I first encountered the Tarot during an emotional crisis in which I was looking for spiritual answers in my life. Initially I did not understand the cards or how they were meant to help me but years later (after I learned how to properly read them), I found that connecting to the Tarot was indeed a spiritual experience. I also discovered that there are certain Tarot cards that indicate a stronger spiritual energy is afoot in a reading, more so then the other cards in the deck. So what does it mean when these particular cards appear? You should pay closer attention to how you feel, what you sense and pick up on. What messages or information pop into your head? What sights, sounds or symbols of personal significance appear in your daily life? These particular cards could be your spirit’s way of getting your attention, to help you focus on what’s important and disregard what is not. Below are ten major arcana Tarot cards that emphasize this spiritual sauce in your reading.
The Fool- The Fool begins at the highest peak. He sits atop a mountain with the rays of the sun warming his face, his lungs filled with a full breath of air, and a whimsical look resting on his face. He is immersed in his spiritual self. He does not even pay attention to the barking dog at his feet (symbolic of the chatterbox brain always distracting us from the present). He is simply in love with being alive. This card, at its essence, presents a spiritual high and emphasizes presence and love and hope. The Fool reminds us to connect to our highest self and not be distracted by the mundane and smaller things in life. Remember to always look up and see the bright side of life and know the universe has your back.
The Magician-The Magician is a bridge between the higher realms and the earthly realms, the conscious and unconscious, the Air and the Earth. His pointed right hand extends to the sky and attunes to divine guidance, channeling it through his body and into the ground via his left hand pointed toward the earth. A lemniscate sits over his head indicating divinity. All of the tools he may ever need to succeed in life lay before him on a wooden table. The snake wrapped around The Magician’s waist and biting its own tail, reminds us our past has created our present which sets the trajectory for our future. The Magician tells us that we have all the answers and resources we need. He wants us to pay attention to the divine guidance channeling through us and actively create our world with the tools that lay before us.
The High Priestess – The High Priestess represents the murky darkness of the unconscious. She holds the intuitive nature, secrets and wisdom that float behind the eyes of all of us. Her gown flows seamlessly into the water flowing at her feet showing her connection to the hidden realms of the mind. She shows up in dreams and whispers. She tugs gently at your gut and orchestrates your internal guidance system to put you in the right place at the right time. The High Priestess is your willowy intuition. Pay attention to it. It may be faint or even vague but she definitely has something of interest to say.
The Hierophant- The Hierophant is a partner of sorts to the High Priestess, yet at the same time her opposite. Instead of listening to your inner guidance as with the High Priestess, The Hierophant wants to you to extend your listening ear to the outside world. He is pictured as a religious authority figure exalted before two priests who appear attentive to him. He acts with great authority and conveys high religious ideals. He represents the traditional religious dogma that many have chosen to guide their spiritual lives. His presence in a Tarot reading suggests one is in need of guidance from another, perhaps in a religious context or a spiritual context. He can represent a teacher, counselor, guide or mentor that helps one to develop a religious life or a strong spiritual center. If the Hierophant appears in a reading pay attention to those around you who can offer guidance or wisdom that can help you on your path.
The Hermit- The Hermit is also closely tied to the Hierophant as he too represents guidance and mentorship, however the Hermit offers unconventional wisdom, as opposed to the Hierophant’s conventional wisdom. The Hermit sits atop a darkened mountaintop holding a lantern and looking off into the distance. He is on a journey of self-discovery and enlightenment. He is unafraid to dive into the cave of self and come out the other side with a bit of truth glowing from his lantern. The Hermit can represent the one who is seeking the advice or the one who is wise enough to give it. Either way, the Hermit reminds us to pay attention to that unconventional advice that may come our way from the unlikeliest of places.
The Hanged Man-The Hanged Man dangles from the cross, upside down and serene. He knows why he is there and though it’s painful, he is content to wait for his absolution. His head is aglow with divine inspiration, which helps make the time pass easier. The Hanged Man is already enlightened as to his plight, and because he knows the sacrifice he is making is for the greater good, he is happy to make it. This card causes one to understand the importance of sacrifices to move forward a greater cause. The Hanged Man reminds us to keep our eye on the higher purpose of our actions, as eventually they will give us the greatest spiritual rewards.
Death- The Death card is the force that pushes us from one phase of maturity to the next. When one phase begins the old one dies. This is a natural course of life, yet so many of us hold on for dear life when going through these transitional stages. The Death card reminds us its ok to let go and move on as it allows us to ascend to the next stage of life and/or the next level of enlightenment. The imagery on the card shows the skeleton solider atop his horse marching towards the sunlight (aka enlightenment). This card is saying, this too shall pass, keep moving forward until you are in the sun again.
Temperance-Temperance is about finding balance and stability. The angel is mixing a potion between two chalices (representing our conscious and unconscious minds) while keeping one foot in the water and the other on land (again an image striking another balance between fluidity and function). The Temperance card reminds us to keep this balance and flow in our lives as it allows for greater healing. Healing brings us closer to the higher realms of thought and ascension to spiritual realms.
The Tower- Considered to be one of the darkest cards in the Tarot, the great Tower card is a wonderful signal of tremendous spiritual change. Sometimes we build our lives on a foundation that has a crack embedded into it. This means the structure on top is not secure and our castle can ultimately tumble to the ground. That is the spiritual significance in the Tower card. What isn’t working in your life must be broken down and discarded. As with in the Death card this can be a scary experience for people but it is necessary for healing and rebirth. Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, the aftermath of the Tower promotes a stronger, healthier and spiritually enlightened person especially after all the chaos has submerged under the stormy seas.
Judgment-Judgment is the card of “getting it”. The spiritual epiphany has finally revealed itself, you have broken free from the past and ascended to the next level. This is the perfect card to discuss after the tearing down in the Tower. This is the card that allows you to float to the top and see all you’ve been through from above, with greater clarity, understanding and humility. When the Judgment card is in a Tarot reading you are about to ascend to a new level of awareness that will probably change your life. You will awaken as a new person and recognize you have some new choices to make to take your life in the best possible direction.
*Please note that all imagery described in this blog post was a reference to the Rider Waite Smith Tarot Deck