If you’re new to tarot and wondering how many cards are in a tarot deck, this post will tell you everything you need to know. I’ll explain how many cards are actually in a tarot deck and give you a full list of tarot cards (+ their meanings) found in a traditional deck. Plus, I’ll show you how to get started with tarot readings at home, whether for you or someone else.
Women have patiently waited centuries for the witch archetype to be resurrected after being brutally burned at the stake, and we are now witnessing all witchy, magical, occult things soaring in interest and popularity.
It’s about damn time, don’t you think?
Tarot and oracle cards are powerful tools witches have used for centuries to connect to their intuition and receive guidance and hidden messages from the Universe.
It might sound crazy to base a major life decision on a tarot card reading. But how about making a major life decision on a deep, intuitive feeling?
I don’t know about you, but that makes a lot of sense to me. There have been times in my life my intuition has been screaming at me to do something. I haven’t listened and have later regretted it.
On the other hand, there have been times I have listened and taken that leap. Like when I quit my day job in fashion to be a writer, or when I had a dream about moving to Bali, then booked a one-way ticket and flew 7000+ miles to follow that call. And I have never been more thankful that I listened to my counsel in those moments.
So just like astrology, numerology, and other divination tools, tarot is a powerful way to help you navigate this life and evolve into your highest self.
Okay, so what are tarot cards?
Tarot cards are the same size as playing cards and come in a deck. They’re used for divination—to hold a mirror up to yourself or someone else.
Each card in the deck represents an archetype or a lesson and has a unique meaning. There are many tarot cards in a deck, so it will take a while to familiarize yourself with all the definitions and remember them.
Most decks will come with an accompanying guidebook that contains a brief list of meanings for your reference. Don’t be afraid to continue to look at the book or this post as you dip your toes into tarot readings.
How many cards are in a tarot deck?
A traditional tarot deck consists of 78 cards. The deck is split into two major groups:
- The major arcana (22 cards)
- The minor arcana (56 cards)
Arcana derives from the Latin word “arcanus,” which means “secret.” It was often used between the Dark Ages and Renaissance in reference to the unknown mysteries of the physical and spiritual realms.
So, what are the 78 tarot cards and their meanings?
Let’s take a deeper look.
FYI: scour the web and talk to different people, and you’ll be greeted with a vast collection of meanings for each tarot card. This is normal. All of the cards do have different meanings. When doing a tarot reading, let your intuition guide the way.
What are the 78 tarot cards? The full list
The major arcana tarot cards list
The major arcana cards are the foundation or “trumps” of a tarot deck. They are said to contain the biggest mysteries and secrets and hold more weight than the minor arcana.
Because they focus on key archetypes in our world (e.g., the lovers, the fool, the hanged man) and show us the journey our soul takes in this life as we enter into a deeper state of spiritual awareness and wisdom.
A quick note on what upright and reverse mean. Before every tarot reading, it’s important to thoroughly shuffle the entire deck of cards. When you’re doing this repeatedly, laying cards out and piling them back up, you’re bound to end up with cards that have flipped 180°.
Upright = a card facing the usual way.
Reverse = a card that has flipped 180° and is upside down from your perspective or the person you’re reading for.
A reverse card usually means the opposite of what the upright card means. Because they stand out, they demand extra attention, so it’s worth giving them a second glance.
Here’s a full list of the tarot cards in the major arcana
Upright: innocent, childlike, fresh starts, adventure, a risk taker.
Reverse: reckless, not thinking something through, irresponsible, anxious, over-cautious.
Upright: manifesting, creating, and working on your dreams and deepest desires.
Reverse: illusion, disconnect, trickery.
Upright: intuition, feminine energy, nature, expressing your inner voice.
Reverse: feeling repressed or silenced, unable to receive, uncentered.
Upright: sex, fertility, motherhood, divine feminine.
Reverse: mother wound, dependence, smothering.
Upright: hard work, stability, structure, authority, practical, logical, divine masculine.
Reverse: rigid, cold, dictator.
Upright: morality, ethics, tradition, mastery.
Reverse: rebel, unbeaten path, out of the box.
Upright: union, partnership, communication, openness, honesty, duality.
Reverse: lack of harmony and balance, one-sidedness, selfishness.
Upright: gaining control and willpower, direction, and achieving your goals.
Reverse: lack of direction, loss of control, stuck, wandering aimlessly.
Upright: inner passion, strength, focus, balance, courage.
Reverse: weak, insecure, self-doubt.
Upright: self-reflection, alone time, contemplation, look inside.
