the major arcana

The Major Arcana of The SPIRICAL Tarot represent the Journey – our psychological development from birth, through trauma and recovery, to the integration of our full personal potential. To illustrate this, I’ve divided the Major Arcana into three stages. I believe these stages are universal, and we all lie somewhere within them at any given moment in our lives; I also believe that this Journey happens in the shape of a spiral, so we revisit these stages over and over again, each time with the opportunity to see ourselves with more clarity and compassion. 

 

The meanings of these Major Arcana cards are quite similar to traditional tarot card meanings, but I’ve renamed them all to stay in line with my trauma-informed viewpoint. I’ve also reordered this Major Arcana somewhat, to more closely fit with my understanding of psychological development. The cards are labeled with their number (in Roman numerals). Because this deck is centered on our process through life, each card has a human figure (or figures) as its central image. I’ve used a series of symbols within the figures to represent the concepts that the different suits portray. The Major Arcana card figures contain all of these symbols; if the card is depicting an area of challenge, the symbols are darkened.

The first stage is Developing our True Self, and it concerns our birth and early development:

  • 0 = Essence (The Fool): who we truly are; the unique spark of true self we are each born with

  • I = Outer Power (The Magician): our sense of our own power to act

  • II = Inner Vision (The High Priestess): our deep inner knowing

  • III = Core Feminine (The Empress): our nurturing, sensual, empathic self

  • IV = Core Masculine (The Emperor): our logical, responsible, leader self

  • V = Connection (The Lovers): our need for love and acceptance

  • VI = Agency (The Chariot): our drive and determination; our belief in our ability to thrive

  • VII = Synchronicity (Wheel of Fortune): the meaning we find in randomly occurring events; our sense of awe in the Universe

The middle stage of the Major Arcana, Inhibiting our True Self, describes the inevitable traumatic events we all experience, the ways we begin to create protective patterns, and the beginnings of our self-awareness: 

  • VIII = Trauma (Death): how we “kill” our essence when it’s not seen, heard and accepted

  • IX = Conditioning (The Hierophant): adapting to our environment by creating protective patterns

  • X = Persona (Strength): our persona becomes our identity; presenting ourselves as strong and perfect

  • XI = Shadow (The Devil): denying or repressing things about ourselves that we feel are bad, wrong or shameful

  • XII = Projection (The Moon): projecting our shadow parts onto others; deceiving ourselves

  • XIII = Collapse (The Tower): meaninglessness, loss and upheaval; disconnection to our essence

The third stage of the Major Arcana is Reconnecting with our True Self, and it represents the ways in which we rediscover and integrate our true essence:

  • XIV = Surrender (The Hanged Man): beginning to recognize limiting patterns; seeing from a new angle

  • XV = Self-Reflection (The Hermit): introspection, curiosity, witnessing; turning toward mentors

  • XVI = Accountability (Justice): taking responsibility for our own actions; determining right action

  • XVII = Alignment (Temperance): connection of mind-body-spirit; integrating oppositions; holding the tension of opposites

  • XVIII = Validation (The Star): recognizing our own light; healing our inner self through validation; self-love

  • XIX = Authenticity (The Sun): being fully who we are; clarity and illumination; feeling dynamic and invigorated

  • XX = Compassion (Judgment): seeing ourselves and others with compassion and understanding; releasing guilt

  • XXI = True Self (The World): wholeness and integration; joy, life, purpose; awareness of our true Self

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The images on all tarot cards symbolize and represent the cards’ meanings. Images can range from very simple to very complex, but they are all meant to evoke both the meaning of the card, and also to elicit a personal response from the user. When Major Arcana cards appear in a spread, they signify that larger life issues are in play and we might want to consider where we stand, and whether change is afoot.

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