Decoding Tarot Cards Infrastructure - Why Tarot Cards Are NOT Magic But Practical Tools

by Jerrico_Usher

Discover the tool millions of people use to make decisions, clear the fog in their thinking, and to help them understand even dreams- The Tarot Cards

Life is a very complicated process of lessons and experiences designed to spiritually enlighten us through our path. Although most of us make it a complicated trip the reality is that the complication, often perceived as failures or pain, is what actually extracts the lessons and gives us an opportunity to try to understand the kinks better so we can un-kink them!

The irony is that life is a very simple design as far as what we have to be consciously aware of, but without awareness of the road map life is pretty confusing. Take boys and girls trying to understand each other and why they do things they way they do. Naturally boys and girls serve as a balance and imbalance simultaneously. It's in learning to get along with and nurture the other that we discover our strengths and weaknesses, and that the strengths we gain from this equation outweigh any pain or suffering we had to go through to reach that zenith of awareness.

Tarot Is Considered A "Game" But Is It?

I Like To Think Of Them As Powerful Tools...


Tarot Cards

Meaning of life

A valuable tool has come about and utilizes the very hierarchy of life to "map" out answers to very tough questions. This tool is tarot cards.

Most people ignorant of what this tool really is think it holds some kind of magic, or that it inherently itself is magic or supernatural in power, much like a Ouija board.

The truth is the cards hold no magic other than their ability to provoke an emotional response in the mind of the "reader" or witness to the pictures.

The pictures are not magic either they simply depict brilliantly the different parts of the hierarchy of life.

Much like when you see a family picture then when you see each person in the family complete with their character (how they're dressed, their expressions that you recognize "is them" and so forth).

If these people in your family were printed onto cards depicting their different characteristics and talents in a very efficient way then all the cards of the "family" pack were shuffled and displayed you could say this is like taking the potentials of each member in the family and plan events based on how the cards land and of course common sense.

The cards just give you the map, you have to create the journey that uses it! 

You name each position in the spread and randomly shuffled the "family" cards and deal the cards into a specific pattern and use that pattern to assign the chores. Although I've never seen a deck like this, this is very much how alot of decks these days called "themed" decks are created. They deal with a range of spiritual concepts, instead of spring cleaning so their magical power perception is often preserved.

I think alot of people have the wrong idea about tarot cards. The cards don't tell your future. Even though one of the famous Celtic (pronounced Kel-tic) cross spread is the future position, this simply means probable outcome.

The Major Arcana

The major Arcana are the General life circumstances (The keywords are in the next picture for meaning decoding)
The major Arcana are the General life circumstances (The keywords are in the next picture for meaning decoding)

Major Arcana Broken down into focused keywords of the cards basic meaning:

I want to start this by saying I'm no tarot expert, I'm not certified in the art of tarot reading, however I've studied many books, classes and personally use the cards every day for guidance. I don't see them as fortune telling cards so much as a tool in helping me make decisions, and in alot of ways I think they give a pretty accurate representation of my current state of mind, emotions and they help me see the thoughts in my subconscious mind through interpreting the pictures.

I lend you here my insight and what I've learned about them but I too am still a student. But I find tarot cards not to be magic any more than a car is a magic vehicle allowing people to move fast across the earth.. no I see them as a technology that works primarily on psychology and through tools like astrology, and numerology and exercising intuition. If you're constantly wondering what the meaning of life is you can discover this in the tarot cards and lessons about them. Tarot cards are the hierarchies of life defined in pictures.

You should first take each card and meditate on it for an entire day. Carry it with you and look at it constantly. Why? Because as you go through YOUR day the cards picture will relate to every situation in some way. As you develop each cards meaning to you personally as you do this, reading them later becomes second nature- like answering a question you already know the answer to.

Meditate on the cards picture and realize each one has an amazing amount of detail. No color or part of the picture is benign. Think of it as a zip file where every file in the listing is a part of the picture, and everything, and I mean every single thing, even things you don't see right away, have a real and detailed meaning. The depth of detail and the meaning of each and every line or color, every detail- is what gives these cards their power.

