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Meaning of the 78 Tarot Cards: Complete Guide of Major and Minor Arcana

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INTRODUCTION

Welcome to the fascinating world of Tarot, an ancient tool for divination and personal development. If you are a beginner in divination arts and wish to learn how to draw cards, this article is for you. Before diving into the heart of the matter, it is essential to understand the basic structure of Tarot.

Major Arcana and Minor Arcana: the two faces of Tarot.
Composed of 78 cards, Tarot is divided into two major sets:

  • The Major Arcana:

    The series of 22 trumps (or Triumphs) explores the profound aspects of human existence, collective unconscious, and forces influencing us beyond the material plane. These cards are often considered the most powerful in tarot in terms of spiritual meaning and guidance. Each Triumph (or Major Arcana) provides advice and insights for our personal growth.
  • The Minor Arcana:

    Consisting of 56 cards (the 40 numerals + the 16 court cards), they focus on daily events, human interactions, and practical details of life. It is divided into four suits, each associated with an element ( Pentacles arrow-right Earth, Wands arrow-right Fire, Swords arrow-right Air, Cups arrow-right Water).

Beyond reductive definitions

Although these definitions are helpful for beginners, they are somewhat reductive. To fully understand the complex structure of Tarot, it is wiser to categorize the cards into exactly three categories:

  • The 40 Numerals (pip cards):

    These cards are the numbers from 1 to 10 in the four different colors (Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles).
    Their functions: These cards play the role of "details" in a reading. They provide information on the practical and daily aspects of the posed question. They are the "how" of the draw.
  • The 16 Court Cards (face cards):

    They represent the royal figures (Page, King, Knight, Queen) in each color.
    Their functions: These cards highlight the relational dynamics and character traits that are at play. They can represent people in the consultant's life or aspects of their own personality. If the Numerals evoke the stages of our journey, the Court Cards evoke the reactions and attitudes in the face of these situations. They are the "who" of the draw.
    Note: The Fool is the archetype of the King's Jester, he can also be seen as a Court Card, since ultimately he is not numbered like a Triumph. 'Le Fou' (The Fool) is alone, there are not 4 jesters in the game, because he is not vassal of a particular King, he remains free and goes from court to court, according to his wishes.
  • The 22 Triumphs (trump cards):

    These are the major arcana, which go from 'Le Bateleur' (The Magician) to 'Le Monde' (The World), accompanied by 'Le Mat' / 'Le Fou' (The Fool).
    Their functions: These cards give an overview and put into perspective the major issues and spiritual lessons. They are the "why" of the draw.

By understanding these three categories and their role in a draw, you will be better equipped to interpret the complex and nuanced messages that Tarot has to offer.

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The Four Suits

In Tarot, the four suits โ€” Pentacles ('Deniers' in french, really another meaning ... Be aware !), Wands, Swords, and Cups โ€” are closely linked to the four elements of nature: Earth, Fire, Air, and Water. This association is not only symbolic, it also offers depth of meaning when interpreting the cards. For readers new to divination arts, understanding this correspondence can be a real asset.

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The Pentacles ( The Earth = Need )

The Pentacles ( The Earth = Need )

The Earth is the element that anchors us in reality and reminds us of our basic needs. It is the most tangible aspect of our existence, the one that allows us to build and grow. Earth symbolizes the quest for stability, security, and material well-being. It encompasses everything from physiological needs like food and shelter, to psychological needs for security and comfort. In this context, the need is not only a physical or material necessity, but also an aspiration for balance and constancy in our lives. When this element is highlighted in a situation, it often indicates a concern for fundamental needs, such as health, financial security, or home. It can also signal a period of personal or professional growth, where the focus is on self-realization and achieving concrete objectives.

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The Wands ( The Fire = Desire )

The Wands ( The Fire = Desire )

Fire is the spark that fuels our passion, creativity, and will to act. It represents the driving force that pushes us to excel, to take initiatives, and to realize our deepest aspirations. The desire, in this context, is not a mere fleeting want, but a powerful energy that can lead us to significant changes and the realization of our dreams. When this element is predominant, it often signals a period of high activity, inspiration, and transformation. It may also indicate a need for change, an aspiration to break the chains of routine and to explore new possibilities. Fire reminds us that desire is a powerful engine of change, capable of transforming not only our inner world but also our environment.

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The Swords ( The Air = Thought )

The Swords ( The Air = Thought )

Air symbolizes our intellectual world, our ability to think, communicate, and solve problems. It is the realm of rational thought, logic, but also imagination and innovation. This element invites us to step back, analyze situations, and make informed choices. It is often associated with moments of decision, deep reflection, or change of perspective. Air reminds us of the importance of mental clarity and communication in the journey of our complex lives. It can also signal a period of questioning, where ideas and beliefs are put to the test, thus offering an opportunity for intellectual growth and personal development.

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The Cups ( The Water = Feeling )

The Cups ( The Water = Feeling )

Water is the reservoir of our emotions, intuition, and ability to feel and connect with others. It encompasses everything related to the heart, from love to sadness, and extending to compassion and empathy. This element is often at the center of relational questions, whether they are romantic, familial, or friendly relationships. It reminds us of the importance of listening, emotional openness, and mutual understanding. Water is the mirror of our soul, reflecting our deepest desires and our most secret fears. It may also indicate a period of emotional transformation, where feelings are more intense and it may be necessary to face uncomfortable truths in order to progress.

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Elemental associations: a matter of perspective

Elemental associations: a matter of perspective

Traditionally, Pentacles are associated with Earth, Wands with Fire, Swords with Air, and Cups with Water. These associations are widely accepted and used as a starting point for interpreting the cards.

