The Tarot cards’ Rider Waite symbolism is extraordinary. Today, we will discuss the meaning of Rider Waite tarot cards, piece by piece.
There is a lot of symbolism in the cards deck of the Rider-Waite Tarot. Looking closely at the many symbolic elements on a card makes it easier to read/interpret the Tarot cards.
The symbols on the list below appear on Rider Waite’s Tarot cards, but the list can also be used for other Tarot cards. Here is the list of symbols that you can find on the Rider-Waite Tarot cards.
Tarot cards symbolism – list of common symbols:
- Beard: wisdom
- Bergen: overview
- Leaves on the bars: a new beginning
- Flower wreath: fertility with regard to the theme
- Bunches of grapes: fertility with regard to the theme
- Angels: helpers, mediators
- Large coats / wide scarves: built up a lot of inner knowledge
- Harness: protection
- Dog: instinct
- Dog with the fool: companion
- Dog by the moon: fear
- Crown: connected to the higher
- Laurel wreaths: laurels, honoring
- Leo: power
- Lemniscate: eternally continuous life force
- Moon: subconscious
- Horses: processes
- Someone on a horse: movement
- Cat: magic, being able to make/do something
- Red roses: willpower, life
- Snail: patience
- Snake: circle of infinity
- Staff in hand (not “staff”): wisdom
- Star: connecting, radiating cosmic energy
- Pisces: emotion, healing, anointing, water
- Butterflies: transformation
- Birds: communication with higher consciousness
- Fruits: fertility related to the theme
- White dress: spiritual purity
- White lilies: spiritual purity
- Clouds: another dimension
- Sun: awareness
- Sunflowers: awareness
- Pillars/temple: wisdom, respect
Tarot Cards Symbolism and Rider Waite symbolism at a glance:
Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles
The Tarot deck consists of 78 cards. These cards are divided into two Arcanes (“secrets”):
- The Major Arcana (big secret) consists of 22 cards.
- The Minor Arcana (little secret) consists of 56 cards.
This Minor Arcana consists of four sets of 14 cards that represent the four elements.
- Wands (element of fire): willpower
- Swords (element air): the rational mind of man, judgment, conflict(s)
- Cups (element of water): feeling, subconscious, creative ability
- Pentacles (element earth): practical, our ability to become aware of the things around us
The Ace, the Page, the Knight, the King, and the Queen
Within each set of 14 cards you have:
- An Ace (card one); this card symbolizes the beginning of something, a wish, something that is potentially present
- The cards 2 to 10
- A page; this card represents the beginner level, the student
- A knight; this map indicates that a few things have been learned and has the assignment to take this somewhere
- A queen; this card symbolizes the feminine perspective, the intuitive, is full of expectations
- A king; this card represents the male perspective, the responsibility to the outside, the arranging and the rational aspect
How can you use this list with the Tarot deck from Rider-Waite?
Learning to read/interpret Tarot cards is primarily a matter of doing. For that, you can draw a so-called day card (the name says it all, you draw a card every day and study it) or you can do Tarot cards spread very regularly.
First, look at the spread without the symbol list (you will eventually need it less and less often) and pay attention to the big picture. What do you see, what do you feel? Then zoom in on all sorts of details and look for the Rider Waite symbolism behind this. Depending on previous interests in your life, you can often go a long way without the list. Finally, take the list and combine all the symbols into one story/message.
What does this card mean to you (for the day to come and check back in the evening to what extent you saw this back), or what does this card mean in this place in the Tarot cards spread (in most Tarot books, one or more Tarot cards spread can be found) and what do I want / can do the message that comes out of these cards spread.
Hope this will help you to better understand the tarot cards symbolism that you often see in the famous and perhaps most popular Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot cards deck.
Tarot cards are rich in symbolism, and if you grasp the symbols on the cards, you may provide a complete tarot reading by interpreting them, even if you don’t know the exact meanings of each card. Symbols can be drawn from numerology, archetypal energies and symbols, color meanings, astrology, and spiritual Rider Waite symbolism, among other colors, depending on the tarot decks you select. Look to the card’s symbols for extra information if you get stuck during a tarot reading.
