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Of the 78 cards used in Tarot, 22 of them are the major cards, and are called the Major Arcana. They are of high divinatory importance and relate to human nature. These illustrated cards are numbered from 0 to 21 and are also referred to as the trumps of the Tarot deck of cards.
The 22 Cards

These cards, numbered from 0 to 21, in Roman numerals, are: The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, The Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgment, and The World.

Each of these major cards has its own symbolism and imagery, which has to be interpreted by the Tarot reader in context with the question of the querent. Many Tarot readers try out different decks of cards, and some find that different decks suit different moods and questions.

The Trumps

Other than for using them for divination, fortune telling, and as a tool for understanding, and problem solving, many people use Tarot cards for just playing. At that time, the Major Arcana cards are known plainly as trumps. The trump cards show a Roman numeral on each card, usually, and have some form of decoration that is identical on all cards. The name Major Arcana is used only during mysterious practices.

In the Tarot cards used for esoteric practices, each of the cards of the Major Arcana – known singularly as Major Arcanum – has a scene, normally featuring a person or several of them, and with many symbols depicted on them. Many of the Tarot decks have each card of the Major Arcana with a number on it, normally in Roman numerals, and a name. Some decks may only have either a number or a name, and some only have a picture on it.

The Major Arcana cards with only pictures on them, (without numbers and names), were found in the earlier cards. This was probably so, as most of the people using them those days were illiterate. In addition, the sequence of the cards was not yet standardized, then. All the Major Arcana cards used for esoteric practices have images that are heavy with symbolism, and these cards are used for matters related to deeper significance, and higher purposes.

The Story

The basic story of the Tarot cards, as represented by the Major Arcana, is a journey of the Fool, with ups and downs, and failures and successes in life. He meets the different entities depicted in the cards, and ends up from where he started. The Fool represents a new beginning of infinite possibilities. On his journey, he meets a variety of people, beginning with The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, etc, until he achieves his goal.

Each of these entities guides him on his way through his journey. For the querent, The Magician means that he will be given an idea – a solution to his problem. The High Priestess card means that the querent will learn what to do to make a decision . . . and so on and so forth, until he achieves what he started out to do.

The Major Arcana does not only focus on the spiritual journey, but also deals with the things that concern us in our day to day life, such as, home, family, personal and social relationships, jobs, and money, among other things.

The reading from the Major Arcana gives you the big picture of your life and the reading of the other cards in the Tarot deck further reveal the big picture in detail.

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