Arnell Ando’s 22 Major Arcana ‘Cliff Notes’
A brief description of how I see each Major Arcana card, visually and symbolically, as well as some
traditional symbols and perspectives. Also included some movies and characters, which viscerally depict,
the mood or archetypal persona of each card.
Updated September 2020 with More Details & Movie Associations
0 The Fool
Symbols found in the image: The Fool is usually traveling (towards the right is the future, cuz towards the left would be the past) with his lucky dog, nipping at his heels warning of danger that his animal instinct senses. So in the image there is often some element of concern about to happen, (such as his being too oblivious to notice he’s about to fall off a high cliff into the abyss.) It's not that he is an idiot, it’s more he is so curious and amazed by everything going on around him, and lives so much in the moment, that he doesn’t focus on what’s about to happen or dwell on past failures. This is usually a very colorful, bright card. Often the Fool looks like a traveler with all worldly possessions (accumulated experiences/knowledge) fastened together with a kerchief onto a walking stick that is slug over his shoulder.
Movie/characters: Kramer (in Seinfeld), Forrest Gump, Easy Rider, This is Spinal Tap, Big Lebowski (the Dude),the Truman Show, Big, Being There (Chance Gardener), Pow Wow Highway (Philbert), the Little Tramp, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (his bike for the race has Fool’s ‘0’ number), Oh Brother Where Art Thou, and Inside Llewyn Davis.
Description: Ancient/Modern Manifestations: Coyote, court jester, divine child. The Fool actually represents you or me on our life journey, not knowing what the heck we’re doing here, but still haphazardly moving forward through life, ending up where we do because of choices, luck, (or lack of it), and our own sense of adventure and curiosity. The Fool may be innocent, wide-eyed, scraggly (unkempt), slightly wild and unconcerned with following other people’s protocol. He hasn’t become conditioned by society and so follows his heart and free spirit. He also represents the kid who has left home to be on their own for the first time, with all that potential for prospect or peril. The Fool is about adventure, travel, openness to explore new experiences, unexpected opportunities, fortune in misfortune, taking a flying leap of faith into the future. Unacquainted with fear he will try anything for experience's sake.
I The Magician
Symbols found in the image: It’s customary to have the 4 elements represented in some way (usually on a table prepared for a performance). They are fire, water, air and earth (they can also be represented as wands/clubs, cups/hearts, swords/spades, and coins/pentacles/diamonds). He might be depicted performing an illusion or trick. He often has the infinity symbol just above his head (looks like a long, sidewise 8) and usually standing and can be seen holding a magic wand in the air which acts like a lightning rod to attract the natural elements so magic occurs. He could also have a black top hat and cards or look esoteric.
Movie/Characters: Lord of the Rings (Gandalf), King Arthur (Merlin), In the Soup (Joe), Matinee (Woolsey), Being John Malkovich, Dead Poet's Society (Keating), Ed Wood, Beetlejuice, The Usual Suspects, Jackie Brown and The Illusionist.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Merlin, wizards, alchemists, hypnotists, illusionists, snake oil salesman, and grifters. The Magician represents skills that we are either born with or are cultivating that make us unique, or that dazzle others. The Magician is that part of ourselves which showcases our talents and skills and exhibits charm and charisma. That can mesmerize, attract or even con others. The Magician focuses on communication and mental powers. Manipulating the elements to attract and captivate an audience (and bend it to his will). The energy itself is neutral; it’s the intention, which transforms it. Using focused intent. Mind over matter. This stage in the game represents self-reliance, imagination and mastering creative skills, illusion and intrigue.
II The High Priestess
Symbols found in the image: She is usually seated between two pillars. One is dark, the other light (yin~yang, female~male; polarizing opposites). Sometimes she has a Sphinx, black cat or raven as a guardian or familiar that can communicate between other dimensions. She is often depicted holding a set of keys (to unlock other dimensions; other worlds) and a book of shadows, magic, mysteries, or even a diary. Above her head, like a headdress is a crescent moon with the two tips pointing towards the sky (she is the maiden, virgin Goddess or crescent aspect of the moon). Sometimes her face is partially veiled or there is a curtain hiding something in the background. She doesn’t show much in her facial expression and her clothing tends to be long, unrevealing and either blue or rather dark. There is an aura o f mystery. She could be depicted as a fortuneteller or a biker chick that patrols the sacred sites at night.
