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Tarot Lesson #7

This week, we find out, what is the Major Arcana?


Excerpted from Wejee's Eclectic Tarot book, included in the Wejee's Learn Tarot download package.

The Major Arcana reflects the personal, psychological state, the deeper, archetypal drama that is going on within a person’s soul. These twenty-two cards are the esoteric component of the tarot, the cards that reflect the querent’s strivings towards self awareness and enlightenment. These are the Karmic lessons, the road they find themselves on in life’s journey. It is what they need to confront within themselves at this point in time to bring their spiritual evolvement to the next level.

The origin of the Major Arcana is widely debated; but the imagery of the cards is definitely pagan in origin; a very popular theory, first put forth by French occultists in the eighteenth century, is that the twenty-two Major cards are Egyptian in origin, and contain (in pictorial form) the Book of Thoth. According to this theory, within the walls of the temple of Thoth was a secret room, adorned with hieroglyphs and pictures representing the major forces governing the patterns of life. A person seeking the advise of the god would throw a bundle of sticks, and as they fell in relation to the various images on the walls, a priest would make an interpretation, which would be the “word of Thoth”. From this grew the custom of priests carrying the images on loose pieces of papyrus, so that any room, anywhere could be set up as a ‘temple’, and from this practice grew the custom of cards. This theory is not corroborated with any archeological evidence, but it’s a popular theory, and as good as any when it comes to the origin of these mysterious cards!

In the nineteenth century, occultist Eliphas Levi made a correlation between the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana, and the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, thus tying the tarot into the Kabalah. The Hebrew alphabet is said to connect to the twenty-two paths of the Kabalistic Tree of Life. Since I am not a student of Kabalah, I can’t elaborate too much on this aspect, but if you have an interest, there are many books written on the tarot and Kabalah.

Brightest Blessings!
Raven Starhawk Cunningham
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