However, it's important to note that these associations are not universal and can vary. Indeed, some authors or tarot practitioners choose to diverge from traditional associations for reasons of their own. These reasons could be philosophical, theological, or even personal. For example, an author might associate Swords with Fire rather than Air to highlight the combative and cutting aspect of this element. Similarly, Wands might be associated with Air to underscore their changing and unpredictable nature.

So, why these divergences? They could be the result of in-depth study, personal revelation, or simply a preference for certain symbolism.

Ultimately, tarot is a flexible and adaptable tool. Elemental associations are just a guide, not a strict rule. As readers and practitioners, we have the freedom to adopt the associations that resonate most with us, while respecting the traditions that have preceded us.

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Going beyond traditional associations: a nuanced approach

Going beyond traditional associations: a nuanced approach

When beginning to learn the Tarot de Marseille, it's common to rely on traditional associations between the elements and the suits of the cards. Although these associations are an excellent starting point, they can sometimes limit our understanding of the cards and the situations they represent. Let's take some examples to illustrate this point:

What the 4 suits are NOT:

  • Financial matters are not limited to Pentacles.
  • Sex does not just boil down to Wands.
  • Professional career does not only depend on Swords.
  • Lovely relationships are not solely associated with Cups.

Because:

  • Managing money requires involvement (Wands), planning, analyzing investments (Swords), and staying serene (Cups).
  • In sex, there is a relationship to the body (Pentacles), there is also dialogue (Swords), and feelings (Cups).
  • Having a job has a financial aspect (Pentacles) and is related to ambition (Wands) as well as fulfillment (Cups).
  • Thriving in a couple's relationship requires managing daily life (Pentacles), projecting into the relationship (Wands), and communicating with your partner (Swords).

In short, any human activity involves the mobilization of the 4 Elements (Earth, Fire, Air, Water). Associating a domain like money, sex, work, love with only one of the 4 Elements is very reductive and allows no nuance and no depth in the perception of situations. The interpretations of the readings are all the more biased.

I know that when you start, you like generalizations and bullet lists and think, for example, that love stories are related to Cups. Of course, this simplifies learning, but it significantly narrows down the areas of meaning and makes the interpretations of the readings just as simplistic. If you want to keep it simple and concise, opt more for the associations Earth arrow-right Need, Fire arrow-right Desire, Air arrow-right Thought, Water arrow-right Feeling. This approach is simple without being simplistic and allows a clever blend of the 4 elements.

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Beyond Good and Evil: The 4 ways to experience Tarot cards

Beyond Good and Evil: The 4 ways to experience Tarot cards

In the fascinating world of cartomancy and spirituality, we are used to perceiving the positive and negative aspects of the cards. However, there is a more nuanced perspective that goes beyond this classic duality.

I present to you the "4 Ways" of experiencing the cards, an approach that transcends the simple positive/negative dichotomy to reveal a rich and complex palette of human experiences. Each of these ways provides a deeper understanding of how we interact with our needs, desires, thoughts, and emotions.

1) Fluid

Definition : the individual experiences the aspect optimistically, balanced, fully developing the aspect to its term, without slowing down the evolutionary process or interrupting the cycle. The "Fluid" way refers to a healthy and harmonious interaction with a need, desire, thought, or feeling. It is a response that naturally arises from self-awareness and acceptance, allowing unhindered progression in the personal evolution process.
Keywords : Consistency, Balance, Harmony, Acceptance, Progression, Evolution.

2) Excessive

Definition : the individual experiences the aspect unrestrained, outside reasonable limits. The aspect becomes deviant, uncontrolled, leading the evolutionary process into a too fast, too strong, in short, uncontrolled path. The "Excessive" way characterizes an amplified or disproportionate response to a need, desire, thought, or feeling. It may result from overcompensation or an attempt to fill a void, often leading to impulsive or compulsive behaviors that can deviate from the desired evolutionary path.
Keywords : Overzealousness, Compulsion, Overcompensation, Excess, Hyperactivity.

3) Rejected

Definition : the individual rejects the aspect, it is partially or totally repressed. The individual refuses to experience and fully integrate it. The evolutionary process is slowed or completely interrupted. The "Rejected" way involves suppression or conscious or unconscious rejection of a need, desire, thought, or feeling. This can be the result of past traumas, limiting beliefs, or deeply rooted fears that hinder the evolutionary process.
Keywords : Suppression, Denial, Negation, Repression, Avoidance, Refoulement.

4) Insufficient

Definition : the individual hesitates and does not resolve to fully experience the aspect. The individual lives in doubt, fear, or ignorance of what must be experienced and accomplished to advance on their life path. The evolutionary process does not follow a normal rhythm; it is slow. The "Insufficient" way is marked by hesitation or ambivalence towards a need, desire, thought, or feeling. This may be due to a lack of information, confidence, or clarity, which slows down or disrupts the natural evolutionary process.
Keywords : Ambivalence, Indecision, Hesitation, Delay, Confusion, Incompetence.

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Synthetic table of the 4 suits

Energy Pentacles
(Need)
Wands
(Desire)
Swords
(Thought)
Cups
(Feeling)
Fluid Vitality, Pragmatism Projection, Enthusiasm Sociability, Understanding Empathy, Acceptance
Excessive Greed, Hyperactivity Impulsivity, Obsession Dispersion, Rumination Confusion, Attachment
Rejected Avoidance, Escape Inhibition, Blindness Ignorance, Conditioning Sectarianism, Aversion
Insufficient Lethargy, Instability Demotivation, Doubt Misunderstanding, Indecision Insensitivity, Ingratitude
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The 40 Numerals (pip cards)

The Tarot de Marseille is a rich and complex tool that offers a multitude of perspectives on the human psyche. In this article, I propose a specific reading grid for the numeral cards ranging from 1 to 10. This approach is based on the plant cycle, a powerful metaphor for understanding the different stages of life and personal evolution.