Movies: Dead Man Walking (Sister Helen) and King Arthur (Morgan), and Joan of Arc.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Virgin Mary, the Pagan high priestess, sorceress, psychic healers, Delphi Oracles, Sphinx, parapsychologists and fortunetellers. The High Priestess has to do with our independence, and self-study, intuitive and psychic development, mystery and the magic arts. She represents a gypsy, witch or free spirited woman though she has a tendency to be secretive and guarded.
III The Empress
Symbols found in the image: The Empress tends to look more open, warm and hospitable than the guarded, secretive High Priestess. The Empress is the archetypal ‘Mother’ and is often depicted pregnant or with vegetation all around, such as fruits, flowers and greenery. Mother Nature. The symbol of Venus quite often is on a protective shield that rests on the ground. She holds an Orbed scepter. Her expression is compassionate and receptive and her eyes gentle. Colors might be more nature based (greens, blues and earth tones). Her dress covered in a floral pattern. She usually wears a crown or tiara. Rabbits, frogs and other symbols of fertility could populate the image as well.
Movies: Steel Magnolias, Terms of Endearment, Little Man Tate, Mother, Triplets of Belleville (Grandma) and Juno.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Isis, Hera, Demeter, Mother Nature, Queen, fairy godmother, anima, nurse, mother and designer. She is compassionate, sensitive and creative. The Empress is about giving birth either literally, or metaphorically to creative projects. Nurturing and protection. One who is deeply connected to nature and the environment. She may also portray a businesswoman or a political leader for human rights, the preservation of natural resources and the New World order.
IV The Emperor
Symbols found in the image: The Emperor tends to be seated on a throne (like the Empress), but his is more polished and elaborate and may have totem animals such as the Ram carved into the armrest and eagle talons as throne’s feet. His animal symbols are Aries (ram), and other aggressive horned, hoofed, territorial mountain animals, or the eagle (predator with remarkable precision and courage). These animals see ‘the bigger picture’ or the entire kingdom from a high perch. The Emperor is often holding a scepter (speak softly but carry a big stick) and an orb (the globe). He usually wears a crown. The Emperor is the archetypal ‘Father’. Another symbol associated with him would be the TV or computer (communication~ 4 Square reality).
Movies: Lord of the Flies, Braveheart, and Sanjuro, The Godfather, King Arthur, Lord of the Rings (Aragon), and Good Night and Good Luck.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Zeus, king, leader, chief, godfather, father, animus, boss or authority figure, president or director. The Emperor has to do with being assertive, pioneering, authoritative, ambitious, and possessing strong leadership skills, while also dealing with mathematics and logical, rational thinking. He represents learning to master self-control. Or that part of us which uses natural leadership abilities to guide others. One who is open to opinions but confidently follows their own convictions. It can mean an authority or father figure seeking to establish dominance and control, or some confrontation with someone who upholds traditions, laws, systems and structure.
V The Hierophant/Sage
Symbols found in the image: While this image traditionally is depicted as a religious icon such as the Pope, I like to perceive him more as an alternative, non-conformist type teacher of spirituality or a leader of social change such as Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Nelson Mandela, Michael Moore… A visionary who becomes a leader for social change and the evolution of consciousness. Or can be depicted on the dark side of an overly pious, judgmental, controlling and even hypocritical religious zealot.
