Astrologer's Wand                                  Free Tarot Online

THE GENERAL MEANING OF THE 22 CARDS

OF THE MAJOR ARCANA


22 Major Arcana of the Ryder-Waite Deck

                                                                                                                                          rev'd 02-02  ©Jimmy Warner 201
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The ideas and interpretations of the Tarot herewith are of my own choosing based on popular formulations that can be found globally and are not necessarily those attributed to A. E. Waite or his publishers. Furthermore, it is not my intention to profit from the Ryder-Waite deck. I hold the author in very high esteem and have given him credit where it is due.

Brief Preface

    Psychic powers or clairvoyance are not included in this manuscript nor am I a true believer in such abilities, however, in my practice I have had quantum leaps of insight and knowledge that I cannot explain. Perhaps this method of helping and healing people is a different mode of thinking, or involving less thought and more imagination directed toward a problem which is causing pain. I do know that mental action cures pain, this is a fact. The reader is there to guide the querent to a pain free state. I find it much easier to help the truly needy than the seeker-tourist looking for a kick. The ability to sense suffering may be an intuitive talent, which is more of a calling than a skill that I can teach.

What is a querent
  
Note that I use the words *querent, seeker and client interchangeably and that I address this paper to the reader, psychic, or student of the Tarot who wishes to become a reader.

*Que'-rent
(Old Eng. Law) A complainant; a plaintiff. 
1. An inquirer. (not necessarily from Philadelphia)
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, published 1913 by C & G Merriam Co.

What is a Reader
   As a reader you must concentrate on helping to solve the querent's problems and wishes in a friendly, mind jogging activity rather than be so gassed on your own mysticism that you convince the person that he is addressing an omnipotent entity that is not to be questioned. You are the boss of the interview but not the outcome. Conduct it as you would if you were an industrial psychiatrist, motivate the seeker toward his own healing. 

    Though quantum leaps are possible I do not recommend that you base your success on the ability to predict the future. That is not the true purpose of this calling. It is my hope that you want to help those who cannot help themselves because they cannot put things together, a process which lies at the heart of symbolism itself – although technically the word comes from the Greek word for an identity tag worn around the neck. Symbols operate, as I will explain later, in a way that poetry and metaphor operate, that is, through association, likeness, correspondences, similarities and also as opposites. Just as Astrology is one set of correspondences, so Tarot is another set. All symbols, however, operate in the same way by growing and changing in our imagination to freely associate with the task at hand. The stronger the symbol the better the power to heal, to revive and instill in the seeker a new and relevant, higher purpose.

   If you are a free spirited person I suggest that you hold back a little and err on the side of caution. On the other hand if you are the cautious type, I recommend that you loosen up and let yourself go a bit more. I cannot put you on a scale, but use of whole brain thinking is a more balanced way to proceed. Left brain thinking has been described as thought without any emotion or insight, while right brain rationality is all raving concerns, worries and out-the-window beliefs. Somewhere in between is where you want to be. Let the symbols talk to you, but be careful how you talk to them.

Jimmy Warner, Dec. 6, 2002

Note: I do not read reverse cards, not because I can't but because there is enough negativity in them already without looking for more.


What Is A Symbol

   The major criticism over the actual existence of symbols is that it's all make believe and therefore unimportant, made up and arbitrary. In other words you can say it is a symbol of something but that doesn't make it one. My argument is based on how abstract images and ideas affect people and their actions, culture and self knowledge. If you don't want to call that influence symbolism then substitute your own word. Causes that are complex, hidden, debatable are often lumped with the symbols of the times and the strong beliefs of popular movements. People don't randomly make up new symbols, okay, follow this. They start as ideas that grow and evolve in common use. It is no different from a rumor, wives tale, viral video or approval rating, further more it does not have to be true or politically correct. The effect is change over time socially and historically. The more portable the symbol is the more successful.

   The best ad campaign is one based on symbols that are widespread yet invisible to our motivations. Music is a good example, it's energy motivates most people to move, tap, even blink and mate. Images do the same by drawing on memory and association. People respond to symbols that are not even intellectually recognized as such, causing a popular approval or disapproval based on gut reaction and the need to part of group opinion. "We the people" didn't take very long to become a permanent idiom for USA.
 