Reverse: isolation, loneliness.
The wheel of fortune
Upright: a positive change, good fortune, the end of a cycle.
Reverse: loss of control, clinging to control, misfortune.
Upright: seeking justice, truth, karmic balance, and clarity.
Reverse: a warning of dishonesty or unfairness.
The hanged man
Upright: patience, waiting, release or sacrifice.
Reverse: a sacrifice you are not happy about, stalling.
A little note about the death card: it usually doesn’t mean literal death; it means change and transformation, which many of us are afraid of. But if you want to grow, you have to be okay with the death (loss) of certain things. So don’t fear this card!
Upright: the end of a cycle, a new beginning, change, transformation.
Reverse: fear of change or letting go, stagnation.
Upright: slow down, patience, ease.
Reverse: excess, lack of balance.
There are no “bad” tarot cards in this list, not even this one. The devil symbolizes your shadow self, a relationship that is no longer good for you, or a warning to tread with caution.
Upright: shadow self, toxic relationship, addiction, materialism.
Reverse: release, freedom, gaining control.
Upright: a sudden ending or change, upheaval.
Reverse: end or fear of suffering, disaster averted, bruised ego.
Upright: seeking inspiration, finding your purpose, restored faith, and hope.
Reverse: lack of faith and hope, discouraged, insecure.
Upright: illusion, intuition, wonder, mystery.
Reverse: fear, confusion, misinterpretation.
Upright: luck, fortune, happiness, celebration.
Reverse: depression, sadness, negative thinking.
Upright: a decision that needs to be made, reflection, walking a new path.
Reverse: doubt, lack of clarity, self-loathing.
Upright: the end of a cycle, completion, fulfillment, balance.
Reverse: incomplete, lack of closure.
The minor arcana tarot cards list
That’s the major arcana, so what are the remaining 56 of the 78 tarot cards about?
The minor arcana contains the smaller mysteries or secrets of the world. While the minor arcana tarot cards are said to be less important than the major arcana, they still deliver a wealth of information to us. Others disagree and say that the major and minor arcana are equally important.
Here’s a full list of all the tarot cards in the four suits of the minor arcana.
The four suits of the minor arcana
These 56 cards are divided into 4 suits: wands, cups, swords, and pentacles.
Each suit contains 14 cards, including 10 numbered cards (the “pip” cards), and a Page, Knight, Queen, and King card (the “court” cards).
The pip cards describe people in certain situations, while the court cards directly relate to the people themselves.
Each suit is said to either be masculine or feminine in energy and represent one of the four elements.
- The suit of wands: masculine + fire
- The suit of cups: feminine + water
- The suit of swords: masculine + air
- The suit of pentacles: feminine + earth
The suit of wands
The suit of wands is considered a masculine suit and is associated with the element of fire. These cards focus on inspiration, action, passion, energy, and willpower. This could be linked to your work, relationships, or general wellness. These cards serve as a guide to help you navigate life and know when to give more and when to hold back.
- Ace of wands
- Two of wands
- Three of wands
- Four of wands
- Five of wands
- Six of wands
- Seven of wands
- Eight of wands
- Nine of wands
- Ten of wands
- Page of wands
- Knight of wands
- Queen of wands
- King of wands
The suit of cups
In tarot, the suit of cups is considered a feminine suit and connected with the element of water (very similar to the energy of grandmamma moon). These cards rule our emotions, subconscious, and intuition and will often speak to our relationships (romantic and platonic ones) as well as creativity.
Our feelings, emotions, and intuition are fluid, just like water. Water can take the shape of any container it is placed in, and situations in our life are no different. This suit illuminates feelings and situations in our lives, which can easily (and will often) change and flow into something else.
- Ace of cups
- Two of cups
- Three of cups
- Four of cups
- Five of cups
- Six of cups
- Seven of cups
- Eight of cups
- Nine of cups
- Ten of cups
- Page of cups
- Knight of cups
- Queen of cups
- King of cups
The suit of swords
The suit of swords is the second masculine suit and is associated with the element of air. These cards focus on intellect, logic, ambition, challenge, and communication.
Like a double-edged sword, intelligence and power can be used for good or evil. Conflict usually arises when treading this line and finding balance.
Draw a card from the suit of swords in a reading, and it’s likely to be linked to situations where the logical mind takes over and rules above emotions and intuition. Logic is powerful and has its place. But we know that allowing our mind to rule our life while ignoring our intuition will likely lead to an unfulfilling, confined life.