It is important to note that this reading grid is specifically adapted to the Tarot de Marseille and differs from that adopted for the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) tarot. While the RWS tarot has its own symbolism and interpretations (which can be inconsistent, for example: the 3 of Swords which speaks of a broken heart while we are in the mental realm), this grid is designed to help you navigate the nuances of the Tarot de Marseille, offering a simple and profound cartography of the human psyche.

Reading Grid according to the Tarot de Marseille
Stage Description
1 - The seed The seed is the starting point of every journey, a pure potential waiting to be activated. This is the stage where the intention, idea or dream takes shape. At this point, anything is possible, and the future is a blank canvas ready to be painted. It's the moment of self-mastery, where one decides which path to take.
Keywords: Uniqueness, Principle, Unification, Beginning, Mastery, Individuation
2 - The sowing The sowing represents the act of planting this seed of intention in the fertile soil of the mind. It's a commitment, a conscious decision to pursue a goal or realize a dream. It's also the moment of duality, where one weighs the pros and cons before fully committing.
Keywords: Duality, Opposition, Conflict, Complementarity, Fusion
3 - Germination and sprouting Germination and sprouting are the first visible signs that the intention is coming to life. It's a period of transformation and manifestation, where the first efforts are made. It's also the moment of creativity, where new ideas and possibilities begin to emerge.
Keywords: Manifestation, Sociability, Creativity, Multiplicity
4 - Development of stems and leaves This stage symbolizes growth and expansion. It's the time to reach new heights and expand one's horizon. It's about building on the established foundations and seeking further development, both personally and professionally.
Keywords: Order, Frame, Solidity, Tangibility, Achievement, Construction
5 - Blooming Blooming represents opening to the world and surpassing established norms. It's the time when one starts to realize one's potential and offer one's talents to the world. It's a period of rapid evolution, where one prepares to become an improved version of oneself.
Keywords: Evolution, Opening, Community, Mobility, Change, Transformation
6 - Pollination by the bee Pollination by the bee symbolizes collaboration and interaction with others. It's the time to step out of one's comfort zone to explore new opportunities. It's a crucial step for personal evolution, as it often involves difficult choices and dilemmas.
Keywords: Union, Mediation, Contradiction, Distinction, Dilemma, Choice
7 - Fruitification Fruitification is the stage where one fully commits to one's work, one's evolution. It's an intense moment geared towards effort and hope to seize the fruits of one's labor. It's also the time to take calculated risks to maximize one's potential.
Keywords: Sacred Path, Total Dynamism, Power, Total Commitment, Independence
8 - Consumption of the fruit's nectar Consumption of the fruit's nectar is the stage of reward and enjoyment. It's the time to savor the fruits of one's labor and celebrate one's achievements. It's a period of abundance and satisfaction, where one reaps what one has sown.
Keywords: Cosmic Balance, Perfection, Infinity, Abundance, Material Expansion, Acquisition
9 - Decomposition of the fruit, revealing the seeds This stage represents the decline after the peak. It's the time of introspection and returning to the basics. It's a period of withdrawal and reflection, where one evaluates what has been accomplished and deeply understands and integrates past experience.
Keywords: Fulfillment, Introspection, Withdrawal, Closure, Integration
10 - Dispersal of seeds The dispersal of seeds is the final stage, where one shares one's wisdom and experiences with others. It's the time of transmission and propagation, where one prepares the ground for future generations. It's a stage of ultimate realization, where one understands that the journey was also for those who come after us.
Keywords: Completion, Return to Unity, Universality, Totality in Motion, Legacy, Transmission
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The Pentacles (Les Deniers)

Card RWS Tarot Tarot de Marseille
1 Concrete, Prosperity, Luck, Property arrow-right Matter, Reality, Realization, Need
Materialism, Destruction, Idleness
2 Juggling, Flexibility, Improvisation arrow-right Fertilization, Investment, Anchoring
Invasion, Levy, Sterility
3 Collaboration, Construction, Teamwork arrow-right Multiple trials, First steps, Discovery
Hyperactivity, Escape, Inertia
4 Guardian, Security, Possessiveness Growth, Agility, Craftsmanship
Mechanics, Chaos, Clumsiness
5 Lack, Deprivation, Ordeal arrow-right Movement, Hybridization, Art
Addiction, Deviance, Routine
6 Generosity, Sharing, Equity arrow-right Bargaining, Encounter, Sensory experience
Conflict, Autism, Caution
7 Evaluation, Patience, Investment arrow-right Self-overcoming, Tenacity, Journey,
Overexertion, Immobility, Laziness
8 Competence, Productivity, Work arrow-right Enjoyment, Harvest, Celebration
Greed, Austerity, Moderation
9 Abundance, Comfort, Well-being arrow-right Degrowth, Pilgrimage, Retreat
Isolation, Attachment, Perdition
10 Transmission, Heritage, Tradition arrow-right Propagation, Regeneration, Legacy
Conservatism, Break, Morbidness
Keywords Fluid, Excessive, Rejected, Insufficient
arrow-right : divergence between R-W-S and Marseille interpretations
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The Wands

