27 Stunning Tarot Symbols in Everyday Life
Tarot, with its rich, deep history, is a wonderful tool, whether utilizing it for divination purposes or for delving deeper into the human psyche. Though some of the suits may vary from deck to deck, and time to time, what they represent does not. The symbols of the tarot, as they have evolved over the centuries, have come to encompass the whole of humanity in a picture, the aspects of our nature, both light and dark, our dreams, our ambitions, hopes and fears. Let's take a look at 27 stunning Tarot symbols in everyday life.
A Brief History
Some ascribe the Tarot, as a whole, to ancient Egypt, but the truth is a little closer to modern times. Cards have been a popular past time for centuries. Even the illustrious Queen Elizabeth loved a game of hearts. The first introduction that can be found for the Tarot is around the middle of the 15th century, as a card game referred to as Visconti Trumps. The game was aimed at nobles and gained in popularity, changing and evolving almost at its inception.
Originally, the Trumps featured only the 22 cards of the major arcana. The French made attributions later in the century, but it was still considered only a game for entertainment. The first recorded use for divination wasn’t until 1770, when Antoine Court de Gebelin proposed that the symbols had mystical symbolism and is also the first to suggest the cards ancient Egyptian ties. The deck we know today did not come into fruition until the 19th century.
Though historically it cannot be proved that the cards had their base in the ancient and very mysterious land of Egypt, the most recognizable tarot symbols are.
The oldest cards in the deck, the major arcana cards represent the fullest illustrations of human aspects and traditionally are viewed as “fate” cards. Each represents either a personality or a phase of human existence. They also represent situations or life events that either cannot or should not be avoided. It is said to reach full enlightenment, one must experience each of these phases.
#1 - The Sun
Looking up at the day time sky, finding the brilliance of a new day dawning and finding solace and comfort in the continuum is something humans have done since time immemorial. It is no surprise that this card represents vitality and enlightenment.
#2 - The Moon
The quiet companion of the sun, masked in the night and ever changing in its illumination, the moon has long been attributed to the feminine mystic and to the wild unknown. It can also represent cyclical changes, as recognized in the moon’s phases.
#3 - The Fool
We all know one, or think we do, which is why the fool remains such an indelible symbol in everyday life. No one wants to be the fool or to be considered played like one. But we all start as the fool, innocent in our ignorance, curious without a care for consequence, for we have not encountered them. The fool represents the beginning and we all must start somewhere.
#4 - The Lovers
Possibly the most coveted of all cards, the lovers represent, as they suggest, a beautiful and strong, loving relationship. Usually suggestive of the future, the lovers give us hope and remind us to be gracious and forgiving of our partners. Nothing is more thrilling than the idea of a love that spans eternity as this card suggests.
#5 - The Hermit
Now, this is an intriguing card because of the changes of perception in our modern times of a hermit lifestyle. For many, it conjures the image of the thirty-year old living in his mother’s basement, or the uni-bomber in his isolated cabin, but once this was a highly respected and appreciated aspect of humanity. It represents meditation and wisdom that comes from silence and introspection, things we hardly have the time for in the fast-paced world.
#6 - The Hanged Man
We’ve all played the old, missing-letter guessing game, so we know what the hanged man means when we see it, game over. But is that truly the case? This card actually represents letting go, which can be a good thing. Usually associated with a life trauma, this symbol reflects a need for stillness in battle, to remain calm when all seems to crumble.
#7 - The Devil
One of the most fear inducing cards in the deck, the devil invokes a vision of sin and corruption and evil deeds. It’s meaning in the tarot stays true to this reflection, usually referencing an addiction or negativity that is holding the querent in darkness. It means stop what you are doing and deal with the problem. Very controversial, this card has been banned from use by clergy periodically over the centuries and contributed to the church’s association with the Tarot and witchcraft.
#8 - The Tower
In a post 9/11 world, it is hard to envision towers without calamity and this has been the meaning of the symbol of this card for centuries. Indicating great upheaval, it is largely considered one of the worst cards to draw. You may want to brace for great change.
#9 - The Magician
The symbol of the magician used to conjure awe and great power and still does, though the magician or wizard has become much more popularized today. This card represents self-empowerment. It can also indicate a time of great energy and action.
#10 - Death
Another controversial symbol, usually depicted as the reaper, it tends to make you uncomfortable when this card shows up in a reading. But death does not necessarily need be interpreted literally, as it is generally associated with transition.
