What is tarot and how are tarot cards laid out

What is tarot and how are tarot cards laid out Tarot is a complex card game that took Europe by storm in the medieval period, but may have much older roots in Ancient Egypt.

What is tarot and how are tarot cards laid out
What is tarot and how are tarot cards laid out

Tarot cards are richly illustrated with various picturesque characters, esoteric symbols, elements from astrology or dramatic scenes.


  1. What is the meaning of tarot for occultists
  2. What the arcana mean and how they are divided

    • Major Arcana
    • Minor Arcana

  3. Basic Tarot Spreads

    • Laying out in line/laying out the 4 planes of life
    • Display in the triangle
    • Checkered display
    • 5 card cross display

What is tarot and how are tarot cards laid out Tarot is a complex card game that took Europe by storm in the medieval period, but may have much older roots in Ancient Egypt.

Tarot cards are richly illustrated with various picturesque characters, esoteric symbols, elements from astrology or dramatic scenes.

Tarot was used extensively in medieval Europe for various card games. In Italy it was called tarock or tarockini, and tarot cards were used by high society and merchants alike for various games of chance in the 15th century.

Tarot cards spread to France, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Germany, with various designs and symbols depending on the imagination and talent of the craftsmen who made them.

A few centuries later, towards the end of the 18th century, certain tarot cards, especially the major arcana representing symbolic characters, began to be used in divination and the occult.

Tarot thus becomes more than a simple game of chance, a tool for knowing life and destiny.

What is the meaning of tarot for occultists Astrology and esotericists claim that the tarot and the meaning of the tarot cards was handed down to us by the Egyptian god Thoth.

The origin of this game is a mystery, it is not known exactly where tarot cards came from, what is certain is that the occult images and symbols were developed in the late medieval era.

Nowadays, tarot is used more to divine the future and decipher a person's destiny.

The so-called diviners in the books use the tarot to answer all kinds of questions related to love, luck, health or family.

The message of the cards varies according to how they are displayed and the imagination of the diviner, but their basic meaning is always respected.

The principles of numerology are also very important in the interpretation of tarot cards. The major arcana in tarot do not have numbers,

but the minor arcana are numbered from 2 to 10, and the numbers can also have negative or positive connotations.

What the arcana mean and how they are divided The term arcana is an archaic term, possibly from a dialect of the Italian language, and means secret, mystery or secret, keeper of secrets.

Tarot cards are indeed full of mysteries, all drawn with esoteric and occult symbols. Each character has special meanings and each card is interpreted according to the role of the characters, but also the symbols discreetly drawn on the edges.

Whoever looks at them carefully will notice various letters, numbers, stars or crosses that can convey different messages depending on the context.

What is special about tarot is that each card has both positive and negative connotations depending on how it is displayed alongside the others. In total, the tarot contains 78 cards, of which 22 major arcana and 56 minor arcana.

Major Arcana The 22 cards of the major arcana are the most used in divination and occult games. They can answer the big questions about life and destiny.

The major arcana are often used to consult the future regarding serious situations, failures in love or the beginning of a new relationship, big changes such as marriage or birth, but also career challenges.

Basic meanings :

0 – The Fool: risk, adventure, chance, intuition, impulse, rash decisions, extravagance.

1 – Magician/Magus: intelligence, diplomacy, manipulation, success.

2 – High Priestess: wisdom, analysis, creativity, initiative, artistic sensibility, tolerance.

3 – The Empress: love, wealth, fertility, progress, generosity.

4 – The Emperor: power, authority, will, creation and destruction, responsibility.

5 – High Priest: life lesson, trial, new projects, promise, enlightenment

6 – Lovers: illusions, indecision, hard trials, difficulties, obstacles.

7 – Phaeton/Chariot: change, challenge, battle, revenge, victory.

8 – Strength: strength, endurance, energy, courage, success.

9 – The hermit: care, caution, expectation, disappointment, deception.

10 – Wheel of Fortune: Chance, Improvement, Success, Profit, News, Rewards.

11 – Justice: justice, truth, control, solutions, negotiation, the right path.

12 – The Hanged Man: sacrifices, failure, disillusionment, loss, humiliation, guilt.

13 – Death: transformation, radical change, release, completion, new perspectives.

14 – Balance: acceptance, accommodation, maturity, self-confidence.

15 – The Devil: violence, cunning, hatred, ambition, health problems.

16 – The Tower: tragedy, suffering, dramatic changes, losses, trauma.

17 – Star: hope, inspiration, new ideas, illusion.

18 – Moon: intuition, illusion, misinterpretations, hidden enemies, motherhood, pregnancy.

19 – The Sun: happiness, luck, health, joy, satisfaction, vitality.