Card RWS Tarot Tarot de Marseille
1 Inspiration, Motivation, Passion arrow-right Drive, Desire, Externalization
Obsession, Monotony, Demotivation
2 Planning, Assessment, Direction arrow-right Instinct, Excitement, Activation
Impulsivity, Cooling, Inhibition
3 Action, Exploration, Expansion arrow-right Initiative, Impulse, Opening
Dispersion, Blockage, Passivity
4 Celebration, Commitment, Stability arrow-right Leadership, Command, Framing
Authoritarianism, Laissez faire, Submission
5 Conflict, Competition, Tension arrow-right Radiance, Charisma, Subjugation
Hold, Identification, Shyness
6 Victory, Recognition, Leadership arrow-right Synergy, Partnership, Marriage
Competition, Unilateralism, Solitude
7 Effort, Endurance, Challenge Seizure, Conquest, Will
Blindness, Abandon, Irresolution
8 Speed, Movement, Journey arrow-right Exaltation, Celebration, Victory
Explosive, Failure, Disavowal
9 Defense, Strength, Bitterness arrow-right Abandonment, Letting go, Freewheeling
Nostalgia, Regression, Stagnation
10 Burden, Responsibility, Stress arrow-right Vision, Projection, Guidance
Illusion, Hoarding, Futile
Keywords Fluid, Excessive, Rejected, Insufficient
arrow-right : divergence between RWS and Marseille interpretations
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The Swords

Card RWS Tarot Tarot de Marseille
1 Reason, Decision, Logic Speech, Thought, Abstraction, Concept
Virtuality, Taciturn, Ignorance
2 Refusal, Deadlock, Blindness arrow-right Reflection, Silence, Planning
Headache, Outlet, Misunderstanding
3 Pain, Breakup, Sorrow arrow-right Creativity, Imagination, Insight
Daydreaming, Norm, Banality
4 Immobility, Passivity, Rest arrow-right Strategy, Organization, Theory
Thinking mill, Simplistic, Disorder
5 Disagreement, Opposition, Tension arrow-right Innovation, Literary Art, Genius
Absurdity, Objection, Conformism
6 Transition, Distance, Departure arrow-right Dialogue, Choice, Evaluation
Dilemma, Neglect, Indecision
7 Deception, Hypocrisy, Calculation arrow-right Activism, Eloquence, Argumentation
Dissidence, Arbitrary, Vulgarity
8 Self-censorship, Limitation, Beliefs arrow-right Free Thought, Philosophy, Humanism
Libertarian, Dogma, Reactionary
9 Anxiety, Worry, Stress arrow-right Meditation, Critical Thought, Assessment
Focalization, Derision, Distraction
10 Collapse, Exhaustion, Burden arrow-right Teaching, Publication, Memory
Bookworm, Information retention, Forgetfulness
Keywords Fluid, Excessive, Rejected, Insufficient
arrow-right : divergence between R-W-S and Marseille interpretations
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The Cups

Card RWS Tarot Tarot de Marseille
1 Relation, Purity, Sensitivity arrow-right Love, Feeling, Internalization
Sentimentalism, Aversion, Coldness
2 Partnership, Equality, Understanding arrow-right Patience, Feeling, Intuition
Latency, Impatience, Superficiality
3 Joy, Friendship, Cohesion arrow-right Intuition, Divination, Connection
Hyper sensitivity, Scientism, Insensitivity
4 Boredom, Indifference, Apathy arrow-right Emotional Intelligence, Self-control, Acceptance
Emotiveness, Despair, Immaturity
5 Regret, Sadness, Disillusionment arrow-right Blessing, Trust, Generosity
Abused Kindness, Distrust, Lack of confidence
6 Nostalgia, Innocence, Return arrow-right Being touched, Brotherhood, Empathy
Illumination, Selfishness, Indifference
7 Daydreaming, Illusion, Confusion arrow-right Conviction, Fervor, Devotion
Fanaticism, Disbelief, Give-and-take
8 Escape, Abandonment, Introspection arrow-right Serenity, Fulfillment, Spiritual emptiness
Disconnection, Torment, Emotion
9 Satisfaction, Achievement, Goal reached arrow-right Introspection, Detachment, Retreat
Regret, Perdition, Refusal to face one's demons
10 Family, Happiness, Sharing arrow-right Awakening, Forgiveness, Transcendence
Naivety, Resentful, Absence
Key Words Fluid, Excessive, Rejected, Insufficient
arrow-right : divergence between the R-W-S and Marseille interpretations
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The 16 Court cards (Face cards)

Each of the following four texts will guide you through the nuances and symbolics of each type of court card, thus helping you understand their essential role in tarot readings.

Whether you are a curious beginner or an experienced practitioner, these explanations will help you deepen your understanding of the Tarot de Marseille. Get ready to discover the power and wisdom of the Pages, the dynamics of the Knights, the grace of the Queens, and the authority of the Kings.

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The Page

The Page

The Page represents youth, learning and enthusiasm, a new beginning. It is synonymous with initiative, momentum, and action. The personality traits carried by the Pages are dynamism, impulsivity, decision making, and the manifestation of creative energy.

If you are familiar with astrology, you can perfectly associate the Pages with the Cardinal mode. The Cardinal mode speaks of the instigation of action and novelty.

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The King

The King

The Kings symbolize authority, stability, leadership, and power. They represent the mastery of the elements of their respective suits (earth, fire, air, water) and are strong and pragmatic decision makers. The Kings embody the responsibility and self-confidence necessary to lead and make informed decisions. The personality traits carried by the Kings are stability, perseverance, consistency, resolution, the strength to maintain and consolidate what has been initiated, resistance to change, and determination to achieve set goals.

If you are familiar with astrology, you can perfectly associate the Kings with the Fixed mode. The Fixed mode embodies stability, perseverance, determination, and the resolution to keep things as they are.