Movies: To Sir With Love, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Lean on Me, (teachers in these films) Gandhi, and Milk.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: High Priest, Shaman, Buddha, Jesus, theologians, Rabbi, Pope, inner guide. The Hierophant is about learning from a wise soul. It’s also about teaching, and spiritual or social guidance. Working within social structures or redefining them. Having faith in one's higher consciousness or the power of the universe. Ancient knowledge guiding you. Seeking a deeper connection through meditation and ritual. It can also represent a spiritual leader, psychologist or a nonconformist acting as guide or teacher. On the other hand, this card may mean one dealing with conventional morality and patriarchal law. It could signify the tendency to cling to ideas and principles even if outdated. In other words, structure that controls and hinders instead of supporting one's growth. It could also be rebelling against such rigid beliefs systems.
VI The Lovers
Symbols found in the image: Love is depicted in this card but so is an important choice that will change the course of one's life, such as choosing between two loves of different personalities, two lifestyles, (career for monetary gain or one that inspires) or another demonstration of being at the crossroads where an important choice of the heart is needed. This is not a dark card but there is the angle of a love triangle or something pulling the hero/heroine in two equally persuasive directions. Sometimes cupid can be seen making the choice a bit less out of the hands of our players.
Movies: When Harry Met Sally, Moonstruck, Annie Hall, Sense and Sensibility, The Cooler, Before Sunrise, Paper Heart, Moonlight, and Only Lovers Left Alive.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Adam and Eve, Romeo & Juliet, unified anima and animus, yin/yang, sun/moon. The Lovers has a lot to do with big decisions and being at a crossroads where choices related to relationships are being considered, aside from the obvious connection to love and the pairing of opposites. It also often has to do with a lover's triangle and choosing between two diverse lifestyles or paths. (In this instance, it’s best to follow the heart). The art of relationship and the integration of opposites. It can also mean a struggle between devotion and baser physical desires.
VII The Chariot/Challenge
Symbols found in the image: A car, boat, locomotive train, spaceship, or horse; usually some sort of vehicle in motion is depicted along with someone trying to move forward against an opposing tension. Such as two horses (one black, one white; yin yang) pulling the rider in opposite directions, or driving a car on ice and being pulled dangerously off the road…something that would force the driver to be focused, courageous and single minded. The vehicle is often portrayed as coming towards us, the observer (which would signify this occurring in the present, or moving towards the right; the future).
Movies: Contact, Star Wars, Star Trek, Thelma & Louise, Punch Drunk Love, Caro Diario, and Mad Max Fury Road.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Alexandra the Great, knights, gladiators, conquerors, pioneers, crusaders, Apollo the Charioteer, cars, vehicles, Space shuttles and explorers. The Chariot has a lot to do with becoming more assertive and confident, exploration, challenge and overcoming obstacles and fear. Also, being pulled in two directions while trying to pursue a goal. It has to do with focus, self-control and courage.
Symbols found in the image: Lady Justice is usually depicted blindfolded, wearing a crown, holding the scales and an upright sword but I also like seeing her as the Statue of Liberty or some such icon that stands for the protection of the underdogs of society. Two stone pillars bordering the scene to represent structure, balance, law and order. Also depicting opposing elements on top of these two pillars (or something like a peace dove and a fly) could convey that all is treated with consideration and equality in her domain. Exposing one of her breasts from a loosely draped gown could symbolically reveal her more nurturing, compassionate qualities. On the other hand this could be a superhero out for Justice.
Movies: To Kill a Mockingbird, Sling Blade, Norma Rae, Erin Brockivich, Do the Right Thing, Fahrenheit 911, Memento, True Grit, also Justice can be characters like Wonder Woman, Batman, Spiderman, the X-Men and Bride in Kill Bill
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Scales, measuring devices, judges, trials, juries, dharma, Maat. Legal issues, contracts, balance & harmony, social issues, overcoming injustice. It can also mean standing up for one's rights and beliefs. The protection of civil liberties. The fight for equality and that sort of thing. Poetic justice.