   A symbol is a picture or drawing of a representational object, plant, animal or person, sometimes a place that can be communicated in a word or phrase, which suggests that there is more to the image than what can be seen. At face value it may have a literal message or interpretation, but on closer examination the picture may tell a more complete story and offer up many other associations. This phenomenon is called correspondence, a connection between the picture and a reality that never seems out of date. Samuel Taylor Coleridge defined three types of symbols:

   math or literal symbols used in everyday communication, + - = % ! ?

   allegorical symbols (veiled language) found in antiquity and used for representational heroes in literature, painting and theater. Most allegory relies on people and animal subjects. Examples are The Bible, Livy, Frye's Faerie Queene, Allegory found in astrology, Plato, masques, Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, John Bunyan's Pilgrims Progress, and the works of William Blake, Tolkien and Baum. Nietzsche's Übermensch from Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883) has evolved into the popular caped man of steel. Rodger Rabbit also has allegorical innuendo as class struggle, the ultimate triumph of a picture.

   organic Symbols, also found in antiquity, but because they are primal, timeless and never run out of new applications, they are considered to be growing, alive or animate such as religious, spiritual or cult figures of the ancients. If necessary they can be revived.

   An organic symbol is different from the hero of an allegory because it has an inexhaustible supply of relevance, meaning and philosophy which could be interpreted as helpful, inspirational or enlightening. Think of super heroes as crossovers from stiff allegory to symbol because of the popular imagination invested in them. It is the difference between an allegorical character who, for example, represents truth, honesty and integrity as identified by his drapery, insignia or what have you, and a numinous mythical figure, possibly religious or prophetic, who may be many characters wrapped into one and who comes with a philosophy which can be readily applied to a situation. Time is the only test of a good symbol. Good or bad it can always be revised for any contemporary culture.


What Is A Tarot Symbol

   The making of Tarot cards began in the 15th century as home projects to illustrate trump cards with pictures of family members posing as gods, royalty, virtues and other whimsical figures. Most noted are the Sforza and Visconti families of Renaissance Italy (1441, the marriage of Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti). In the same spirit I have created a home project to promote my own Tarot deck to the Internet. The richness of Tarot philosophy and symbolism has inspired me to share it with the world. The deck used online is not the one I use at home. Both have taken 20 years to produce.  

   Tarot symbols are traditionally taken from allegorical medieval images of family life and devotions. This is not to be taken literally as how we must live, but as what is important, universal and positive about our way of life. You will find similarities to Tarot principles in every culture, demonstrating the human condition, a primitive psychology, or what the ancients called 'the perennial philosophy'.

   Though often cited as an example, The Cult of Hermes, or Corpus Hermeticum, may be a good source to investigate. This work was proven long ago to be a 2nd century hoax, never-the-less, it is an excellent depiction of pagan thought, belief and symbolism. The work's promotional intent was to suggest that Christ was long anticipated by pagan religions.

   Use of the Cabala is also not a way to learn the Tarot. One does not stand in a pentagram and wish ill or vengeance toward one's neighbors. Wag of the finger.

   Because these symbols are used meditatively they
have evolved an organic quality, a living essence, (you allow them to  grow) which makes them easy to use as a mental nudge or reminder when looking for solutions to problems. They operate, for example, like the sun, always returning for a new day or like a famous or heroic person who has attributes, qualities, an agenda or a list of good deeds and bad. The Tarot uses mythology and astrology to illustrate that which was believed to originate in the stars and planets, (as above, so below) but which need only originate in the idea which you form in your mind after study and experience. The larger metaphor of the pictures in the stars is applied here below. Pursuit of this knowledge has faded from popularity and reemerged over the centuries. Meditation use is newer. Symbols grow because of the power given to them, but can be stronger than the will of a society, culture or individual. They can kill. See what I mean in my new article in progress - Occult Symbolism ...and how it works.

   I am not going to cite one deck over another to show organic symbols, but the way the cards are used is a key to how they are evolving. Whenever you mentally picture your own link to an idea and then redesign a personal deck you are expanding the symbolism organically. These symbols go beyond the pictorial face of the card and do not end with a few philosophical summaries, platitudes or scenarios of life. Like the lotus or rose there is an inexhaustible supply of petals, meanings, applications, and inspirations. It is possible to meditate on a single card and never come to the end of its relevance. more Tarot/astro symbols

What is a problem

The layout of the spread has a top and a bottom. The top cards, referred to as what is "crowning" the client,  are to be viewed in a more favorable light than the bottom cards, referred to as what the client is "sitting on". Top cards 5 and 10 are generally good or helpful indications, while the bottom cards, 3 and 7, suggest problems. Don't expect the client to readily accept your word that something they feel more at ease about is a problem. Perhaps a test question is in order to get to know the client's personality. Example: When a tree is lying in the road blocking your path do you get your chain saw out of the trunk or backtrack several miles to another route?

