The Tarot is a series of 78 images that represent all the aspects of human existence.  When we look at these images, we turn on our unconscious: the place where all the answers are stored; our inner wisdom.

The 78 cards of Tarot are separated in two groups: 22 Major Arcana and 56 Minor Arcana:

  • Major Arcana:
    • Cards 0 to 21
    • The Fool’s Journey or the process of Life.
    • Archetypal experiences (birth, form, nurturing, self-consciousness, fate, assessment, achievement, etc.) that all living beings share alike, regardless belief systems, gender, race, religion, species, etc.
  • 1 to 10. The evolution of the elements Fire, Water, Air and Earth from conception to manifestation:
    • Fire: Spiritual – Impulse
    • Water: Emotional – Feeling
    • Air: Mental – Thought
    • Earth: Material – Sense
  •  Figures. State of Being of each element:
    • Pages: seed
    • Knights: sprout
    • Queens: fruits
    • Kings: harvest

We can see that the Tarot have several symbolisms: images, elemental forces, numerology and so on; all of them representing aspects of Life itself.

In this article, I will be explaining what an archetype is. And this can be answered by examining the differences of the Major and Minor Arcana specifically.

The Archetypes of the Tarot according to Carl Jung

Carl Gustav Jung, the father of transpersonal psychology, has based his research on the human mind in the collective unconscious and the archetypes. In addition to being a scholar of Western sciences, he has also researched in depth Eastern wisdom, such as the teachings of I Ching, astrology and tarot. Jung has told us that the Tarot is one of the ways in which we can study human archetypes. Archetypes are human experiences that we all share, regardless of our culture, race and / or gender. For example, birth, puberty, death … are situations that we all share, not only in our chronological life, but also in projects, for example. These archetypes are represented by the 22 Major Arcana of the Tarot.

Difference between Major Arcana and Minor Arcana

The Major Arcana represent archetypal situations, characters and highly symbolic scenes. These 22 Arcana describe all the experiences that the human being experiences during his incarnation on Earth. That is why when they appear in a reading, they refer to situations that produce profound changes, expansion of consciousness. These can be lived both internally and externally, and in any case, both areas are affected. As they represent powerful elemental energies, we may need more time to understand how far they are affecting us. The Major Arcana create deep transformations where we will need more time to understand the scope of this archetype’s presence in our lives.

WHEN WE go THROUGH THE ENERGIES OF A MAJOR ARCANA, WE ARE TRANSITING AN ELEMENTAL FORCE THAT BELONGS TO THE COLLECTIVE.

The Major Arcana are energies that we all share. When we become aware of these energies, we develop them and evolve. Our evolution through self-awareness will affect the collective as well.

The 56 Minor Arcana, on the other hand, represent situations of our daily life, day-to-day situations. These cards are a more detailed and personal version of the 22 Major Arcana. The Minor Arcana describes specific situations, individual attitudes and experiences that manifest themselves on the physical, mental, emotional or creative plane of a human being. The individual can easily identify them. It could be said that the Minor Arcana represent the micro-world (or the world in its terrestrial manifestation) and the Major Arcana represent the macro-world (the elementals that form life from the point of life of the soul).

When we are going through the energies of a minor arcana, we are affecting or being affected by our immediate environment.

Unlike the Major Arcana where we work with collective energies, the Minor Arcana refer to personal, individual situations, unique to ourselves.

Synopsis of the Major Arcana

0 – The Fool

  • New start
  • Innocense
  • Spontaneity

1 – The Magician

  • Understanding the use of the elements (fire, water, air and earth).
  • Ability to bring what is in the mental plane to the material plane.
  • Will, logic and intelect
  • The Conscious
  • Yang Energy

2 – The Highest Priestess

  • Eternal Wisdom
  • Ability to understand the inner world and its mysterys
  • Intuition
  • The Subconscious
  • Yin Energy

3 – The Empress

  • Creativity
  • Fertility; sensuality.
  • The world of the physical and the tangible.
  • Self-Expression
  • Aboundance

4 – The Emperor

  • Stability; structure
  • Control; order
  • Authority; power
  • Society; government
  • Reason

5 – The Hierophant

  • Belief Systems
  • Teaching, Teacher
  • Institutions
  • Culture

6 – The Lovers

  • Choices
  • Possibilities
  • Searching for complementing one another

7 – The Chariot

  • Focus
  • Self-Control
  • Direction

8 – La Fuerza

  • Giving consciousness to our animal nature
  • Gentleness
  • Patience

9 – The Hermit

  • Self-discovery
  • Wisdom through experience
  • Solitude
  • Knowing ourselves

10 – The Wheel of Fortune

  • Life Cycles
  • Changes
  • New perspective

11 – Justice

  • Balance and equilibrium
  • Objectivity
  • Imparciality

12 – The Hanged Man

  • Sacrifice
  • Letting Go
  • Non-action

13 – La Muerte

  • Deep transformation
  • Ending of a major phase or aspect of your life
  • Preparing for the new

14 – Temperance

  • Balancing of energies
  • Healing
  • Harmonizing

15 – El Diablo

  • Physical Attachments
  • Raw Self
  • Pleasures of the flesh

16 – The Tower

  • Liberation of old structures
  • Dissolution of what is not real
  • Destruction of what is not essential

17 – The Star

  • Inspiration
  • Faith
  • Knowing that we are loved by the Universe

18 – The Moon

  • The Subjective World
  • What we don’t face directly
  • Fear

19 – El Sol

  • Vitality
  • Clarity
  • Aliveness

20 – Judgment

  • Revision of our past actions
  • Karma
  • Expansion of consciousness

21 – The World

  • Achievements
  • Fulfilment
  • Plenitude

About the Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana are separated into four elemental energies: Fire, Water, Air and Earth. Each element is numbered from 1 to 10, representing the energy in its elementary version (1) until its total development (10). We also find the figures: Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings. The figures speak to us of states of being through the elements, from childhood to maturity.

Summing up, when we see the Tarot as a system of symbols that allow us to access the knowledge that is stored in our collective unconscious, we can use it to understand not only our personal reality, but also the reality that we all share, and in this way, the Tarot becomes a tool for evolution.

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