How Many Cards Are In A Tarot Deck?

Curious about the number of cards in a tarot deck? Look no further! Unraveling the mystery, this article will unravel the enigma by shedding light on the exact number of cards found in a standard tarot deck. Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned tarot enthusiast, understanding the deck’s composition is essential to deciphering its profound wisdom and legendary symbolism. Stay tuned as we embark on an illuminating journey into the intriguing realm of tarot cards.

Major Arcana


The Major Arcana is a significant component of a tarot deck. It consists of 22 cards and represents the major life events and spiritual lessons that we encounter on our journey. These cards are also known as the Trumps or the Triumphs. Each card in the Major Arcana carries its own unique meaning and symbolism, offering valuable insights into the human experience.

Number of Cards

The Major Arcana consists of precisely 22 cards, numbered from 0 to 21. Each card holds its significance and plays a crucial role in the overall tarot reading. While some decks may have variation in their artwork and interpretations for the Major Arcana, the essence and core meanings of these cards remain consistent across most tarot systems.

Meaning and Symbolism

The Major Arcana cards are rich in symbolism and offer profound insights into our lives. Each card represents a specific life lesson or aspect, and they chronologically depict the spiritual journey from ignorance to enlightenment. The cards portray archetypal figures, metaphors, and allegorical representations of various life experiences, such as love, death, rebirth, and transformation.

The imagery and symbols on the Major Arcana cards evoke powerful emotions and deep introspection. These symbols have broader cultural and historical significance, often drawing on mythological, religious, and astrological elements. With their profound meanings, the Major Arcana cards guide us towards self-discovery, personal growth, and understanding of the universal principles governing our lives.

Minor Arcana


The Minor Arcana is another integral part of the tarot deck. It consists of 56 cards and is divided into four suits: Cups, Wands, Pentacles, and Swords. These cards represent everyday experiences, challenges, and aspects of our mundane lives. The Minor Arcana complements the Major Arcana by offering more practical insights and advice for navigating day-to-day situations.

Number of Cards

The Minor Arcana is comprised of 56 cards, making up the majority of a traditional tarot deck. Each suit contains 14 cards, numbered from Ace to 10, followed by four court cards: Page, Knight, Queen, and King. These cards expand on the themes introduced in the Major Arcana and provide more specific guidance and interpretations for various areas of life.


Within each suit of the Minor Arcana, the cards are organized in a hierarchical structure, much like a regular playing card deck. The numerical cards, from Ace to 10, represent different levels or stages of the respective suit’s theme. The court cards, on the other hand, embody various personality traits or characteristics associated with their specific role in society.

Suit Symbols

Each suit in the Minor Arcana corresponds to different elements and symbolizes distinct aspects of life:

  • Cups: Representing emotions, relationships, and the realm of the heart. They are associated with the element of Water.
  • Wands: Symbolizing creativity, passion, inspiration, and the realm of action. They are associated with the element of Fire.
  • Pentacles: Reflecting material wealth, practicality, stability, and the realm of the physical world. They are associated with the element of Earth.
  • Swords: Signifying intellect, conflicts, communication, and the realm of the mind. They are associated with the element of Air.

The suit symbols and their respective elements offer additional layers of interpretation to the cards, enhancing the depth and accuracy of tarot readings.

Meaning and Interpretation

The Minor Arcana cards provide valuable insights into day-to-day challenges and experiences. Each card’s numerological value, suit symbolism, and imagery contribute to its unique interpretation. For example, the Ace of Cups often signifies new beginnings in emotional fulfillment and relationships, while the Ten of Swords may represent the end of a difficult phase or the need for acceptance and healing.

The Minor Arcana cards help us understand the practical aspects of our lives and offer guidance on how to navigate the complexities of various situations. By aligning our own experiences with the messages conveyed by these cards, we can gain valuable perspectives and make informed decisions to shape our future in a positive way.