Symbols found in the image:
I envision the Hermit as a recluse who has lost the desire to play societal games and has instead chosen to live in the deep woods following only his instincts and the cycles of nature. Something tragic or perhaps some epiphany has pushed him far into the forest, never to return to so-called civilized life. He would probably look a bit weathered and old with long straggly hair and beard. He is often wearing a grey or brown robe with the hood hiding much of his face. It could be at twilight and the Hermit’s face is only seen by the soft light of the moon and fire of his lantern, which he holds close. And animals that retreat into the dark void (of hibernation, or death-like sleep) such as bears and snakes could be his protectors. If anyone were to come upon him and need his assistance he would be helpful but his preference would be to live alone and be no burden or support to humankind.
Movies or characters: The Razor's Edge, (Larry Darrell), 'Pi', Ghost Dog.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Henry David Thoreau, Monks, sages, philosophers, bears, Cave dwellers, lamps, lanterns, guides, journeymen and illuminators. The Hermit is about solitude, introspection and self-study, evaluating beliefs and replenishing the spirit. One who is independent, introspective and on the path to individuation.
X The Wheel of Fortune
Symbols found in the image: The wheel is about luck, misfortune and karma. It is also about the importance of timing. And how one's position on a spoke in the wheel gives her or him a clear view from that angle but at the same time, other areas are then shaded from view. The Wheel can be depicted in any number of ways such as a Native American Medicine Wheel, a roulette wheel in Vegas, or a Ferris Wheel. What represents the cycle of change, fate and opportunity best to you?
Movies: The Big Lebowski, Small Change, The Man Who Wasn't There, The Man Without a Past, Croupier, Extract and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Juno, Fortuna, Mandalas, sun dials, rosaries, worry beads, roulette, concepts of destiny and fate, chakras, Ferris wheels, clocks, and the medicine wheel. Major change of residence, job or outlook; beginning a new cycle. A change in luck, for better or worse. Seeing an alternate view from a different spoke in the wheel. The laws of Karma. The art of timing. Taking responsibility for one's fate. Learning to go with the flow, realizing there is a reason for everything. An awareness of the laws of change, natural cycles, seasons, and all circular patterns. Karma, fate, destiny, evolution.
Symbols found in the image: This card is about female strength or taking control of a potentially dangerous situation by empathizing with the other rather than using brute force and domination. It’s a lion tamer being able to place her head inside the jaws of the carnivores creature, trusting it will not harm her, because she has taking time to connect with the animal and has shown it love and compassion. It’s overcoming fear to wrestle with a difficult situation that requires one to remain calm, centered and empathic. It’s the music that soothes the savage beast. It’s art expressing the horrors of war in such a way that people become moved to do something positive rather than exhibiting destructive, hopeless rage. Traditionally depicted is a woman and lion in a natural setting. She sits or stands behind the lion and holds his jaws open with her hands. He is passive, with tail between legs. He trusts she is no threat.
Movies: Run Lola Run, Terminator II (Mom, but also the powerful, protective cyborg), Aliens, Midnight Cowboy (final bus scene), Layla in Buffalo 66, Winter's Bone and The Little Prince.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Gandhi, Hercules, Samson, Lion trainers, zoologists, Shamans, exorcists. Strength is about courage and facing fears and triumphs of love over hate, compassion over brutality or cruelty, awareness over ignorance and fear. Gentle strength and inner mastery.
XII Hanged Man
Symbols found in the image: This card traditionally has a man hanging upside down from a tree. The rope is attached to the tree and wound around one foot. His other leg bent over the first looks like an upside down 4 (perhaps he was not forced into this circumstance but rather did so to gain another, more spiritual perspective of reality, like a Shaman who hangs from spikes until he gains a sacred vision). Sometimes coins can be seen falling from the Hangman’s pockets (letting go of material attachments). His arms are often hidden behind his back or untied. I also like to see this card from a political perspective since what we learn of mainstream news and history is often distorted and the truth can best be viewed from different perspectives. In the past I’ve depicted the dichotomy of witches being burned at the stake (as millions were) and Christians self-sacrificing themselves. Scapegoating as well as self-sacrifice for a greater cause being pondered in such an image, as is the idea of having a polarized view of truth. But (as Billie Holiday sings of in Strange Fruit) the depiction of runaway slaves hanging from trees is also an injustice that this card encompasses. Or if you wanted to go in a less political or spiritual direction, then a vampire hanging upside down would make a worthy model for this card… rejuvenating herself for a big night with the full moon just coming up over the hills.