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The Knight

The Knight

The Knights symbolize openness to change, quest, transition, and progress. They represent the willingness to evolve, to exceed one's limits. The personality traits carried by the Knights are adaptability, flexibility, adjustment, versatility, courage in the face of changing or fixed circumstances. They have an open mind and are ready to modify their plans as needed.

If you know astrology, you can perfectly associate the Knights with the Mutable mode. The Mutable mode is related to the acceptance of change, mental agility, and the ability to adapt to the fluctuations of life.

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The Queen

The Queen

The Queens symbolize mature femininity, compassion, and wisdom acquired through experience. They represent the ability to guide and take care of others. The personality traits carried by the Queens are receptivity, integration, generosity, sensitivity, transmission. The Queen, being a woman, has a power that the other 3 types of Court Cards do not have, that of giving birth. In truth, The Queen has 3 complementary social statuses: she is the mother of the Page, the wife of the King, and the lover of the Knight. Also, while the 3 men Page, King, Knight stay within their suit, the Queen transmits her energy to the next suit, concretely she gives birth to the Page of the following suit.

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Better Understanding

Better Understanding

If you want to understand my analysis, I invite you to look in detail at the Queens of the Tarot de Marseille, and to note the presence of a baton in the Queen of Coins, a laurel wreath in the Queen of Wands, a hand on the belly in the Queen of Swords (she is pregnant), and a sheaf of vegetation and a seed in the Queen of Cups. You can also focus on the Pages, and note the presence of 2 coins in the Page of Coins (one in the ground), buds on the baton of the Page of Wands, the hand at the sheath and the sword drawn from the Page of Swords, and a cup covered with a veil as well as the hat in hand in the Page of Cups. Unfortunately these details have not been preserved in the R-W-S tarot (as well as other details in the 22 Triumphs). The R-W-S tarot therefore does not convey the knowledge of the Tarot de Marseille. If you have only learned the R-W-S tarot, are you aware that the initial, deep and universal message carried by the Tarot de Marseille is quite different from the R-W-S?

If you know astrology, you can perfectly adopt the following reading grid, it could greatly facilitate the interpretation of the Court Cards:

The Court Cards according to astrology
Pentacles
(Earth)
Wands
(Fire)
Swords
(Air)
Cups
(Water)
Page
(Cardinal)
Capricorn Aries Libra Cancer
King
(Fixed)
Taurus Leo Aquarius Scorpio
Knight
(Mutable)
Virgo Sagittarius Gemini Pisces
Queen Earth arrow-right Fire Fire arrow-right Air Air arrow-right Water Water arrow-right Earth

Finally, if you have several Court Cards in a draw, and you have difficulty converging the meanings into a coherent reading, you can use the grid of relationships below. I also added The Fool who is also a Court Card and who makes the link between the 22 Triumphs and the 56 other cards.

The relationships of the Court cards
Page King Knight Queen The Fool
Page ally of the slave of the squire of the son of the disciple of the
King master of the enemy of the suzerain of the husband of the patron of the
Knight suzerain of the vassal of the brother of the lover of the protector of the
Queen mother of the wife of the lover of the friend of the ally of the
The Fool mentor of the jester of the protected by the confidant of the
-
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The Court cards of Pentacles

Court Cards R-W-S Tarot Tarot de Marseille
Page Discovery, Opportunity, Implementation arrow-right
Capricorn
Organization, Composure, Discipline
Rigidity, Cowardice, Procrastination
King Prosperity, Production, Experience arrow-right
Taurus
Stability, Tenacity, Patience
Stubbornness, Impatience, Laziness
Knight Efficiency, Reliability, Regularity arrow-right
Virgo
Pragmatism, Simplicity, Sacrifice
Criticism, Superficiality, Negligence
Queen Comfort, Pragmatism, Management arrow-right
Earth arrow-right Fire
Protection, Assistance, Generosity
Dissipation, Avarice, Economy
Keywords Fluid, Excessive, Rejected, Insufficient
arrow-right : divergence between R-W-S and Marseille interpretations
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The Court cards of Wands

Court Cards R-W-S Tarot Tarot de Marseille
Page Curiosity, Enthusiasm, Energetic
Aries
Impetuosity, Enterprise, Initiative
Impulsivity, Wait-and-see, Hesitation
King Leadership, Charisma, Inspiration arrow-right
Leo
Non-submission, Willfulness, Confidence
Arrogance, Distrust, Shyness
Knight Fervor, Adventure, Intensity
Sagittarius
Exploration, Optimism, Instinct
Rashness, Demotivation, Limitation
Queen Seduction, Passion, Independence arrow-right
Fire arrow-right Air
Vision, Guidance, Sobriety
Illusion, Seduction, Provocation
Keywords Fluid, Excessive, Rejected, Insufficient
arrow-right : divergence between R-W-S and Marseille interpretations
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The Court cards of Swords

Court Cards R-W-S Tarot Tarot de Marseille
Page Observation, Learning, Logic
Libra
Impartiality, Versatility, Diplomacy
Indecision, Conflict, Bias
King Intelligence, Organization, Morality arrow-right
Aquarius
Idealism, Subversity, Humanism
Unilaterality, Absurdity, Misunderstanding
Knight Argumentation, Communication, Inventiveness arrow-right
Gemini
Conciliation, Versatility, Curiosity
Eccentricity, Fission, Conformity
Queen Objectivity, Communicative, Synthesis arrow-right
Air arrow-right Water
Ethics, Transmission, Pedagogy
Favoritism, Injustice, Passivity
Keywords Fluid, Excessive, Rejected, Insufficient
arrow-right : divergence between R-W-S and Marseille interpretations
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The Court cards of Cups

