our inner courage, fortitude, and compassion to face whatever challenges come our way. In a world that often seems chaotic and unpredictable, Strength reminds us of the power we have within ourselves to shape our own destinies.

The Hermit

The Hermit is the ninth card in the Major Arcana and is often depicted as an old man carrying a lantern. The Hermit’s portrayal has undergone significant changes throughout the centuries, but some key elements have remained consistent.

Symbolism is at the heart of The Hermit card. The lantern that the hermit carries is a representation of his inner wisdom and search for truth. It acts as a guide in his search for understanding. The three-pointed hat he often wears symbolizes the triple aspect of the divine, while the staff he carries signifies spiritual power and authority.

The Hermit card is typically associated with solitude, self-reflection, and introspection. It encourages individuals to retreat from the outside world and embrace solitude to gain wisdom and insight. It is a strong reminder that answers can only truly be found within oneself.

In tarot readings, The Hermit can represent a wise teacher, counselor, or mentor. Its appearance can indicate the need for a period of introspection or a journey of self-discovery. The card also invites individuals to embrace the quiet and reflective moments of life.

The Hermit’s appearance in a tarot reading can have both positive and negative connotations. While it encourages personal growth and self-reflection, it can also signify isolation and loneliness. Individuals must look inward to find the balance they require to navigate their lives.

The Hermit card is a representation of introspection, solitude, and inner wisdom. Within its symbolism, there are many important messages about personal growth and self-discovery. It encourages individuals to embrace quiet reflection and seek out their own answers, which can be powerful tools in modern life.

The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune is one of the most recognizable tarot icons, often portrayed as a large wheel turning in the sky. Its symbolism has been interpreted in various ways throughout history, but it generally represents the cyclical nature of life and the constant changes that occur.

The Symbolism of the Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune is typically divided into three sections, each with its own meaning. The top section represents good luck, success, and progress, while the bottom section represents bad luck, failure, and setbacks. The middle section, which is where the wheel is turning, represents the unpredictable nature of life and the fact that anything can happen at any time.

In some decks, the wheel is held by four figures, representing the four seasons or the four elements. This reinforces the idea of cycles and the natural order of things. The wheel can also be seen as a symbol of fate or destiny, with each person being at the mercy of the wheel’s turning.

Interpreting the Wheel of Fortune in a Tarot Reading

When the Wheel of Fortune appears in a tarot reading, it is often seen as a turning point in the querent’s life. The message is that life is constantly changing, and the querent needs to be prepared for both good and bad times. It can also indicate a need to go with the flow and let things happen as they will, rather than trying to control everything.

Depending on the surrounding cards, the Wheel of Fortune can also indicate a need to take risks or make bold moves. It can be a reminder that the querent has the power to shape their own destiny and that there are always opportunities for growth and change.

The Wheel of Fortune is a powerful tarot symbol that reminds us of the cyclical nature of life and the importance of being adaptable and open to change. Whether the wheel is turning in our favor or against us, we must always be ready to face whatever comes our way.


The Justice card in the Tarot deck is almost always depicted as a woman holding a sword and scales. This imagery symbolizes the idea of fairness, balance, and accountability.

One interpretation of this card is that it represents the consequences of our actions. It encourages us to take responsibility for our choices and to face the consequences, whether good or bad. The scales symbolize the need for balance and impartiality in our decision making.

In some depictions of the Justice card, there is also a blindfold covering the woman’s eyes. This blindfold represents the idea that justice should be blind, that is, unbiased and impartial. The sword in her hand represents the power needed to enforce justice.

The Justice card reminds us of the importance of being fair and honest in our dealings with others. It encourages us to seek balance in our lives and to strive for justice in the world around us.

The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man is a tarot card that often leaves people perplexed. It shows a man hanging upside down by one foot from a tree, looking calm and peaceful despite his unusual position. So, what does this card symbolize? Let’s delve into the meaning of The Hanged Man in Tarot Imagery.

One interpretation of The Hanged Man is that it represents sacrifice and surrender. The man in the card appears to have willingly put himself in this vulnerable position, suggesting that he’s made a conscious sacrifice for a greater purpose. This card encourages us to let go of attachments and expectations and to trust the journey, even if it leads us down a path that’s not what we initially envisioned.

