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For hundreds of years tarot has been used for fortune telling, psychism, and magic, and it is most associated with witchcraft. Many legends, and superstitions have been associated with the tarot, and in some places through fear they have even been outlawed. For some it is believed that the tarot contains within it the secrets of the universe, and that if correctly read the tarot is a scripture that preserves the ancient teachings of metaphysics handed down from Platonic, Hermetic, and Pythagorean teachers from the classical world.

Tarot seams to have made it first appearance in Europe sometime in the 1300's ad, although no one is certain how it got there. The earliest mention of the tarot cards comes from an edict of the city of Bern, and was issued in 1367ad. The edict ban the use of tarot, although it is directed toward gambling purposes rather than divination ones.

There are two parts to the tarot, that which is called the Major Arcana, and the Minor Arcana. The minor arcana used to be carried around by anyone, and was thought of as a regular playing deck used for gaming, and gambling. The major arcana was only owned by diviners, which would be added to the minor deck of the clients for a reading to be done.

The Tarot Cards

The Major Arcana
0) The Fool;Primordial Deity.

AIR
1) The Magus;Creation/the God
2) The High Priestess;Spirit/the Goddess
3) The Empress -The ensouled Universe
4) The Emperor -Time and structure of perception

FIRE
5) The HIEROPHANT -Communication between Spirit and human
6) The Lovers -Choice and lessons
7) The Chariot -Material advancement and success
8) Strength -Spiritual advancement and success

WATER
9) The Hermit -The seeker
10) The Wheel of Fortune -What Fate gives the seeker
11) Justice -What fate the seeker makes
12) The Hanged Man -the process of learning and growing

EARTH
13) Death and Rebirth -The eternal cycle which facilitates growth
14) Temperance -acquisition and integration of knowledge
15) The Devil -Material illusion, the Veil
16) The Tower -Piercing material illusion

SPIRIT
17) The Star -Piercing illusion through vision and inner work
18) The Moon -Piercing illusion through religion and ritual
19) The Sun -Piercing illusion through material experiences
20) Judgment -The enlightened person, who has overcome illusion

21) The Universe -Deity after enlightenment

When reading the major arcana in numerical order it tells the story of existence, from before the first creation, through the journey of the soul, to the ultimate reunion of the soul with Deity.

THE MINOR ARCANA

The Minor Arcana are divided into four suits corresponding to the Four Elements of the physical world; Air, Fire, Water, and Earth;thought, action, reaction, and integration. These four suits are retained in modern playing cards.

Different peoples have seen these Elemental suits in different ways over the centuries. Some of the variations include:

ELEMENT
TAROT
ENGLISH
GERMAN
SWISS
AIR
Swords
Spades
Leaves
Shields
FIRE
Wands
Clubs
Acorns
Acorns
WATER
Cups
Hearts
Hearts
Roses
EARTH
Pentacles
Diamonds
Bells
Shells

The Minor Arcana cards meanings

Ace -Ruled by the Sun, the Ace represents the cardinal qualities of the Element of the suit. The Ace of Swords represents the powers of Air/mind: thought, intelligence, judgment ;usually it indicates a specific decision to be made. The Ace of Wands represents the power of Fire/action: energy, enthusiasm, passion for the situation. The Ace of Cups indicates the powers of Water/emotion, and is usually taken as happiness and good fortune. The Ace of Pentacles represents the powers of Earth/integration: prosperity and stability, often perceived directly as money or financial growth.

Two -Ruled by the Moon, the Two represents the Element of the suit in dealings with others in private ways. Thus the Two of Swords represents alliances toward mutual aims: The Two of Wands represents new opportunities for growth and expansion through personal connections: The Two of Cups represents an important relationship, usually romantic in nature: The Two of Pentacles represents learning from experiences with others, and being very busy.

Three -Ruled by Jupiter, the Three represents the Element of the suit in dealings with others in public ways. Thus the Three of Swords represents endings, separations, or major changes in important relationships: The Three of Wands represents help from a friend, mentor, or advisor: The Three of Cups represents shared happiness and celebration with others: The Three of Pentacles represents the employment of skills or abilities to the benefit of others.

