O THE FOOL
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,
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
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
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.
Favorable: Likelihood that the decision will be the correct
one. All things pertaining to judicial proceedings; the
decision will probably be favorable. Equity, rightness,
Unfavorable: Injustice due to bigotry or bias; legal
punishment, sometimes of excessive severity; the failure of a cause
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
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
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
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
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;
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,
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,
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
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,
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
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.