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Tarot symbols meanings

Tarot Symbols - Tarot Meanings

Tarot symbols. The Tarot that first appeared in the 15th century in Europe as a deck of cards used in various games.
Although a full Tarot deck has 78 cards, the Major Arcana is made up of only 22 of these (sometimes considered 21, The Fool being separate). The remaining 56 cards are referred to as the Minor Arcana. These Tarot cards were used throughout much of modern-day Europe to play conventional card games.
In the 18th century, Tarot decks began to be associated with divination, card reading and the occult. Although some tarot enthusiasts claim the practice of card reading with tarot decks originates in ancient cultures, there is no evidence of this.
In English-speaking countries, where the card games are less common, this is the primary association many make with tarot cards. Cards used for divination and readings typically come from purposely designed packs.
Each of the Major Arcana cards has a series of meanings and implications, which differ depending upon whether they are drawn upright or reversed. Often, the meanings when reversed are contradictory to those expressed when the card is drawn upright.
The Major Arcana also tells a story. The Fool, which is unnumbered, is the main character of the tale. The 21 numbered cards that follow describe the encounters he has upon his journey. The many experiences and trials are thought to be analogous to the experiences and trials of one’s journey through life.
The symbols in this category are entirely new, having been constructed to represent the core images and themes of the original tarot illustrations. They have been translated into a brand new symbolic language, unique to the Symbolikon project.

Temperance Tarot symbol


Temperance depicts an androgynous angel with outstretched wings. The angel wears a bright crown and moves liquid between two cups or bowls. Temperance, when drawn upright, represents balance, moderation, restraint and patience. Reversed, the card represents imbalance, excess and adjustment. The symbol consists of the alchemical symbols for earth and air divided by a waving line that represents humanity. All are contained within a square, symbolizing balance and natural law.

The World Tarot symbol

The World

The World depicts a naked woman, surrounded by a laurel wreath. She is partially wrapped in cloth, and holds a baton in each hand. The World, when drawn upright, represents travel, accomplishment, completion and assimilation. When reversed, the card represents short cuts, delays, and closure. The symbol consists of a circle, along the outline of which sit arrowheads, symbolizing completion, but also movement. Within the circle are the four elemental symbols, representing all that exists within the world.

Judgement Tarot symbol


The Judgement card depicts a winged angel blowing a trumpet in the sky, while below naked figures, standing in coffins, look up towards the heavens. Judgement, when drawn upright, represents absolution, rebirth, and motivation. Reversed, the card represents doubt, self-criticism and a rejection of faith. The symbol consists of a triangle, topped by a circle. In the space where these shapes overlap sits a square made of four smaller squares. This symbolizes the meeting space of Heaven and Earth.

The Sun Tarot symbol

The Sun Tarot

The Sun depicts a large, radiant sun in the sky, with several sunflowers underneath. A young, naked child rides a horse in the foreground. The Sun, when drawn upright, represents warmth, fun, positivity and vitality. When reversed, the card represents childishness, misplaced optimism and depression. The symbol consists of a stylized sun, a four-pointed star within a circle, along with four radiating curving lines – symbolizing the four suits of the Minor Arcana and the four alchemical elements.

The Moon Tarot symbol

The Moon

The Moon depicts a large, full moon in the sky. There are two creatures – a dog and wolf – on the ground looking up at it, while a crustacean crawls from a body of water. The Moon, when drawn upright, represents fear, anxiety, deception and illusion. Reversed, the card represents repression, confusion and freedom from fear. The symbol consists of a stylized full moon, though the shape of the crescent can be seen within it. Below, a crayfish – symbolizing emergent consciousness, emerges.

The Star Tarot symbol

The Star

The Star depicts a naked woman kneeling by a small pool of water. She is pouring liquid onto the ground and back into the pool. Above is a large star surrounded by smaller stars. The Star, when drawn upright, represents faith, purpose, hope and spirituality. When reversed, the card represents a lack or loss of faith, disconnection, despair and self-trust. The symbol consists of one small star, below which are smaller stars, representing water, while the two alchemical symbols stand in place of the two containers depicted in the original card.

The Tower Tarot symbol

The Tower

The Tower depicts a tall tower on top of a large mountain. There are bolts of lightning in the sky above and around. Two figures are leaping from the upper windows. The Tower, when drawn upright, represents chaos, destruction, turmoil and sudden change. Reversed, the card represents transformation, fear of change, and liberation. The symbol consists of a circle containing two downwards-facing arrows, one of which is crooked, the negative space between representing the tower. The arrows represent the chaos and turmoil of the lightning strikes and falling figures.

The Devil Tarot symbol

The Devil

The Devil depicts a creature that is half goat and half man. He has the wings of a bat, and horns like a ram. There is an inverted pentagram above his head. The Devil, when drawn upright, represents addiction, domination, bondage, and sexuality. When reversed, the card represents freedom from doctrine, objectivity and safely exploring dark or worrying thoughts. The symbol consists of a square containing an inverted pentagram, the symbol of magic and the occult. Above the pentagram sit a set of stylized horns.

Death Tarot symbol


Death depicts an armored skeleton, sitting upon a white horse. Death, when drawn upright, represents change, transformation, endings and beginnings. When reversed, the card represents resistance to change, a personal period of transition, and external turmoil. The symbol consists of a cross, within a circle – representing eternity – with alchemical symbols on either side, representing change and transformation.

