Structure of the Tarot Deck

The Tarot is an ancient system of divination, offering insights and guidance through symbols, ancient lore and hidden mystical meanings.

tarot cards-sun on top

Sun from the Rider-Waite deck

A Tarot deck is made up of 78 cards, each having their own unique meanings and applications. There are 22 Major Arcana cards, 40 Minor Arcana cards and 16 Court cards. I use three decks: the Aquarian, the Hanson-Roberts deck and occasionally the Universal Waite deck.  All of these decks have their origin in the traditional Rider Waite deck.

If you are going to have a reading with me, or have had one, I would like to suggest that you read the following so that you have a better idea of the Tarot and how it works.

As I mentioned there are 78 cards in a Tarot deck. The deck is made up of three primary groupings.

They are:

1. The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards. These all have Roman numerals (0 through XXI) and each has a name, as follows:

0 Fool, I Magician, II High Priestess, III Empress, IV Emperor, V The Hierophant, VI Lovers, VII Chariot, VIII Strength, IX Hermit, X Wheel of Fortune, XI Justice, XII The Hanged Man, XIII Death, XIV Temperance. XV Devil, XVI Tower, XVII The Star, XVIII The Moon, XIX The Sun, XX Judgment, XXI The World

The Major Arcana cards are indicators of Universal forces at work in our lives. They can be viewed as archetypal aspects of ourselves as we journey through our own evolutionary process. The Cosmic and mystical forces as symbolized in these 22 cards can offer us greater insights into our own process once we tune into them.

2. The Minor Arcana consists of 40 cards. There are four suits with an Ace through ten of each. Each suit rules a different aspect of life. The four
suits are:

Pentacles correlates to the earth element and the practical, mundane affairs of life. It reveals information about our resources, finances, physical environment, work, career, home and other basic elements of life. It relates to the diamonds in a regular deck of cards.

Cups correlates to the water element and our emotional life. They reveal information about how we feel about things, what we care about, our relationships, what fulfills us and what we feel sad or incomplete about in our life. It relates to the hearts in a regular deck of cards.

Swords correlates to the air element and our mental life. It reveals information about how we think, communicate, the decisions we’ve made that still influence us, our attitudes and fears and how we relate to them. It relates to the spades in a regular deck of cards.

Rods correlates to the fire element and our spiritual life. It reveals information about our morals, ethics and what we have a strong draw to or interest in. The rods rule what fuels us and is our passion and enthusiasm for life. It relates to the clubs in a regular deck of cards.

In a reading, you can learn more about each of these areas in our lives and how to better understand yourself in relation to them.

3. The Court consists of 16 cards and makes up the final group in the Tarot. There are four court cards in each of the above suits (i.e. a Page of Pentacles, a Page of Cups, a Page of Swords and a Page of Rods.) Each of the court cards may be a real person in our life or represent some aspect of ourselves.

The four kinds of Court cards are:

Kings – a man of distinction and maturity. Often the Kings are someone who has information for us or can guide us through and advise us with a particular process in our lives.

Queens – a woman who knows who she is, what she wants and needs and how to get it. She epitomizes the feminine aspect of her suit.

Knights – a person who is dynamic and in pursuit of the things in whatever suit he appears. It is the part of each of us that is fiery, motivated and enthused.

Pages – a young person involved with the issue. They may likely be one who is open and innocent. It also represents us at the beginning of a phase of activity.

Related pages to check out:

FAQ About the Tarot

Celtic Cross Tarot Layout