In the subconscious these things come out and when you master the reading of the cards you'll see that these things are further dimensions than simply decoding the picture. They add rich details to your reading such as time, places, and even events surrounding the meaning!

The first set (above picture) is just the cards  the second set (picture below) I added the keywords found in a book called The Instant Tarot Reader by Monte Farber and his wife Amy Zerner. This book is an excellent way to get started if you know absolutely nothing about the cards.

Minor Archana

Minor Arcana (breaks the major arcana down into "life" steps)
Minor Arcana (breaks the major arcana down into "life" steps)
Ace of Cups (pentacle of great emotion)
Ace of Cups (pentacle of great emotion)
2 of cups
2 of cups
The Fool
The Fool
Queen of Pentacles
Queen of Pentacles
7 Pentacles
7 Pentacles
2 pentacles
2 pentacles
6 Swords
6 Swords
limbo/hanged man
limbo/hanged man
page pentacles
page pentacles
Page of Cups
Page of Cups
7 cups
7 cups
The World
The World
Ace of swords (master of intellect or great idea coming)
Ace of swords (master of intellect or...

How do the pictures break down?

The cards depict the hierarchies of life using what's called the major arcana  or the major issues faced by everyone in life (like judgment, money, security etc..) these are like face cards in a regular deck. From there each of these major hierarchies are broken down into 10 sub hierarchies.

Believe it or not life actually has an infrastructure, but what's fascinating is that most people follow it out of order.

It's in trying to organize your life into a manageable state that the lessons come in.

Suffering often happens when were "mixed up". Tarot cards show us the structure and where our path is, so we can organize our actions and reactions with more power.

How does this hierarchy work?

It would be like in my spring cleaning family deck (example above) saying that there are two major arcana cards MOM and DAD then their are the ACE's such as older brothers or experienced family members who are in charge of the younger kids. Below the aces are different "characteristics" or suits.

The suits (cups, pentacles, swords and wands) are the defining of the motivations of the actions. So Joey of cups is like saying what joeys character means say hes responsible and loving, mix this with the suit of cups and you have the emotional side of Joey's character.

This again is over simplifying the cards structure. I want to give you the concepts not the exact definitions of the cards. 

You have your kids in the family that are energetic those in the tarot are the wands or "movement" energy and such.. Then you have the sweet kids the hearts or in tarot the cups "suit". You have your intelligent kids those in tarot are the swords or intellect and moral fiber, then you have your entrepreneurial kids those would be the pentacles in tarot or money, finance, and security.

in tarot there are many more dynamics than you'd find in a family, because it encompasses the entire spectrum of life. They break the deck down into the following hierarchies or threads: (this is only a very basic idea of the dynamics involved, they go much deeper but to keep this simple I'll show you the top layers of meaning).

Ace(1)-9 = this helps to create time, hierarchy of order and degree of intensity

King, queen, knight, prince, princess = these are like the major personalities of life, king would be like the head of household.. a king of pentacles is like the leader of money/material possessions or security, competent and wise and it continues through the different sub hierarchies of the deck below.

The "face cards" would be:

King: wisdom,

Queen: competence intuition

Page: Messenger/news

Knight: sudden change (depending on what suit i.e. knight of pentacles is sudden change in finance or security, also depending on the surrounding cards that give clues into what kind of financial or security change is involved). 

Ace: usually the beginning of something, i.e. in ace of cups could be beginning of new romance (cups are water or emotions flowing)... new job (with hefty raise if the 3 of pentacles is near)

Wands = actions and movements, ambitions, work,

Pentacles = money, security, finance,

Hearts/cups = emotions,

Swords = intellect, morals

These are very over simplified definitions (useless if you don't realize the cards meanings, timing etc...) but I wanted to wet your appetite for decoding them by showing you how the hierarchy works. Decoding each of the face cards for example is a complex process as they are timing indicators, person indicators, and can depicts events or vocations that are associate with their astrological correlation: they mean more than one thing depending on cards around them and your question).

What do the numbers mean in astrology (newspaper? and tarot?)