Another interpretation of The Hanged Man is that it represents a change in perspective. By flipping everything upside down, we’re forced to see things from a different angle. This card reminds us that sometimes the best solutions to our problems come when we shift our point of view and approach them in a new way. In this sense, The Hanged Man can suggest a need to pause and reflect before taking action.

Lastly, The Hanged Man is associated with the element of water, which is often associated with emotions and intuition. This card encourages us to tap into our inner wisdom and to trust our intuition even when things may seem unclear. We must learn to let go of control and trust the universe to guide us, even if it doesn’t always make sense at first.

The Hanged Man is a Tarot card that symbolizes sacrifice, surrender, change in perspective, and trust in our intuition. It challenges us to release attachments and expectations, to pause and reflect before taking action, and to trust the journey even if it’s not what we initially expected. The Hanged Man can be a powerful card in a Tarot reading, reminding us to trust the flow of life and let go of what no longer serves us.


The Death card is one of the most misunderstood and feared Tarot cards. Its imagery is often mistaken for representing literal death, but the card actually represents transformation and change. The card typically depicts a skeleton, sometimes riding a horse or holding a scythe. This can symbolize the inevitability of change and the ending of one phase but the beginning of another.

When the Death card appears in a reading, it urges people to embrace change, to let go of the past and welcome in the new. It may suggest the end of a job, a relationship or a way of thinking, but it also creates space for something new and positive to grow.

It is important to note that the Death card does not always imply a negative situation. Rather, it brings about a sense of understanding that change is necessary for growth and transformation. When combined with other cards such as The Sun or The World, this card can indicate that change will ultimately lead to a positive outcome.

The Death card is a powerful, albeit misunderstood symbol in Tarot iconography. It asks us to let go of old patterns and beliefs and to welcome change with open arms.


The Temperance card in Tarot is often associated with balance and harmony. It depicts an angel pouring water from one container to another, symbolizing the harmony between the conscious and unconscious realms. The card is associated with the zodiac sign Sagittarius, which is known for its optimism and adventurous spirit.

The card is all about finding the right balance in life. It encourages us to find a middle ground in everything we do and avoid extremes. The angel in the card represents our higher self, encouraging us to connect with our inner wisdom and intuition. This balance and harmony allow us to move forward in life without being weighed down by negative emotions.

In a Tarot reading, the Temperance card can suggest that there is a need for moderation or compromise in a situation. It may be time to find a compromise between two opposing views or to find a balance between work and personal life. The card can also indicate the need to heal and restore balance in one’s health or relationships.

The Temperance card reminds us that balance and harmony are important aspects of our lives. By finding the right balance, we can achieve peace and contentment in our personal and professional lives and move forward with confidence.

The Devil

When it comes to the tarot card known as The Devil, it’s difficult to ignore the immediate reaction that the imagery can elicit. The card itself depicts a horned, winged creature with a human face towering over two naked, chained figures. It’s a striking scene that can evoke fear and discomfort in some, but it’s important to delve deeper into the symbolism and meaning behind The Devil card.

First and foremost, The Devil does not necessarily represent an actual demonic entity. Instead, it’s often interpreted as a representation of our own internal struggles and vices. The chains around the figures’ necks represent the chains of our own addictions or harmful behaviors that keep us from true freedom. The figure’s animalistic features can be interpreted as a representation of our primal, base desires that can often lead us astray.

The Devil card can also represent materialism and the negative consequences of becoming too focused on material possessions and earthly desires. This can tie into the idea of addiction, as an excessive focus on material possessions or physical pleasure can quickly turn into an unhealthy, all-consuming obsession.

It’s important to note that while The Devil card may appear frightening or negative, it ultimately serves as a warning or wakeup call. It’s a reminder to examine our own behavior and thought patterns to identify any negative tendencies or habits holding us back. The card can encourage us to break free from self-imposed limitations and live more authentically.

In a tarot reading, The Devil card can indicate a need to reexamine our priorities and behaviors, as well as a warning of potential negative consequences if we continue down a certain path. While it may not be the most comfortable card to encounter, it does offer an opportunity for introspection and growth.

