Announcements

Welcome! My name is Professor Swithun, and I am your new professor of Divination here at Hogwarts is Here. Professor Cattercorn formerly led this course; therefore, you will find references to her in Years Two through Five. You may notice some minor edits here and there, but rest assured that you will not be held responsible for any of these small changes on your assignments and exams. I will strive to keep this transition as cohesive as possible. I have exciting plans for Years Six and Seven! I’m working hard to have Year Six prepared and published as soon as possible.

 

My lovely group of PAs and I are happy to answer any questions or concerns about the course. If you have a question about grading, please send an owl that includes the grade ID for that assignment and why you are appealing. Please be respectful (and remember that we are all volunteers!)

 

If you have any areas of interest related to Divination that you’d like to learn more about in the upcoming curriculum, now is your chance to voice your ideas! I love to hear from students, and questions, constructive comments, and suggestions are all welcome. My office door is always open to accept owls.

 

See you in class!

 

 

(updated 01/18/2022)

Lesson 5) The Major Arcana

Professor Cattercorn is perusing a parchment when the students arrive.  “Take your seats. I will be a moment.” Her voice sounds different today, annoyed perhaps.  Dipping a quill in ink, she hastily scribbles on the parchment and shakes her head, disapprovingly.  Rolling up the parchment, she ties it to the offered leg of his screech owl, Fuzzlette. As Fuzzlette flies out the open window, Professor Cattercorn turns to the class.

Welcome
Here we are at Lesson Five. Things are progressing very quickly! I hope you’re ready to learn today. What we are studying today is going to take a good deal of memorization. Depending on your deck, you may be able to find clues to help you spark your memory -- another good reason for beginners to get to know their cards when they first get a deck.  However, some meanings are simply going to have to be learned by heart. That’s right, today we start focusing on the cards themselves. We will be spending today discussing the first 21 cards in the tarot deck, the Major Arcana.

What is the Major Arcana?
Let’s begin with what the Major Arcana as a whole represents. The Major Arcana cards are split up into five categories: people, ideas, change, personal qualities, and journeys or cycles. The cards of the category are representative of influential people in your life or your current situation. For instance, the Empress may represent a maternal figure in your life. The cards of the ideas category show us ideas that are things we may need to work on in our lives. For instance, Justice may show that you need to work on being more fair in your life. Change cards are representative of just that, change. Things breaking down so something new can emerge. Personal quality cards typically point out qualities that are strong within ourselves. The Sun is a card that shows a very positive outlook on things. Journey cards represent either the beginning or completion of a journey or cycle. The Fool often shows the start of a new journey. Not every card has a clear cut category that it falls into. For instance, the Fool can often be both a person or a journey.

Now let us begin by discussing each card in turn. Before we get into the definitions, it’s useful to note that not all decks will have the exact same meanings since they often have different themes. The card Strength may have different nuances based around the core concept of strength. One deck may be all about patience and ability to pick yourself back up when you’ve been knocked down, while another deck with a focus on nature may have a naturalistic spin on the meaning. This is completely okay! It may be a bit confusing for you, but just make sure that you know the meaning for your specific deck, even if it contradicts slightly with what you learned here. The meanings for that deck will usually be included in a guidebook. Because the practice of the tarot is based on allowing your Inner Eye to flow through you and pick cards in order to send you a message, your Inner Eye will be able to pick cards based on the meanings of your specific deck since those are the meanings you know and you are the person it is conveying the message to.

0. The Fool
The Fool is the card of beginnings. When this card is drawn, it often means that something new has either just begun or will begin soon. It shows inexperience, but also potential. Do not take the Fool as stupid. He may not understand what is happening right now, but that does not mean he does not wish to learn or find knowledge. The Fool is often found ready to take creative choices and leaps of faith. He is sincere and wants to follow in his dreams, knowing no better. He does not like to think critically, instead trusting his first instinct. The Fool often represents a new journey that you are about to begin.

 
 I. The Magician
The Magician is a card of mystery and wonder; it represents magic and divine will. This card can show illusion and enchantment. The Magician uses his magic to trick those around him into seeing the illusions he places before them instead of the reality of the situation. He knows what he wants and he has the power and confidence to go after it. He is unafraid of toil, fearless in chasing after his dreams. The Magician normally benefits from using the creativity around him. When pulled in reference to a goal, the Magician is a positive omen. The Magician likes to be focused on a single goal, rather than being pulled in multiple directions. He is also associated with transformations.


II. The High Priestess

The High Priestess is a noble card, but a secret one. She does not allow herself to be open and vulnerable, but rather chooses to live in secrecy. She is a wise woman who holds the knowledge of awareness. The High Priestess is said to guard the unconscious mind and protect it. She is the symbol of young women and of purity. She has a sight that most don’t, and appreciates intuition over facts. She would rather listen to her heart and her natural instinct rather than hard evidence. She is often representative of those with a deeper sight than just what we see with our eyes, of those who have the ability to glimpse into the future. The High Priestess is the whisperer of the unknown.