Movies: Casablanca, the Last Samurai, Cool Hand Luke, Life is Beautiful, Edward Scissorhands, The Velveteen Rabbit.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: the resurrecting Egyptian God Osiris, or resurrecting Jesus, (unjustly hung people as well) Buddha’s Bodhi Tree, crucifixion/resurrection, sacrificial goats, spiritualists and shamans that go through great pains for enlightenment. The Hanged man is about reflection, meditation and feeling the need to sacrifice oneself for a cause or for others or for the greater good. Looking at one's personal 'hang ups' and surrendering fixed ideas, attitudes and beliefs. Seeing the world from an opposing view (an upside down perspective from the societal view).
Symbols found in the image: The grim reaper makes an appearance riding a white horse and loping off the heads of anyone in his (or her) path. Kings, Popes, children; Death makes no distinction. The yellowed teeth, hollow eye sockets and bone chilling cold stare hypnotizes anyone like a deer caught in the headlights. While I do like the Death card to look frightening, I appreciate some symbol of regeneration or rebirth in the image such as a snake (sheds its skin in Spring after a hibernating death-like sleep) or butterfly or animal that transforms after a coma-like slumber. This gives the card more dimension (and a sliver of hope never hurt anybody).
Movies: Dead Man Walking, Fearless, the Crow, Pulp Fiction (Jules), Pan''s Labyrinth, and Only Lovers Left Alive.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Skeleton, Grim Reaper, the snake shedding skin, butterfly, Lady Death, phoenix, and the black rose. Death is about letting go of outgrown forms to make way for new growth, rebirth and regeneration. Sorrow associated with the pain of moving on and closing certain doors to the past. Stripping away of outgrown feelings or beliefs. The end of the old and birth of a new cycle. The need to surrender to the inevitability of change. An ending that is illusory when viewed from a higher perspective. The natural conclusion of a stagnated relationship or familiar situation that stifled individual growth and change.
Symbols found in the image: A naked woman by a river bed...perhaps she is an angel with wings and halo. One foot rests in the shallow water and the other is on the ground (existing both in the unconscious and consciousness). She mixes liquid elements from two jugs, chalices or urns (one is often depicted silver and the other gold). It is a kind of alchemy: two diverse substances creating a third. It’s about combing the yin and yang or the whole being more than the sum of its parts. It could be depicted as an artist mixing paints to create some dramatic scene, but it is the combining and balancing of opposites that blend together to transform into something new (elevated).
Movies: Chocolat, Like Water for Chocolate, Lost in Translation, Rivers & Tides, and Paterson.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Creation myths, gold miners, artists, musicians, alchemists, mythologists and symbolists. Temperance is about harmony or the alchemy of combining diverse elements to create something better. It is the communication between the unconscious and conscious. Or how one thing wrong with the machine can screw up the whole system; the fluidity of a harmonious system or relationship.
Symbols found in the image: I like to have fun with this image and tap into that shadow side that resides in us all. For me it was always Spiderwoman, trapping unsuspecting victims in her web of deceit and feeding off their fears, ego, passions and illusions. (Remember, the energy itself is neutral, it’s the intention which transforms it). What is your demon and how does it reveal itself? Traditionally this card would depict the horned one with a long pointy tail, the black wings of a bat, glowing eyes, a wild, unkempt beard and either hoofed or taloned feet. His legs would appear furry, so that he is seen as half beast/half human. Squatting on a cube (4 square reality of humankind) he has a naked male and female (from the Lover’s card) chained to this cube. His right hand palm open and pointing upwards and the left one down, clasping a fiery torch. His open palm might be tattooed with the symbol of Saturn, that rules Capricorn (the Goat), which is the sign for this card. The colors would be mainly orange, yellow and black.