Court Cards R-W-S Tarot Tarot de Marseille
Page Receptivity, Innocence, Emotion
Cancer
Empathy, Loyalty, Emotion
Emotivity, Impassivity, Superficiality
King Mastery (of emotions), Brotherhood, Altruism arrow-right
Scorpio
Passion, Depth, Emotional intelligence
Attachment, Hypocrisy, Discretion
Knight Romanticism, Dream, Idealism arrow-right
Pisces
Elusiveness, Fervor, Creativity
Daydreaming, Disillusion, Doubt
Queen Empathy, Sensitivity, Compassion
Water arrow-right Earth
Forgiveness, Kindness, Humility
Self-neglect, Grudge, Vanity
Keywords Fluid, Excessive, Rejected, Insufficient
arrow-right : divergence between R-W-S and Marseille interpretations
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The 22 Trumps (The Major Arcana)

The 22 Trumps of the Marseille Tarot, also called the major arcana, are the backbone of this divination practice rich in symbolism. In this article, we will guide you through these fascinating cards, providing insight into their deep meaning and importance in tarot reading.

Each card of the Trumps is a work of art in itself, laden with symbols and universal archetypes. They represent a journey through the stages of life, from birth to spiritual transformation. Understanding these cards is essential for mastering the art of cartomancy. They answer the deepest questions and illuminate the path for those seeking answers.

Dive into the mystery of the 22 Trumps of the Tarot, and discover how these cards guide you in your divination practice.

understand 22 trumps
๐Ÿ‘‰ Discover here a full and complete article on the 22 Trumps (The Major Arcana)!

๐ŸŒŸ Below is a quick presentation of the cards! ๐ŸŒŸ

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1. Le Bateleur / The Magician

1. Le Bateleur / The Magician

The awakening of the apprentice: the potential within reach

Beginning, Potential, Youth, Learning

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

The card is more about being incomplete (table with 3 legs instead of 4) and the need to grow and evolve (acorn between the fingers) along the way. The Bateleur embodies resourcefulness, urging the consultant to use his or her ingenuity to solve challenges and make the most of available resources.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The card focuses on the fact that the traveller has infinite magical power, and if he wants to, he can fulfil all his potential. It underlines the importance of persuasive communication and the mastery of words to positively influence one's environment.

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2. La Papesse / The High Priestess

2. La Papesse / The High Priestess

The inner sanctuary: the voice of intuition

Knowledge, Intuition, Patience

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

La Papesse of the Tarot de Marseille symbolises inner knowledge and access to the hidden mysteries of the universe. She invites us to connect with our intuition and to seek the truth through inner reflection.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The High Priestess of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot is more associated with divine wisdom and esoteric knowledge.She represents connection with the spiritual world and access to hidden secrets.

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3. The Empress

3. The Empress

The source of life: the creative abundance of fertility

Creativity, Abundance, Maternity

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

The Empress of the Tarot de Marseille, with her coat of arms in her arm, is more associated with the mother or a maternal figure, emphasising her protective and benevolent aspect.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The Empress of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot is a more modern creation, with additional esoteric elements associated with her role as guardian of the sacred mysteries.

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4. The Emperor

4. The Emperor

The pillar of the world: the mastery of tangible reality

Stability, Mastery, Material achievement

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

With his worn coat of arms and the hand holding his belt, the Emperor of the Tarot de Marseille emphasises the accumulation of experience and the lessons and skills we draw from it to establish our power.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The card places greater emphasis on leadership, authority and mastery of the material elements.

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5. Le Pape / The Hierophant

5. Le Pape / The Hierophant

The spiritual guide: the bridge between tradition and innovation

Morality, Loyalty, Open-mindedness

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

The Tarot de Marseille's Pope places greater emphasis on inner wisdom and the search for spiritual truth.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The Hierophant of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot is more associated with institutions, traditions and organised religious teachings.

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6. L'Amoureux / The Lovers

6. L'Amoureux / The Lovers

The crossroad of the heart: the balance between passion and choice

Discernment, Union, Temptation

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

L'Amoureux is often depicted with traits of indecision, underlining the difficulty of choosing between two options, evoking the theme of important decisions, dilemmas and choices to be made in the life of the consultant.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The Lovers focuses more on the love, harmony and union between two people, rather than on a difficult choice between two options.

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7. The Chariot

7. The Chariot

The audacious quest: the road towards personal victory

Willpower, Commitment, Conquest

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

In the Tarot de Marseille, the back of the hand on the hip means that the Prince can be flippant and careless, which explains why the carriage wheels go in different directions. This tarot underlines the idea of self-control, of being clear about one's commitment, at the risk of becoming spread out and going nowhere.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The Chariot of the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot focuses more on balance, or the union of opposing forces to achieve an ideal of a divine or celestial nature.

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8. La Justice / 11. Justice

8. La Justice / 11. Justice

The balance of truth: the voice of fairness

Truth, Fairness, Responsibility

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

In the Tarot de Marseille, the scales and/or sword are tilted and unbalanced, indicating that human justice is arbitrary and self-serving. Her hair, forming a rope around her neck, may mean that by drawing towards oneself the benefits of any action, avoiding any just retribution, one can saw off the branch on which one is sitting, provoking a sense of injustice in others.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

In the Raider-Waite-Smith Tarot, the veil can indicate that the truth may be hidden, and it must fall for the clarity of judgment to appear. The two columns can lead back to an institional character of Justice, as a solid and immutable Law.

