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Tarot Card Meanings

There is no such thing as a standard Tarot deck, although the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck comes close, and is referenced by most Tarot teachers and books. Both the deck and the Spread used for any Reading is a personal choice, and there is no right or wrong choice. The RWS system is the one that is being referenced here, with the focus being how it pertains to persons using it as a tool for Forecasting.

Card examples are taken from several Tarot decks (mouse over the picture to learn their heritage), and choice was based on how well the imagery expressed the essence of that cards associated RWS keyword. Visuals are crucial, because keywords alone can never hope to express all the nuances of a card.

Majors are being organized alphabetically by RWS label. The Courts are being organized by Suit and alphabetically by RWS label. The Pips are being organized by Suit and ascending Rank, with the Pip cards further divided into three associated subgroups (e.g., transient, habitual, and setbacks). To the left of the Suits' label is the Suits' French Suit equivalent, and to the right is the associated RWS Element. To the right of the Ranks' label is the Ranks' keyword. In parenthesis below the keyword of a Court label is its alternate keyword (Court cards have two context dependent meanings in a Spread).

Above a Major card photo is the cards traditional label, along with its keyword. Below a Major card photo are mnemonics consisting of an astrological component that has keywords similar to the card, along with a brief verse sketching the cards theme. Above both a Pip and Court card photo is its keyword, and in parenthesis below a Court card photo are any specific alternate keyword meanings.


Chariot - Control

Death - Transition

Devil - Ambition

Emperor - Manliness

The Chariot - Rohrig Tarot

Death - Baseball Tarot

The Devil - Robin Wood Tarot

The Emperor - Universal Goddess Tarot

Cancer - Confidently unite conflicting energies, to drive on to victory.

Scorpio - Mourn it or cheer it, but this page shall be turned.

Capricorn - Addictions and attachments are being self imposed.

Aries - Be aggressive, brave, and bold; but avoid tyranny.

Empress - Womanliness

Fool - Adventure

Hanged Man - Introspection

Hermit - Contemplation

The Empress - Gaian Tarot

The Fool - Baseball Tarot

The Hanged Man - Universal Goddess Tarot

The Hermit - Legacy of the Divine Tarot

Venus - Be fruitful, romantic, and appreciate beauty; but avoid possessiveness.

Uranus - Fresh and inexperienced, who knows where the path will lead?

Neptune - Pause, and make the sacrifice of considering things from a different perspective.

Virgo - Solitarily poke around, while ruminating and organizing your thoughts.

Hierophant - Tradition

High Priestess - Research

Judgement - Summation

Justice - Adjustment

The Heirophant - Steampunk Tarot

The High Priestess - Wheel of the Year Tarot

Judgement - Tarot of Casanova

Justice - Connolly Tarot

Taurus - Pay attention to authorities, institutions, or doctrine.

Moon - Arcane secrets are obscured; but knowledge can be uncovered and contemplated.

Pluto - Courageously face and accept the grades on your report card.

Libra - Objectively cut away whatever is necessary to bring things back into balance.

Lovers - Relationship

Magician - Expression

Moon - Lunacy

Star - Hope

The Lovers - Norse Tarot

The Magician - Metrosexual Tarot

The Moon - Tarot of Pirates

The Star - Tarot of Timeless Truth

Gemini - Faced with a vexing choice that impacts a union.

Mercury - Clever creation by willpower and desire.

Pisces - Experiencing a whirlwind of delusions, fantasies, and bizarre intuitive creativity.

Aquarius - Succor, peace, and healing now; with a promise of reward if you stay the course.
~~~ (MAYBE)

Strength - Restraint

Sun - Clarity

Temperance - Synthesis

Tower - Destruction

Strength - Hezicos Tarot

The Sun - Housewives Tarot

Temperance - Housewives Tarot

The Tower - Cosmic Tarot

Leo - Gently allay potent emotional forces.

Sun - Experiencing Apollonian lucid intellect, youthful energy, and a harmonious disposition.
~~~ (YES)

Sagittarius - Blend doses of extreme elements to form a moderate new mix.