Movies: Leaving Las Vegas, Dracula, U-Turn, Moulin Rouge, Cape Fear, Being John Malkovich, Monster, Pan's Labyrinth, Get Out, and Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Goat, Pan, Satyr, Bacchus, Dionysus, Hades, Dweller of the Threshold, Eye of Siva, Yoni, Tantra. The Devil has to do with inner power struggles, anarchy and the destruction of societal systems, manipulation, irony and a wicked sense of humor, mischievousness stirring unrest or sensuality, passion and lust. Obsessions, going to extremes or feeling out of control. Dependence on another that can lead to misery. Self-destructive tendencies. Ignoring one's inborn code of ethics. Lack of balance. It may indicate an inability to trust. It could also point to the pleasure in the subjection of others or sadomasochistic qualities.
XVI The Tower
Symbols found in the image: Traditionally this card depicts the tower of a castle being hit by lightning (destiny), and set ablaze. People jump from the (three) windows head first to their death. Now of course it has also come to represent the two struck towers of September 11th where so many people plummeted to their untimely, tragic deaths. This is the most challenging card in the Tarot deck. It is about ignoring the signs that signal a need for change and so a more dramatic consequence occurs to force us out of the present situation. I tend to see this card as the destructive Hindu Goddess Kali. With a sword in one hand and a severed head in the other. She has a necklace of skulls and looks like a wild creature with crazy eyes and sharp teeth. She is a blood thirsty, crude, horrific archetype that brings forth decay and death, destroying all we humans have created or loved, while consuming us along with our ideas about who we are. She is also merciful and compassionate, determined to burn away our illusions so that the truth may be realized. She is powerful, raw and exaggerated - a symbol of transformation and change. In the background of her image, is also another dramatic scene of a fallen tower being engulfed in flames.
Movies: Brazil, A Streetcar Named Desire, Mad Max, Titanic, American Beauty, Requiem For a Dream, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Hurt Locker '9', Avatar, and US.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Tower of Babel, Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Hindu Goddess Kali, 9/11 towers, buildings, houses, furnaces, fire places. The Tower is about cleansing; tearing down rigid beliefs that no longer serve. Radical change and upheaval. Renewal through the act of destruction. This card doesn't stand for the realization but instead the cause. A traumatic escape from 'prison' and confining structure. This can signal tragedy if awareness is denied. If one is not psychologically or emotionally prepared for such an abrupt and often disruptive change, one may regress, becoming disoriented and confused, and it may seem difficult to recover from the fall. If, however one is aware of the need for such a change to occur or can regard fate objectively they will rise above circumstances and experience a deep awakening.
XVII The Star
Symbols found in the image: This card is one of the most optimistic and hopeful in the deck and a welcomed sign after the Tower experience. I see it as innocent as wishing on a star. Or the Native American folktale of the Great Spider Goddess who has created the universe and the twinkling stars are the dew upon her magnificent, intricate web. I also favor the belief that there are as many stars as there are souls and that each of us has a guiding star on which to wish.
Movies: Rocky, Rudy, Amelie.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Star of Bethlehem, Star of David, movie stars, the All-Stars, and stars on the flag. The Star is about things looking optimistic and bright. Feeling renewed and inspired. Recognition for achievements. Wishing upon a falling star; having faith in something or someone.
XVIII The Moon
Symbols found in the image: The full moon is a powerful feminine archetype. She floats in the sky above the ocean (she controls the tides and menstrual cycles and influences cyclical nature). She can look either loving or moody with howling wolves below and long dark shadows on the ground. Two spooky looking towers often balance out the image. This card also reminds us that dreams and nightmares can touch us but not harm us and that they are intended to alert us to some secret truths. She rules the nighttime; dreams, intuition and the subconscious mind. So there might be a subtle element of danger to this image (traditionally it is a crayfish or lobster crawling out of the waters, looking a little frightening and out of place). Or a dreamlike, surreal quality would also go well with the atmosphere of this card.
