Most new tarot students find working with the Minor Arcana is quite straightforward. The Majors, however, are sometimes difficult to interpret in the context of the question. Often the appearance of a Major can surprise us and we wonder how to work this ‘big’ card into the reading. In this article we’ll explore the various ways to interpret the Major Arcana.
We’re not covering the structure of the tarot deck here, so for all the meanings and in-depth exploration of each card visit this page: Major Arcana.
What Does It Mean When a Major Arcana Appears in a Reading?
The Major Arcana are deep and wide in terms of life experiences and life lessons. They ask us to pay attention to their message. They indicate that there are aspects of the situation we need to assimilate and use for future growth. When they appear in a reading about a mundane set of circumstances, it is wise to recognize an important insight is being offered to you. What seems to be a trivial situation may be hiding a message of deeper significance.
The energy of one or more Major Arcana cards will ripple constantly through your life. It will be happening whether or not you’ve actually seen them in a reading. For instance you might notice that you are feeling the call to make an important change in your life—that’s the energy of Judgment. Or perhaps you are attracted to meditation and inner exploration—that’s the High Priestess effect.
Ways to Interpret the Major Arcana
When looking at a Major Arcana in a reading ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I immediately recognize the significance of this card?
- Is this card passive or active?
- What lessons does this card hold and how do they apply to my situation?
- If I take the energy of this card on board how could I express it in my daily life?
- If the archetype in this card were to speak, what would it say?
- What questions should I ask this archetype?
- How does this card interact with each of the other cards in the reading?
Perhaps only one of the above makes sense to you in the context of you reading, and that’s fine. What is important is that you don’t minimize the card’s significance. Give it the time, attention, and respect it deserves.
Example: The Hanged Man
For example, let’s say you are asking about finding a new job. You’ve phrased your question so that you can get plenty of useful information from a single card. And then the Hanged Man shows up. Whoops. It seems at first glance that your job search is on hold. But you remember the importance of the Majors so you spend some time looking at the card and thinking about what it means.
It’s a passive card (the Majors are divided into 11 passive and 11 active), which does seem to tell you that at this point in time you can’t or shouldn’t take any action regarding your goal of a new job. You think about how eager you are to get moving on this. Your usual way is to push forward. To rush in. Perhaps the lesson of the Hanged Man is telling you that you would do better to take a more accepting viewpoint. To be more open to alternative suggestions. Perhaps right now, you can make a change in your perspective and learn to be patient and calm. There are times to be action-orientated and times to be at peace. You might achieve even more if you relax about the whole thing. And so on.
So while your question is about your work and future employment, the Hanged Man is there to teach you a wider lesson in the art of creating. That you don’t always have to be active and action focused. That the inner work is just as important when manifesting a dream.
Reading With the Majors
If you wish to undergo a little inner exploration, think about doing a reading for yourself using only the Major Arcana. Mostly one card will be sufficient at any given time, though two cards can be useful. Any more than that and you may become confused. Major-only readings are ideal if you have a spiritual, personal growth, or life path question.
Sample Questions for Majors Only
- Where am I in my spiritual progress?
- What is my current most important lesson?
- Where am I headed spiritually?
- What influences surround me right now?
- What am I ignoring that I ought to be paying attention to?
- Should I be considering a new life path?
- What do I really want from life?
- How can I learn to open my heart?
- What energy do I need to assimilate?
- What next step should I take?
- How do I let go of negativity?
- How do I reconcile my spiritual growth with my partner/family/work commitments?
- What is my subconscious trying to tell me?
- What does the Universe want me to understand?
- Is there a lesson for me during this difficult time?
- Can I use this situation to aid me in my soul purpose?
- Who am I, really?
- Who/what is my current tarot guide?
And, of course, you can devise your own questions based on what you really want to know about yourself and your current spiritual level.
We’d love to hear about your adventures into the realm of the Major Arcana, and if you’d like a professional spiritual reading, hop over to our sister site and choose one of our amazing tarot readers to offer you guidance.