Q&A: Majorly Major Arcana


Q: What is the significance of having mostly major arcana cards in a reading?

A: There are a variety of things that go into understanding that. My first question would be how many is mostly and how many cards were in the layout you were using?

In a classic Tarot deck, the ratio of Major to Minor Arcana Cards is 22:56 or roughly 2:5. I’m no math geek, but I always took that to mean that 1-2 major arcana cards in a 5 to 7 card layout is to be statically expected, no big deal. I tend to read that kind of ratio as meaning normal ups and downs, nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

If you are doing a one card or three card reading, you might want to give any majors that turn up a little more attention and weight, since there is a greater likelihood, logically and numerically speaking, that you could sqeek in a all-minor card reading. But in the larger layouts a couple of major cards isn’t all that earth shaking.

Would you tolerate more in a large layout like a Celtic Cross?  I would guess yes, but not as a hard and fast rule. No matter what size the layout is, or what the ratio of major to minor arcana cards may be…intuition is the ultimate guide. The 2:5 thing is just a rule of thumb to give you a springboard, a place to start.

Ok, so that defines “mostly” …. a reading with, let’s say 3 or more Major Arcana cards or any situation where you intuition is that the majors are extra-significant. Now what does that “mostly” mean?

That’s up to the card reader and their general philosophy about Tarot as a whole. Do they work predicatively or are they more concerned with advice? I like to think of all Tarot as a cosmic energy traffic update…letting you know the different conditions of different roads so you can choose how to get to where you want to go. In that context, a reading with lots of Major Arcana says to me that there is an extra heaping helping of energy in your life and in the immediate road ahead. I see them as a cue to decision making hotspots…crossroads in other words. The more major cards, the more impact your current choices will have….it is a flashing neon sign to choose wisely, perhaps choose quickly too.

My favorite analogy for describing the Arcana to my in-person clients are highway signs. Minor Arcana cards tend to deal with more day to day, going along the path types of issues…kind of like those little blue signs that let you know what road you are on like “interstate 79 south” or “route 66 west” or what have you. Major arcana cards are like the giant green signs that let you know  decisions and actions are coming up (exit to Pittsburgh in 2 miles or AHHH! EXIT TO PITTSBURGH is RIGHT THERE —>!!! ) These cards and these choices are key to changing your life path or ensuring you stay on a good one.

WHAT the decisions and energy are about is inferred from the individual cards involved and their position meaning in the layout.

If it’s a reading  you did for yourself and you want a second opinion I can coach you through that too. Reviewing a DIY reading with a pro is a good way to learn and improve your reading skills. Click the “tarot lessons & coaching” tab at the top of the page ^ to learn more about Tarot coaching sessions. I just need to know the cards and the name of the position in the layout that card was in. For example, The Fool card in the past lessons position or the lovers in the current situation position…..that kind of thing.

If you are talking about a reading someone else did for you, then that is different story all together. You aren’t really learning anything from a coaching review and it certainly does nothing for the other reader. All that scenario does is set you up to become really confused. So nope. Won’t do that.

If deep down in your bones you don’t think a reading resonates, or it just in your gut doesn’t seem right….the BEST thing to do is what your assorted insides are telling you to do in REACTION to that not-quite-right reading. In that case, the reading still did the right thing by stimulating you to thought and action, even if it is action in opposition. It reminds me of Newton’s third law “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” (who says science and Tarot don’t get along?)

That being said, if you know something is not quite right, but you still don’t know what to do, then the next best thing to do is wait, give the whole thing a little space to breathe, then when you sense the time is right get or do another reading. Sometimes we just need to be in a different place in time to see what needs seen.

So to sum up – depending on the size of the layout, a Major Arcana card or two is likely just an indication of the normal ups and downs of daily life…or to flip it a little, a couple of majors reassure you that you not stagnant or stuck. More major cards than that, or, if they are strongly grabbing your intuitive attention, then the majors are more significant. It can be a good sign of energy, change, opportunity, decisions, sometimes urgency. Beyond that, meaning comes from details like individual cards and card layout position.

Best Wishes! Let me know if you want to do a coaching session. Thanks!