The Major Arcana (1)





0. Birth (The Fool – Air)

Themes and Possibilities:

A trusting beginner; an enlightened master; inexperience;  fresh new insights; adventure out into the great new worl; the first and the last card; birth and rebirth; move forward in a significant and spiritual way; a complete new direction; to criticize oneself and not to look for fault in others.

Our present life is one in a series of lives.  Death, the end of this present life, is a transition in which our minds leave our present bodies and are reborn in others.  Our eyes can not see the mind, can not detect all the various life forms in the universe.  After death, although the physical body decays, the mind doesn’t.  The continuity of our mindstream takes rebirth in another body or life form.  Each of us have a body and a mind.  While these two are together, we say, “I am alive.”  When they are separate, we call it “death.”  The “soul” and “mind” are different.  The “soul” implies a fixed, real and independent entity, that is “the person.”

1. Growth (The Magician – Mercury)

Themes and Possibilities:

Lightning; inspiration; resourceful; empowerment; divination; creativity; skills; willingness; initiatives; getting your way; do it yourself; an active hero; a successful initiative.

Some of your family members and friends will bring you comfort and happiness, and others will bring you pain and discomfort.  Whatever differences, disagreements, weaknesses, or strengthes there are between you, you should not purposely hurt anyone for any reason.  Cherish the karmic ties for being together and do good deeds by creating and sharing peace, harmony and love. 

When you discover that you have been doing something wrong, don’t feel guilty, just stop it.  Don’t worry about past misdeeds.  Don’t slip into fears about what will happen when your karma catches up to you.  If you face the circumstance with right attitude, it gives you the motivation to change and opportunity to do better.  You will feel calm, peaceful and confident when facing with challenges again, and will not repeat the same mistake.


2. Sorrow and Failure (The High Priestess – Moon)

Themes and Possibilities:

Dreams; daydreams; imagination; reflection; anaylsis; inituition; mystery; religions; knowledge and experience; broken dreams; obstacles and setbacks on one’s way; something great has a humble beginning; receiving comfort and blessing; blend and bend with positive change; accept the circumstances with a calm mind.

There is no one in the world who is forever happy or sad. Our life is sometimes joyful and other time sorrowful.  They are like day and night taking turns after one another.  Only people who can adapt to situations can make positive use of light, darkness, sorrow and joy.  It is only when our minds are at peace that we can deal with self and others, and then can follow circumstances and live in ease. If you are always concerned with the losses and gains in life, you will never be able to find peace.  If you are content with your lot in life, you will be able to face all challenges and setbacks.

 3. Joy and Success (The Empress – Venus)

Themes and Possibilities:

Productivity; nurturing; development; growth; teaching; feminine powers; feminine principles; reliable and loyal friend; mother; pregnancy; babies; action towards accomplishment and success. Behind the joy and success, there is a great mother, and/or a wonderful wife, or a reliable and loyal female companion.

We deserve to be happy, to feel serene, be joyful, grow in knowledge and have pleasant experiences.  We may be proud of our youth, beauty, strength or talents, but these are changing qualities.  Moment by moment, we are aging.  Our own effort alone is not sufficient to bring success, we are dependent on others.  Wise people feel gratitude for their success, not pride, towards others.  With a more balanced view of ourselves, we will use our energy to improve ourselves, to help others and to share our joys with those who contributed to our success.


4. Spiritual Emptiness (The Emperor – Aries)

Themes and Possibilities:

Authority; order; control; organization; your own power and intelligence; future potential in accomplishment. The Emperor  had everything he wanted, yet he felt something still missing — spiritual side of life.

Sometimes, people who appear to be successful don’t feel good about themselves.  Deep inside, we have poor images of ourselves, we don’t really believe we are good.  We are unaware of our potential to become completely wise and compassionate.  We look to external success for praise, acceptance and happiness.  Actually, we can attain these qualities by spiritual development.

 5. Taking Refuge (The Hierophant – Taurus)

Themes and Possibilities:

Church; temple; spirituality; guiding; regulations; appearance; standard; tradition. The intense need for a spiritual path drives you onward and upward. In searching of a higher dream, you walk away from old thoughts and search for new insights and knowledge. You entrust your spiritual development to the guidance of the Triple Gems: the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

Taking Refuge means accepting the Buddha as our teacher, the Dharma as his teachings, and the Sangha as our religious community.  The act of taking refuge in the Triple Gems is the first act of consciously and willingly moving toward full awakening in the enlightened mind.  It is, therefore, very important to take refuge in a ceremony conducted by a properly ordained monastic.  After taking refuge, one does not need to become vegetarian.  One still can show respect to the gods of other religions.  It is possible to be a good Buddhist and not have much contact with the monastic community, but it is much better to have at least some contact with monks and nuns dedicating their lives to the teaching of the Buddha.