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9. The Hermit

9. The Hermit

The inner light: the search for personal truth

Introspection, Deepening, Awareness

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

The Tarot de Marseille hermit looks ahead with his staff raised, showing a much more dynamic stance than the RWS hermit, who stands statically. Also, the Tarot de Marseille hermit speaks of a pilgrim's journey confronting his past (looking to the left), whereas the RWS hermit would be more of a sage or guide.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

In the hermit's lantern of the RWS Tarot, a star shines to signify a quest of a divine nature, or a path enlightened by the gods, or some kind of magical protection against future obstacles. The hermit appears to be standing atop a hill, looking down on the void at his feet, evoking the fall that the hermit risks.

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10. The Wheel of Fortune

10. The Wheel of Fortune

The eternal cycle: the ascent and descent of fate

Change, Ephemerality, Chance

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

The Wheel of Fortune of the Tarot de Marseille is purer than the RWS Tarot. Its meaning is centered on the passing of time, the turning of fortune and the fact that everything has an end.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The card in the RWS Tarot is more esoteric, with references to Christianity, Judaism, alchemy and ancient Egypt. The meaning is thus dispersed, with Set speaking of disorder, Anubis evoking death, the Sphinx submitting an enigma, the letters TORA speaking of the Law, and alchemical symbols evoking fulfillment.

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11. La Force / 8. The Strengh

11. La Force / 8. The Strengh

The silent power: the mastery of heart and mind

Fortitude, Self-control, Gentleness

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

In the Tarot de Marseille, the woman wears a crown hat, signifying that she is master of her mind and reason. The animal emerges from her legs, suggesting that violence and savagery come from her, or that she rides and dominates her desires.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

In the RWS Tarot, the woman has a lemniscate, the infinity symbol, above her head, evoking the infinite power of her mind to curb her desires. The lion has its tail between its legs, showing submission, and licks the hand, indicating that it is appeased and domesticated.

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12. The Hanged Man

12. The Hanged Man

The thoughtful pause: letting go for a new perspective

Introspection, Mediation, Letting go

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

In the Tarot de Marseille, the trunks, beam and rope symbolize the fetus in its mother's womb.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

In the RWS Tarot, the T-tree may refer to the crucifixion cross, and the yellow halo may mean that even with his head upside down, the spirit of the hanged man remains luminous.

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13. Death

13. Death

The inevitable metamorphosis: the embrace of renewal

Detachment, Transformation, Renewal

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

The Tarot de Marseille card is quite simple. It emphasizes the fact that Death imposes itself on everyone, from mere mortals to crowned heads. On the black, fertile ground, plants grow, evoking rebirth after death.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The RWS card contains more details than the Tarot de Marseille card, such as the characters who show different attitudes to death. The river, mountains and sun tell us that life is not a tranquil river, but leads to a mystical dawn.

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14. Temperance

14. Temperance

The fluid balance: the mediation of opposites

Moderation, Balance, Conciliation

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

With its red and blue water jugs, this Tarot de Marseille card focuses on the need to balance opposites. The diadem on the forehead reminds us that Temperance acts with logic and reason.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

In the RWS, the lake speaks of purification from the flood of emotions. Archangel Michael appears, casting out evil and judging past actions. The RWS card is all about healing and spiritual transformation.

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15. The Evil

15. The Evil

Alienation and freedom: the audacity of creativity

Impulse, Excess, Creativity, Audacity

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

The Devil of the Tarot de Marseille is a hybrid creature, half woman, half man, half animal, standing on a pillar. The card reminds us that the Devil is a fallen angel, and his appearance shows above all that he is an alienated being, no longer knowing himself who he really is.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

The RWS map focuses on forbidden fruit, temptation and the darker side of humanity. The Devil is no longer human, so man and woman have retained almost all their human appearance. The RWS card confronts Evil with Humanity, while Marseille speaks of attachment to desires that are not like us.

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16. La Maison Dieu / The Tower

16. La Maison Dieu / The Tower

The shocked soul: the revelation that changes everything

Reversal, Awareness, Humility

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

In Marseille decks, the card is called "Maison Dieu" ("House God", not House of God), meaning that the individual is god himself, his temple. In the oldest decks, the lightning bolt goes up to heaven, not down from it, showing that the individual obtains a real illumination that reveals the sacred (pure and luminous) part within him. This card is a reminder that goodness is within us all.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

In the RWS, lightning is shown as divine intervention, the result of man's excessive ambition in defiance of the gods. This catastrophic event is a reminder of the fragility of life, and of the need for courage and resilience in the face of unforeseen events.

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17. The Star

17. The Star

The celestial blessing: the inspiration that nourishes the soul

Dedication, Compassion, Altruism, Humanism

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

In the Tarot de Marseille, L'Etoile reverses one of its chruches at the level of its sex, as if its water had broken (in correlation with the Hanged Man, representing the fetus in its mother's womb). The card thus focuses on the individual revealing himself, offering the best aspects of himself to the world.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

In the RWS, there are 8 8-pointed stars. The 8 symbolizing perfection, the card signifies that cosmic balance has been achieved. The water poured onto the earth separates into 5 streams (in relation to the blood spilt from Christ's 5 wounds on the cross) indicates that the Star is fully aware of its love for mankind.

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18. The moon

18. The moon

The reflection of the soul: the secrets of the unconscious revealed

Depth, Seriousness, Intuition, Unconsciousness

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

In the Tarot de Marseille, the animals are wolves howling at the moon, not dogs, focusing on unmastered aspects and instincts that can be brutal and violent. In the Noblet tarot, the yellow cone above the crayfish shows the need to integrate one's dark side in order to move towards the light. This is the message of the Moon : accept your shadow to find your light.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

In the RWS, there is a wolf (the wild animal form of the spirit) and a dog (the domesticated animal form of the spirit), in Waite's words. Again according to the author, the crayfish represents that which emerges from the depths, nameless and hideous, remaining inferior to the wild beast. Waite adds that the path between the two towers leads to the unknown.

