Arcana is the plural for arcanum, which means “profound secret.” So, the major arcana of the Tarot are a collection of “secrets” that explain the basics of our universe. These cards always carry more weight than the minor arcana, and some believe they describe the stages of one’s personal growth.
In my last article, I discussed the first five major arcana cards, The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, and The Emperor. These cards help us to see ourselves as a child (The Fool) and an adolescent (The Magician). Then we develop our own spiritual awareness (The High Priestess), and our need to partner with another human (The Empress and The Emperor). In this article I will cover The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, and The Hermit, and these cards symbolize some of the triumphs and tribulations of what it means to be human.
V The Hierophant — The Hierophant is the figure of religion. He wears the crown of the papal and holds a scepter. He is shown giving blessings to the two people kneeling before him. He can also symbolize education and a teacher. The Hierophant represents the high priest, but his function is more than that of the High Priestess. The Priestess covers our spirituality, but the Hierophant includes institutions. These institutions, of course, include churches, mosques, and temples, but they also include governments and other private and public organizations, but not corporations.
In a spread the Hierophant symbolizes a time to develop emotionally and spiritually, but he can also represent institutions and a need to follow traditional values. In a love reading he can foretell a marriage proposal or a committed partnership. If one is asking about career, the Hierophant can indicate progress and growth and inspired leadership. In a reading about your home, it could represent an expansion of property or a party. But, when he turns up reversed, he can foretell incompetence and wrong decisions. Also the Hierophant in reverse can represent going against the norm or established values.
VI The Lovers — Some see The Lovers as Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, but the original card showed a man in the center with a young woman on one side of him and a crone (old woman) on the other side. Some felt this depicted the need of males to discard the old woman and find a new young bride. Perhaps because times changed is why the card was changed.
When pulled in a reading, The Lovers mean pretty much what you would expect, a love affair, but sometimes they can foretell a new career or perhaps starting a new life. If The Lovers come up in a reading about your home, they usually represent the opportunity for a dream home, or the good fortune to make some improvements at home. When it shows in a reading about career and money, it indicates the possibility of a positive outcome. And, of course, when The Lovers card appears in a relationship reading, it tells us of true love and renewed love. But, when The Lovers appear reversed, relationships can go out of balance. If you see The Lovers reversed close to The Devil, there is a good possibility that someone is cheating on the relationship.
VII The Chariot — The Chariot is the next progression after The Lovers. The Hierophant represents the institution of marriage, and the Lovers remind us of the kind of bond required to make a marriage work. The Chariot says, you’ve made the commitment, and now it’s time to move forward. The Chariot contains a traveler filled with determination and self-control ready for a successful quest.
In a reading, the Chariot can, of course, represent travel or a trip. It also can foretell progress and success ahead. Occasionally it actually represents a person’s car. I once saw The Moon (secrets) and The Chariot close to one another in a reading, and I warned the questioner that there may be car problems in her future. The following week she had to take it to the mechanic. In a reading about the home, The Chariot can tell us of travel away from home or welcoming guests traveling to visit you. In a relationship reading, the Chariot shows progress or perhaps moving on. The Chariot can represent swift progress or the road to success in a career reading. But, when in reverse, The Chariot can tells us that we are running in circles and possibly spiraling out of control, or travel plans may be delayed.
VIII Strength — Strength shows a woman standing over a lion holding its jaw in place. It signifies passion, base instincts, and civility. Strength can imply a moral victory, patience, compassion, and soft control. The Chariot controls through mastery and authority, while Strength is more subtle, even loving. This card can also represent inner strength, solid and reliable.
Strength encourages us to reach for our “higher-selves” for guidance, and she shows us strength of character when she appears in a reading. In a relationship reading she reminds us of a need for balance, and it can foretell that things will improve soon. If this card appears in a career type reading, it can remind us that the solution will come gently. And, in a reading about your home, Strength tells us that we may need to become the mediator. The reversed meaning of Strength is obviously weakness and fear reminding us that we are probably overthinking the situation.
IX The Hermit — The Hermit shows us a bearded man all alone with a staff and a lantern. The star that lights his lantern is considered the light of the Tarot. Of course, The Hermit can represent seclusion and isolation, but he can also show us “the light.” Sometimes we need to get away from everything and listen to the voice inside of us.
When The Hermit presents himself in a reading, he can be telling us that it’s time to break away from the routine and consider our options. But, he can also be showing us a person who is trying very hard to avoid someone or something. In a relationship reading, he can show us unrequited love or a need to spend some time single learning to love oneself. When it comes to career, The Hermit could be telling us that it’s time to stand back and maybe do a little more research. In a question about home, we need to focus on planning rather than acting. The reversed meaning of The Hermit is much the same as the upright meaning only magnified. He could represent the martyr or the victim, or feeling alone and unsupported.
More articles on learning Tarot:
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