How Many Cards are in Tarot: A Comprehensive Guide to Tarot Decks

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How Many Cards are in Tarot: A Comprehensive Guide to Tarot Decks

When it comes to tarot, the mysterious and intricate nature of the cards has captivated people for centuries. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced reader, understanding the composition of a tarot deck is vital to interpreting the cards’ meanings accurately. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the number of cards in a tarot deck, the different types of tarot decks, and the significance of each card within the deck.

The Traditional Tarot Deck

The traditional tarot deck consists of 78 cards, which are divided into two main categories: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. Each card within the deck holds its unique symbolism and significance, contributing to the overall story and guidance that tarot can offer.

The Major Arcana

The Major Arcana is a set of 22 cards that represent significant life milestones and spiritual lessons. These cards are often referred to as the “trump cards” and are numbered from 0 to 21. Each Major Arcana card portrays a distinct image, often accompanied by a title or name. Some of the well-known Major Arcana cards include The Fool, The Magician, The Empress, The Lovers, and The World.

These cards hold significant transformative power and major life influences in a reading. They represent archetypal energies and universal experiences that transcend individual situations. The Major Arcana cards symbolize major turning points, personal growth, and profound shifts in one’s life journey.

The Minor Arcana

While the Major Arcana cards are the stars of the tarot deck, the Minor Arcana cards offer additional insight and detail, reflecting the day-to-day aspects of life. The Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards, and similar to a standard playing card deck, is divided into four suits: Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands.

Each suit in the Minor Arcana represents a particular area of life and is associated with specific elements and energies:

Suit Element Associated Meaning
Cups Water Emotions, relationships, intuition
Pentacles Earth Material possessions, finances, abundance
Swords Air Thoughts, communication, conflict
Wands Fire Creativity, passion, energy

Within each suit, there are ten numbered cards from Ace to Ten, along with four Court Cards: Page, Knight, Queen, and King. The Court Cards represent different personalities and reflect various aspects of human experience.

Alternative Tarot Decks

While the traditional tarot deck consists of 78 cards, there are numerous alternative tarot decks available that deviate from this standard. Many of these decks maintain the same structure, with 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards, but offer unique interpretations and artistic styles.

Some alternative tarot decks might include additional cards or variations in the names and visual representations of the Major and Minor Arcana cards. These decks provide practitioners with the opportunity to explore different interpretations and find decks that resonate with their personal preferences.

The Significance of Each Card

Each tarot card holds symbolic meaning and significance, contributing to the overall message and guidance offered in a reading. Understanding the core meanings associated with each card is crucial for accurate tarot interpretations.

While providing an in-depth analysis of each card is beyond the scope of this article, let’s take a brief look at the Major Arcana cards as an example:

  1. The Fool: Represents new beginnings, opportunities, and taking risks.
  2. The Magician: Symbolizes manifestation, personal power, and creative will.
  3. The Empress: Signifies fertility, nurturing, and connection to nature.
  4. The Lovers: Represents love, partnership, and choices.
  5. The World: Symbolizes fulfillment, completion, and integration.

Each card has a rich tapestry of meanings, and their interpretations can vary depending on the question asked, the spread used, and the surrounding cards.


As we have explored in this comprehensive guide, a traditional tarot deck consists of 78 cards: 22 Major Arcana cards that represent significant life events, and 56 Minor Arcana cards divided into four suits that reveal day-to-day aspects of life. Understanding the composition of a tarot deck and the significance of each card is essential for any tarot enthusiast or practitioner.

While the traditional tarot deck structure remains consistent, the world of tarot offers a wide range of alternative decks that present fresh perspectives and artistic interpretations. Whatever deck you choose, respect the ancient wisdom embodied in the cards and embrace the intuitive journey that tarot can offer.

Remember, the cards are merely tools, and it is the connection between the reader and the seeker that brings the tarot to life.

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How Many Cards are in Tarot: A Comprehensive Guide to Tarot Decks