Court Cards


The Court Cards represent influential people or personality types that can impact our lives in significant ways. They serve as a bridge between the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana, offering a deeper understanding of the individuals we encounter on our journey.

Number of Cards

The Court Cards consist of 16 cards in a traditional tarot deck, four for each suit: Cups, Wands, Pentacles, and Swords. Each suit has a Page, Knight, Queen, and King, embodying different attributes and roles within society.


The Court Cards represent both real individuals and the various archetypes and personality traits they embody. They may depict specific people in our lives, offer advice on how to approach certain situations, or reflect different facets of our own personalities.


The Court Cards also possess a hierarchical structure within each suit. The Page often represents youthful enthusiasm, the Knight embodies action and ambition, the Queen embodies nurturing and emotional intelligence, and the King represents leadership and authority. Their positions within the suit’s hierarchy influence their interpretations and the roles they play in a tarot reading.

Understanding the Court Cards enables us to recognize and navigate the dynamics of relationships, identify influential figures in our lives, and gain insights into our own strengths and weaknesses as we interact with others.

Deck Variations

Traditional Tarot Deck

The traditional tarot deck refers to the original design and structure of tarot cards, dating back to the early 15th century. It typically includes 78 cards, comprising the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The traditional tarot deck serves as the foundation for numerous tarot systems and interpretations around the world.

Rider-Waite Tarot

Created by Arthur Edward Waite and illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith, the Rider-Waite Tarot deck is one of the most popular and widely used tarot decks globally. It retains the traditional 78-card structure but features distinctive artwork and symbolism that have become iconic in the world of tarot. The Rider-Waite deck greatly influenced the modern understanding and interpretations of tarot cards.

Thoth Tarot

Developed by Aleister Crowley and illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, the Thoth Tarot deck is renowned for its deep esoteric knowledge and intricate symbolism. Incorporating significant occult teachings, astrology, and Kabbalah, the Thoth Tarot deck offers a multidimensional perspective on the tarot. With its 78 cards, this deck provides a unique insight into the spiritual and psychological realms.

Marseille Tarot

Originating from the city of Marseille in France, the Marseille Tarot deck follows a traditional style that dates back to the 16th century. Known for its simple yet powerful imagery, this deck comprises 78 cards and retains the essence of the earliest tarot designs. The Marseille Tarot deck is highly regarded for its ability to deliver accurate and insightful readings.

Numerology-Based Tarot

Some tarot decks integrate numerology into their designs and interpretations, further enriching the reading experience. These decks assign specific numerological meanings and correspondences to each card, allowing for a deeper exploration of the numbers’ symbolism within the cards. Numerology-based tarot decks offer a unique perspective, blending the wisdom of numbers with the insights of tarot.

Historical Perspective

Origins of Tarot Cards

The exact origins of tarot cards remain shrouded in mystery, with various theories and legends surrounding their creation. It is widely believed that tarot cards originated in the 15th century in Europe, possibly in Italy or France. Initially used for playing games, tarot cards eventually evolved into a divination tool associated with spiritual and mystical practices.

Development of the Tarot Deck

During the 18th and 19th centuries, tarot cards gained popularity in esoteric circles and started to incorporate esoteric symbolism and interpretations. The tarot deck, as we know it today, gradually took shape with the establishment of the 78-card structure and the inclusion of the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. Over time, various artists, occultists, and scholars contributed to the artistic design, symbolism, and system of the tarot deck.


Tarot cards hold immense significance across cultures and generations. Some see tarot as a tool for divination, offering guidance and insights into the past, present, and future. Others view tarot as a psychological tool for self-exploration and personal growth. The symbolism and archetypal imagery contained within tarot cards tap into the collective unconscious, providing a profound means of communication with one’s intuition and inner wisdom.

Numbered Cards

Meaning and Interpretation

The numbered cards of the tarot deck, both in the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana, hold unique meanings and interpretations based on their numerical value. Numerology plays a crucial role in understanding these cards and their significance in a reading.