20 – Judgment: conscience, responsibility, duty, criticism, examination, test.

21 – World: reputation, appreciation, success, travel, moving, new ideas.

Minor Arcana

Tarot enthusiasts say that the 56 cards of the minor arcana can be used in divination to find solutions to everyday problems such as lack of money, short-term investments, travel, family disagreements or a difficult choice.

The major arcana represent the human archetypes, but the minor arcana reflect the decisions, changes, and challenges we encounter every day.

They are divided into court cards such as Jack, Knight, Queen and King, and number cards, which are 10 of each symbol: Cup, Spade, Clubs and Coins.


There are four jack cards, namely the jack of spades, the jack of cups, the jack of clubs and the jack of coins.

If one of the jacks appears to you, it means that you dealt with certain problems in the past superficially, they got complicated, and now you find it harder to find the solutions.

On the other hand, valets are the symbols of small adventures, journeys, chances and news.


As with jacks, there are 4 cards dedicated to knights, for each symbol: cup, spade, coins and clubs.

The appearance of a knight means that the situation you are facing is blocked and you will not be able to get out of it, unless you are helped by an intelligent and mature man.

On the other hand, the appearance of the knight can mean the appearance of a special person in your life.


The four queens cards signify either news or help from a mature woman, or complications from a woman making a wrong choice. You have to be very careful about the influence that certain women have in your life, don't let them take control and don't let yourself be brought down by their criticisms or reproaches.


As well as queens, there are 4 king cards with the same symbols as above. Kings signify authoritative male figures, news from a man who tries to intervene and control.

Usually, the appearance of the king means unwanted intervention from outside.

The symbolism of the numbered cards in the tarot

Among the minor arcana there are also 40 cards numbered from I to X, with the four classic symbols of the tarot: clubs, cups, swords and coins.

Wands are associated with action, virility, decision, fire and light. The appearance of these cards calls for action and is a good sign for enterprising people who know how to get things done.

Such a book shows you that the worst decision is to sit and wait. Look for solutions, choose, decide, impose yourself!

Cups are associated with feelings, emotions, love, relationships, family, connections with those around.

These cards show you that you have to take into account your emotions and feelings, protect yourself emotionally, look for the people who really care about you, adapt to a new situation and take into account what others offer you.

Swords are associated with thought, intellect, decision and justice.

Such a book can show you that you are going through a difficult time when no solution seems clear and you can't find anyone to help you.

This book shows you that you have to rely only on yourself and trust that you will not fail.

Tarot coins are associated with material values, well-being, family, possessions, safety and certainties in your life.

If this card appears, your security may be in jeopardy, you may feel that what you have built so far is faltering and you need a lot of strength to keep things in balance.

It is possible to win overnight, but it is also possible to lose.

Basic Tarot Spreads

Spreading means placing the cards face down in a predetermined pattern.

Tarot card reading is usually accompanied by a prayer, especially if health and family questions are asked.

Only cards from the major arcana can be used for situations related to marriage, future, career or life chances.

But you can also use all the cards together. They are mixed a few times, cut and then spread out.

Some more superstitious people also use to make the sign of the cross three times over the deck of cards.

Only after you have formulated a concrete question and focused on it can you turn the cards to find the answer in the tarot.

Laying out in line/laying out the 4 planes of life

Shuffle all the cards well, cut and place the first five from left to right. They can be interpreted as follows:

First card: represents you with your current desires and hopes

Book two: the professional plan

The third book: the effective plane

Book Four: The Material Plane Book

Five: Health

Display in the triangle

This is a simple display that shows the past, present and future. A specific question is asked, related to everyday situations at home or at work, the cards are shuffled well and the top three of the pack are placed face down in a triangle shape.

The two cards at the base of the triangle represent the past and the present, the past on the left, the present on the right, and the card placed in the triangle above them represents the future.

Checkered display

It is another basic method for divination in tarot. The cards are laid out in a diamond or checkered shape. The card in the left corner of the diamond represents "for", the card in the right corner represents "against", the top card is the "surprise" that can intervene in your actions, and the bottom card represents the "result" you can reach.

For this display, the minor arcana cards are used more often and specific questions are asked about your day-to-day plans and ideas.

5 card cross display

Four cards are displayed crosswise and one in the middle. The cards are shuffled well, the question is asked, cut, and then the top five of the deck are laid out from left to right and top to bottom. Finally, the fifth card is placed in the middle of the four.

They are interpreted as follows:

  • the book on the left is the present
  • the book on the right is the near future
  • the top card is the surprise
  • the bottom card represents the consequences of your decisions
  • the middle card represents the advice the tarot gives you.

For this spread, the cards of the major arcana are used more often and are interpreted according to the basic meanings that you can consult above.

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