The major and minor arcana aren't distinct like the maturity of a family member although the numbers leading to the cards do depict a maturity much like age (in one aspect of the cards meaning).

Progressively from ace (1) to 9 a growth of a sort is happening.

The meaning of the numbers will give you more insight into what the newspaper horoscope means when it says "Today is an 8". It's based on numerology, as are the cards numbers.

In reality the cards utilize many forms of fortune telling technologies. Numerology, astrology, and so on..

In numerology according to Author of the tarot bible the numbers mean:

  • one = The Number of actions. Single minded. Independent. The number one informs you that you need to be innovative, and motivated to succeed in your plan
  • Two = The number of negotiation. Cooperative and laid back, this number is telling you to adapt to circumstances to fulfill your dreams.
  • Three = The number of communication. Express yourself through creative outlets and your life journey will benefit from fun loving relationships.
  • Four = The number of realistic thinking.If you are practical and self reliant you will have the motivation to achieve whatever you set out to do, and can turn any situation to your advantage.
  • Five = The number of creative adventure. it is time to be more outgoing, exploring and questioning of others' motives. The expressive side of your nature will enable you to make changes to suit you.
  • Six = The Number of the protector. It is time to be of service in some way to bring out your nurturing side. However, six also reminds you not to let others decide your future for you.
  • Seven = The number of mysticism. On your life journey you will encounter many people involved in healing. You have an extraordinary talent for understanding the world. Listen to your intuition for the answer to a current dilemma.
  • Eight = The number of ambition. Right now you have a secret inner drive for success and power and you'll feel cheated if you don't achieve material results. Plan ahead. Sort out finances and the results will be equal to your goal.
  • Nine = The number of vision. you have extraordinary vision for the future but following things through will be hard, you must try to avoid making promises you can't fulfill, then you will gain the top prize.

The numbers, the suit, the picture on the card, and the place in the hierarchy (i.e. a face card, a lower or major arcana card, like queen vs 3 of pentacles) all network and mean something on their own but when mixed with where they land in the "spread" and what cards land near them or in other key spots in the spread, these things mean different things.

Learning the tarot deck is as amazing as learning to fly a helicopter.. it takes knowledge, balance and intuition to keep everything meaningful.

The cards are read differently between many different people however their is a basic infrastructure. Think of it like art.

There is a basic way to learn to draw, to paint, to make buildings or sculptures, but once you learn the basics the rest is personalized by the person and incredible insights come out in that persons understandings of the tools and the magic is really in the person not the tools.

The paintbrush didn't paint the painting, the painter did.. the insight didn't come from the tools it came from the persons mind.

To discover balance in your life learn to exercise your intuition, conscious and unconscious mind through tarot reading. You can do your own readings for insight or you can use the cards to help others see what you "feel" intuitively.

I believe we can read the energies of others and the cards are often stacked based on the focus of energies of the shuffler. Because you're both focused on the same result while they shuffle and you deal your synergizing energies to make the reading happen.

The answers and questions still come from your mind and watching of the others body language to some degree. The cards just give you a way to structure the intuitive information your both feeling. In the end the cards are just pictures, the answers come from your intuition and accessing the subconscious minds of the two people doing or receiving the reading. A reading is also, as you'll notice, not quiet time. Talking and discussing the images is likened to a session with a psychiatrist (and may include "ink blots" which are a form of tarot card developed for psychotherapy (psycho=mind therapy is self explanatory).

You can find a lot of books and online courses that will give you the rich detail about this you need if you Google the term learn tarot, but for this hub I'm focusing mostly on the circle of life of the major arcana.

What's fascinating about a tarot deck is that it's like taking the fundamentals of life's infrastructure, and compressing it all into a very detailed yet simple set of 78 pictures.

When you shuffle the deck your literally shuffling the meanings of life into a random order and placing them into a spread or order predetermined by you.

You may not believe it but when you shuffle the cards- if you looked at them first before shuffling- your mind actually acts like a card "mechanic"- someone who can place the cards in any order while shuffling because they have incredible focus and hand eye coordination).

