Esoteric Titles

Each Tarot card, along with the standard name (e.g. The Empress or The Two of Cups), has what is called an Esoteric Title. This is a name for the card that brings together the elemental, zodiacal or planetary attribute of the card with the numerological and suit characteristics. For example, The Empress is associated with the planet of Venus, as well as the goddess of the same name. She is given the esoteric title of “Daughter of the Mighty Ones” to reflect her status. The Two of Cups is given the title of “Love” or “The Lord of Love”, which reflects its associations with feelings (through the suit of Cups) and relationships and balance (through the number 2).

Esoteric titles are useful because they can act as a sort of keyword for you during readings and meditation. They provide a way to work backwards to the associations of the card. The titles also provide some insight into the esoteric and magical uses of the cards, for those inclined to look beyond divination. In divination, The Empress may simply signify fertility and abundance, but as Daughter of the Mighty Ones, she becomes something much deeper and more powerful.

Origin of the Esoteric Titles

The esoteric titles likely first appeared in MacGregor Mather’s Book T1, first distributed sometime around 1890. The titles also appear in Aleister Crowley’s 777, and are clearly the influence for the keywords found on the Thoth Tarot Deck2.

Esoteric Titles3

Major Arcana

Card Esoteric Title Rulership
The Fool Spirit of Aether Air
The Magician Magus of Power Mercury
The High Priestess Priestess of the Silver Star The Moon
The Empress Daughter of the Mighty Ones Venus
The Emperor Son/Sun of the Morning
Chief among the Mighty
The Pope/Hierophant Magus of the Eternal Taurus
The Lovers Children of the Voice
Oracle of the Mighty Gods
The Chariot Child of the Powers of the Waters
Lord of the Triumph of Light
Strength Daughter of the Flaming Sword Leo
The Hermit Prophet of the Eternal
Magus of the Voice of Power
The Wheel of Fortune Lord of the Forces of Life Jupiter
Justice Daughter of Lords of Truth
Ruler of the Balance
Hanged Man Spirit of the Mighty Waters Water
Death Child of the Great Transformers
Lord of the Gate of Death
Temperance Daughter of the Reconcilers
Bringer-Forth of Life
The Devil Lord of the Gates of Matter
Child of the Forces of Time
The Tower Lord of the Hosts of the Mighty Mars
The Star Daughter of the Firmament
Dweller between the Waters
The Moon Ruler of Flux and Reflux
Child of the Sons of the Mighty
The Sun Lord of the Fire of the World The Sun
Judgement Spirit of the Primal Fire Fire
The World/Universe The Great One of the Night of Time Saturn

Minor Arcana – Suit of Wands

Card Esoteric Title4
Ace Root of the Powers of Fire
Two Dominion
Three Established Strength
Four Perfected Work
Five Strife
Six Victory
Seven Valour
Eight Swiftness
Nine Great Strength
Ten Oppression
Page Princess of the Shining Flame
Rose of the Palace of Fire
Knight Lord of the Flame and Lightning
King of the Spirits of Fire
Queen Queen of the Thrones of Flame
King Prince of the Chariot of Fire

Minor Arcana – Suit of Cups

Card Esoteric Title4
Ace Root of the Powers of Water
Two Love
Three Abundance
Four Blended Pleasure
Five Loss in Pleasure
Six Pleasure
Seven Illusionary Success
Eight Abandoned Success
Nine Material Happiness
Ten Perfected Success
Page Princess of the Waters
Lotus of the Palace of the Floods
Knight Lord of the Waves and the Water
King of the Hosts of the Sea
Queen Queen of the Thrones of Water
King Prince of the Chariot of the Waters

Minor Arcana – Suit of Swords

Card Esoteric Title4
Ace Root of the Powers of Air
Two Peace Restored
Three Sorrow
Four Rest from Strife
Five Defeat
Six Earned Success
Seven Unstable Effort
Eight Shortened Force
Nine Despair and Cruelty
Ten Ruin
Page Princess of the Rushing Winds
Lotus of the Palace of Air
Knight Lord of the Winds and the Breezes
King of the Spirits of Air
Queen Queen of the Thrones of Air
King Prince of the Chariot of the Winds

Minor Arcana – Suit of Pentacles

Card Esoteric Title4
Ace Root of the Powers of Earth
Two Harmonious Change
Three Material Works
Four Earthly Power
Five Material Trouble
Six Material Success
Seven Success Unfulfilled
Eight Prudence
Nine Material Gain
Ten Wealth
Page Princess of the Echoing Hills
Rose of the Palace of Earth
Knight Lord of the Wild and Fertile Land
King of the Spirits of Earth
Queen Queen of the Thrones of Earth
King Prince of the Chariot of Earth


1. The authorship of Book T is disputed, but it is generally believed to have been produced, at least in part, by MacGregor Mathers, possibly along with his wife, Moina, and/or other members of the Golden Dawn.

2. Whether Crowley wanted keywords to be printed on this deck is again a matter of debate. I think that he probably didn’t.

3. The eosteric titles presented here are mainly taken from Book T and Emily Peach’s The Tarot Wookbook. They are given in terms of the Rider-Waite-Smith card ordering, with Strength as 8 and Justice as 11.

4. All titles for the Minor Arcana, with the exception of the Aces, are prefaced with “Lord of…”.