Major & Minor Arcana in Tarot Reading: What’s the Difference?

Every tarot reading involves shuffling the Major and Minor Arcana cards, but what’s the difference? Tarot uses symbols and pictures that conjure feelings to help us tap into our own intuition. Understanding the difference between the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana is essential, but fortunately, it’s also straightforward.

The cards are not designed merely to show you the future, but to help you understand your perceptions of the present so you can sculpt those perceptions and modify your behaviours to generate the momentum you desire in life.

A Tarot reading can determine if we are learning from our experiences or if we are being consumed with negativity and failing to find that silver lining. Because we live in a world made of meaning based on reference to everything else in the world, we all have similar experiences that we ascribe certain undeniable value to. Tarot reading is not meant to scare us about the future at all and this is where some people completely misunderstand how helpful Tarot reading actually is.

For example, when we break away from an abusive relationship, we are starting a new chapter and become more adept at navigating future relationships because of the pain we went through.

First, let’s get an understanding of the Major and Minor Arcana in a Tarot reading order for you to unlock the power of the Tarot.

The Major Arcana in Tarot Reading

The Major Arcana follows the maturation process that we go through by experiencing life. We have hardships that allow us to learn and become a wiser version of ourselves. Tarot reading can help us use our life experiences to mature by giving us a bird’s eye view of our emotions and the cycles and effects of our own actions.

The cards in the Major Arcana help reveal our own tendencies that can bite us in the butt if we don’t get real with them. They can help us notice if we are on our high horse or letting fear get the best of us. The Major Arcana starts with the Fool card, who is a novice who must go through the other 21 cards of the Major Arcana to become wise, someone who can offer advice to others by the time they get to the 22nd card, the World, which represents a person balanced in their power.

The Major Arcana helps us tap into the deepest parts of ourselves, such as our intuition, creativity, authority, the power of our words, our ability to decide when something isn’t right for us, and even the value of taking time away to reflect. Because Tarot reading spreads are set up to show us a timeline, we can even gain insight into ways we were thinking in the past that have created our present situation and projection for the future.

Long story short, Major Arcana cards are about life changing situations that shape our core beliefs. They reveal when we are changing our goals or when we are undergoing a metamorphosis through our experiences. They allow us to evolve to higher states of consciousness where we are empowered by our intuition by reflecting back to us our thoughts that are helping or hindering us so we can redirect our larger goals and decisions for our own greater good.

The Major Arcana reveals when we are tapping into our feminine energy and when we are drawing on our masculine energy. It helps us find the power of our emotions( that has always been there!) so we can push our energies towards useful destinations. It also helps clue us into when we are relying too much on logic instead of spiritual guidance, where we allow ourselves to be guided by spirits and to be supported by the unseen messages of the spirit realms and cosmic consciousness.

There are great insights offered from each of the Major Arcana cards and they each have a unique energy from the pictures and archetypes they represent. Check out what each of the Major Arcana cards mean to get to know them and start accessing your intuitive abilities.

The Minor Arcana in Tarot Reading

The smaller actions and events that build up to the major moments of our life are depicted through the Minor Arcana in your Tarot reading. These actions are led by thoughts and beliefs that are either helpful or hindering. For example, the small act of eating a McDonald’s Happy Meal every day could be because we are emotionally eating to drown out some pain we need to deal with over.

The Minor Arcana cards show us the day-to-day experiences we will encounter and help us understand which parts of our mind are dominant in certain situations. The 4 divisions of the 56 cards of the Minor Arcana represent our money (pentacles), our emotions (cups), our thoughts and words (swords), and our passions (wands).

Each of these 4 categories is numbered 1 through 10, which makes it easy to use the Minor Arcana for revealing the details of your own mind’s inner workings. The even numbers 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 represent harmonious energy and things coming to fruition. 1 is a new beginning, and 10 is the culmination of a smaller cycle in your life. 

Each of the 4 suits of the Minor Arcana also have 4 court cards, which are the page, the knight, the queen, and the king. The page means you’re a novice in some area, just starting out. The knight shows you’re developing strength in an area. The queen shows maternal qualities, such as compassion and creativity, while the king shows more of your grounded, practical side.


The Major Arcana cards are great at helping you pinpoint moments in your life that shaped your identity. They also help you see major trends that drive your lifestyle and can mean the difference between getting married or not, having kids or not, or changing jobs or not. The Minor Arcana cards help you know when your thinking is fear-based, when your emotions are getting the best of you, or when smaller victories are on the horizon. Both the Major and Minor Arcana are important and helpful.

Some people are afraid when they see the cards such as the Devil, Death or the Tower, and go into a panic that something bad is going to happen. These cards are not meant to generate fear but are actually helpful tools. The Devil card represents an addiction you may have, whether it is to a thought pattern or a person who is influencing you detrimentally. Tarot reading is meant to allow you to see the world around you and your part in it more clearly so you can protect yourself and make better decisions with a more thorough knowledge of yourself. Similarly, the Death card usually doesn’t mean a literal death, but letting go of a psychological part of yourself you no longer need as your spirit purifies.

With both, it’s very important to keep in mind that the future is not written in stone. Some people are afraid of Tarot reading because they think it reveals a future that they can’t do anything about. In reality, Tarot readings only reveal patterns that you can use to create momentum to empower you to decide if you want to continue on a path or change course.

Get your free Tarot reading from Astrology Answers now!

Related Article: What To Do If The Tarot Gives You Bad News: Don’t Freak Out

About The Author

Shannon Yrizarry

Shannon Yrizarry has taught metaphysical subjects since 2013 including the deeply esoteric lineage of kundalini yoga. She has worked as a healer, clairvoyant and card reader and been featured as a dream interpreter on Viceland’s Nuts + Bolts show as well as for Mercedes Benz and Refinery29. She has read Tarot for The Zoe Report, done readings for stars and aims to bring the empowering wisdom of astrology mainstream.With a bold voice, she wants to uplift consciousness to help us evolve to a healthier more spiritual society. Her classes can be found online at www.HOI.TV/authors/shannon and you can follow her daily inspirations on Instagram @shannonyrizarry. She also teaches kundalini yoga in Portland, Oregon. What gets her out of bed is helping people align with their soul purpose.Shannon is the author of two books published by Llewellyn Worldwide, Psychic Yoga and Modern Guide to Meditation Beads.
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