Mars - A structure, institution, or belief is going to suddenly be revealed as false.
~~~ (NO)

Wheel of Fortune - Luck

World - Graduation

Wheel of Fortune - Aquarian Tarot

The World - Lo Scarabeo Tarot

Jupiter - Experiencing a time of good fortune.

Saturn - Happily dance forth into the world with your earned diploma.

Transient Pips

↓ rank suit →


WANDS - Fire


CUPS - Water

1 - Opportunity





Ace of Swords - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Ace of Wands - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Ace of Pentacles - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Ace of Cups - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

2 - Decision





Two of Swords - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Two of Wands - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Two of Pentacles - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Two of Cups - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

3 - Investment





Three of Swords - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Three of Wands - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Three of Pentacles - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Three of Cups - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

4 - Establishment





Four of Swords - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Four of Wands - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Four of Pentacles - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Four of Cups - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Habitual Pips

6 - Routine





Six of Swords - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Six of Wands - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Six of Pentacles - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Six of Cups - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

7 - Envisioning





Seven of Swords - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Seven of Wands - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Seven of Pentacles - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Seven of Cups - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

8 - Perseverance





Eight of Swords - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Eight of Wands - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Eight of Pentacles - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Eight of Cups - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

9 - Attainment





Nine of Swords - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Nine of Wands - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Nine of Pentacles - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Nine of Cups - Sharman-Caselli Tarot


5 - Humiliation





Five of Swords - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Five of Wands - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Five of Pentacles - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Five of Cups - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

10 - Retirement





Ten of Swords - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Ten of Wands - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Ten of Pentacles - Sharman-Caselli Tarot

Ten of Cups - Sharman-Caselli Tarot


King - Commander





King of Swords - Anna.K Tarot

King of Wands - Anna.K Tarot

King of Pentacles - Anna.K Tarot

King of Cups - Anna.K Tarot

Knight - Champion





Knight of Swords - Rider-Waite Tarot

Knight of Wands - Rider-Waite Tarot

Knight of Pentacles - Rider-Waite Tarot

Knight of Cups - Rider-Waite Tarot

(Air vehicle travel)

(Land vehicle travel)

(Self-propelled travel)

(Water vehicle travel)

Page - Explorer





Page of Swords - Mythic Tarot

Page of Wands - Fyodor Pavlov Tarot

Page of Pentacles - DruidCraft Tarot

Page of Cups - Deviant Moon Tarot





Queen - Advisor





Queen of Swords - Ancestral Path Tarot

Queen of Wands - Ancestral Path Tarot

Queen of Pentacles - Ancestral Path Tarot

Queen of Cups - Ancestral Path Tarot

Tarot Lessons (*.mp4)

Lesson 1 - The logic behind the Tarot PIP cards
Lesson 2 - Keywords of the PIP cards
Lesson 3 - Order in the Court
Lesson 4 - The Overrated Majors
Lesson 5 - Tarot Reading

The RWS Tarot deck is homogenous deck consisting of 78 cards, to which meanings have been applied. Fifty-two of these cards are stylistically equivalent to the French 'poker deck' playing cards we are all familiar with (Ace[1] - 10, Jack[Knight], Queen, King). Forecasters divide the deck into three groups, the Pips (1-10), the Court (the face cards), and the Majors (the remainder). This division though is only for descriptive convenience, as Forecasters consider all cards to hold equal merit.

Morphologically the Tarot is better suited at answering internal "why" phrased (psychological or mood based), rather than external "what" phrased (physical or prognostic), questions. Images on a card hold stronger importance for the reader than the associated keywords, because image interaction between cards in a Spread tells a story. Different deck artwork will make it easier or harder to see the stories. An important caveat is that the apparent gender of an image should never be construed as citing a specific gender. Although the cards usually indicate their given meaning (decide upon your source, such as memory, book, or writing on the card, before every reading), in any particular reading, the cards imagery may be referencing a place, an event or encounter, the personality of an acquaintance, or possibly even a pun or an inside joke. Proper decoding is what distinguishes translators.