The Tower

“The Tower” is one of the most recognizable and often misunderstood cards in the Tarot deck. Typically depicted as a tall tower being struck by lightning, it is a symbol of sudden and jarring change. The message of the card is that the foundation on which one has built their life is being shaken, perhaps completely destroyed. It can be a time of great upheaval and turmoil, and the shock of the change can be overwhelming.

is often linked to the concept of “ego death”. This refers to a breakdown of one’s current sense of self and worldview in order to create space for something new to emerge. While this can be an unnerving experience, it can also lead to personal growth and a deeper understanding of one’s self.

In readings, The Tower can be a difficult card to interpret. It can suggest sudden endings or upheavals in one’s personal or professional life, such as the loss of a job or the end of a relationship. However, if viewed in a positive light, The Tower can represent a much-needed wake-up call that forces the querent to assess their current situation and make necessary changes.

The destruction shown on the card can be a chance for a new foundation to be built, one that is stronger and more resilient than the previous one. The Tower reminds us that change is inevitable and that sometimes the only way forward is through upheaval and chaos. It may be uncomfortable, but it can ultimately lead to a better future.

Overall, The Tower is a powerful and often intense card in the Tarot deck. Its message of sudden change and destruction may not be what querents want to hear, but it can serve as a reminder that sometimes destruction is necessary for growth and a better future.

The Star

The Star card in the tarot deck is one of the most beautiful and inspiring cards in the deck. It depicts a woman standing by a body of water, pouring water from two pitchers into the water. She is looking upwards, towards a shining star in the sky. The woman represents hope, inspiration, and grace, while the water represents clarity and intuition.

The Star card is often associated with hope, inspiration, and renewal. It can be seen as a symbol of new beginnings, new opportunities, and a new sense of purpose. When this card appears in a reading, it is often a sign that the person is on the right path towards achieving their goals and finding meaning in their life.

The symbolism in the Star card is rich with meaning. The woman in the card is often interpreted as a representation of the divine feminine, representing the qualities of nurturing, compassion, and unconditional love. The water in the card is often seen as representing the flow of life, and the ability to adapt to change and navigate difficult times with grace and ease.

The Star card is also often associated with the zodiac sign Aquarius, which is known for being independent, innovative, and forward-thinking. This card can be seen as a sign that the person is tapping into their inner wisdom and intuition, and is able to see the big picture in any situation.

In a tarot reading, the Star card can also indicate a need to let go of negative patterns and limiting beliefs, and to open oneself up to new possibilities and opportunities. It encourages the person to have faith in their own abilities and to trust the universe to guide them towards their highest good.

The Star card is a powerful symbol of hope, inspiration, and renewal. It reminds us that even in the darkest of times, there is always a shining star to guide us towards a brighter future.

The Moon

In Tarot, is a card that is full of mystery and often associated with the unconscious mind. The card shows a full moon in the night sky, with a wolf and a dog howling at the moon. A crayfish emerges from the water’s edge, symbolizing the idea of the unknown lurking beneath the surface.

This card is often associated with emotions and intuition, as the moon is said to govern the ebb and flow of the tides and influences our emotions in a similar way. The wolf and dog howling at the moon represent the wild and domesticated parts of our nature, and the constant desire for balance between them.

The crayfish emerging from the water represents the hidden aspects of our thoughts and feelings that we may be unaware of. The card suggests a period of uncertainty and confusion, where emotions may be hard to pin down, and our dreams and intuition may be the best guide.

In a reading, the appearance of The Moon may indicate that the querent is going through a period of emotional turmoil or facing some deep-seated fears and anxieties. The card suggests that the querent may need to trust their intuition and dreams to navigate through this period, as their rational mind may not provide the answers they seek. It is also possible that the card suggests that some aspects of the querent’s life may be hidden from view, and they need to dig deeper to uncover the truth.

Overall, The Moon is a powerful card that reminds us of the power of our emotions and intuition and the need to confront the unknown aspects of ourselves and our lives.

