What is the Major Arcana?
The tarot is actually two decks in one; the Major and the Minor Arcana. It is said, the Major Arcana reflects the personal, psychological state, the deeper, archetypal drama that is going on within a person’s soul. These twenty-two cards are the esoteric component of the tarot, the cards that reflect the querent’s strivings towards self awareness and enlightenment. These are the Karmic lessons, the road they find themselves on in life’s journey. It is what they need to confront within themselves at this point in time to bring their spiritual evolvement to the next level.
The origin of the Major Arcana is widely debated; but the imagery of the cards is definitely pagan in origin; a very popular theory, first put forth by French occultists in the eighteenth century, is that the twenty-two Major cards are Egyptian in origin, and contain (in pictorial form) the Book of Thoth. According to this theory, within the walls of the temple of Thoth was a secret room, adorned with hieroglyphs and pictures representing the major forces governing the patterns of life. A person seeking the advise of the god would throw a bundle of sticks, and as they fell in relation to the various images on the walls, a priest would make an interpretation, which would be the “word of Thoth”. From this grew the custom of priests carrying the images on loose pieces of papyrus, so that any room, anywhere could be set up as a ‘temple’, and from this practice grew the custom of cards. This theory is not corroborated with any archeological evidence, but it’s a popular theory, and as good as any when it comes to the origin of these mysterious cards!
In the nineteenth century, occultist Eliphas Levi made a correlation between the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana, and the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, thus tying the tarot into the Kabalah. The Hebrew alphabet is said to connect to the twenty-two paths of the Kabalistic Tree of Life. Since I am not a student of Kabalah, I can’t elaborate too much on this aspect, but if you have an interest, there are many books written on the tarot and Kabalah.
The Fool wanders high into that which is erratic, enigmatic and exceptional; he is traveling through a middle world, suspended between the realities of the past and the future. The Fool has a mysterious power to protect him; the charm of synchronicity. With only a traveler’s staff and the saffron robe of a true seeker, he moves forward without a plan, without fear or hesitation. If you trust in your own magic, and the goodness of Karma, you will eventually find yourself traveling in a fresh land of opportunity. Trust your instincts, and if you leave your expectations behind, you will have nothing to lose. Follow your heart, and it will lead you to where you need to be!
For Wejee’s Fool, I chose the image of a young man on a spiritual quest- he carries the saffron colored robe of a monk, casually slung on his traveller’s staff, as if he only wears that identifier when it when necessary- when he is in the mountains, it is just him and his Higher Power. His free hand is in a mudra (sacred hand position) that denotes the transmission of Divine teaching. He keeps his eye on Heaven, as he travels ever higher on his path.
I have chosen a classic image of a sorcerer, magician, alchemist (sort of looks like Gandalf from Lord of the Rings!) He transmits power from himself out into the world of conscious creation- this is symbolized by the energy coming forth from his raised hand, and into his staff (a symbol of directing energy).
You have the ability to create something from nothing. The Magician symbolizes inventiveness, creativity and imagination, and the power to bring ideas to life. Your playful and clever willingness to experiment is your best advantage. Don’t create boundaries for yourself, your possibilities are endless. Experiment, observe the results, and correct your mistakes as you go. Intrigue the minds of your audience, you are a catalyst of positive change!
The High Priestess
Your intuition and receptivity is your greatest asset. The High Priestess seeks spiritual union with Nature, and alignment with the principles of Dharma, and Ma’at. Put your sense of self aside, let go, and your mind will naturally attune to the spiritual. Write in a journal, contemplate the ocean, watch the clouds, observe the insects and birds, and realize the many dimensions and realities our world has to offer. Explore your emotions and intuitions until you become as reflective as a clear still pool at the dawn of a new day.
Wejee’s High Priestess is reminiscent of “our Lady” or the Blessed Virgin…. Of Guadalupe, of Lourdes, of Lorretto, of Perpetual Peace, of Perpetual Help…. An ancient archetype that lives into modern times as a popular icon.
Your warm and generous spirit is a hearth to those around you. The Empress symbolizes comfort, harmony, wisdom and creativity. She is the Divine Mother, she is the Isis of 10,000 Faces, she is the bountiful web of life, the energy of feminine creation through which we all come into being. The Empress embodies joyful good health, healing, music, art, beauty and truth. Our highest ideals are found in her Temple of feminine warmth, creativity and compassion.