The Suit Symbols

    The four suits are part of the medieval structure one might find in Dante's Divine Comedy, Earth Air, Fire Water, (coin, sword, wand, cup). Although allegorical in principle, one can simplify or personalize them to mean Material, Intellectual, Spiritual and Emotional concerns. In the Fool they surround him, in the Magician he uses them. Temperance is pouring them from cup to cup, serving the right mixture. Justice is best obtained through (sword) intelligent solutions. Naked hope, the Star is best expressed by watery ablutions, emotional outpouring and the seven planets shining above, (the Sun is a planet) the only ones known in Medieval times.

My method of reading any card in a Celtic Cross Spread
according to its position.
Try it before inventing your own.

 
   Palmleaf Cross TAROT-Basics © Jimmy Warner Design 1992-2010


0. Significator card
When playing with a physical deck the significator card
is tucked under the subject card.  
 
Choosing a Significator card

Reading by position - subject, crossing, urgent, past, best etc. 
sample layout



Layout using Ryder-Waite Deck (extra cards to the right)
 
click to zoom
This shows my actual spread with extra cards played on the court cards.
The King of Cups is my significator next to the (Sun) subject. I usually play
the subject card on top of my significator. The King of Wands represents a
close friend. Because there are four other personae in the spread I play on
each one  for more info. It sometimes appears that every court card is
about an aspect of the same person.
 

 

 

 

10

 

5

 

9

4

Sig.
1
   2

6

8

 

3

 

7

ANY TAROT CARD IN POSITION 1 - 10

1. In a reading as the topic or subject:
This card is the subject or topic of the reading. It should reflect on the querent’s question if he asks one. The reader should do his best to relate this card to the querent’s question. Tarot philosophy is flexible enough to relate to most any question. Rephrasing the question also helps. You can eliminate chance by choosing a subject card that best represents the question. You can always play on a card that is unclear. Add cards for clarification.
 Types of Questions 

The reader can ask if the subject of the card is a more important topic than the topic posed by the question. Serendipity can work for you as well.

2. In a reading as the crossing, value comment, good or bad: Value means for example, who is this helping or hurting, who is benefiting. Who does this effect the most for good or ill? What good is it? What use, and is this a good time for it? Play the commenting card value against the subject. EXAMPLE: Lovers crossed by Devil asks the question is this a viable choice? Lovers = marriage, choice, Devil = survival, responsibility, trap. One can make other associations, will the marriage be a trap? Will this choice increase or lessen an obligation? 

3. In a reading as the urgency, the heart of the matter: If there is a problem associated with the subject this card should spell it out, although the problem doesn’t always appear to the seeker to be what the problem really is. The heart of the matter is more likely to be the real problem that is giving concerns to the seeker regarding the subject of the reading. Example: Fool, crossed by Magician, urgent card is High Priestess. Just an average guy, right? Does he have all the necessary tools to meet his goals? He already knows the answer, but it bothers the hell out of him. Question is what is really bothering him about himself (Fool), is it really just about the tools? (Magician). The background philosophy here, says, if you really know yourself (High Priestess) and your limitations you can do the job ... but does the client know that?

4. In a reading as the past, what led up to this: There is a readable line that goes all the way across the spread like a time line. 4, 1, 2, 6, 8. The lateral axis of the spread provides a history of the seeker from some point in the recent past, through the present topic to a point in the future. Usually this time line does not extend more than six months in either direction. A past event often affects a future one unless the subject, value, and problem are dealt with and the advice (card 5) is taken. (6 is future, 8 is an omniscient view or commentary on what surrounds the seeker at home or work.)

5. In a reading as the crowning, the best advice: Make a positive case for the card and what it symbolizes. This is the best advice you can get to solve whatever problem is at hand. Compare the problem indicated by card in 3rd position, heart of the mater to the 5th card. Determine whether the advice suggested is a reasonable strategy to solve the problem. Example: Card 3 is Lovers, Card 5 is Strength. Lovers = problem making a choice of a marriage partner. Advice is based on character assessment. Be true to yourself. If you cannot be who you are and true to your character married to this person, it is obvious you do not belong together. In order to get at the advice the reader may have to ask some test questions. Does the person you choose want to change you  into something you don’t want to be? Advice is saying be fair to yourself. Does the person you choose have a reasonable expectation of you? Notice any strange beliefs that are not covered by religion? Intentions must be pure not profane.

6. In a reading as the six month forecast, what’s coming: Prediction is not the total aim of the Tarot, only preparation and openness to possibility is the name of the game. What is sewn in the past often has an implication in the future. Cards 4, 1, 2, 6 reflect what leads up to a future event. To say that card six will come true is a bit presumptuous, however, this is how life works unless one does something to prevent it. One can prepare for the possibility or do something now to prevent the possibility. Possibilities do not come with a set of guarantees.

