Make your own free website on
Divinitory Meanings of the Tarot by Baird Stafford



Favorable:  Conventional readings give intoxication, delirium, frenzy, folly, mania and the like.  In some of the older decks, however, the animal shown with the youth is not a domestic puppy but a wolf; coupled with the divinatory meanings above, I would suggest that the card may represent the Animal in Humanity which much be harnessed and controlled before any advancement is possible.  Other sources give spirituality to the point of folly, or a major decision with multiple factors which must be weighed with extreme care.

Unfavorable:  Negligence, absence, wastefulness, vanity.  The Animal is in control.

I  The Magician

Favorable:  Mastery, skill, occult power or wisdom, will; diplomacy, subtlety; address, self-confidence.  Waite adds that it may represent a male seeker.

Unfavorable:  Slyness, craft, cunning, intrigue; innuendo, half-truths; misdirection; may possibly indicate megalomania.

II  The High Priestess

Favorable:  The future as yet unrevealed; silence, mystery, duality; the growth of occult wisdom.  Hidden influences at work.  Another source suggests change, alteration, fluctuation.

Unfavorable:  Passion (meaning, usually, sex); moral or physical ardor; acceptance of surface knowledge, conceit.

III  The Empress

Favorable:  Many sources assign her to the planet Venus: I believe she represents Mother Gaia in all her fruitful splendor.  Hence, beauty, happiness, success; sometimes luxury.  Fertility in all creative endeavors, from farming to raising a family to the arts.  Length of days.

Unfavorable:  Dissipation, inaction, vacillation, frittering away resources; but also, light, truth, public rejoicings.  Surrounding cards will indicate the correct meanings.

IV  The Emperor

Favorable:  Government, the control of masses, temporal power; stability, protection, conviction; also will and authority.  The dominion of intelligence.

Unfavorable:  Benevolence, compassion, credit; also emotional immaturity and the possibility of bondage to parents or others perceived as being in authority.

V  The Heirophant

Favorable:  The man to whom the Seeker turns for guidance; preference for the outer forms of spirituality, liking for ritual as theatrics without exploring the hidden meanings beneath; rigid adherence to the conventions of society, conformism.  Waite also suggests marriage or alliance, but the connotation is that these are matters of form rather than being unions expressing true love or affection.

Unfavorable:  Unconventionality, heterodoxy, openness to new ideas and spiritual inspirations - all with a caution to beware of being gullible.  Possibly weakness through over-kindness, a too-tender heart.

VI  The Lovers

Favorable:  Attraction, love, trials overcome (probably the three trials by which the Princess wins her Prince or vice versa); others speak of a choice between sacred and profane love (in some older decks, a full-grown angel instead of Dan Cupid stands between the lovers); choice implies responsibility.

Unfavorable:  Quarrels between domestic partners, perhaps due to in-law troubles; failure, frustration and contrarieties; the wrong choice may be the more attractive.

VII  The Chariot

Favorable:  In many decks, the animals pulling the Chariot are of different colors; in some, they struggle to go in different directions and only the strength of the driver holds them to the same course; hence: the conflict between spiritual and material, will (or wisdom) and passion, sense and sensibility.  Also, frequently, travel by vehicle.  Some suggest success for those engaged in artistic or spiritual pursuits, triumph over ill health and other adversities.  Waite also suggests vengeance as a possible reading.

Unfavorable:  One of the animals gets the bit between its teeth and runs away with chariot, driver and all.  Decadence, an unethical or immoral victory; dispute; defeat.

VIII  Justice

Favorable:  Likelihood that the decision will be the correct one.  All things pertaining to judicial proceedings; the decision will probably be favorable.  Equity, rightness, probity; truth.

Unfavorable:  Injustice due to bigotry or bias; legal punishment, sometimes of excessive severity; the failure of a cause at law.

IX  The Hermit

Favorable:  The slow, plodding passage of time - sometimes a very long time, indeed.  The acquisition of wisdom through maturity, age, or experience.  Guidance, whether from an older person or a non-corporeal source.  Possibly, a journey.  The older readings given by Waite demand prudence and circumspection in the face of dissimulation, roguery, corruption, and even treason.

Unfavorable:  The swift passage of time.  Immaturity, the refusal to age gracefully.  Waite suggests fear and unreasoned caution.

X  The Wheel of Fortune

Favorable:  Good fortune, success, increase, elevation, luck, felicity, and so on - all at pretty much face value for the card.  I find it may also betoken anything to which the concept of the Great Wheel may be applied: the turn of the seasons, the cycle of birth and death, and the like.  The Ciceros suggest Karma.

Unfavorable:  The Seeker is on the descending side of the cycle.  Things may turn for the worse.  Waite, on the other hand, suggests increasing abundance to the point of superfluity - too much of a good thing.

XI  Strength (the card is sometimes titled "Fortitude")

Favorable:  Power, energy, action, courage; the triumph of the spiritual over the material, of love over hatred, of the higher nature over carnal desires.  I find that the strength the card betokens is not a sudden burst of energy as when an athlete lifts an incredible weight, but rather the enduring kind such as a woman must have during the nine months of pregnancy.