Yes, I have made Isis our Empress, the first lady of the Egyptian pantheon, and the archetypal mother goddess of the ages!
Who else but Zeus for Wejee’s Eclectic Tarot? Seated upon a throne adorned with eagles and bulls (his favorite animals) and holding his famous lightening bolt in one hand, and a sprouting oak tree in the other, symbolizing both growth and destruction. Centered and grounded, you easily experience the strong and empowered aspect of your Self, symbolized on our deck by the Greek god Zeus. You are in control, and have the insight and influence to achieve your objectives. You are aware of what it will take, and you have the personal power and focus to get it done. This is the time to move from idea to action; nothing will be denied you as long as you stay focused, fair and strong. Set in motion the things that will fulfill your need for challenge, change and growth. You are the Ruler of the realm.
The High Priest
Every discipline includes the few who comprehend the Truth, and the many who aspire, and never will. The High Priest recognizes you as one of the few with an inner knowledge above and beyond books, as one who has delved beyond words and into the heart of the Truth. In ancient times, the high priests were the healers, astronomers, architects and technical innovators for their cultures- our High Priest is clothed in the leopard skin of ancient Egypt. In this technological age, the High Priest represents those who have a dedicated expertise in their chosen field. You speak intelligently from direct experience; you regularly make contact with the world of Spirit to gain higher knowledge, for the benefit of your culture.
Our Lovers are Rama and Sita- torn apart by the forces of darkness, they are reunited by the heroic efforts of Hanuman the monkey god.
Perhaps you are torn within your own heart, or are standing at the crossroads in your relationship to another. We each have a wild inner child, and a civilized, adult outer self; you may not believe they can come together. But the rational and the instinctive can become one in the center, in the heart. Whether the subject at hand is a separation within the self, or between two people, the image of Hanuman is the key; adventurous and playful, yet selflessly devoted to a higher Truth, he overcomes the demons that keep Rama and Sita apart by rediscovering the magic and power he had lost within himself. He keeps the male and female safely united and balanced at his center, warm within his heart. Strived to balance your inner male and female nature within your own heart.
The Chariot is a symbol of triumph, achieved through a balance of passion and intellect. Our Chariot is pulled by a whimsical pair- a black cat and a white dog, opposites working together for a common goal. The Chariot is not about the safety of home and hearth, it represents a bold personality, a need to seize the reins, and hit the open road. This card reminds you to use your intellect to steer your untamed enthusiasm and focus your energy. When you hold the reins of The Chariot, you are in the race as a mobile individual, fast thinking and modern.
Justice asks you to differentiate between what you desire, what you really need, and balance it with the needs and desires of others. In your heart, attempt to understand what is creating the conflict, so you can come to a mutual understanding. Justice is not always fair, sometimes one side must give more than the other, but the bottom line is the greatest good for the greatest number.
Abandon your passion for the trivial; The Hermit’s relationship is with the world of spirit, not with the world of personalities. His passion is a consciousness that takes him beyond the Ego, to the pinnacle of Creation itself. This card is about inner study, it’s about the Mystery of Metaphysics. The Hermit is often perceived as an old man, but really, he is full of wonder, an eternal youth, gazing upon the eternal Mysteries of the Soul.
For Wejee’s Eclectic Tarot, I have chosen the image of a Hindu ascetic- he meditates alone, high up in a cave in the Himalayas. One day, when he has reached his Nirvana, perhaps he will travel back down the mountain, to teach us.
Wheel of Fortune
The Wheel keeps turning, and you have no choice but to move with it. The Wheel of Fortune indicates that your psyche, or your spirit, just won’t rest. It keeps hashing and rehashing things you thought were settled, all the should haves, would haves, and what if’’s? The Wheel of Fortune never stops. If you feel like you want to get off life’s Merry Go Round, there is only one way to do it- find sanctuary at the center, the place from which all motion emanates. There is no way to stay on top forever, your challenge is to learn to accept the cycles of life, including all its ups and downs.
The Strength card comments on your capacity to subdue emotions, impulses and primitive instincts. This is a sensual and subtle extrasensory ability that communicates nonverbally, a calming energy which others react to in kind, with higher levels of composure than they usually do. The Strength card indicates a grounded and centered energy that subdues discord, setting the stage for harmony and cooperation.