III. The Empress
The Empress is a mother, a card of comfort and attention. She is the figure of authority and maturity amongst women. Showing a deep connection with femininity, she is the protector and comforter, as well as nature and fertility. She often will show up in a reading to point to pregnancy or birth. She shows a readiness for growth. The Empress feels the need to reach out and connect with others, to ensure their safety and happiness. She wants to spread love and peace of mind to those around her, to any she can touch. She is not afraid to do what it takes to keep those she cares about safe.



IV. The Emperor

The Emperor is a figure of authority and precision. He knows what he wants and that is what he expects. He sees direction as orders and gives instructions as the same. He is a figure of rigidity and maturity; the provider and protector of his household. He will not allow those he cares for to be harmed in any way. The Emperor offers guidance and wisdom. He understands how to take a chaotic situation and bring peace and order to it, he refuses to let things break down into anarchy. He knows the law and helps to enforce it. He knows when it is a good idea to put emotions aside and simply get the job done.

V. The Hierophant
The Hierophant is a religious man, often seen as a pastor or priest. He is a man of teaching from faith and tradition. He is a partaker and leader of rituals and faith-based practices. He will give you direction and advice based on faith and spirituality. He does not like innovation and change, preferring to keep things the way that they have always been. The Hierophant is often drawn to groups rather than standing on his own, needing to be around like-minded people. He is drawn toward education and learning institutions. He finds sacred things and desires to protect them.

 

VI. The Lovers
The Lovers is a card of relationships, both romantic and platonic. They crave like-minded people, teamwork, and coming together toward a common goal. They are a card of empathy and passion. They represent strength in numbers. The Lovers is a card of desiring a strong connection with another human being. They also represent the decisions you make and how they can affect the people around you. No longer are you thinking for just yourself, but other people have now become involved in the effects of your decision. The Lovers often lead to self-discovery through the discovery of someone else.


VII. The Chariot

The Chariot is a card of progress and potential. It is a journey, a commitment to make it from Point A to Point B despite any difficulties that may arise. She is confident in her strengths, knowing she has the ability to reach her destination. She applies her confidence, strength, and willpower to any obstacle that may stay in her way. The Chariot is determined and steadfast, not stepping down from anything. She knows the benefit of being dedicated and self-disciplined, and understands that a struggle will only make her stronger, refusing to back down. She accepts that focus is an integral part to completing her journey. She is not afraid to be herself and express her own needs and wants.

VIII. Strength   
Strength is a card of determination, perseverance, and not giving up. It is a card of mental strength. It is knowing that even though a situation may get tough, you have the ability to continue on. It has the courage to continue to stand even after being knocked down. It refuses to give up and admit defeat. Strength is patient and dedicated to the task at hand, focusing on the road ahead and pushing through the difficulties to be able to come out victorious. It is compassionate toward others, understanding and taking into account their own pain and hard comings, helping others to learn how to take their pain and turn it into their own strength to carry on. It is not afraid of the past, but rather feeds from the past as a drive to continue onwards.


IX. The Hermit

The Hermit is a card of solitude. Not a forced solitude, however, but a moment of peace in one’s self, without the need of being surrounded by other people. The Hermit understands the importance of turning to and trusting oneself. She knows that listening to your inner guidance is important in being successful in things. She looks inside herself for the answers, for the reasons to why life is the way it is as she is no longer content with the surface answers. She wants to dig deep to the root. The Hermit wants to know the truth and she is willing to spend time to find it. She finds herself noticing that her goals in life are shifting and morphing, that she is stepping into a new path.


X. The Wheel

The Wheel often brings good luck into your life. It is often the bringer of karma and worldly justice. It can signal that things in your life are changing. Also known as The Wheel of Fortune, it can also show a cycle that might be repeating in your life. It knows things change and can be a sign of a life changing moment that many things may depend upon. It can symbolize a sense of circularity or repetitive moments that seem to continue. It is also representative of a change of seasons when used in reference to time.




XI. Justice

Justice is a card of rules and logic. It wants things to follow the regulations set out in the beginning and maintain balance and objectivity. It is a card of trials, facing the challenges that are coming to you; a card of being tested. It is a card of doing what is right. It is equality for all, of restoring power to the right and just leaders. Justice is the master of making difficult decisions with precision and clarity. It doles out punishment with fairness while still making sure that the punishment is appropriate. Justice understands the long term results and consequences of serious decisions.


XII. The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man is a card of reversals. He has come to realize that things are not always what they seem. When the Hanged Man discovers new insight in a situation, he often finds that it is information he may not have wanted. He is being changed through the things that he may not want to be going through: trial, labor, punishment. He knows that the path to knowledge is not easy and that to be truly enlightened, you must undergo difficulties. When in a group of people, the Hanged Man often finds himself betrayed by those he thought he could trust the most.




XIII. Death

Death is a card of finality. He knows that things are coming to an end. This could be the end of someone’s life, the end of a friendship, job, or schooling period. He is a card of transition, moving from one thing to another. Death is often felt as something negative when he can in fact be a positive thing. He comes to clear things out to make way for new things to be allowed to happen. Death knows the mortality of man and seeks to live each day to his fullest.