Four -Ruled by Saturn, the Four represents the Element of the suit in a state of stability, with lack of movement. Thus the Four of Swords represents a rest or time-out period: The Four of Wands represents the achievement of a goal: The Four of Cups represents a good situation, but still the desire for more: The Four of Pentacles represents miserliness, holding back from others, reticence to be involved or take action.


Five -Ruled by Mercury, the Five represents the Element of the suit in a state of transformation and movement, but also a consequent fear of the unknown and unseen future into which one is moving. Thus the Five of Swords represents a feeling of being oppressed or held back by others: The Five of Wands represents inner or outer conflict: The Five of Cups represents disappointment or sorrow: The Five of Pentacles represents loss or fear of loss.

Six -Ruled by Venus, the Six represents the Element of the suit assisted by a gift of fate. Thus the Six of Swords represents travel, movement, starting over: The Six of Wands represents victory, success, popularity: The Six of Cups represents people or patterns from ones past: The Six of Pentacles represents receiving help from another, assistance or a gift.

Seven -Ruled by Uranos, the Seven represents the Element of the suit crossed by obstacles which, if overcome, bring great benefit. Thus the Seven of Swords represents an up-hill battle which may yet be won, but only through great effort: The Seven of Wands represents hard work which leads to victory: The Seven of Cups represents illusions and misunderstandings, which yet contain the seeds of self knowledge: The Seven of Pentacles represents many choices not yet decided upon, which can lead to great success once chosen and focused upon.

Eight -Ruled by Mars, the Eight represents the Element of the suit in extreme circumstances good, bad, or indifferent. Thus the Eight of Swords represents feeling held back, unable to maneuver: The Eight of Wands represents speed, sudden happenings, and unexpected developments: The Eight of Cups represents exaggerated fears, obsessions: The Eight of Pentacles represents mastering ones craft and honing personal skills.

Nine -Ruled by Neptune, the Nine represents the Element of the suit in its greatest skill. Thus the Nine of Swords represents confronting and overcoming ones fears: The Nine of Wands represents patience, perseverance, and long term plans: The Nine of Cups represents the ability to MANIFEST what one desires from ones Higher Self: The Nine of Pentacles represents personal power and the ability to make ones own decisions and live life as one wishes.

Ten -Ruled by Pluto, the Ten represents the Element of the suit in its ultimate fulfillment. Thus the Ten of Swords represents leaving the old behind to make way for the new: The Ten of Wands represents a situation on the verge of but not yet ready for change: The Ten of Cups represents personal happiness and fulfillment: The Ten of Pentacles represents having a strong and rewarding base in home, family or personal mission.

Princess -The Princess (sometimes rendered Page) represents the powers of the Element of the suit in a state of stasis or immobility (Earth) the potential for change and growth, not yet in motion. Thus the Princess of Swords represents diplomacy and circumspection: The Princess of Wands represents a person or situation on the verge of action: The Princess of Cups represents moodiness and overwhelming emotions: The Princess of Pentacles represents holding back from what one knows one should do.

Knight - The Knight represents the powers of the Element of the suit expressed through thought and intention (Air). Thus the Knight of Swords represents a need for healthy self-interest: The Knight of Wands represents uncontrolled expansion and a need for greater focus: The Knight of Cups represents speaking, writing, the arts, and all other means of communication: The Knight of Pentacles represents slow but steady growth.

Queen -The Queen represents the powers of the Element of the suit experienced as an internal reaction (Water) to ones experience. Thus the Queen of Swords represents inner reflection and the ability to learn from past experience: The Queen of Wands represents satisfaction and being in an emotionally positive situation: The Queen of Cups represents happiness and joy: The Queen of Pentacles represents security, stability, and prosperity enough for oneself and more to share with others:

King -The King represents the powers of the Element of the suit as expressed in action (Fire). Thus the King of Swords represents good judgment and the ability to make sound decisions: The King of Wands represents mental focus and successful practical action: The King of Cups represents the ability to experience ones emotions without being overwhelmed by them: The King of Pentacles represents prosperity and financial success

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