The RWS Suit indicates how a card is expressing its meaning. Swords are associated with the element of "Air". Thoughts (including calculations) and Words (including gossip) are major keywords. However, because perceptions can be hurtful, these cards are also associated with anxieties. Wands are associated with the element of "Fire". Zeal relating to Actions (including defensive maneuvers) and Travel are major keywords. Leadership, athletics, patriotism, and recognition are all emphasized. Pentacles are associated with the element of "Earth". Wealth, Healthiness, and Industry are major keywords. It is however also about how others perceive your handling of these matters (as in greediness or generosity). Cups are associated with the element of "Water". Feelings (including both elation and depression) are the major keyword, but it also includes emotional relationships, such as those with best friends or family.

The Majors often have numbers written upon them, but these are disregarded by Forecasters, as are most of the esoteric symbology or associations with other divination systems. Forecasters also disregard the notion of experience/age progressing from Page to Knight to Queen to King. The Pips do however exhibit progressions which may help the forecaster in clarifying the stage of an activity. Pips cards 1 through 4 (transient) and 6-9 (habitual) are about following the course of a project from inception, to planning, to executing, to reaping. Pip cards 5 and 10 (setbacks) reflect impositions on progression (you get 'beaten' in the game, or 'sidelined' from the game, respectively). Court cards are unique in that they will express either their primary or secondary meaning depending on their context in a Spread, and in that they also directly interact with other cards in a Spread.

The Tarot deck is always shuffled or stirred between readings. Forecasting with the Tarot requires reading a "Spread". Drawn cards are laid into a Spread in the order they are drawn (letting a client touch the cards is the Readers prerogative). The two methods for drawing cards are to either pull cards individually from a face down fan or loose pile of the decks cards (the superior method), or to draw cards off the top of a deck that has been final shuffled using the Overhand shuffling method.

Spreads provide insights into answers because each of the positions in the spread are ascribed with a particular meaning. Always choose the Spread before you begin to pull/shuffle the face down cards. Generic Spreads are fine, but a Spread tailored for a question Type is preferred. Most people only read Tarot cards in an upright position (spining them if they are drawn reversed). Tarot cards can be read reversed though. A reversed Pip or Court card usually indicates the card is expressing the downside of its normal meaning, whereas a reversed Major card usually indicates that a secondary aspect of the card is being expressed.

If reading Reversals, maintain a consistent methodology for turning over shuffled cards (e.g., flipping cards sideways or head-over-heels), so that the cards can align themselves appropriately. A card may be spun, if a need is felt, while the card is still face down. Whether reading upright or reversed, the direction in which the cards will be read must be made clear to all concerned before the cards are shuffled or selected.

Never draw cards for a Spread if the client is holding information back or the question is unclear in your mind. Tarot Readers are Translators, and you can't translate correctly from a bad source. The clear question should be pondered during the fan pull or the final overhand shuffle, and you mustn't go off on any tangents during the reading. Always bear in mind that Tarot readings, like weather forecasts or horse racing odds, can only suggest likely possibilities from that moment for future events. Answers become especially mutable if characters involved consciously exert free will, so later follow-up reads may be in order.

Forecasters should remember that clients often are not just looking for answers, they also want to be entertained. Add flair to the performance of choosing the cards, and surround yourself with appropriate stage trappings. Clearing the deck between readings presents an opportunity to ring a bell, wave a feather, or employ some other attention grabbing flourish. During the actual reading though, honestly translate exactly what you see (do not force a meaning onto a vague card reading in order to obtain a preferred answer), explain why you see it (a broad overview that then moves to specifics usually works best), and never try to overstate/understate what the cards are saying in order to steer a client onto a path or make them feel better.

Musings (*.mp4)

How Tarot Forecasters differ from Esoterists
Problematic RWS Labels
Disappointing RWS Majors Images
Disappointing RWS Minors Images