There are 22 Major Arcana in most Tarot decks and each of them represent a stage in the journey of self knowing, an initiation, rite of passage, or major life event that each practitioner passes through on their internal voyage.
The rest of the Tarot deck is split into four Suits with 1 to 10 pip cards and four Court cards associated with each suit to make up 78 cards altogether.
The four suits of the Tarot can be understood at the outset to represent four different “worlds” or states of being
(Wands / Clubs) Staffs – The Spiritual Realm.
(Swords / Spades) Storm – The World of thoughts or imagination.
(Cups / Hearts) Chalices – A World of emotions or desires.
(Discs / Diamonds / Pentacles – The World of physical things and sensations.
22 Major Arcana
Before we go any further with interpretations or explanations it would be a good idea to take out the Major Arcana from your deck and separate them laying them out in sequence before you. You can put them all side by side by side numerically from 0 – 21 so that they read like a cartoon strip. Spend a few moments just looking at each card in this way, and think about any connections that spring to mind as you allow your mind to wander and think about the images. Note down any intuitive thoughts you might receive while doing this a you might just surprise yourself.
The Major Arcana cards themselves are not gods or deities per se but each Archetype does have associations with divine beings or images that can be called upon in order that we may experience all these different facets of being in our waking lives. The images below set out in order tell a story of enlightenment and each part is one section of the whole, to show the whole process of enlightenment with the inner part and the outer part of the journey. The enlightenment process is a cyclical one and if we begin our journey by going within as we do at the beginning as the seeker after experience, then we jump into the unknown and travel through the underworld or the world of shadows as the second stage in the journey, then we come full cycle and emerge at the end of the process back to the beginning but with all of the experiences that we have had to work with on the rest of our journey in life.
During stages 0 to 10 of the internal Tarot journey we awaken each Archetype one by one by pathworking and connect with each in turn until we come to the pivotal or turning point of the wheel.
After the experience at the Wheel of Fortune we go through a transitionary phase at Trump 11 after which we set out to explore the shadow realms and journey through the recesses of the mind for clarity and perspective on our true nature and deal with anything that is lurking in our shadows.
When we come out of the introspective dark phase and begin to bring out our true selves into the world will be faced with the decision of whether or not to begin another cycle of enlightenment and begin again or use what we have learned on the journey so far to put us where we should be, and make sure we are heading in the right direction. The whole process allows restructuring or recreating our selves and our life in accordance with our whole being as we move through all of the different experiences which usually are at odds with the ones that we are used to, and after taking time to reflect over the journey as a whole only then can we make lasting changes to our personality, relationships, goals, and seek our true calling in life.
Take your 22 cards now and set the out in the Lemniscate or Infinity pattern that and what are the differences that you pick up on when you set the story this way instead of in a linear fashion one after the other? Note down your findings in your journal.
To study the Tarot effectively you have to become a part of it and as it becomes a living part of you as the wisdom is digested, imbibed and integrated into life and the only way it can be evaluated is from the inside.
Take out the Fool/Soliel Card from your Tarot deck and spend a little time studying the imagery on the card. You can use this as your entry point into an awakening journey using meditation over the specific imagery contained within the Tarot card.
Some systems ascribe this card to the act of breathing, the breath, or life itself.
The very act of meditation requires that you to focus your energy and attention on your breathing, how quickly or slowly we breathe has an almost immediate reaction on our emotional state especially when learning to slow down the breathing to use techniques such as the fourfold breath.
When we step on to the rainbow path we glow with a halo of possibilities and energies, the intellect in tune with the heart and the emotional intelligence, intuition, self guidance all waiting to spread forth to create ripples in the new world which the seeker after experience will create as they progress on the path.
The student is ready to take a leap of discovery with the appearance of this archetype in a Tarot consultation and if you have spent a significant amount of time meditating over the imagery and the meaning it evokes and the thoughts and feelings which arise within you, then you will know what to say to a client who has this card in their reading.
In some decks the fool is seen with a little white dog but in the Soulscape image the animal figure over the head of the fool shows a protective guardian that walked alongside me on the path as my familiar and not everyone will have the same beast as their companion but this is the beast who accompanied me at the outset of my journey.
On the Thoth / Lady Hariss Fool card there is a dove on an upward course also flying free, soaring into higher skies. In early Christian symbolism the imagery of a dove descending represented the descent of the holy spirit, similarly in this image it is that of the inner peace which radiates outwards from the very core of our being to affect all those who we meet on our journey along this path, but only after the acceptance of out own journey and turning our attention inwards to experience the worlds that lay within.
This is the archetypal image of freedom, being carefree, unburdened and the Thoth image proudly displays a physical Sun which has come to be understood as the symbol of generative life force or our energy source on the Earth as our celestial sun in the sky. I renamed the “Fool” image as “Soleil” in the Soulscapes deck and choosing the French word for Sun to bring attention to the importance of light, especially sunlight on our physical health and wellbeing, and the allegory of the Sun on its journey through the signs of the Zodiac, and this whole spiritual journey being akin to the birth of the sun god Ra as the resurrected part or self created soul that we bring into existence by stepping on to the Spiritual path and redeeming ourselves through Alchemical transformation of the Soul.
A prominent figure in the Crowley image is the alligator or crocodile which represents cyclical time, fertility and a warning of pitfalls on the path if one does not pay due care and attention to where they are treading. As we are turning the attention within and shining the light inside ourselves we illuminate everything and bring to life all that this light comes into contact with. What on this earth grows without sunlight? How can there be shadows to explore without the light of the sun? There has long been an association between light and enlightenment and here if we think about the allegory of the white light being split by a prism into the spectrum of colours, hence being able to see and investigate all the separate parts, or divisions of the soul as we seek in the shadows that have been cast by the light of our own consciousness.
Consider the Fool as a garment that we must clothe ourselves with in order to progress and understand he / she as our guide to lead us within so that we may begin to seek our destiny.
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