The Sun

The Sun card in Tarot represents warmth, happiness, and success. Depicted on the card is a large, radiant sun shining down on a child sitting on a horse. This image evokes feelings of joy, positivity, and an inner-childlike sense of wonder. The Sun card is often associated with the zodiac sign Leo and may indicate the arrival of summer or a period of growth and abundance.


  1. The Sun: The sun represents vitality, light, and life. It is often associated with the conscious mind and the ego.
  2. Child: The child on the horse represents innocence, joy, and new beginnings. It symbolizes the start of a new journey or phase in life.
  3. Horse: The horse symbolizes strength, freedom, and energy. It represents the driving force behind one’s journey, as well as the ability to overcome any obstacles.
  4. Wall: The wall behind the child and horse represents the boundaries and limitations of the physical world. It symbolizes the need to break down barriers in order to achieve success and growth.

When the Sun card appears in a reading, it may indicate a time of happiness, success, and growth. The card suggests that you have the inner strength and resources to overcome any obstacles that may be standing in your way. It is a reminder to stay positive, to embrace life’s joys, and to keep moving forward with confidence and joy. The Sun card is a powerful symbol of hope, optimism, and the promise of a bright future.


The Judgment card is among the most complicated and intriguing tarot cards, and therefore requires careful consideration. It represents resurrection or rebirth, and typically depicts an angel blowing a trumpet, an image which appears to be rooted in Christian theology. This trumpet acts as a call to the dead to rise from their graves and make their way to the throne of the Almighty for judgment. Judgment is a deeply symbolic card, and its imagery is rich with nuance and meaning.

Throughout history, the Judgment Card has been depicted in many different ways, with subtle variations in symbolism. Some depict an open sarcophagus, with souls emerging from it, while others show a shore with the ocean beyond, representing the boundary between the conscious and unconscious mind. The card shows that all actions in life lead to consequences, and that these consequences cannot be avoided.

There is a lot of Christian influence in the Judgment card, as it refers directly to the final judgment day. It’s often portrayed as an announcement of our final destiny, with all of our actions laid bare. In this context, the card serves as a reminder that our actions in life are judged and, ultimately, we face the consequences. It conveys the idea that we will always answer for our actions, and that it’s important to act with integrity and to be true to our inner selves to ensure a better future of our souls.

In tarot readings, the Judgment card can appear as an indication that the querent is carrying feelings of guilt, shame, or regret, and that they feel the need to reconcile with their past. This card provides an opportunity for self-reflection and self-evaluation that can lead to personal growth and transformation. It can also act as a reminder that it’s never too late to make amends and to change the course of one’s life.

The Judgment card serves as a reminder of the eternal consequences of our actions. It is a powerful symbol that resonates with people, even outside of religious contexts. It is a reminder that we reap what we sow, and an encouragement to live fully and authentically in accordance with our own values and beliefs.

The World

is the final card of the Major Arcana in a traditional Tarot deck. It is also known as the Universe, and it represents the end of a journey. The card shows a naked woman or goddess, who is holding two wands or batons. She is surrounded by a wreath, which symbolizes completion, wholeness, and achievement. The four figures in the corners of the card represent the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water), as well as the four fixed signs of the zodiac (Taurus, Aquarius, Leo, and Scorpio).

The World card speaks to the querent’s completion of a significant journey or project. It is a card of fulfillment, contentment, and success. It represents the achievement of a long-term goal, and it suggests that the querent has reached the end of a cycle. It is a card of reflection and introspection, as the querent considers the road they have traveled and the lessons they have learned.

In a Tarot reading, the World card also signifies the potential for new beginnings. It suggests that the querent is ready to take on new challenges and begin a new phase of their life. The card encourages the querent to take what they have learned and use it to create new opportunities for growth and self-discovery.

The World card is a powerful symbol of achievement and fulfillment. It reminds us to celebrate our successes, reflect on our journeys, and look forward to the future with enthusiasm and optimism.