The Minor Arcana’s Symbols
The 56 cards that comprise the Minor Arcana of the tarot card deck are split into suits in the same way that conventional decks of 52 playing cards are. The minor arcana suits are pentacles, wands, cups, and swords. The meanings of each suit are based on the four traditional elements of Earth, air, fire, and water.
Rider Waite Symbolism of Pentacles
Pentacles represent the traditional element of Earth. This is a physical element that is grounded. When a pentacles card occurs in a tarot spread, it either gives knowledge about the querent’s physical state or discusses information about the physical (material) world in which the querent lives. The following are some of the topics that a pentacles card may address.
- Business or trade
Symbols Related to Cups
Cups represent the water element. Cups hold water, which is an easy way to remember this. Because water is an emotional element, when the cup comes in your tarot spread, it addresses themes that are mostly emotional in nature. The following are some examples of topics that a cup card could represent.
- Emotions and feelings
- Relationships and love
- Relationships with others
- Interactions with others
- Attempts at creativity
Symbolism of Wands
Wands represent the element of fire. Imagine sparks shooting from the end of a wand to help you remember this. Fire is a primitive and powerful force associated with spirituality and higher thought. It is also connected with passion and drive. When wands appear in a reading, they may indicate one or more of the following.
- Ambitions and objectives
- Motivation and significance
- Change is motivated by passion.
Symbols Found in the Swords Suit
Swords represent the air element. Imagine a sword swishing in the air to help you remember this. Air represents your mental self and the domain of thought. The following are some of the things swords may represent when they appear in a tarot reading.
- Disagreements and disagreements
Number Symbolism in the Tarot
Like a standard deck of cards, each minor arcana tarot card is either a number card (aces through ten) or a court card (Page, Knight, Queen, King). Each of these has its own symbolic significance.
Minor Arcana Court Card Symbolism
The court cards are the face cards of each tarot suit. Each suit contains four cards that represent the following:
- Page of Card Symbolism
- Youthful vitality, service
- Taking action, maturing energy, and forging ahead
- Empathy and compassion reign supreme.
- Leadership, achievement, and success
What Colors Mean on Tarot Cards
Tarot cards are bright, and the colors used in the illustrations have symbolic meanings based on the psychological effects of colors and the spiritual energy color relationship with chakras or auras. When interpreting a tarot card, consider the colors used by the artist or printer and the imagery and numerology. As you will soon see, tarot cards associated with each chakra have colors corresponding to them.
Rider While Meaning Behind Color Symbolism in Tarot
- Black – Protection, grounding, darkness or a lack of elements, disease, negativity, root chakra
- Red – Grounding, safety, security, passion, rage, and the root chakra
- Pink – Love, femininity, compassion, forgiveness, and the heart chakra
- Orange – Sacral chakra, joy, creative ideas, optimism
- Brown – Sacral chakra is associated with stability, neutrality, comfort, earthiness, muddiness, or a lack of boundaries.
- Yellow – Opportunity, spontaneity, and zeal are all associated with the solar plexus chakra.
- Gold – Majesty, divinity, spiritual leadership, crown chakra, or higher
- Green – Healing, love, harmony, balance, envy, bitterness, and the heart chakra
- Blue – Communication, peace, self-expression, trust, melancholy, judgment, and criticism are important. The throat chakra
- Purple – Third eye chakra, intuition, psychic ability, spirituality, reason, critical thinking
- White – The connection to the Divine, the higher self, newness, inexperience, birth, The crown chakra
- Silver – Crown chakra, emotion, sensitivity, empathy
As you can see, color symbolism in Tarot has a lot of depth and meaning.
Symbols & Images Related to Tarot Art
Each card on most tarot decks has elaborate artwork.
The elements of the scenario can assist the reader in interpreting the insights gained during the reading. Many of these elements are not as they look, but they are symbolic and may have a meaning that differs slightly from the visible picture.
Angels are used as symbols in this image.
- Pay attention to your inner voice.
- Pay close attention to the details.
- The client’s vision is blurry.
- Someone is unwilling to accept the truth.
- Someone is concealing the truth.
- Unseen power
- Psychic power
- Before acting, be aware of all circumstances.
- Truthfulness Loyalty Honesty
- We’re on the right track.
- Take note: A significant shift is on the way.
