Tarot Cards Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

You’ve likely heard about tarot cards, but do you know what they are? We can help. Read on as we explore the meaning of tarot cards. 

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With the rise of all things spiritual, mystical, and witchy over the years, you’ve likely come across tarot cards — but what are they? 

One of the most popular divination practices, tarot cards are often believed to tell the future or reveal someone’s fortune. However, this is far from the truth. 

In this post, we are exploring tarot cards to uncover what they are, how they are used, and more. So if you’ve ever wondered about the meaning behind tarot, keep reading!

What Does Tarot Mean?

The noun tarot refers to a set of playing cards often used for mystical divination. Each card features its own imagery, symbolism, and story. 

For some folks, tarot readings are nothing more than a handy party trick. For others, however, the Tarot deck is sacred, as it is a powerful tool with which to direct one’s life.   

What Are Tarot Cards?

The standard deck of tarot cards consists of 78 cards that are divided into two groups: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.  

The Major Arcana

The Major Arcana cards are the trumps, which are unsuited. 

Numbered cards marked one through 21 with the 22nd card (the “Fool”) marked as zero, this group of cards represents a “fool’s journey.” These are the life lessons, karmic influences, and the big archetypal themes that are influencing your life as well as your soul’s journey to enlightenment.

The 22 cards that make up the Major Arcana tarot cards are as follows:   

  • The Fool
  • The Magician
  • The High Priestess
  • The Empress
  • The Emperor
  • The Hierophant
  • The Lovers
  • The Chariot
  • Strength
  • The Hermit
  • Wheel of Fortune
  • Justice
  • The Hanged Man
  • Death
  • Temperance
  • The Devil
  • The Tower
  • The Star
  • The Moon
  • The Sun
  • Judgment
  • The World

The Minor Arcana

The 56 tarot cards that make up the Minor Arcana cards are divided into four suits:

  • Wands (Fire)
  • Cups (Water)
  • Pentacles/Coins (Earth)
  • Swords (Air)

Each suit contains 14 cards: ten cards in numeric order from the Ace (one) to ten, followed by the courts; Page, Knight, Queen, and King of each suit. 

Unlike the Major Arcana, which represents major turning points in life, Minor Arcana tarot cards deal with the day-to-day events of life. The different suits and numbers pertain to different things that may happen. 

What Is the Origin of Tarot Cards?

The term tarot comes from tarocchi — an Italian word whose root, “taroch,” translates to “foolishness.” The use of the word taroch dates back to the 15th century when a card game called trionfi emerged, inspired by the theatrical festivals popular during the Italian Renaissance known as trionfo

Trionfi cards typically featured hand-painted illustrations of personified and allegorical motifs. “The fool” joined the pack in the 16th century, and the game later became known as tarocho in Italy and taraux — a term that eventually evolved into tarot — in France. 

Tarot Card Terms and Definitions

If you’re new to tarot, you’ll likely come across new terminology that may leave you a bit confused. Not to worry, though, as we’ve put together a list of definitions associated with tarot to help widen your knowledge of the term below: 

  • Celtic Cross refers to a popular tarot card spread containing ten cards that represent the current state of affairs and the future. 
  • Divination refers to the art of seeking to foresee future events or discover hidden knowledge, usually by interpreting omens, symbols, and signs. 
  • Diviner is another name for a Tarot card reader.
  • Gypsies are nomadic people originating in Europe. 
  • Intuition is defined as knowledge and/or insight that is obtained by means other than intellect or reason. Often used when reading tarot cards, intuition is instinctive perception. 
  • Oracle is another name for a Tarot card reader.
  • Psyche is a Greek term meaning mind, soul, or consciousness. Commonly used to define the state of being alive or that part of the human that has access to the Life-force (aka universal energy).
  • Psychic refers to an individual who is sensitive and receptive to non-physical information, energy, forces, or influences and can effectively communicate this non-physical information.
  • Smudging is a purification ritual that uses smoke to cleanse. Sage is often used in this practice to lift away negative influence. 
  • Yod is the first card taken and represents the creator. 

Do Tarot Cards Reveal the Future?

While many folks think tarot will reveal the future, the truth is that making predictions is not what tarot cards are really all about. 

You see, tarot is essentially the storybook of our life, the mirror to our soul, and the key to our inner wisdom. It is perfect for self-development, making choices, manifesting goals, coaching others, meditating — you name it. 

Designed to help you navigate through the circumstances of your life, tarot is a powerful tool for self-discovery and manifestation.  

To Recap

The term tarot cards refers to a set of 78 special cards used as a divination tool. Each tarot card is wonderfully unique, with its individual image, the stories it tells, and the symbolism embodied in them. 

Now that you know what Tarot means, we invite you to grab a deck of tarot cards, tap into your intuition, and manifest your goals to create the future of your dreams! 


  1. Tarot Definition & Meaning | Dictionary.com 
  2. A Visual History of Tarot Cards | MODA
  3. Can Tarot Predict the Future? What We Can Learn From Black Divination | IFYC