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Roadmap to Realization: the Major Arcana

Traditionally the major arcana has been the major focus of the tarot. These cards are said to portray the individual's progress toward enlightenment. Tarot artists have claimed that they have represented spiritual truths or occult secrets in the symbols within these cards. Whether or not this is so is a matter of interpretation as these same tarot artists have written dissimilar things regarding the meanings of the symbols in the major arcana.

Regardless, the major arcana does present a series of archetypal images concerned with major figures and events within our own lives. These cards always carry graphic imagery, even in the crudest pip card decks. The sequence definitely presents powerful iconography with which any person should be able to relate. For more information on what this imagery is supposed to mean in published decks see the Table of Decks and Texts.

In divination the major arcana concerns inner states of being while the minor arcana represents outer states. Minor arcana cards are concerned with our relationship to the outside world while major arcana cards concern our relationship with what we percieve to be our self.

The traditional titles of the major arcana were set when the words used had different meanings than those words do today. As language changes over time the meanings of words change. To keep the tarot relevant we must constantly update these words or knowingly interpret the word meanings with relevance to modern life.

Integrated in a reading with the minor arcana cards depicting common life events, the major arcana allows the reading to constantly refer to one's path to realization during the mundane process of living. With this a Tarot reading becomes a process which helps one to not only have a broader view of a life event but to also integrate that understanding into an ongoing process of the development of wisdom and realization.

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This page last updated 9 November, 1997 by Bev Thornton

Copyright © 1997 Bev Thornton, All Rights Reserved.