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19. The Sun

19. The Sun

The light of joy: the soul that celebrates life

Lightness, Joy, Charisma, Brotherhood

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

In Jean Noblet's Tarot de Marseille, there are not two children, as in more recent Tarots de Marseille, but a man and a woman. This Tarot focuses on the idea of accepting and integrating the opposite aspects within oneself. Uniting on the inside, to appear whole and radiant on the outside.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

In the RWS Tarot, the sunflowers symbolize growth, sunshine and love. The horse and child represent the innocent, luminous spirit that rides the impulses and animal nature of the individual. Waite therefore speaks more of growth and spiritual elevation in a spirit of conquest and guidance, as the child holds up a banner.

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20. Judgement

20. Judgement

The ultimate call: the reunion and rebirth of the soul

Rebirth, Vision, Reunion, Forgiveness

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

In the Tarot de Marseille, the 3 characters are touching elbow to elbow, it seems obvious that the father and mother are seeing their child come into the world. Here, the card focuses on the acceptance and integration of the eternal inner child within each of us. Developing the openness and spontaneity of our inner child allows us to rediscover the world.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

With its many figures emerging from the tombs, the RWS Tarot is deeply rooted in the symbolism of the Last Judgment, where each person will be judged according to his or her deeds, and will be released to enter heaven. The RWS Judgment thus has the value of liberation and spiritual ascension.

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21. Le Monde

21. Le Monde

The dance of the soul: the triumphant harmony of existence

Achievement, Mastery, Harmony, Centering

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

In the Tarot de Marseille, the spiritualized Water element is represented by an angel, not a water creature. The card thus emphasizes that it is our feelings and emotions, bearing a genuine fervor for following our spiritual path, that will be the key to achieving our fulfillment.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

In the RWS Tarot, the woman holds two wands, while the Magician holds only one, symbolizing his complete freedom.

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The Fool / Le Mat

The Fool / Le Mat

The bold journey of the soul: between freedom and unpredictability

Freedom, Independence, Nonconformism, Unpredictability

The 'Tarot de Marseille'

In Jean Noblet's Tarot, the man's flesh-colored face indicates that he is above all human, i.e. imperfect. He also carries a walking stick with a carved head on the pommel. This version evokes the madman's journey as a kind of long pilgrimage, where ultimately the path is more important than the destination.

The Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

While the card in the oldest tarot de Marseille is called "Le Fou" (The madman) and not "Le Mat" (The Mate), in the RWS, the name "The Fool" speaks more of a mind without intelligence than of a mad mind, i.e. one outside the norm. Waite therefore speaks of a journey that requires intellect and spirit, whereas the Tarot de Marseille speaks of a journey that requires open-mindedness, availability to the unknown and the freedom to be oneself.

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CONCLUSION

โœจ Interested in learning more about divinatory tarot? โœจ

After delving into the profound meanings of the 78 cards, you might still have questions or curiosities about this ancient art. Explore my comprehensive FAQ on divinatory tarot to deepen your understanding and answer all your inquiries.

[๐Ÿ”ฎ Discover my divinatory tarot FAQ here! ๐Ÿ”ฎ]

choisir son tarot

Which Tarots de Marseille to use?

Regarding the Tarots de Marseille, I have a strong preference for historical tarots, especially those of type I (prior to 1702) which have details in their images that have not been preserved later in the canonical form of the Tarot de Marseille established around 1709 (of type II) by the Madeniรฉ tarot. These Tarots (among others Noblet 1650 and Dodal 1701) through these forgotten and not preserved graphic details, give a clearer and more precise teaching (in my opinion) than the usual form that we observe at Grimaud or Camoin/Jodorowsky. Naturally, it requires studying them, but since these tarots are less provided and esoteric than modern Tarot de Marseilles, their learning is easier (at least I believe). Restored versions of Noblet and Dodal can be purchased on the following site LeTarot.com. I have reviewed these in detail:

Which Rider-Waite-Smith Tarots to use?

The RWS tarots vary much more. Some of them deviate from the original form of the RWS, for example by putting the Justice and Strength cards back in the correct positions 8 and 11 (The Wild Unknown Tarot), or by getting closer to the Thoth tarot (The Urban Tarot). Below, I do not necessarily give my selection of the best tarots (everyone has of course their preferences) but rather the tarots that seem to me the most accessible and the most popular for beginners :

โœจ Share your vision of the Tarot โœจ

The journey through the 78 arcana of the tarot is a personal and unique adventure. Have you found particular resonances with certain cards? An interpretation that has shed new light on your path?

I invite you to enrich the fabric of collective wisdom by sharing your perspectives in the comments below. Your interpretation of a card could be the key that opens new doors of understanding for someone else.

๐Ÿ‘‰ Leave a comment with your discoveries, your questions, or even the moments of revelation you have had with the tarot.

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Comments

profilMargaret, 08/29/2023
Hello, this article is wonderfully comprehensive.
profilDavid from TAROTQuest, 08/29/2023
Thank you Margaret !
profilEmily, 09/25/2023
Hi, this article is incredibly insightful! I love how each card's meaning is so thoroughly explained. Thanks for this amazing resource !
profilDavid from TAROTQuest, 09/26/2023
Hi Emily, thank you for your comment! I'm glad you found the article helpful.