After exploring the origins and evolution of tarot imagery, as well as delving into the symbolism behind each of the major and minor arcana cards, it’s clear that the tarot is a rich and complex system of divination. Each card carries its own unique meaning and significance, and when combined with surrounding cards in a spread, can offer valuable insights and guidance. However, truly understanding tarot imagery requires more than just memorizing keywords and interpretations. It requires a deep connection to one’s intuition and a willingness to engage with the cards on a personal level. As Jung once said, “Tarot… is a profound psychological system that has much in common with alchemy… it may be interpreted as a description of the process of individuation.” So, whether you’re a seasoned reader or just starting out, remember to approach the tarot with an open mind and heart, and allow it to guide you on your journey towards greater self-awareness and understanding.

Understanding Tarot Imagery for Modern Readings

As we move into modern times, the imagery of tarot cards has undergone significant transformations. However, the underlying symbols and archetypes remain relevant and powerful. Below are some key points to keep in mind when interpreting tarot imagery for modern readings:

  • Be aware of cultural context: Different cultures and time periods have assigned different meanings to various symbols. For example, the snake has different connotations in Western versus Eastern cultures. It is important to study tarot imagery within the cultural context in which it was created in order to fully understand its meaning.
  • Pay attention to numerology: Each card in the tarot deck corresponds to a numerical value. For example, The Magician corresponds to the number 1, while The Empress corresponds to the number 3. Understanding numerology can help to illuminate the significance of certain cards in a reading.
  • Interpret symbolism in the context of the question: Tarot readings are most effective when the symbolism of the cards is interpreted in relationship to the specific question or issue at hand. Try to see how the imagery of each card relates to the question being asked.
  • Consider the position of the card: Depending on where a card falls within a spread, its meaning may change. For example, if The Lovers card appears in the “past” position, it may indicate a previous romantic connection that has influenced the present situation. However, if it appears in the “future” position, it may suggest a potential romantic partnership.
  • Use intuition: While understanding the basic symbolism of tarot cards is important, the true power of tarot lies in the ability to tap into one’s own intuition. Trusting your instincts and allowing the cards to speak to you on a deeper level can lead to more insightful and accurate readings.

By keeping these points in mind and approaching tarot imagery with an open and intuitive mind, one can gain deeper insights into the self and the world around them. Tarot cards are a powerful tool for self-reflection and personal growth, and their imagery will continue to evolve and inspire for generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history behind tarot imagery?

Tarot imagery has a long and intriguing history dating back to the 15th century in Europe. It has been used for divination and spiritual guidance by different cultures and beliefs over time.

What is the difference between Major Arcana and Minor Arcana?

The Major Arcana symbolizes significant life events and milestones, while the Minor Arcana represents more everyday occurrences. Major Arcana cards depict archetypes and universal themes, and Minor Arcana cards depict more specific situations.

What are Court Cards in Tarot?

Court Cards represent personalities or individuals in a reading. They usually depict rank or hierarchy, such as the Page, Knight, Queen, and King.

What does The Fool card represent?

The Fool represents new beginnings and personal growth. It symbolizes embracing change, taking risks, and following intuition.

What does The Magician card symbolize?

The Magician represents manifestation and personal power. It symbolizes using one’s talents and abilities to manifest desired outcomes, taking action, and being creative.

What does The High Priestess card signify?

The High Priestess represents intuition and spirituality. It symbolizes accessing inner wisdom, feminine energy, and the unknown aspects of life.

What does The Lovers card indicate?

The Lovers signify relationships and choices. It symbolizes harmony, balance, and unity. However, it can also represent conflict or difficult choices.

What does The Death card mean?

The Death card represents transformation and change. It symbolizes the end of a cycle or phase and the beginning of something new. It can also signify letting go of the past and embracing the future.

What does The Devil card symbolize?

The Devil represents temptation and materialism. It symbolizes feeling trapped or constrained by negative patterns and addictions. It can also represent personal power and liberation when faced and overcome.

What does The Tower card represent?

The Tower signifies sudden upheaval and destruction. It symbolizes the collapse of what once seemed stable and safe, and the need to rebuild from the ground up. It can also represent the power of chaos and the potential for growth and renewal.

How can understanding Tarot imagery be helpful in modern-day life?

Understanding Tarot imagery allows for introspection, personal growth, and the ability to navigate life’s challenges with a deeper understanding of the self and the world. It can provide guidance and insights into current challenges and emotional states.


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