The Hanged Man Tarot symbol

The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man depicts a figure who is suspended upside down from a cross or a tree. He is bound by one foot, while the other is bent as if he is sitting. The Hanged Man, when drawn upright, represents surrender, suspension, letting go and new horizons. When reversed, the card represents delay, resistance, obstacles and indecision. The symbol consists of a stylized depiction of The Hanged Man, his leg crossed and his hair hanging downwards.

The Justice Tarot symbol

The Justice

The symbol for Justice depicts Lady Justice, holding in one hand a sword and the other balancing scales. Justice, when drawn upright, represents fairness, truth, law and impartiality. When reversed, the card represents unfairness, dishonesty and prejudice. The symbol consists of a set of balancing scales, around which are the four alchemical elemental symbols. The two sitting upon the scales represent earth and air, symbolizing the need that justice be all-encompassing.

The Wheel of Fortune Tarot symbol

The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune depicts a large wheel, decorated with the Hebrew letters that make up YHVH, the name of God. Around the wheel are the alchemical symbols for mercury, sulphur, water and salt – representing the four elements. The Wheel of Fortune, when drawn upright, represents luck, destiny and karma. It may also represent a change in luck or direction. Reversed, the card represents bad luck and resistance to change. The symbol consists of a stylised wheel, within which sits an eight-pointed star containing the four alchemical symbols depicted on the card.

The Hermit Tarot symbol

The Hermit

The Hermit depicts a man standing at the summit of a large mountain. He holds his left hand with a long staff. The Hermit, when drawn upright, represents self-discovery, spiritual mastery, wisdom and introspection. When reversed, the card represents loneliness, isolation and withdrawal from the world. The symbol consists of a circle, within which is a flame placed above an arrow. This symbolizes awareness and self-discovery on the path to enlightenment.

Strength Tarot symbol

The Strength

The Strength tarot symbol depicts a woman who is cradling or stroking the head of a lion. The implication is that she has tamed the wild beast through tenderness. Strength, when drawn upright, represents courage, persuasion, love and compassion. When reversed, the card represents inner strength, primal emotion and self-doubt. The symbol consists of an eight-pointed star, created from arrows that emanate from a central point – symbolizing an all-around strength of will and of character.

The Chariot Tarot symbol

The Chariot

The Chariot depicts an armored man riding a chariot, wearing a laurel and a crown around his head. The Chariot, when drawn upright, represents control, determination, willpower, and victory. When reversed, the card represents opposition, self-discipline and aimlessness. The symbol consists of two arrows drawn within a circle. One arrow is straight, while the other curves many times. This symbolizes the difficulties one can experience in pursuing success.

The Lovers Tarot symbol

The Lovers

The Lovers depicts a naked man and woman, beneath the wings of an angel. They are positioned beside an apple tree, from which a snake hangs. There is a mountain in the background. The Lovers, when drawn upright, represents love, relationships, agreement, harmony and choice. Reversed, the card represents disagreement, discord, imbalance and self-love. The symbol consists of two interlocking circles, one containing a sun and the other a crescent moon – symbolizing the connection between the male and the female.

The Emperor Tarot symbol

The Hierophant

The Emperor depicts a man sat upon a throne, holding an ankh in one hand, and an orb in the other. He has a long, flowing beard and wears a crown. The Emperor card, when drawn upright, represents authority, structure, fatherhood and establishment. When reversed, the card represents dominion, control and rigidity. The symbol consists of an ankh within a circle, which is itself housed within a square – symbolizing protection and structure.

The Empress Tarot symbol

The Empress

The Empress depicts a beautiful woman wearing a robe and twelve-starred crown. She is surrounded by nature. The Empress card, when drawn upright, represents femininity, beauty, nature and nurture. When reversed, the card represents dependency and creative block. The symbol consists of a female symbol, containing a crescent moon – symbolizing femininity and fertility. A triangle drawn around, representing stability and strength.

The High Priestess Tarot symbol

The High Priestess

The High Priestess depicts a veiled woman, flanked by two pillars. The veil represents the difference between the seen and unseen, conscious and subconscious minds. The High Priestess, when displayed upright, represents intuition, femininity, and sacred knowledge. When reversed, the card represents secrecy, withdrawal, disconnection, and silence. The symbol consists of two feminine symbols, including the inverted triangle representative of the womb, with a crescent moon contained within symbolizing femininity and fertility.

The Magician Tarot symbol

The Magician

The Magician depicts a bearded man, sitting at a table that is set with a cup, pentacle, sword and wand – representing the four elements: water, earth, air and fire. The Magician card, when displayed upright, represents resourcefulness, inspiration, power and action. Reversed, the card represents manipulation, poor planning and wasted talent. The symbol consists of 4 alchemical elemental symbols, around an arrow pointing, as does The Magician, skywards and earthwards, which is intersected by sign for infinity, suggesting the power and mysticism associated with the figure on the card.

The Fool Tarot symbol

The Fool

The Fool depicts a man stepping from the edge of a cliff. The man carries a knapsack and a rose. There is a dog at his feet and a mountain behind. The Fool card, when displayed upright, represents new beginnings, innocence and freedom. When reversed, the card represents risk and recklessness. The symbol consists of a circle – signifying new beginnings, eternity, infinity – containing multiple arrows moving in all directions, representing the freedom and continuous movement associated with The Fool.

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