The Hanged Man
Like the Sadhu, or Hindu ascetic, you can use this difficult time to find the inner strength needed to clear your Karma. The Hanged Man is at a turning point, confronted by the need to release his Ego. Left hanging alone, he must go within to find a comfortable balance. Situations such as this help to break old patterns; you are strong enough to play this role, you are flexible, with the ability to grow. Your sacrifice will make a positive difference not only within yourself, but also serve as an inspiration to others.
Let the past die, and move on to a new life. The Death card symbolizes rebirth, the spiritual liberation that arises from the dismemberment of the old Ego. Like Osiris, gather your scattered fragments, and reconnect to your Higher Self. Death heralds an inevitable change, with the promise of a new beginning. Give up the attachments that would keep you bound to outdated ways of thinking and reacting. This is a new chapter in your life, let go of the past, and look ahead with optimism.
This is a time for healing; this may be physical, mental or emotional, but more than likely, it’s also Karmic. Temperance challenges you to foster a positive lifestyle and outlook, while letting go of negative behaviors and ways of thinking. The process will flush out the noxious, crippling residue of disappointment and failure. Physician, heal thyself- you know the right medicine to cure what ails you. This is the time to begin healing, and you are ready to take responsibility for getting yourself well.
The Devil symbolizes releasing the aspects of your nature that have been shamed by society, and repressed by you. It is what Carl Jung called the ‘Shadow’, it is Freudian inhibitions and phobias festering. We fear facing it, but this card is reminding you to look in the dark mirror. We’ve been taught to be wary of passion; we fear going too far, taking a fall from grace into hedonism and addiction. Your sensual desires must be accepted as healthy, without fear or shame, or they will be perverted. To grow into a healthy, vibrant individual who can make a difference, you must cast aside the fear and inhibition that is stifling your self expression.
The Tower represents an explosive, creative charge that is unexpected and uncontainable, but presents a dazzling possibility for transformation. Don’t judge whether this is good or bad. You can’t tell right now whether this was a terrible tragedy, or a major advancement, or both. The only thing you can be sure of, things will never be the same.
The Star is graced with the goddess Ma’at; she represents divine order and truth on both a personal level and cosmic level. To align oneself with the principals of Ma’at is to live one’s own truth and destiny, in synchronicity with the truth and destiny of the Universe itself. When we contact our Essential Self, our personal lives come into focus, we feel connected, and feelings of alienation fall away. You are knowingly on the road to your Higher Self, with the principals of Truth guiding you like a brilliant star, you are no longer lost in darkness. You are waking up to who you truly are.
The Moon casts you into the mysterious abyss; veils of illusion are lifted, your true nature is revealed. You are traveling between the inner and outer worlds, between your civilized mind and your wild heart. Reality changes, your sanity seems to have deserted you. You are left with only your intuition and instincts to guide you to a higher ground. Remember, like the river, you flow and change, yet essentially remain the same.
The Sun symbolizes a return to Paradise- your inner child feels safe enough to play. Your intention, attitude and values are harmonized, and you have no hidden motives, no doubts, no fear. You are expressing your highest creativity, and do your best work. Unwind, and enjoy the breathtaking view from the top of the world. This is a time of success, optimism and happiness!
The Judgment card symbolizes a spiritual awakening; you have passed through life’s trials with a pure heart, and you awaken to a glimpse of Divine Knowledge and Truth. Be open to profound moments of realization when they come. Your dreams and visions, your emotional being, and your Soul are attuned with the Universe in such a way that all your gifts from all your many lifetimes can live through you now. These are aspects of yourself that have been neglected, submerged, let go, or unacknowledged. Your clear conscious and open heart allow you to channel these aspects of your higher self consciously as a creative expression in praise of the Divine.
I have chosen the image of the Egyptian Judgment, with Thoth weighing the heart against the feather of Ma’at; is your heart as light as a feather? Unburden your heart, and awaken!
The World symbolizes the stabilization of the Soul. This state of being is the culmination of many lifetimes, you are balanced, you no longer feel alienated. Ego can not obstruct the light of consciousness that passes through you. Our spiritual duty throughout various incarnations is to reconcile the realms of Cosmic Consciousness, Self Consciousness and the Collective Unconscious. When this awakening happens, we find ourselves in Timelessness, where there is no uncertainty, sorrow or shame. This epiphany is the zenith of all your labors through many lifetimes, and a portent of extraordinary possibilities.