Each number corresponds to specific qualities, energies, and vibrations. For example, the number One represents new beginnings, opportunities, and individuality, while the number Three signifies creativity, expansion, and self-expression. By considering the numerological aspects of the cards, readers can provide deeper insights into the themes and messages conveyed by each card.

Correspondence to Numerology

Numerology, the study of numbers and their mystical meanings, can enhance the understanding of tarot cards. Each number possesses its characteristics, vibrations, and symbolism, which resonate with the interpretations of the corresponding tarot card.

For instance, the number Seven is often associated with introspection, spiritual growth, and analysis, aligning with the introspective qualities of the Chariot card in the Major Arcana or the Seven of Cups in the Minor Arcana.

Influences on Readings

The numbered cards bring clarity, depth, and specificity to a tarot reading. They offer insights into various aspects of life, such as relationships, career, spirituality, and personal development. The unique combination of the card’s symbolism and its numerological value creates a comprehensive narrative that guides individuals on their journey and facilitates a clearer understanding of the circumstances they face.

By examining the numerological influences on the tarot cards, readers can provide more accurate and nuanced interpretations that resonate deeply with the querent.

Symbolism in Tarot Cards

Archetypal Imagery

Tarot cards are renowned for their rich and evocative symbolism. The images and symbols depicted on the cards tap into universal archetypes and evoke a deep sense of familiarity and resonance. These archetypes represent fundamental human experiences, emotions, and situations, allowing readers to connect with the collective unconscious and access profound wisdom.

The Fool, for example, symbolizes the beginning of a journey, taking risks, and embracing uncertainties. The Empress embodies nurturing, abundance, and fertility. By immersing ourselves in the archetypal imagery of tarot, we can gain a more holistic understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Allegorical Representations

Tarot cards often use allegorical representations to convey complex concepts and abstract ideas. These representations enable readers to explore various layers of meaning and uncover deeper insights.

For instance, the Hanged Man card depicts a figure hanging upside down, symbolizing surrender, suspension, and a shift in perspective. It encourages us to let go of control, accept the temporary nature of circumstances, and find new, illuminating viewpoints.

The use of allegory in tarot cards allows for a multi-dimensional interpretation and enhances the reader’s ability to communicate profound truths and messages through the visual medium.

Cultural Influences

Throughout history, the tarot has assimilated influences from diverse cultures, religions, and esoteric practices. Cards exhibit elements of Egyptian symbolism, Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah), astrology, and ancient Greek mythology, among others. These cultural influences enrich the tapestry of symbolism present in tarot and provide a broader context for interpretation.

By considering the cultural origins and historical significance of the symbols within tarot cards, readers can uncover additional layers of meaning and connect with the spiritual and philosophical wisdom of various traditions.

Psychological Significance

Tarot cards hold immense psychological significance, as they offer a means of exploration and self-reflection. The images and symbols on the cards can act as powerful triggers for our subconscious mind, allowing us to access hidden emotions, memories, and desires.

Through the process of engaging with tarot cards and interpreting their symbolism, individuals can gain profound insights into their own psyche, uncover patterns of behavior, and explore unresolved issues. Tarot readings provide a safe and supportive space for personal growth, self-awareness, and healing.

Tarot Card Spreads


Tarot card spreads refer to the specific arrangement or pattern in which the cards are laid out during a reading. Each spread serves a unique purpose and offers a different lens through which the cards’ meanings can be explored.

The layout of the cards in a spread influences the interpretation and the relationships between them. It adds further depth and specificity to the reading, enabling the reader to obtain comprehensive insights into the querent’s question or situation.

Popular Spreads

Numerous tarot spreads have been developed over the years, each catering to different aspects of life or specific inquiries. Some of the popular spreads include:

  • Celtic Cross: This is one of the most well-known and widely used tarot spreads. It provides a comprehensive overview of the querent’s situation, including past influences, present circumstances, future outlook, and guidance for moving forward.