The mind and hands can stay in sinc, especially if you've seen the cards and what order they are in BEFORE you shuffle. It's less random that way. The answer to your question is likely already in your head so this helps you put the cards in to the right order to tell you! Learning the cards and how to use them do many amazing things.

The cards just give you scenarios to work with, almost like an abstract painting only with much more precision of context. It plays your emotions into context, your thoughts into more lucid form, and helps you to guide into what your thinking, like those ink blots the psychologists use, only these ink blots are far more complex and easier to interpret. Learning the cards helps you in many areas of living:

  • Teach you the infrastructures of life
  • Train your intuition and your conscious mind so your subconscious and conscious mind communicate more clearly and decisions are made more wisely
  • train you to make decisions WITHOUT needing the cards at all eventually
  • more..

Your just trying to get an idea of how to react to a decision. In your mind you have answers you aren't consciously accessing and the cards make your mind probe for those answers more intuitively. It's like exercising your intuitive mind to link up your conscious mind and subconscious information.

It's not unlike when you see a Pepsi commercial a thousand times and find yourself at the store buying a Pepsi- your subconscious mind took over when you asked "what do I "feel" like drinking today?". The only difference is your brain is doing this pluck n show in the form of cards that instigate an aha moment.

Law of Synchronicity

Nothing happens "randomly". The law of synchronicity states even seemingly random events are done with precision. (Google synchronicity for more on this law).

They say nothing we do is actually beyond our perceptions, not even shuffling cards. If you look at each card just before you shuffle them your mind knows where each card is, and what each card means (for more accurate results).

You look at each card (calibrate) assuming you've learned what each card means to you, then shuffle with your question(s) in mind.

The questions are not magically answered by the cards they are focal points to think about, and your mind formulates the answer from the intuition and subconscious mind discussing it as you shuffle, and the subconscious mind is like the jury speaker who says the verdict, it does so by formulating the cards to land at the top of the deck in the order based on your preconceived pattern you will lay them down in. With practice you will be able to do this more quickly and accurately.

What seems to be a random act of shuffling is actually a conscious / subconscious mind meeting your simply not paying attention to. You stop shuffling the cards when you get the "feeling" that they're "ready", until you get the signal you get the urge to keep shuffling.

When the cards are laid out, you interpret them individually based on their placements definition and what the cards "speak" to you through the pictures. Much like you look at red and get a picture in your mind of something red or the definition of red. You network the pictures and meanings both at the individual level and as a networked effort. One card may make another card mean something different, and they influence each other.

Wait Rider Deck (complete)
Wait Rider Deck (complete)


A "Reading" is really just an advanced exercise in thinking using picture cards and a programmed hierarchy (the spread is just a goal definition of the answers) of placements to help you focus. In the end the answers to your question come from and are generated in your mind, using your intuition, your subconscious and your knowledge base  skill sets etc.. The cards do nothing more than provoke you to think at a deeper level than you're used to!


The cards stimulate your thinking using amazing thought provoking pictures that help you reconnect to your intuition. Most people ignore their intuitive thoughts and these pictures bring it to surface in a fascinating way.

You could say you "get to know your deck" and when you get practice at reading cards you'll find that your not trying to define them so much as interpret the thoughts in your mind when you look at the pictures.

You get accustomed to certain thought forms coming with certain pictures and over time all the cards become connected to other cards in different formats and where they land etc.. It's a lot like how language is formed by learning how to talk/write the words then eventually people develop their own style of talking, forming words and sentences and thoughts become communicated through language but it's not the words but how you use them that change their meaning.

For example, come here is different from she's coming this way, the same word is flavored by the other words in the sentence. The cards do this in a way only the language is more telepathic in nature, pictures translate into thoughts and embed emotional responses and so on.. The thoughts and motivations for your answers are often there but beyond your conscious awareness..

Much like you get nervous at a job interview but when your away from the stress the things you really wanted to say seem to surface.. The cards are pictures that have been shown to almost magically stimulate your thoughts into a lucid form from your subconscious processes and allow you to more clearly understand what your mind discovered but simply didn't share with the conscious mind.