XIV. Temperance

Temperance is a card of healing. She tends to turn to more holistic practices, knowing the strength in the power of meditation. She seeks rejuvenation from stressful and long days, needing a healing of mind. This is a card that searches to restore lost balance, wanting to put things back to where they belong. She does not believe in extremes, rather finding comfort in familiarity and security. Temperance wants to make amends for things done wrong in the past and accepts the consequences of past actions with grace and repentance. She is not afraid to admit that she was wrong.


XV. The Devil

The Devil is a card of secrecy. He hides in the shadows, waiting to strike. He is King of the Forbidden, crafting great skill to make us desire those things we cannot have. He pushes forward images of illusions. He makes people blind both emotionally and spiritually, accomplishing this by feeding obsessions with material pleasures. He is the keeper of addictions, the voice whispering for our indulgences. He wants to manipulate us with lies and delusions. The Devil is often an inner force that wants to trick you into believing that it is external things keeping you from your desires. Those found under the hand of the Devil often have unintentionally given him the power he has over them.



XVI. The Tower

The Tower shows that things must sometimes crumble for new things to be built. The Tower is a card of destruction for the sake of rebuilding. Things need to be broken down to make way for new things to grow. The Tower often gives a hint about the way one thinks of the things around them and of themselves. It is a cleansing of the space so that it can be purified for new beginnings. Things cannot always remain the way they were. Growth is an important part of life and for that to happen, things first must be cut out of the way so that you can see what is moving in front of you.



XVII. The Star

The Star is hopeful in the future. It clings to the idea that there is something above, guiding its path, so that it is not alone. The Star has faith in the things around it, optimistic and hopeful for the future. It trusts in the things beyond us for guidance, often turning to divination as a guide. The Star believes in the idea that there is always a good outcome, continuously searching for it. It lets go of fear and doubt because it understands that all worries will eventually come to an end. What will be will be.




XVIII. The Moon

The Moon is a dreamer. She spends endless hours staring ahead of her at the light, wondering what will come of the decisions she makes now. Also a hopeless romantic, she will spend months and years waiting for her love if they have to go away. She has a routine that she follows. She follows her instincts. The Moon is drawn to magical and wonderous things. She welcomes a change and is unafraid of it, ready to embrace the wonders of the world to come.




XIX. The Sun

The Sun can look around and understand with brilliant clarity the things going around him. He has a very happy disposition, full of life and energy. He takes glory in the small things, looking for the small victories in life. He is fueled by success, though he knows that he must work for it. He is filled with openness and joy, finding warmth in spending time with those he cares about. He looks for the small things to take delight in, refusing to be brought down by other people. The Sun will persevere in order to remain happy and open to the things happening around him.


XX Judgement

Judgement is very analytical. He examines the things around him, making sure to take into account every single detail. He tends to live in sudden realizations or thoughts, often due to past acts. He takes hold of the consequences of past deeds, embracing them with an open heart and mind. He is ready to pronounce someone guilty or not guilty, worthy or unworthy, good or bad. Judgement sees the things that go on around him, using them to piece together the puzzle that is mankind.




XXI. The World

The World has a sense of completion. It knows that things are at a natural end. It has a sense of fullness or wholeness, satisfied with the end of a long journey. It was not easy getting here, but things are finally at an end. It has undergone a long cycle or perhaps and long phase of life. It has finally gathered the things it needs to thrive and be satisfied, having reached a point of enlightenment and hope. Things have come full circle and are now at their end.


I know that is quite a lot to process, so I’ve created a sort of memory aid for you. In the chart below I’ve associated each card with a single word to help you remember each card’s larger meaning. Should you be interested in reversed meanings, you may want to further consult this source.

Cheat Sheet

The Fool

Beginnings

The Magician

Enchantment

The High Priestess

Mystery

The Empress

Femininity

The Emperor

Masculinity

The Hierophant

Faith

The Lovers

Relationships

The Chariot

Journey

Strength

Power

The Hermit

Isolation

The Wheel

Cycles

Justice

Logic

The Hanged Man

Reversals

Death

Transformation

Temperance

Healing

The Devil

Manipulation

The Tower

Rebirth

The Star

Divinity

The Moon

Unconscious

The Sun

Cheerful

Judgement

Analysis

The World

Completion

Storytelling
It is important that you are able to see a story in each card. This is going to help you remember the meanings of the card. For instance, with the Devil card I see the following basic storyline: A young woman is being controlled by the Devil. This story, obviously, should go along with the meaning of the card. It is a good idea to elaborate on basic ideas and form a full story in your head as a memory technique. If you are looking for inspiration, looking at the artwork of each card is a fine starting point! This will also help when you start combining multiple cards for one meaning, as you’ll be able to combine and work the stories together to create a seamless reading.

Thank you for your attention during today’s lesson! I know we covered a lot of material today. Starting next week, we will be discussing the minor arcana. Please collect your short quiz on the way out.

Original lesson written by Professor Jessica Marrow
Image credits here

 

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