  • Three-Card Spread: Simple yet versatile, the Three-Card Spread offers concise insights into the past, present, and future or an exploration of any three aspects of a question or situation.

  • Relationship Spread: Specifically designed for questions related to relationships, this spread examines the dynamics, challenges, and potential outcomes of a partnership or connection.

  • Career Spread: Focused on career-related inquiries, this spread delves into one’s professional growth, opportunities, challenges, and potential paths to success.

These spreads represent just a small fraction of the many diverse layouts available to tarot readers. Each spread serves a unique purpose and can be tailored to suit the needs and preferences of both the reader and the querent.

Significance of Card Placement

The placement of the cards within a tarot spread plays a vital role in the interpretation of the reading. Each position in the spread signifies a different aspect of the querent’s situation or question. The relationships between the cards and their placement enhance the depth and coherence of the reading.

For example, the card in the “past” position provides insights into the influences and events that have shaped the current circumstances, while the card in the “future” position indicates potential outcomes or the trajectory of the situation. By observing the interactions and connections between the cards in different positions, the reader can weave together a meaningful narrative that addresses the querent’s concerns.

The significance of card placement highlights the intricacy and precision of tarot readings. It enables the reader to provide specific and personalized guidance, leveraging the unique power of each card within the context of the spread.

Choosing a Tarot Deck


Selecting a tarot deck that resonates with you is an essential aspect of tarot practice. When choosing a deck, consider the following factors:

Personal Connection

A tarot deck should resonate with you on a personal level. Take time to explore different decks and see which one sparks a connection or speaks to your intuition. Trust your instincts in choosing a deck that feels aligned with your energy and preferences.

Artistic Style

Tarot decks come in various artistic styles, ranging from classic to modern, minimalist to highly detailed. Determine whether you lean towards traditional imagery or are drawn to innovative and contemporary designs. The artwork should inspire you and evoke the emotions and insights you seek in a tarot reading.


Consider the purpose for which you intend to use the deck. Some decks may be specifically designed for a certain type of reading or spiritual practice. Whether you wish to use tarot for personal growth, divination, or exploring esoteric knowledge, ensure that the deck aligns with your intended purpose.

Deck Size

Tarot decks come in different sizes, ranging from standard to pocket-sized. Consider where and how you plan to use the deck – whether it’s at home, during travel, or in group settings. The size of the cards should be comfortable for handling and shuffling, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the reading experience.

Ultimately, choosing a tarot deck is a deeply personal decision. It is essential to select a deck that resonates with your unique preferences, evokes your curiosity, and supports your tarot journey.


Tarot cards offer a profound means of insight, guidance, and self-reflection. With their Major Arcana, Minor Arcana, Court Cards, and intricate symbolism, tarot decks encompass a rich tapestry of human experiences, archetypes, and cultural influences.

The Major Arcana, consisting of 22 cards, represents significant life events and spiritual lessons. The Minor Arcana, with its 56 cards, provides practical guidance for everyday situations. The Court Cards offer insights into influential individuals and personality types we encounter on our journey. Together, these cards create a comprehensive system for understanding and navigating life’s complexities.

Deck variations, such as the traditional tarot deck, Rider-Waite Tarot, Thoth Tarot, Marseille Tarot, and numerology-based tarot decks, offer different perspectives and approaches to tarot reading. The historical perspective of tarot cards unveils their origins, development, and universal significance.

The numbered cards, symbolism, and allegorical representations within tarot cards deepen our understanding of the human experience and bring forth psychological insights. Tarot card spreads provide a structured framework for exploring specific aspects of life or addressing specific inquiries.

Choosing a tarot deck is a personal and intuitive process, guided by factors such as personal connection, artistic style, intention, and deck size. Embrace the journey of exploring tarot and allow its wisdom to guide you on your path of self-discovery, growth, and intuitive exploration.