#11 - The World
Earth, third rock from the sun, very recognizably presented as the globe. This symbol represents wholeness, the journey complete, and is no surprise the last card featured in the deck.
#12 - Minor Arcana
Added later, these cards represent all aspects of life and can seem more ordinary or common place than the more ethereal major arcana. They are viewed as “choice” cards, ones that the individual query has an opportunity to change. They remind us that even when fate has dealt her hand, we are creatures of free will and act upon it accordingly.
#13 - Cups
Probably the most commonplace of tarot symbols in everyday life found in the tarot, the cups have always represented sufficiency of materialistic properties, or “plenty”. While pouring my morning coffee, I can’t help but be reminded of the biblical verse, “my cup runneth over”. Another modern adaptation is the old debate of “glass half full or half empty” and still illustrates our connection to this widely recognizable symbol. Whether a cup of tea or a cup of wine, the suggestion of comfort is undeniable and defines this suit.
#14 - Swords
As might be readily inferred, this suit represents battle. Though certainly not a modern weapon, the sword conjures everything from images of knights and their chivalry to respected samurai to fearsome Vikings raping and pillaging countrysides of old. This suit reminds us of our daily struggle, the fight to overcome obstacles and gives of the confidence of confrontation, something most of us avoid.
#15 - Wands
An old symbol of magic and the mysteries, wands are like the wind; their meaning shifts from positive to negative, representing both determination and direction and the loss thereof. The suit represents thoughts and are just as focused as they are fleeting. The wand reminds us that thought must be acted upon to be realized in the physical. Remember, nothing is invented that is not first dreamed.
#16 - Coins
Money, money, money. Also represented as pentacles or discs, this suit represents all aspects of money and its effect on our daily lives. This includes everything from work, business, property, trade, travel and the health of home life. Stability, security, this suit is guided by earth, as all the suit represent some form of elemental influence. They remind us of the practical and of responsibility.
#17 - In General
Because of the wide range of decks available today, these symbols may vary. Rider Waite is the most popular deck for beginners and these depictions from everyday life are commonly used. http://www.tarotteachings.com/symbol-meanings-of-tarot-introduction.html is a wonderful database to search for individual symbols that you may be curious about that we did not explore.
#18 - Dog
What could be more recognizable than man’s best friend? The dog’s most conjurable feature is loyalty, but they can also remind us of honesty, fidelity and trust.
#19 - Raven
The Raven is one of my favorite symbols, representing wisdom and the mystique, they have long been regarded as messengers from the gods. They represent secret knowledge and remind us to look for magic in our everyday world.
#20 - Flag
The flag has been a controversial symbol in very recent times and often conjures patriotism and strong emotions. Traditionally, it is see as a harbinger of change, one that cannot be ignored.
#21 - Snake
Because it is a creature that sheds its skin, the snake is associated with renewal and rebirth. The Ouroboros, or ‘the snake that eats its tail’ is a symbol of the infinite cycle of life.
#22 - Dove
The dove has forever been associated with peace. They are also tied to the goddess Aphrodite and represent purity and love, which is why they are often released at weddings.
#23 - Lion
Often representing the strength card, lions are associated with courage. They represent fierce loyalty and are revered for their might.
#24 - Wolf
Like the dog and the lion, wolves represent loyalty, but they also stand apart, literally, as loners of the pack. They are assigned a keen intelligence, but in duality can represent primal urges as well. They remind you that fitting in is not necessarily the best way to be true to oneself.
#25 - Fish
The fish has long been associated with Christianity and is the embodiment of Pisces. A water symbol, fish are tied to emotions. They are also reflective of intuition and creativity.
#26 - Key
One of my favorite quotes, “you can unlock any door if you only have the key.” This sums up the representation in the tarot fairly nicely. They indicate uncovering hidden knowledge.
#27 - Shield
The shield is another natural association with warriors and knights. They represent protection and defense. They can also indicate covering up, as in “shielding” someone from information, in order to protect them.
#28 - Triangle
Adapted from ancient Egypt and the Great Pyramids, the triangle indicates intelligence and love. A literal interpretation of the word pyramid is fire in the middle, which many associate with love or lust interchangeably.
#29 - The Sphinx
Another symbol garnered from ancient Egypt and one of the oldest tarot symbols, the Sphinx is the ward of knowledge. Often depicted as having a fondness for riddles, the great test of the Sphinx is to question and seek truth.
I hope you enjoyed this article about Tarot symbols. We are more than curious about your opinion feel free to share your comments.