All Tarot cards are densely layered with meaning. Sometimes their meaning might be obvious but a deeper study can reveal fascinating aspects conveyed by links to other esoteric systems that are complete in themselves, such as astrology.
For example, every single one of the 22 Major Arcana Tarot cards corresponds with an element, planet or sign of the Zodiac. Sometimes this draws in different characteristics or patterns to make a much bigger whole and at others it turns up the emphasis on a particular shared trait.
I always say what really matters is your relationship to your deck as the real power lies within you and you can read cards on a totally instinctive level. Having said that, in this series, I’m going to look at the what element, astrological sign or planet each of the Major Arcana correspond to and talk about what can add to our understanding of the cards themselves, beginning with my favourite of them all – The Fool!
The Fool – Element, Air, ruling planet Uranus
The Fool steps out into the unknown, confident that all will be well. The Fool’s attitude to adventure can look like recklessness, but many say that his willingness to embrace all of the ups and downs that life has to offer shows that he’s already enlightened. That theme of adventure and ‘ups and downs’ is echoed by Uranus, the planet associated with the kind of momentous events that crash in out of the blue that can overturn everything. Potentially disruptive, they can also be tremendously exciting and bring the potential for enormous change. Uranus is also linked with the desire to follow where inspiration leads. Overall, this emphasises the Fool’s message of stepping into your power and out into the unknown towards adventure. The element of air also rules mental energy and is very quick moving, which allows The Fool to think fast on his feet as he negotiates the twists and turns on the road ahead.
The Magician – ruling planet, Mercury
When he’s fully in his power, The Magician can manifest anything. Like his stage counterpart, he’s also brilliant at sleight of hand and weaving his words to create the impression he wants to give. In other words, he can be just a bit manipulative. His skills are no doubt aided by the link with the planet Mercury that rules how we take in, process and express information. Like the Magician, Mercury’s energy is flexible, adaptable and fast moving. In a nutshell, Mercury’s association with The Magician emphasises the ability to take ideas and turn them into action, to weave all of the elements in the creation of material reality.
High Priestess – ruling planet, the Moon
The High Priestess is the keeper of intuition, wisdom and knowledge. This is intensified by her link with the Moon as astrologically this is associated with the unconscious and psychic powers. Together, the two draw our attention to The High Priestesses role as the guardian of the veil that separates our ordinary reality and esoteric wisdom. They deliver the message that the answer to our questions about the world outside lie within. Moonlight can distort things, however, so this pairing can also carry the warning to stay very grounded during spiritual practice!
The Empress – ruling planet, Venus
The Empress is a powerful archetype of the feminine, with a huge emphasis on nurturing and the ability to create. The planet Venus rules love, beauty and our connections with others. Together they deliver an intoxicating cocktail of love, nurturing and also an extravagant enjoyment of sensual pleasure. The Empress is hard to resist and talks about bounty and the enjoyment of abundance, but the shadow side of the love that she has for all her creations can push her towards being a bit controlling or martyrdom if she feels that the Royal level of love she deserves in return isn’t returning at the same volume she gives it out.
The Emperor – Zodiac sign Aries
Put an Emperor and an Aries side by side and you’d be pushed to tell the difference between the two in when they are in full flight! The Emperor is a powerful figure with loads of authority. The Emperor can represent a boss or other kind of authority figure, but they can also represent someone who is a natural leader. The Emperor can sometimes slip over into being a bit of a tyrant and certainly likes things done ‘his’ way. Aries is also the natural leader of the Zodiac. As the first of the twelve signs, those born around the time of Aries have bags of energy and passion and can be just a bit impulsive and ‘me first’ if they get the bit between their teeth! Both The Emperor and Aries find it hard to back down, especially if challenged. Sometimes the link between a card and a sign of the Zodiac can add subtle nuances or characteristics, but here we are looking at a double dose of intensity around the themes of leadership and strength and a shared need for both to stay connected with the compassionate, protective side that lies beneath The Emperor’s stern exterior and can get masked behind Aries’ bravado. Because of the card’s link with Aries, it can also hint at a timing that falls around the 21st March to the 20th April.
Next time we’ll look at the astrological links for the following five cards of the major arcana.
Until then, loads of love and good vibes,
today's featured reader
I’ve been creating my Knight-Waite tarot deck for two years.
It has been such a labour of love, I can’t wait to unleash it!
Why not take a little sneak peak?