Most tarot readers today avoid foretelling the future. Instead they prefer to use the cards for self-discovery, counseling and clarity. However, tarot cards have proved themselves to be remarkably accurate when used for fortune telling. The popular idea that tarot cards were used by gypsies from Egypt is a modern day myth. The first known occurrences of people using them to divine the future is by 17th century occultists in Europe. Since then the tarot has captured mainstream imagination as an all-knowing oracle.
Just for fun, we’ve put together a brief list of traditional divinatory meanings for each of the 78 tarot cards.
Fool — madness, foolishness, irrationality. Take that course of action at your peril. You may be the victim of deceit.
Magician — sleight of hand, eloquence, manipulation. Watch out for trickery – yours or another’s.
High Priestess — secrets, hidden knowledge, silence. Someone is withholding information. Keep your own counsel; do not gossip.
Empress — motherhood, fertility, abundance. A pregnancy in the family. A female relative is coming to stay.
Emperor — fatherhood, structure, discipline. An overbearing man. A command will be given.
Hierophant — education, brotherhood, conformity. A formal ceremony will take place. You will be involved with a large institution.
Lovers — desire, love, emotional challenge. Falling in love. An important decision must be made.
Chariot — triumph, control, progress. You direct your own destiny. Act as though you know what you are doing.
Strength — fortitude, courage, endurance. Deal with it. Hang on in there.
Hermit — solitude, caution, teacher. Take some time alone. Someone offers words of wisdom.
Wheel of Fortune — changes, good luck, bad luck. Expect a period of chaos. Cultivate serenity and acceptance.
Justice — balance, law, legal problems. Expect a good outcome. Check agreements and contracts carefully. Pay attention to paperwork.
Hanged Man — stuck, in limbo. Nothing is ready to change just yet. Go with the flow.
Death — death, endings, transitions. A life cycle is ending. Look for the new beginning.
Temperance — adjustment, compatibility, moderation. Steady as you go. Guidance is available.
Devil — bad habits, lust, malevolence. Do something about your bad behavior or obsession. Get help, if necessary.
Tower — disaster, distress, catastrophe. Life change. Get through this and things will get better.
Star — faith, hope, love, inspiration. You will feel liberated and peaceful. Do good things.
Moon — confusion, mystery, illusion. Don’t act now, even if you think you are doing the right thing. Pay attention to your intuition.
Sun — improvement, good health, enjoyment. You will have increased energy and optimism. Make the most of this time.
Judgment — calling, mission, life purpose. You will be drawn to a course of action. You have a mission to accomplish.
World — attainment, achievement, pause. A landing stage. Be ready for the next life cycle.
Ace of Wands — idea, inspiration, opportunity. Inspiration strikes.
Two of Wands — plans, details, preparation. Almost ready to go.
Three of Wands — enterprise, negotiation, deals. Success is on the horizon.
Four of Wands — achievement, vacation, celebration. Take a break.
Five of Wands — competition, arguments, one-upmanship. Don’t escalate a disagreement.
Six of Wands — victory, result, good news. You’ve done well.
Seven of Wands — defense, disapproval, negativity. Stand up for your beliefs.
Eight of Wands — activity, arousal, haste. Get organized. A possible love match.
Nine of Wands — waiting, resting, recuperating. Be ready to fight.
Ten of Wands — responsibilities, heaviness. There’s a hard slog ahead.
Page of Wands — explorer, messenger, creativity. A young person is on the brink of an adventure.
Knight of Wands — scoundrel, love-rat, charmer. Male or female. Beware insincerity.
Queen of Wands — lighthearted girl, career woman. A friendly female is important in your life.
King of Wands — charismatic man, leader. A charming, temperamental man holds the key.
Ace of Cups — friendship, attraction, kindness. A new friendship or romance is on the way.
Two of Cups — love, romance, attachment. You make a commitment to another.
Three of Cups — friends, joy, celebration. A night out with the girls (or boys).