Unfavorable:  Abuse of power, despotism; weakness; the triumph of the material over the spiritual; discord.

XII  The Hanged Man

Favorable:  This card seems to me to represent Wotan on the tree Yggdrasil or Jeheshua ben Miriam upon his cross; hence: strength of character, wisdom or spiritual insight gained through suffering or self-sacrifice; in extreme cases, apotheosis through agony.  In more mundane affairs it may signify stasis, the complete inability to move in any direction, usually due to outside factors over which one has no control.

Unfavorable:  Selfishness, absorption in physical matters; the relaxation of exterior strictures enable one to progress once again.

XIII  Death

Favorable:  It has become fashionable over the past century to claim that this card does not represent the end of the corporeal being, and the vehemence with which this view has been expressed and the numbers of readers who have espoused it incline me to believe that this may, now, be the case.  None the less, the picture on the card resembles too much the medieval paintings and later woodcuts of the danse macabre, those allegorical depictions of the progress of the Black Death through Europe, for me to believe that that was not the original meaning.  Modern cartomantists, however, give transformation and change - more often spiritual than physical; awakening to a new revelation; complete alteration of one's values and aspirations.  In my experience, however, the literal meaning of the card should be considered when it appears with the Queen of Swords strongly supported by other cards in her suit.

Unfavorable:  Stagnation, inertia, lethargy, petrifaction; somnambulism.

XIV  Temperance

Favorable:  This is the card of the alchemist or the herbalist: it means combinations or mixtures, primarily.  The concept may, of course, be extended to other areas of life; hence: coordination, adaptation, modification, mixture of forces, personalities or lives; modification by admixture; by extension, management, moderation, economy.

Unfavorable:  For the alchemist: great success with stinks and bangs but no Philosopher's Stone.  Competing interests in business or personal matters; the competition may well be of the one with the other.  Disunion.  Waite suggests the religious figure who will marry the seeker (to another).

XV  The Devil

Favorable:  The card deals mostly with the material world to the exclusion of the spiritual: in my experience, it usually denotes a sexual encounter, though it may also signify the amassment of riches, gourmandizing and all manner of over-indulgence.  Obsession with matters material.  Extraordinary efforts. Predestination.  Magic which affects the material plane, for good or ill.

Unfavorable:  Spiritual understanding, psychic healing.  Weakness, pettiness, blindness (not physical only), ineffectuality, indecision.

XVI  The Tower

Favorable:  This is the Fire from Heaven: that blinding flash which in a single stroke alters forever a life or a world.  This is the inspiration that compels the poet, the artist, the sculptor who creates at least one masterwork which has, over the ages, a profound influence on the lives of millions.  It is also, unfortunately, the inspiration which drove Adolf Hitler to compose Mein Kampf.  Hence: overthrow of the existing order, unforeseen catastrophe, calamity, ruin - all with the expectation that something new and greater will rise from the rubble.  On a more day to day basis, however, I have found that the card frequently signifies communication by electronic means: a telephone call, telegram, email or the like (I suspect this may be because this is the only card which has anything explicitly electrical in its common design, and the cards frequently make the best adaptation they can to a constantly changing world).

Unfavorable:  The same in a lesser degree.  Oppression, imprisonment, tyranny.

XVII  The Star

Favorable:  Hope, courage, inspiration, unexpected aid.  Good health, spiritual love.

Unfavorable:  Arrogance, haughtiness; impotence, stubbornness, pessimism, doubt; hope deceived, daydreams fail.

XVIII  The Moon

Favorable:  Fluctuation, change.  Unlike the Wheel or the Tower, the connotation here is of evolution rather than revolution.  Also, imagination, intuition, dreams, growth of psychic power and spiritual understanding.

Unfavorable:  Unforeseen dangers, secret enemies, deceptions including half-truth and innuendo.  Occult forces of malign intent.  Dissatisfaction. Imagination may be reined in by practical considerations.

XIX  The Sun

Favorable:  This is an obvious symbol of achievement, success, happiness, contentment; glory, gain, riches; spiritual enlightenment and bliss.  It is said also to illuminate all the cards around it; i.e. , its influence causes adjacent cards to give their most favorable reading.
Unfavorable:  The same in lesser degree.  Clouded happiness, gain not to expectations, difficulties in reaching spiritual goals.  Also, sometimes, display, vanity, arrogance.

XX  Judgment

Favorable:  The final decision, with no appeal remaining.  Other accounts suggest awakening, change of position, renewal, outcome.

Unfavorable:  Simplicity, weakness, fear of death, failure to find happiness. Also, a warning to guard one's physical health.

XXI  The World (This card is sometimes called "The Universe")
Favorable:  Completion more spiritual than physical, although the latter connotation must definitely be considered.  Assured success, recompense in full, reward; triumph in all undertakings.  Also in combination with reinforcing cards: change of place, voyage, travel, emigration, change of residence - all with an assured outcome.

Unfavorable:  Permanence, stagnation, inertia; fixity of purpose; fear of change, earthbound spirit; sometimes a venture into the unknown with no perceived security at the end.