I have been mentioning for a while now that I was going to make a blog post devoted to the three rows of the Major Arcana and how to work with them. Well here it is!
The Majors are cosmic, liminal, ethereal, and universal archetypes. This can make them hard to read at times, because they are so fluid. I have found this method of using the layout to be helpful in reading these cosmic cards. They will always be in the ether, in the greatness of Spirit, but finding the flow through each card can help you connect into each card.
This is not a method that I created. There are many readers who use this method of creating meaning around the layout of the Majors, just as they create meaning of the individual cards. Some titles of the rows may be changed (as we will get into), but many readers find value in working with the layout of the Majors, as I do.
The Three Rows
As you can see the picture from above, when you lay the Majors out in linear order, you end up with three nice rows of seven cards. The Fool card as 0 is not placed with any of the rows. It is a row, a column, a bookmark to itself. You can go back and read my blog post on the Fool here, and see why it is by itself.
So, we have three nice little rows of cards numbering 1-21. The point in placing the Majors in numerical order and within the three rows is so you can see the progression from one card to the next, and from one row to the next.
This is going to be helpful in building a roadmap in your intuition as to what energies the rows speak to, why the cards are placed in their particular row, and in their particular numerical association. This method of designating meaning to the rows will also help you create a foundation of learning the Majors from a more standard or rote approach of learning.
It is helpful in giving names that speak to the energy of the row. I have seen names give to the rows of: life / death / rebirth,
conscious / unconscious / superconscious, self / collective / cosmic.
You get the idea.
Here are the names that I have given to the three rows:
Creation / Destruction / Evolution.
To me it makes sense to come from a space inspired by the cycles of nature, as that is a huge part of my practice. I will explain and show why I have given these titles to the three rows, but I encourage you to think intuitively of what titles you would give to the three rows, and why.
The Creation Line
The Creation Line speaks to themes of growth, connection, awakenings, expansion, etc. Like I mentioned above, when using the lines in your tarot interpretations and tarot work, it is helpful to literally move from one card to the next, seeing how they build, support, or lilypad off of one another.
*In real life, we don’t move through the these lines, the tarot, or anything in a linear fashion. As people we are constantly moving forward and backwards and sideways. It’s messy and lopsided at times, but learning the cards with this as part of the journey is helpful in creating that intuitive and standard approach.
In order the cards move as follows:
The Magician: This card opens you to the magick within and around you, and how they are the same. He invites you to create magickal potentials through tangible means.
The High Priestess: This card is about listening and receiving from the magickal voice of intuition. It is only through this space that creations can journey into the physical world.
The Empress: This card is about the act of manifesting, and sacred creation. Through those intuitive depths you become more privy to the beauty and brutality of this world. She teaches the strength to manifest in spite of the darkness.
The Emperor: All things need support and strong foundations in order to expand, and that is what the Emperor invites. Freedom to organically move and expand comes from a strong force of will and creating foundations of security.
The Hierophant: This card says that all things, people, systems, and lineages hold the magick of creation. It is a ripple effect that moves through all things. When you can see and speak to that, you gain the wisdom and insight to build based on truth.
The Lovers: This card teaches the value of choice, the primal pull to connection, and how these sacred connections open the door to divinity. You have the freedom and momentum to rise and to deepen. You are in continuation of creating through sacred sharing.
The Chariot: As the last card, the Chariot speaks to creating alignment towards new journeys. From a determined and willing place, expansion and manifestation can be guided forward. This card speaks to the core truths and emotional capacities within to align into great change and protect it.
The Destruction Line
The Destruction line brings in needed energies of death-cycles, releases, returns, and surrenders. Once something has been created, room needs to be made for this creation to rise and expand further. That means that something else, or the very thing created, must honor the balance of energies and be removed either organically or forcefully to make room for expansion.
In this line the order of the cards are as follows:
Strength: This card speaks to an initiation of calling in your strength so you can do the needed work of release and surrender. There is a need to be honest where you need to be strong, where your resilience lies, and how to call on the spectrum of rage and grace.
The Hermit: The Hermit teaches that the only way out of any cycle in life is through it. Not around, over, or under it. There is no bypassing the hard, the unknown, or the darkness. If you have the strength to embrace the full spectrum of spirituality, you will find wisdom and bring it from the darkness into the light.
Wheel of Fortune: The interconnective spirit within, and around you is all alive and moving. The force and pull of this guides and directs you towards greater change. Your spirit knows how to move in deep migration with the energies and forces around you, yet requires a surrender of ego.
Justice: Universal cycles and Universal Law. Justice is the understanding that truth and justice require sacrifice, but allow for the gain of a higher awakening. When you see how your spirit is part of the universal spirit, you recognize the cause and consequence on a greater level. You see how your choices and actions contribute to the great cycle and law of transcendence.
The Hanged Man: Surrendering to the process of your wild reclamation and greater evolution. This is where great sacrifice moves the needle. When you can find magick within extreme spaces, or past the point of the known, or the controllable, that is where the gifts lie.