Four of Cups — low-level depression, withdrawal. You just can’t be bothered.
Five of Cups — despair, loss, grief. An emotional upset. All is not lost, even if it feels that way.
Six of Cups — children, childhood, past. A nostalgic trip takes place, or someone from the past turns up.
Seven of Cups — daydreams, options, indecision. Make a choice and make it be right. Be firm with yourself.
Eight of Cups — difficult choices, emotional leave-taking. You have to forge your own path.
Nine of Cups — relief, blessings, contentment. Take pleasure in the moment. Life is good.
Ten of Cups — family, home, security. Family is the most important thing right now.
Page of Cups — explorer of emotions, messenger, artistic creativity. A young person needs nurturing.
Knight of Cups — romantic young man or woman, people-pleaser. Your knight in shining armor – but don’t ask them to change the baby’s diaper.
Queen of Cups — empathetic woman, gentle soul. You can tell this woman anything and she’ll keep your secret.
King of Cups — kind, non-threatening man. A reversed card might mean a drink problem.
Ace of Swords — clarity, breakthrough, surgery. Get ready for a sudden understanding.
Two of Swords — reluctance, conflict, indecision. You are not seeing all sides of a situation.
Three of Swords — crossed lines, separation. An argument may be based on a misunderstanding.
Four of Swords — isolation, convalescence. You will need to take some time to recover your well-being.
Five of Swords — loss, bullying, broken friendship. You might simply want to walk away.
Six of Swords — moving forward, recovery, safe passage. You leave problems and turmoil behind.
Seven of Swords — theft, broken trust, retrieval. Watch your personal belongings. Take back something that belongs to you, i.e self-confidence.
Eight of Swords — trapped, victim thinking. There is a way through. You can extricate yourself from this situation.
Nine of Swords — problems, nightmares, repeating thoughts. The solution is not where you are looking. Let it go and you will receive the answers you need.
Ten of Swords — endings, death, giving up. A new dawn is on the horizon. Pick yourself up and make a new start.
Page of Swords — explorer of thought, messenger, new ideas. A young genius requires freedom to learn.
Knight of Swords — hero, assertiveness, blinkered vision. A man, or woman on a mission. Nothing will swerve them from their course. No obstacle can stop them.
Queen of Swords — Truthful, honest woman. You can’t hide anything from her. Be careful of her reversal: a trouble-maker.
King of Swords — senior, professional, intelligent man. A critical and demanding man with high standards. Loves his wife.
Ace of Pentacles — beginning, material goods. A new project is on the horizon. You may be moving to a new home.
Two of Pentacles — limited resources. You will be juggling time and money. Pay attention to details.
Three of Pentacles — work, skill, collaboration. Teamwork will be important in the coming weeks.
Four of Pentacles — protection, consolidation, financial security. Don’t get hung up on material possessions; people are more important than money and gain.
Five of Pentacles — difficulties, lack of money, material challenges. If you need help, ask for it.
Six of Pentacles — charity, generosity, help. You are offered a helping hand, or you assist someone who is down on their luck.
Seven of Pentacles — patience, ingenuity, hard work. You may be tempted to give up and move on. Don’t, your rewards are imminent.
Eight of Pentacles — honing skills, attention to work. A change of career, a promotion or a training course.
Nine of Pentacles — independence, wealth, comfortable living. Take time to enjoy the results of your labors.
Ten of Pentacles — inheritance, family wealth, tradition. You are concerned with family matters; creating a family tree, building a family business or making your will.
Page of Pentacles — explorer of facts, messenger, love of the Earth. A young person chooses a career.
Knight of Pentacles — reliable, loyal man or woman. Someone with hidden depths comes into your life. There’s more to them than meets the eye, so give them a chance.
Queen of Pentacles — motherly, practical woman. You can rely on her in a crisis.
King of Pentacles — father-figure, self-made man. He’s a good boss but expects things to be done his way. A faithful husband.
The Major Arcana in detail.
More about the Minor Arcana.