- Ace of swords
- Two of swords
- Three of swords
- Four of swords
- Five of swords
- Six of swords
- Seven of swords
- Eight of swords
- Nine of swords
- Ten of swords
- Page of swords
- Knight of swords
- Queen of swords
- King of swords
The suit of pentacles
The final suit in the minor arcana tarot cards is the suit of pentacles, also known as the suit of coins or stones. This is the second of the feminine suits and is linked to the element of earth. Naturally, the cards in this suit are connected to worldly, material things, including nature, health, wealth, and security.
In a reading, these cards are likely to be linked to your mental and physical health, career, future, family, home, beauty and sensuality, and finances and investments.
The pentacles court are practical, down-to-earth people who live in the material and physical plane.
- Ace of pentacles
- Two of pentacles
- Three of pentacles
- Four of pentacles
- Five of pentacles
- Six of pentacles
- Seven of pentacles
- Eight of pentacles
- Nine of pentacles
- Ten of pentacles
- Page of pentacles
- Knight of pentacles
- Queen of pentacles
- King of pentacles
How to read tarot cards
Now that you know what the full 78 tarot cards are in a traditional deck and what they mean, I want to give you a quick and simple guide on how to read tarot cards.
Remember, you don’t need to be a professional tarot reader to do a reading for yourself. Anyone can learn this ancient divination craft.
At its heart, it’s all about connecting to and working with your intuition. The tarot cards simply act as an image or gentle nudge—it’s up to you to make sense of them and translate them to your unique experiences and view of the world.
1. Choose your tarot deck
You might have heard someone say that you aren’t meant to buy your own tarot deck and that you should have someone gift it to you. But honestly, I completely disagree!
It’s lovely to have someone choose a tarot deck for you, but choosing your own is just as beautiful! Plus, what if nobody ever buys you a tarot deck?!
Use your intuition to guide you as you choose your first set of tarot cards. Check out this post filled with our favorite tarot decks.
2. Connect with your cards
The next step is to take some time to connect with your tarot deck. Shuffle through the cards and familiarize yourself with the images and meanings.
You don’t need to memorize the meanings, but get to know each card. You might decide to pull one card daily and ponder its meaning.
Hold your deck at your heart space. Say a prayer with them before each reading.
3. Set up your space
Clear away any clutter in the room, light some candles, and burn some herbs to cleanse the energy. Lay down a tarot cloth (if you have one).
Make sure you’re somewhere that feels comfortable, safe, and supportive.
4. Get into the right heart space
Close your eyes and find some stillness. Let your worries and frustrations melt away into the background. Stay here until you feel clear and fresh, ready to do your reading.
5. Shuffle your cards
Make sure all your cards are face down in the deck (so that you can’t see any of the images as you hold them).
Shuffle them however you like in your hands, or separate them into three smaller piles, then pick them back up again.
When you’re done shuffling, lay them out in one row in front of you. Make sure you can see at least one edge of each card (sometimes, cards get stuck together!).
6. Decide on a tarot spread
There are so many tarot spreads to choose from. If you’re new to working with tarot cards, I’d recommend doing a one, two, or three-card reading. Anything more will probably be a bit overwhelming.
A one-card tarot spread is effective when seeking clarity on a specific situation or challenge in your life.
7. Set an intention
Before you draw your cards, set an intention. You may want clarity on a specific situation, or more general guidance on an area of your life (your sacred work, relationships, etc.).
Whatever it is, get clear on it. If we don’t set an intention, the messages we receive during the tarot reading will be unclear and jumbled.
8. Draw your cards
Now you’re ready to draw your cards. However many you’re drawing in your reading, select all the cards before turning them over.
Let your intuition guide you in choosing. You might want to hover your hand over the cards and see which ones you’re pulled to. You may even feel some heat over the cards calling for your attention.
Once you’ve drawn them all, turn them over.
9. Reflect & journal
The final step in any tarot reading is to peruse the cards you drew and reflect on what they may symbolize for you. Let your intuition guide you. Journal all the thoughts and emotions that arise for you. Use the meanings in the guidebook and in this article to help you.
Intuition is powerful, but it’s just the first step. Without action, we will remain stuck and stagnant where we are today. When you’re done reflecting, the next step is to think about the action you can take based on your intuition.
Ready to choose your tarot deck and do a reading?
Now that you know what all the 78 tarot cards are and have this full tarot cards list to draw on, you’re ready to start your tarot journey!
All that’s left to do is to choose a deck and immerse yourself in this world.
Do you have a question about any of the tarot cards on this list? Or a favorite tarot deck you’ve been working with forever? Drop it all in the comments below!