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Discovering the Major Arcana

The influences of the Major Arcana are best discovered through careful examination of your own personal values and experiences. It is from the way you act and react to certain situations that the energy of the Majors becomes evident. It is from the way you think about things that the divine connection within you is revealed.

Below are open-ended questions for each of the 22 Major Arcana. The structure of the exercise is purposefully loose. If you like, you can do a different card each day for 22 days, starting at the Fool and ending with the World. You can do the cards in reverse order, or in any other order - each exercise stands alone. One approach I like is to draw cards until you get a Major Arcanum, then do the questions for that Major.

Nothing says that you have to do all 66 questions in this exercise. You can skim the questions and answer only the ones that interest you. I would suggest that you write the answers down, preferably in a diary or Tarot notebook, so you can refer back to them and expand upon them at a later time. But if you want to simply think about your answers, or use the questions as subjects for meditation, that is your choice.

 

The Fool

  1. Think about a time when you did something differently, and everyone laughed at you. Then think about a time when you did something differently and everyone complemented you on your innovation. How are these experiences the same? How are they different?
  2. When was the last time you felt perfectly free and careless, as if you had no worries and you could just be yourself every moment of every single day? Have you ever felt this way? If not, why not?
  3. Have you ever acted without thinking and done something amazing, that you never would have thought possible? What did you do, and why didn't you think it was possible?

The Magician

  1. What is your definition of mastery? According to this definition, what are you a master of? (Do not list only skills that relate to your career or education, but social skills as well.) What would you like to master?
  2. Name all the things that, while simple for you to do are very hard for others to do. When you do these things in front of others, how do you think they feel about it? Likewise, when you see something that you thought was impossible, how do you feel?
  3. When was the last time that you were so confident that something outside of your control (like a storm) would happen, that you would have wagered a lot of money on it? When was the last time you were that confident about yourself? Have you ever been?

High Priestess

  1. Have you ever acted on a hunch and been completely right? Have you ever acted on a hunch and been completely wrong? Have you ever had a hunch, ignored it, and then later, wished that you hadn't? If so, why did you ignore it in the first place?
  2. What secrets do you keep from others? What secrets do you think others keep from you? What secrets do you keep from yourself?
  3. If you could ask a single question and be guaranteed a complete and correct answer, what would you ask?

Empress

  1. What is the hardest job you can think of? Write down everything about this job that makes it difficult. Then write down all the things that make motherhood difficult and compare your lists. Which list is longer?
  2. Imagine yourself in a place far from civilization, where it is just you and nature. What do you feel? Are you comfortable here? If you can actually go to such a place, do so, and write down how you feel when you get there.
  3. What things do you think are beautiful? How would you describe a beautiful person? A beautiful place? Are you beautiful? If so, how? If not, why not?

Emperor

  1. How many people have control over you? How many people do you have control over? Does the way you treat those at your command differ from the way you are treated by your own superiors?
  2. Think about a time when you succeeded at a task because you planned things out far in advance, followed schedules and did things "by the book". How did you feel about working this way?
  3. Of the skills and knowledge you use on a regular basis, which of them did your father teach you? What did you learn from your father? If you are a father yourself, how have you raised your children and what have you taught them?

Hierophant

  1. List the following things: the class in school you liked the best, the teacher you liked the best, the class you liked the least, and the teacher you liked the least. Why did you like or dislike these particular classes and teachers?
  2. What is your definition of a mentor? Have you ever had a mentor, or been a mentor to someone else? If so, what did you learn from each other?
  3. What do you believe? Have these beliefs ever allowed you to solve problems or surmount obstacles that stopped others? Have they ever gotten in your way?

The Lovers

  1. What are the things you love in others? What are the things you love about yourself? Make two lists and see how similar they are.
  2. Have you ever loved two people at the same time, and been unable to choose between them? How did you feel? Have you ever loved someone only to find out that they also love someone else? How did you feel about that? Which is the more painful of the two situations?
  3. Which is more important - your own happiness or the happiness of those you love? Why?

The Chariot

  1. Think about a situation where you were angry but managed to avoid lashing out at someone. Compare that to a situation in which you did not maintain control. Which makes you feel better? Which has more positive effects?
  2. What things were you afraid of when you were young? What things are you afraid of now? Are some of the fears of your youth still with you? Why have you not overcome them like you've overcome the rest?
  3. What are your goals at the moment? Do you think they are realistic and attainable? How will you go about achieveing them?

Strength

  1. Think about a time when you were given a task, but it was too hard for you, and you had to give up before finishing. How did that make you feel? Is this kind of thing common for you, or rare?
  2. What is a hero? Who are your heroes? Do you think that you are someone's hero? If so, who? Why do they look up to you? What makes a hero in their eyes?
  3. List all the ways in which you are strong.

