Major/Minor – Military Ranks? Musical Keys?

f2be0-avatar_square_150x15by Denise Golinowski

Welcome to Myth Perceptions!

So, Major/Minor? Here, I talking Tarot terminology, and more specifically, the two “halves” of the Tarot deck. Though half may be a misnomer because the Major Arcana has 22 cards and the Minor Arcana has 56. However, they are the two parts of the deck, so tomayto, tomahto. And this month, I’m going to focus on the Major Arcana.

When looking at that 78 card deck, 22 cards of the Major Arcana are easy to separate out because each card has a specific title – The Fool, The Magician, The Lovers, Death – to name a few.

4TarotThese cards are usually viewed as carrying more esoteric or karmic resonance than the Minor Arcana. Frequently, the Major Arcana is also described as the Fool’s Journey, or the soul’s evolutionary cycle, with the cards within it represent major events in the Querent’s life. When multiple Major Arcana cards appear in a spread, it is often interpreted to mean that major growth opportunities are ahead. And we all know how much we enjoy those growth opportunities. The psychic “clue-by-four” as my former Tarot mentor called it. Ouchie!

However, as the Bard says, what’s in a name? Don’t take the Major Arcana cards by their title alone. The biggest offender is the Death card. When it appears, it does not mean that you need to get your affairs in order. The modern Tarot deck was heavily influenced by the occultists of the time and often include images or text that should not be taken at face value. Tricky folks, those occultists, anxious to protect their mysteries and only including clues understood by their students. You have to dig a little deeper to get to the more appropriate interpretations as well as listening to your own response to the images presented.

I cannot stress that last part. As a Tarot reader, you will have studied and internalized a multitude of interpretive phrases and connections, but always listen to your gut, your intuition. Often one image may spring forward from the card design, overshadowing the others. If so, stop and pay attention. Use that image and its values in that position to help deepen your reading.

When you review the Major Arcana cards, are there specific cards that resonate for you, good or bad? Have you ever done a reading using ONLY the Major Arcana? What are your thoughts about the Major Arcana?

I hope you’ll come back next month when I’ll do a little overview of the Minor Arcana and then we’ll start digging into various cards in the months following.

Card Images used are from the following decks:

U.S. Games

The Fool, Rider-Waite Tarot

The Magician, The Hanson-Roberts Tarot

The Lovers, The Aquarian Tarot,

Robin Wood Tarot – Death


Denise Golinowski is a reader and writer of fantasy and romance. Her enovellaCollector’s Item, is available as both print and ebook The Wild Rose Press. Her next enovella, Aces Down, is expected to be published in 2015.

Her first enovellaThe Festival of the Flowers: The Courtesan and the Scholar is also available  through the Wild Rose Press. You can visit her blog at Golinowski’s Gambol.


6 thoughts on “Major/Minor – Military Ranks? Musical Keys?

  1. Major…minor..huh? 🙂 I must confess this stuff goes waaaay over my head. Just looking at the images, though, I find the death card the most striking–the rich red robe/cape/cowl thingy, the white rose in the background with the green leaves/accents. It’s more colorful than I would expect a “death” card to be. Maybe that’s a reflection of the potentially complex meanings of the card?

    • Robin Woods’ Death card is by far one of the prettier ones. The traditional version is a skeleton with a scythe on a pale horse striding through a battlefield with bodies and a clergyman kneeling, clasped hands help up in supplication. Definitely more grim. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You’re a great friend!

  2. I have to admit, I’m afraid to get a tarot card reading. What if they see something I don’t want to know? What if all the happiness I’ve experienced is just the set-up for something bad? You know, cosmic balance. Guess I’ve let you see the crazy inner workings of my mind, but that’s why I’ve stayed away from tarot cards, palm readers, etc. :-/

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