The fascinating thing is when you lay a spread down like the Celtic cross you can look at the cards pretty fast and your answer seems to poke out at you like staring at a very vivid painting of something.

You start to see the big picture so to speak come alive in more rich detail, like a 3D picture. You look at for example position 6 (near future) and position 11 (or 10 depending on your format) (distant future or consolidated answer (position 11 tells what all the other cards are saying in one card) then you can see the bridge between how card 11 got its answer and card 6 came to be.. The left card in the cross and the right card are past to future so you can see how the past event unfolded to the future circumstances and so on...

Learn The Tarot
Learn The Tarot

Resources for learning fast!


I did alot of searches for tarot lessons when I started out but this site has everything you need. Most sites don't explain the cards intuitively or systematically in a learning format so I put this site I used. I get no credit for sending them traffic or anything, I just enjoy the format because it is very good. They even explain how the hierarchy works in a story format here:

 "FOOLS JOURNEY". I think you should read this first as it really helps you crystallize everything in this article.

Root site:

Index to Lessons (links and overview)

You can buy the Waite Rider deck and use this site as your interpretation site as you learn. You just lay the cards out (they show you the two most used spreads) then click on the particular card you want to define (at first you use crutches like this to get familiar with the cards hierarchy definitions then as you go you start to sway into your own definition and meaning as you practice).

You develop an intuitive sense of what that card means to you then eventually you do it naturally. This site shows you the entire course and its where I learned, its one amazing class in tarot. I printed out every page of the site and laminated it then put it into a binder as my go to book for definitions  I always tried to define it myself but if I drew an absolute blank this bailed me out.

In the cards just count the pentacles or cups or swords or wands to get the number i.e. if you count three wands its the 3 of wands, face cards all have the card name on the bottom.

Although there are spreads that are used a lot, you'll realize later as you get the hang of it that these spreads are just training wheels (although many like me use the Celtic cross religiously lol, because its truly a powerful way to read the cards) but you can generate your own spreads, just define each position before the reading so your mind knows how to select the cards as you shuffle.

One spread uses all 78 cards, talk about a detailed reading. It's like taking every aspect of life based on the question and putting the entire map into perspective! Don't stress right away, you'll get it, it just happens as you play with it..

You wont get amazing and accurate readings right away, well often you do but don't realize it because you haven't yet trained yourself to know the cards meaning (at many intuitive levels) to you until you do a few readings.. But when it kicks in you'll feel an almost magical thing happen like answers just appear without effort.. That's when the cards get really fun..

They train your intuition and you'll feel almost psychic after a while as you discover the training/fun unlocks a power to perceive life more fully and accurately even with out the cards! it exercises your brain in a very interesting way that will feel magic and brilliant (but so does noopept a cognition enhancing nutreceutical, but it's not magic in either count- it's plain physics).

The best way to learn and get motivated is to do mock readings for friends. When I started I worked at Wal-Mart and would take my deck to work. I did over 300 readings over a month's time, I picked up the cards meaning pretty fast, as I did the readings I literally just guessed what the cards meant.

When the reading was over I'd write down (for my own not theirs) what i thought it meant would happen, then later I'd write down what DID happen and see the spread (which I photographed) again and read it based on the past/present descriptions. Where there was a difference I looked at the cars again and realized it told me something but I didn't listen/see it. Over time this develops into a more honed skill set like watching a magic trick then later seeing how it's done (unfortunately in both cases it takes the magic away but in the tarot cards you don't want magic- you want results!).

I didn't use my books (too cumbersome to carry around all the time) I was often pretty close, I never even let them tell my their question and often answered it by what I "saw". The pictures made me feel something and I just said what I felt.. It was magical really (to be fair I am pretty fluent in reading people so that played in and became the question).. People wanted me to do readings so much (I got really good at it) that I left my deck at home to get a moments peace...

Card Definitions Index

Enjoy! Good Luck!

Updated: 02/27/2013, Jerrico_Usher
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