A couple of years ago I began work on a visual guide to the Tarot’s Major Arcana. The idea was to look at the Major Arcana through the lens, not of divination, but of the archetypical mind (the one, I believe, that’s in potential in all of us) and as a guide to a path of enlightenment and beyond.
I’m very proud of the result and, ever since I finished it, I’ve wanted to offer it to others to help them on their journeys.
Here’s a link to a jpg version you can zoom in on read and share:
It’s also available as a print in my shop:
What I find interesting about this piece is that every row and every column are assigned meanings. So then every card on the journey offers not only its own complex of meanings but can be seen to be a specific step on an enlightenment path according to its row and column.
To the columns I offer the following labels:
The Challenged Self (Columns 1&2)
Column 1: Power / Confrontation / The Matrix
Column 2: Spirit / Reflection / Potentiator
The first two cards in the first row, I The Magician and II The High Priestess I view as a diade. They seem to power the journey through the Major Arcana. We act. We reflect. We choose. We have a well of options from which to choose. And so it goes as we progress.
The meanings of the columns I read as applying all the way down through each row, for example, VIII Strength and IX The Hermit represent Power / Confrontation / The Matrix and Spirit / Reflection / Potentiator in the realm of the subconscious.
The Central Transformation (Columns 3–5)
Column 3: Nature / Catalyst
Column 4: Humanity / Experience
Column 5: Divinity / Significator
The middle three columns, i.e., the middle three cards in each row, represent the central transformation of that row. Nature is the world and all of the things and situations we experience within it. Humanity is the structures we create and the experiences we have. Divinity represents the learning and knowledge that we acquire. This also represents ourselves (the significator) because who are we if not a locus of acquired knowledge?
Going through this process of experiencing situations, learning from them, and making meaning, is the process of transformation.
XI Justice, for example, can be seen to be part of the central transformation of the subconscious, and how the subconscious experiences humanity, by understanding, on that subconscious level, the results of all one’s actions, how they’ve effected others, and how they’ve effected one’s self.
You may also find it interesting to note that Justice lies exactly in the center of the three rows that form the Major Arcana. In essence, the whole Major Arcana balances on Justice.
The Elevated Self (Columns 6&7)
Column 6: Release / Transformation
Column 7: The Whole Being / The Great Way
Once we go through the process of transformation we release. In VI Lovers, in the first row, we release expectation and a purely independent life. In XIII Death, in the second row, we release the ego mask and old ways of being. In XX Judgement we release individual consciousness.
Once we have released, we are in the elevated state. As I understand it, we go through this whole cycle three times, once for every row.
The rows I've labeled as follows:
The outer world: representing both the journey from childhood to functional adulthood, and the path from chaos to human society.
The inner world: representing a personal journey of self-discovery, of knowing why we act and, through that, finding meaning, spiritual awakening, and harmony.
The universal world: representing a journey beyond individual consciousness to enlightenment and a union with the oneness of all life, all time, everywhere.
I’ll be taking readers through the whole Major Arcana, path of enlightenment journey in the On Being section of my site The Intermodal Spirit over the coming year or so. I invite you to pick up a copy of the print, if you’d like, and follow along. :)
If you’re subscribed to The Intermodal Spirit at the Supporter or Patron level, I’ll email you a discount code for this print!