The Hermit

  1. How does being alone make you feel? Are you comfortable being alone with your thoughts? Do you welcome solitude? Or does it scare you? Do you always have to be with others?
  2. If you were on a desert island without any other people or means of communicating with the world, how long could you survive?
  3. When you wake up in the middle of the night, and it's dark, and there is nobody else awake, what do you think about?

Wheel of Fortune

  1. Have you ever found success at another person's expense? Has your downfall ever led to another person's victory? Think about how the universe works to balance out success and failure.
  2. Think about an opinion that you once held but that you no longer believe in. What made you change your mind?
  3. Do you resist change, or do you tolerate it, or do you welcome it even when it may not seem beneficial to you?

Justice

  1. How do you treat people, generally? How do those people treat you? Do they judge you according to their standards, or yours?
  2. Think about something you did to another person that came back to haunt you. Then consider a time when you did a good deed and were rewarded. How are these two situations different, if at all?
  3. If you had the power to eliminate one form of injustice in this world, what would you do away with? Sexism? Racism? Religious persecution? Age discrimination? Why would you do away with this particular form of injustice?

Hanged Man

  1. What things have you sacrificed, willingly or unwillingly, in order to get where you are in life today? What things would you give up to achieve your current goals?
  2. Picture yourself sitting at your boss' desk, at the front of your teacher's class, or behind the pulpit at your church. What things can you see that you couldn't see before?
  3. When might doing nothing be the right thing to do?

Death

  1. How many times in your life have you experienced tragedies? From how many of those tragedies did new wisdom and enlightenment come? Has there been a bad situation from which you learned nothing?
  2. Imagine that you had to move away from where you live (because of a new job or a natural disaster or whatever) and you could only take half of what you own. What would you take? What would you leave?
  3. If you were to die today, what would be said at your funeral?

Temperance

  1. Think about a time when you worked with someone who had a lot of your interests. Compare that to a time in which you worked with someone completely different from you. In which case did you work the best? In which did you learn the most?
  2. Do you think that your personality is predominantly masculine, predominantly feminine, or balanced? Explain your reasoning.
  3. Why is it important to experience both good and bad times?

The Devil

  1. What is holding you back from accomplishing your dreams? Is this blockage something within you or does it come from outside? What can you do in order to get rid of this blockage?
  2. Think of all the ways that being poor can affect your lifestyle, both positively and negatively. Then think of all the ways that being rich would affect your life. Given your lists, would it be better to be rich or poor?
  3. When something goes wrong, who do you blame?

The Tower

  1. What is the worst tragedy you have ever experienced? Why was it so painful? How did you overcome it? What things did you learn from it? Did learning those things make the tragedy worthwhile, or at least tolerable?
  2. It has been said that "pride goeth before a fall". List the times in your life where you have been sure of your abilities and skills, and boasted about them to others, only to be proven wrong and humiliated in the end.
  3. If your child's "security blanket" was covered with dirt and filth, would you take it away from him or her to clean it? How would they react if you did?

The Star

  1. You have many goals and dreams, but one of them is probably more important than all the rest. What is that dream? Why is that one in particular so important to you?
  2. Think of a time when you witnessed something miraculous. What did it feel like to watch such a thing happen? Why do you consider it a miracle? (Don't think that nothing miraculous has ever happened to you - everyone has at least one miracle.)
  3. What do you have faith in?

The Moon

  1. What kinds of things seem to happen to you at the same time every year? Every season? Every month? Why do these things seem to happen in cycles?
  2. How does the way you present yourself to others differ from the way you really are? What parts of you do you hold back from all those but your most intimate friends?
  3. When you are lost, what do you do? Do you stumble around and hope to find something familiar, or do you ask for directions?

The Sun

  1. Have you ever felt perfectly comfortable with yourself, just the way you are? When did you feel such a thing? What were you doing and who were you with?
  2. Think about all the things that you can do now that you could not do as a child. Then think about all the things that you could do then, but not anymore. Based on these two lists alone, if you had the chance to be a child again, would you take it?
  3. Have you ever gotten up early and watched the sun rise? If so, how did it make you feel? If not, try it tomorrow.

Judgement

  1. How has what you learned in school prepared you for your life after school? (If you are still in school, what has what you learned in past years readied you for what you are learning now?) How is what you are doing in this life prepare you for what lies after life?
  2. Think of a time when you had the chance to try a new thing, go to a new place or meet a new person, but you turned your back on that opportunity. Do you regret doing this? If you had to do it all over again would you choose differently?
  3. What actions do you refuse to tolerate? What people have you never forgiven? What mistakes have you never forgiven yourself for?

The World

  1. Have you ever succeeded at something difficult, and then not known what to do next, or not wanted to do anything else at all? Why do you suppose you felt this way?
  2. Think about the phrase "each end is the start of a new beginning". Is this true? Would it be correct to say that each new beginning is some other beginning's end?
  3. What do you believe will happen to you after you die?
 

Copyright 2000 James Rioux