Death: Destruction from the name of the line is happening in all the cards, but the Death card is the card that speaks to this theme, or these cycles clearly. The Death card forces you to acknowledge the teachings, leverage, and new growth that comes with relinquishing what is not serving, or cannot continue on this journey.
Temperance: As you hinge between loss in the Death card, and in this line, and move into evolution starting with the Devil, Temperance asks you to find the alchemy within yourself. This card is about finding your constitution of spirit, to move back and forth between the energies of death / life, and shed your skin.
The Evolution Line
The Evolution line is where the journey of change, alignment, transformation, and thresholds reside. This is the line that asks you to commit to the process, and commit to yourself. There are invitations in here of trust, trust in your wild sovereignty to follow the journey to whatever end, and trust in the interconnection of the Universe to guide you through it all.
The cards in this line are:
The Devil: An initiation into autonomy and freedom that is honored between the internal and the external. This is the card where you are set free by doing the work of connecting more deeply into yourself and reflecting on your connections to the external, cosmic, or symbolic energies that both support or hinder you.
The Tower: This card speaks to the larger energies that shake up and break down what is not for your evolution. However, this is also part of the rite of passage. Because this line has both creative and destructive energies together for your evolution, the Tower exposes the foundation for future buildings, and it allows you to see the stars for higher guidance.
The Star: Speaking of stars, the Star is where hope, incubation, healing, acceptance, and guidance are found. This card says that illumination is found in the darkness for nourishment and navigation. The Star invites you to find the awe and wonder in your life and let that inspire your being on every level.
The Moon: This card is where you find the magick, the wild synergy and let it move you forward. The Moon is a card of rest, ritual, and action. There needs to be reflection and ritual so you can continue that nourishing salve as you grow in your spirit. There also needs to be magick in action, in dream space, and in connecting to higher cycles.
The Sun: When you move through these energies, your spirit radiates fiercely without apology. The Sun provokes a hunger to move forward in this new space, but it also illuminates all that you have gone through to get here, which is humbly. The Sun integrates the spectrum with play and promise, but also with deep clarity.
Judgment: This card is about aligning into your evolution, and finding sacred connections to divinity in all forms. Judgment is about tapping into divine roots, and using that rise towards transcendence. This card is about meeting the magickal and the mundane with an open, brave spirit.
The World: A completion and embodiment of yourself into your higher purpose- in synchronicity with Earth / Universal energies to fulfill your desires and needs. The World card speaks to integration, wholeness, and forming new chapters based on the flow-state of that new you, and that new connection.
The Seven Doorways
Looking at this image again of the Majors from the Guardian of the Night Tarot, we have laid out the framework for working through the cards one by one in relation to their line, and where they fit within their line. Again, this nice arrangement of seven cards of three lines is helpful in approaching the interconnection between the cards.
The next thing to consider is the seven columns of three. I call these doorways. They are doorways because in each one, we have a creation card, a destruction card, and an evolution card. This is another layer of using the layout to build an intuitive understanding, and a standard method of learning the cards.
The first doorway is: the Magician, Strength, and the Devil. This doorway is the one of initiation, foundations, and possibilities. This doorway is an initiation into magickal awakening, honesty and resolve, and then freedom and autonomy. This is the doorway of beginnings in the cycles and on the journey.
The second doorway is the High Priestess, the Hermit, and the Tower. This is the doorway of receiving from intuitive guidance, and finding teachers in the darkness. All three cards ask you to find and connect within for wisdom, understanding, and spiritual growth.
The third doorway is the Empress, Wheel of Fortune, and the Star. This is the doorway of connection. In this doorway, you are opening to energies of mutuality, migration, and navigation. The teaching in this doorway is how you connect and deepen, what you do with them, and how you are navigated by them.
The fourth doorway is the Emperor, Justice, and the Moon. This is the doorway of governance (on the macrocosmic and microcosmic) and influence. This doorway is about energies of impact and sway and how those powers are executed in daily life, and also in ritual or magick.
The fifth doorway is the Hierophant, the Hanged Man, and the Sun. This doorway is about magick, spirit, and the foundations of liminality in life. This doorway is about finding the practice and rooting of spirit in all you do. Transitions and seasons are constantly moving, but this doorway is finding the power within to connect outwards despite seasons or change.
The sixth doorway is the Lovers, Death, and Judgment. This doorway is around unifications and integration through presence. The cards in this doorway ask you to merge and awaken. In this doorway, the teachings are how you are linked and joined into other things, and how that deepens you. This is the doorway of devotion.
The last doorway is the Chariot, Temperance, the World. This is the doorway of surrender, endings, and alchemy. These three cards teach us to be willing. They teach us that a willingness to hinge between past and future, light and dark, endings and beginnings is where we learn to keep going and find ourselves in all spaces.
There you have it, a way to work with the layout of the Majors for deeper understandings and workings in real time, in your very real life. I hope you have enjoyed this blog post. Thank you for reading. Many blessings on your tarot travels.