The deeper meanings of taking refuge in the Triple Gems are as follows:

“We become the students of the Buddha; we will accomplish good things; we will increase our merits and virtues; we will have the opportunity to meet many good people, including the Sangha community (monks and nuns); we lay the foundation for our moral and spiritual growth; and we will be on the path to becoming a Buddha ourselves.

Today, the Buddha is a symbol of universal peace, the Dharma is a symbol of healing and transformation, and the Sangha is a symbol of living in harmony.


6. Triple Gems (The Lovers – Gemini)

Themes and Possibilities

Making things complete; reunion; romance; partnership; team spirit; follow what you love. Look deep and discover where your true love lies.  Triple Gems: The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

The Buddha, Dharma and Sangha are all Sanskrit words.  “Buddha” means “enlightened one.”  The Buddha is enlightened to the truths of the universe.  A Buddha is enlightened himself and is able to help other sentient beings become enlightened with his teachings.

Dharma” refers to all the teachings of the Buddha that show us the way to actualize the  cessation of sufferings.  “Sangha” means “harmonious monastic community.”  Monks and nuns have directly realized Emptiness. They are reliable friends who encourage and help accompany us on the path.

“I take refuge in the Buddha,

wishing all sentient beings understand the Dharma and make the supreme vows.

I take refuge in the Dharma,

wishing all sentient beings study the sutras diligently and obtain prajna wisdom.

I take refuge in the Sangha,

wishing all sentient beings lead the public in harmony with no obstruction.”

7.  Getting Old, Weak (The Chariot -Cancer)

Themes and Possibilities:

Protection; discipline; winning; speed; movement; travel; being a hero; achieving a goal; travelling on the spiritual path. The Chariot is carrying a wise old man on the journey to enlightenment.

Sickness, aging and death come to everyone without choice.  Our bodies are getting older as each moment passes, there is no way to prevent this, but accept it in our hearts.  So, don’t be so surprised  and unhappy when our bodies get weaker and less attractive. Accept the facts that our bodies are prone to disease.  So, when illness comes we will be better able to handle it.  When we are sick, we will be able to have a calm mind.  A good attitude will automatically help us to get better.  It is often the fear associated with having a disease which disturbs and weakens one’s whole system.  A clear mind free of fear can have a healing effect on the body.

Fear is attachment, clinging to something, holding on and not letting go.  But, there is nothing you can truly hold onto in this life, including your body.  You will gain strength from this understanding and the fear will also disappear.  When the mind is free of fear and  free of anger, it can help heal your whole system.


 8.  Wisdom (Justice – Libra)

Themes and Possibilities:

Law; rules; truth; restriction; fairness; protection. Impartiality will lead to wisdom. Look within for your inner wisdom to make difficult and/or sensible decisions.

By developing wisdom and compassion, we will be more content and will know what’s important in our lives.  We will transform our attitude so that whatever environment we are in, we will be happy and will be able to make our lives meaningful.  We can follow circumstances, but should never go blindly with the flow.  In continuing to flow, we should maintain a clear mind and apply our inner wisdom to make positive progress.

9.  Compassion (The Hermit – Virgo)

Themes and Possibilities:

Aloneness; solitude; withdrawing; holding back; meditation; inner light; religious retreat; inner wisdom; a compassionate wise old man.

To make our compassion effective, it must be coupled with wisdom.  Compassion wishes all others to be free from suffering and confusion; wisdom directly realizes our ultimate and relative natures.  These are the essential components of a healthy and happy life, and the essence of the spiritual path.  The union of compassion and wisdom brings the full development of human potential, the enlightened state.

As a compassionate and wise person, you know when to seek isolation and consolation from within the self. Meditation in an atmosphere of nature adds insights to your world.  Seek out the spiritual sources of information and be willing to change and grow.


10.  Illumination (The Wheel of Life – Jupiter)

Themes and Possibilities

Chance; luck; fate; birthdays; repetition; cycles; fluctuation; death & reincarnation; the cycle of growth.  Spread your bright light of wisdom and good luck to shine the dark area within your reach.  Bring your family, friends and those around to share in the good fortune and to celebrate the life. What goes around comes around.  What you send out comes back to you.

Our spiritual journey requires that we take bold and brave steps to look beyond society-defined reality and see the truth of oneness.  Let us always remind ourselves that we belong to only one race, the human race.  Let us step beyond the external differences and look into people’s hearts and minds, to see that everyone really is the same world.

11. Mindfulness (Strength – Leo)

Themes and Possibilities:

Resolve; focus; reserve; dependability; physical strength; self-discipline; direction; courage; be aware of; actively attentative.

Be aware of ourselves and the surroundings. Before you do anything, remain tranquil, silent, alert and watch the entire situation.  To act consciously with right mindfulness will avoid falling into error.  Knowing this, we will be mindful of what we think, say and do.  We will take the time to develop our good qualities.  In Buddhism, mindfulness means much more than mere awareness.  It carries with it a responsibility to avoid bringing harm to any sentient being, respect for others and for oneself.