Movies: The Piano, City of Lost Children, Naked Lunch, Mystery Train, Ghost World, Everything is Illuminated, Pan's Labyrinth, Sex & Lucia.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Moon Goddess Diana/Artemis, Isis, collective unconscious, portals, gates, lunar cycles, the tides of oceans and the depths of the unconscious. The 3 aspects of the Triple Goddess as she relates to the 3 aspects of the Moon; crescent, full & waning and of women, (as maiden, mother & crone). The Moon has a lot to do with the ebb and flow of emotions, intuition and creativity and being drawn into the unknown. Imagination and dream work. It can mean the fear of the unknown resurfacing in dreams. Surreal imagination. The moon is metaphorically seen as the womb which both gives and takes life, so this card also stands for being sensitive to the inner knowing of when to bring something into your life as well as letting something go when the learning or spiritual process is complete.
XIX The Sun
Symbols found in the image: As the Moon is feminine energy, so the Sun is masculine power. This card is typically very bright, warm…outgoing and optimistic (almost overpoweringly so.) Often the Sun is depicted beaming brightly in the sky with one or two naked children happily playing down below. The sun usually has a gentle but focused look. The Sun radiates warmth and good vibes and is considered a fortunate card if it comes up in a reading that brightens the mood of surrounding cards. Colors are typically yellow, orange, white, (cheerful, bright hues).
Movies: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Randle Patrick McMurphy), Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Bottle Rocket, and Forrest Gump
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Sun God, Apollo, solar energy, Eye of Ra, Lord Siva, sunflowers. The Sun is about growth optimism, rekindled enthusiasm and the achievement of goals. Basking in the warmth of loved ones and success. In a negative context, it can mean burnout.
Symbols found in the image: This is typically one of those religious images with naked people rising out of coffins with their hands in the air, being lifted towards some invisible heaven and an angel trumpeting a triumphant end of days. But I prefer to see it as Liberation rather then some final judgment on the soul. It’s a rather abstract concept to convey but I tend to view it as a long corridor with many open doors or windows to pass through before getting to the end where a reflection of oneself stares back. In other words, after all your trials and tribulations through life if you can look at yourself straight on and come to terms with what you made of your time on earth, then you free yourself from future karmic obligations.
Movies: Shawshank Redemption, It's a Wonderful Life, High Fidelity, Waking Life, Monster's Ball, Schindler's List, The 6th Sense, The Color Purple, Everything is Illuminated, '9' and Moonlight.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: The Last Judgment, Goddess Nuit, diplomats, mediators, judges, St. Peter the gatekeeper, and bringing light into darkness. Judgment is about dealing with transitions. Evaluations of yourself and others, having a clean slate, making peace with the past and paying off karmic depts. Rising above negativity to resolve a situation.
XXI The World
Symbols found in the image: The great Goddess holds the earth in her ample lap. A snake (symbol of regeneration and rebirth) twists itself around her. Animals surround the scene. The mound (could be a hillside) that she sits upon has a crack that reveals the infinite universe (blackness and twinkling stars). This mound also represents her womb - the great void where chaos is brought into form and returns once more in order to transform. Chaos becomes creation. This card is a sign of coming full circle and a celebration of overcoming obstacles and gaining truth or reward in the process. But if that is too cheerful for ya, it could also be depicted as the rape of the land, the destruction of Mother Earth due to Humankind’s greed and domination. But I still tend to see it in a more positive light.
Movies: Rivers & Tides, Karen Valentine, Bagdad Cafe, Grand Budapest Hotel, Time Bandits, and Black Panther.
Description: Ancient/Modern Examples: Mother Earth, the universe, the womb, the Great Void, Kundalini, global consciousness, globes and spheres. The World is about celebration and abundance. The dance of life. Harmony, liberation and expansion but also an awareness of the earth as a living entity and a desire to protect her. Completing a major stage or cycle in life. A state of universal consciousness.
A brief description of how I see each Major Arcana card, visually and symbolically, as well as some
traditional symbols and perspectives. Also included some movies and characters, which viscerally depict,
the mood or archetypal persona of each card.