- Abundance of Fertility
- Finishing a task
- Use force to complete a task.
- Isolation Separation
- Growth as a result of a season of completion
- Opportunity for Knowledge Discovery
- Conscious effort produces significant results.
- The passage of time
- Change in Femininity Reflection
- Relax and allow the universe’s power to work in your life.
- Emotions/emotional states
- Look for a balanced solution.
- Possibilities for Growth after Sadness Cleaning
- Transformational personal journey
- Keeping afloat
- Strengths of Shelter Regeneration
- Triumphant Victory
Symbolism in the Major Arcana of the Tarot
The Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck has 22 major arcana cards. Each of the major arcana cards has numerology and archetype-based symbolism. The major arcana cards are numbered 0 to XXI (21) and reflect the soul’s journey from innocence to enlightenment. LoveToKnow contains articles that detail each of the major arcana cards, as well as their symbolism and meaning.
Symbolism of the Major Arcana Tarot cards:
- 0 The Fool – Innocence, the beginning of a journey
- I The Magician – Creation, alchemy
- II The High Priestess – Subconscious, intuition
- III The Empress – Feminity, compassion, wise woman
- IV The Emperor – Power, authority
- V The Hierophant – Spiritual guidance
- VI The Lovers – Relationships, partnerships
- VII The Chariot – Goals, ambitions, and motivation
- VIII Strength – Courage, perseverance, and standing up to life’s challenges
- IX The Hermit – Going within to find wisdom
- X Wheel of Fortune – Impermanence, change
- XI Justice – Fairness, balance
- XII The Hanged Man – Patience, perspective
- XIII Death – Change, new beginnings, endings
- XIV Temperance – Moderation
- XV The Devil – Temptation, control or lack thereof
- XVI The Tower – Cataclysmic change
- XVII The Star – Healing, hope, encouragement
- XVIII The Moon – Subconsciousness, deep fears or emotions, reflection
- XIX The Sun – Happiness, joy, excitement, awakening
- XX Judgment – Recognizing how your past actions affect others, taking stock, righting past misdeeds
- XXI The World – Fulfillment, the end of a cycle or quest
Various Frameworks for Interpreting Tarot cards Symbols
Tarot card symbols can also be interpreted in a variety of ways. Universally is the most universal way to interpret them. Jungian archetypes, for example, are thought to be universal symbols. That is, they are symbols that everyone recognizes, regardless of race, religion, culture, or family origin, because they stem from humanity’s collective consciousness.
Pregnancy and birth as symbols of creativity, or a heart as a symbol of love, are examples of universal symbolism. The following are some more frameworks for interpreting symbols.
Personal Experiences and Beliefs Give Rise to Symbols
These are usually unique and personal. For example, if you had a pet cat as a child, a cat may represent joy, love, or happiness to you.
Symbols Related to a Family’s or Tribe’s Origin
Within the tribal unit, families and tribes have their own symbols, which differ from tribe to tribe. For example, family coats of arms, family crests, or Scottish family plaids contain symbolism exclusive to a tribe or family that may not be universally recognized.
Symbols of Local and Regional Interest
The environment in which you live impacts how you see particular symbols. For example, if a local high school uses a dolphin as a mascot, the dolphin may represent regional learning or athletic excellence.
Religion, Culture, Race, Nation, or Heritage Symbols
Each of these societal groupings has its own symbolism that is meaningful and identifiable to that group. For example, the eagle represents freedom in the United States, and the cross depicts Christ’s crucifixion in the Christian religion. As another example, the swastika is nearly universally associated with the Nazi party and the atrocities of World War II in Western countries, while in Hinduism, it represents the sun, prosperity, and good luck.
Tarot Symbol Interpretation
All of the preceding factors are considered when interpreting tarot cards based on their symbolism. As a result, thorough consideration of each is beneficial while performing a tarot reading. Because you don’t always know what a querent’s personal, tribal, or cultural symbolism is, if you’re reading their tarot cards, you might ask them what they observe in the visuals of the cards and what those things represent to them before moving on to a more generalized reading. What do you think about tarot symbolism in the Rider Waite deck? I hope this post revealed a lot of tarot symbolism Rider Waite deck to you.