7. In a reading as the querent's fear, what blocks progress: Fears and phobias indicated by the card should be faced and dealt with immediately. A good reader can prepare the seeker to face his fear, his worst nightmare, or a scene he is dreading. One way to master a fear in your mind is to change it, modify a color, place, tone, texture, even a sound. As indicated in card 5, fear is not the only way one’s progress can be blocked. Expectations and beliefs do an even better job of undermining a goal. Example: card 7 is Temperance. The reader might ask the question, “How do you expect to get along, co-operate, make do? Are you willing to give a little, bend a little? Does it worry you that you can’t make do?”

 8. In a reading as the querent's surroundings, how other's see him: Card 8 will show a little of what is suggested by card 6 and possibly 10. This overview is an observation not colored by any personal point of view or concern. Only the facts that surround the seeker are symbolized. It is like looking down from a higher plane. The seeker may not be aware of all that is going on around him.

9. In a reading as the hopes and wishes, the querent's goal: Air castles need mortar, practical and realistic steps toward attaining them, not more cloud billows and faith healing. Belief in a grand future can help a mental state, but nothing could be better than taking action to further ones dreams.

This card sometimes gives a method by which the goal can be achieved rather than just a reflection of the seeker's wishes. You cannot presume that all opportunity comes to your door and knocks, you must do as Abraham, leave the house, have faith that the journey will take you somewhere worth your while. 

10. In a reading as the outcome, summary, or test: The outcome is always positive, upbeat and reflecting favorably on the seeker even if the card is somewhat negative. The outcome card uses the paradigm of the world card to point the way. It is both celebration of reaching a stage of development and a time to up periscope and come to a new heading. It can be as much of an indication of outcome as what will be the next thing, the results of a test, or the next test to follow. 

Slant: The surrounding suits 

I calculate a slant to be 3 or more of a suit, court card or Major Arcana. Three Majors indicate a Serious Reading, one you should pay close attention to because of its weighty and more profound symbols. The subject will not be about rotating the tires or whether to serve celery with dinner. There could be life changing wisdom in the spread that the querent needs to know. Three or more Court cards is an obvious hint that a fair number of individuals are involved in this latest episode of life. By playing extra cards on the Court cards it is possible to determine who the individuals are. Three or more Cups give the spread an emotional slant, showing an active role in which the heart may have more power than wit. Three or more Wands I call a spiritual guide where intuition, faith, inspiration or creative energy plays the dominant role. Swords clear the way for a purely intellectual solution to whatever problems arise. Coins will indicate that it may be OK to throw money into something, or that nothing less than physical action will be needed.

The Ryder - Waite Deck   

Recurrence: The Waite index

A. E. Waite in his 'Key to the Tarot'  published his list of meanings to be applied to the recurrence of numbered cards such as two aces, three two's, four tens, etc, and the recurrence of court cards for example two Knights or three Queens. I have included this index in my Free Tarot Online automatic self readings which is now up and running. Free


E-Z Synopsis:
Learning the meaning of the
cards of the Major Arcana
(The Fool is numbered 0 on the card)
 

jwd deck

There is a medieval synopsis or short story to help us remember the meanings of the Major Arcana which goes like this:    

 MNEMONIC  (synopsis not in numeric order)

 CARD NAME

 
 0. One begins life's journey

 1. testing his will

 2. following his dreams

 3. guided by his mother's wisdom

 4. and the examples of his father or master

 5. in selfless acts

 6. with pure intentions

 7. that bring together forces

 11. through harmony and balance

 9. after careful meditation

 10. to oppose hapless luck.

 8. Character,

 12. made worthy by sacrifice,

 13. will rise above disaster and change

 14. and therefore make easy the heart

 15. of his negative or dark side.

 16. During all adversity

 17. hope remains

 18. to guide him along the unclear path

 19. to positive energy

 20. for the final result,

 21. folly or the universe.
 

 
 The Fool

 The Magician

 The High Priestess

 The Empress

 The Emperor

 The Hierophant

 The Lovers

 The Chariot

 Justice

 The Hermit

 The Wheel of Fortune

 Strength

 The Hanged Man

 Death

 Temperance

 The Devil

 The Tower

 The Star

 The Moon

 The Sun

 Judgment

 The World
 

 
Quick Tarot Reference
More on Court cards
The Minor Arcana

 
Jimmy Warner Design, © 201
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