Major Arcana

The Major Arcana, or Trump cards, make up the first 22 cards of the standard Tarot deck. Some “special edition” and art decks are comprised of the Major Arcana only, or the Major Arcana and the four aces of the Minor Arcana suits. So, it is wise to always be sure you are getting what you expect. The Empress - Mother The cards of the Major Arcana are usually easy to pick out because they are numbered from 0-21 (most often in Roman numerals, but sometimes in Arabic numerals) and titled with their names. The pictures on the cards represent allegorical figures, and the meanings are generally thought to relate to significant life events, as opposed to the day-to-day events of the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana figures can also represent archetypes, such as the Empress represent Jung’s idea of the Mother. Typical titles for the Major Arcana include:

  1. Fool
  2. Magician
  3. High Priestess (Papess, Female Pope, Juno)
  4. Empress
  5. Emperor
  6. Hierophant (High Priest, Pontiff, Jupiter)
  7. The Lovers
  8. The Chariot
  9. Strength (VIII is Justice in some decks)
  10. Hermit
  11. Wheel of Fortune
  12. Justice (XI is Strength in some decks)
  13. Hanged Man
  14. Death (sometimes given a more gentle title, such as “Transition”)
  15. Temperance
  16. Devil (sometimes given a more gentle title, such as “Materialism”)
  17. Tower (Lightning-struck Tower, House of God)
  18. The Star
  19. The Moon
  20. The Sun
  21. Judgement (Last Judgement)
  22. The World (The Universe)

The Fool’s Journey

Often you will see the Major Arcana referred to as the Fool’s Journey. This is a story about the Fool, found on card 0, progressing through the remaining 21 cards. At each of his stops (cards) he learns a lesson corresponding to the card meaning. For example, from the Empress he learns about birth, fertility and abundance.


Unlike the Minor Arcana suits, the Major Arcana as a whole is not associated with a specific element, aspect of life or Zodiac signs. You might occasionally see the Major Arcana associated with the magical element of Spirit or Aether, but this is not something that is generally accepted. Instead, each card is associated with either an element, Zodiac sign or planet. You can read about these associations here: General Tarot Correspondences.