The tarot is widely known as a divination tool for discerning past, present, and future events. However, its original purpose was to preserve spiritual instruction for those interested in developing inner depth, personal growth, and enlightenment.
The images contained within the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana are particularly useful in opening up various aspects of consciousness. When utilized with this goal in mind, the tarot cards serve two main objectives: First, the tarot transcends thoughts conveyed by speech, because anyone, from any culture, can understand meanings held in a picture; therefore, the images on the cards convey nonverbal ideas and concepts, interpreted through an individual’s own worldview.
Second, the tarot evokes specific spiritual, mental, and emotional responses from the subconscious mind directly to self-consciousness, thereby enabling us to become more fully aware of ourselves.
Aspects of Consciousness
The Major Arcana affords us images of things as they are. When these cards are used for spiritual development, consciousness is accelerated, and we may gain insight, self-understanding, and the ability to recognize and alter the habitual patterns that prevent us from obtaining our desired goals.
The Major Arcana symbolize the twenty-two aspects of consciousness as follows:
0. THE FOOL: Life-energy, Breath, Pure spirit
1. THE MAGICIAN: Attention, Power into action
2. THE HIGH PRIESTESS: Receptivity, Memory
3. THE EMPRESS: Creative imagination, Desire, Nature
4. THE EMPEROR: Reason, Insight, Foresight, Vision
5. THE HIEROPHANT: Interior hearing, Intuition
6. THE LOVERS: Discrimination, Decision
7. THE CHARIOT: Inner self, Personal control
8. STRENGTH: Serpent-power, Sexual force, Courage
9. THE HERMIT: Enlightenment, Wisdom, Solitude
10. THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE: Destiny, Prosperity, Reward
11. JUSTICE: Balance, Harmony, Fairness
12. THE HANGED MAN: Reversal, Surrender, Sacrifice
13. DEATH: Transformation, Change, Rebirth
14. TEMPERANCE: Adaptation, Trial, Initiation
15. THE DEVIL: False bondage, Illusion, Humor
16. THE TOWER: Awakening, Ambition, Reconstruction
17. THE STAR: Silence, Hope, Meditation
18. THE MOON: Physical awareness, Self-deception
19. THE SUN: Empowerment, Innocence
20. JUDGEMENT: Determination, Realization, Renewal
21. THE WORLD: Limitation, Definition, Synthesis
You will need a tarot deck, a journal, a pen, a timer, and a quiet place in which you may practice the following exercise on a daily basis for the next twenty-two weeks.
Begin your first week’s exercise with card 0, the Fool. Sit comfortably in a straight-backed chair. Clear your mind and relax your body. Place the Fool upright in front of you. Set your timer for five minutes, and gaze at the card before you. Make a mental note of the images, thoughts, feelings, and physical reactions that occur while looking at the card. When the timer rings, write everything down in your journal. Also note the conditions arising in your life while spending a week with a particular card. Difficulties indicate that the aspect of consciousness you are working with requires additional refinement.
Continue working with one card a week, in numerical order. Then begin all over again. You will be on your way toward good health, happiness, self-fulfillment, and positive spiritual development.
This spread provides a natural complement to the tarot meditation ritual. The Major Arcana card being used for meditation that week appears in the top position. Underneath, three Minor Arcana
cards are placed to represent the mind, body, and spirit aspects of the Major Arcana card.
You can do this spread often to bring out nuances and hidden ideas in the Major Arcana cards. The different concepts in the Minor Arcana can provide endless combinations to further your understanding of the tarot.
From Llewellyn's 2001 Tarot Calendar. For more Llewellyn tarot books and decks, click here.