I wanted to create a list of terms that are frequently used by the Tarot community. I’m considering this a “working” glossary because these are all the terms that I am familiar with, or else can easily think of or can quickly look up myself. However, I understand there may still be a number of things that have been left out. If any of you can think of another and would like to add to the list, tell me in the comments! Also, if you are looking for something and can’t seem to find it, let me know and I’ll do my best to provide it for you!
Ace – The Ace is the first card of each of the four suits. It represents the number one, which in numerology signifies creation and beginnings. Depending on the suit, it will represent a new energy necessary to move forward in any particular journey.
Affirmation – An affirmation is a declaration you repeat to yourself until you believe that it is true. “I am brave.”
Air – Air is a direction of energy used in Tarot to represent the suit of Swords. It signifies communication, intellect, analyzation, and decision-making. Aquarius, Gemini, and Libra all belong to this element, as well.
Akasha – Akasha is considered to be the fifth element from which the other four derive. It can represent the soul and the physical space we take up on Earth.
Angel – Angels are spiritual beings with whom we connect for guidance. While some believe angels are the spirits of the deceased and others believe they were created by God, there is a general consensus that they might actually be both.
Aquarius – Aquarius is the eleventh sign of Astrology and is represented by the water element and the planet Uranus. Someone with the sun sign of Aquarius would have been born between January 21 and February 18.
Arcana – Arcana means mysteries or secrets. As the Tarot deck consists of mainly pictures, the meanings behind them are what are considered to by mysterious or hidden. The Tarot deck is split into two sections; Major Arcana and Minor Arcana.
Archangel – An archangel is a very powerful, spiritual, and high-ranking angel. Some have been depicted in the Tarot cards and include Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Michael.
Archetype – An archetype, according to Carl Jung, is an original thought pattern, intuitive and instinctive in nature, that a person is born with. It is what gives them their specific character traits, like those found in the Major Arcana and the court cards of the Minor Arcana. Archetype examples include the hero, maiden, old man, mother, father, etc.
Aries – Aries is the first sign of Astrology and is represented by the fire element and the planet Mars. Someone with the sun sign of Aries would have been born between March 20 to April 21.
Baton – A Baton is another term for the suit of Wands.
Book of Thoth – The Book of Thoth is said to be the original source of Tarot, originating from Egyptian scriptures, supposedly written by the Egyptian God of Writing and Knowledge. It was later theorized by Aleister Crowley, who then created Thoth Tarot – a very popular variation of Tarot.
Cancer – Cancer is the fourth sign of Astrology and is represented by the water element and the Moon. Someone with the sun sign of Cancer would have been born between June 21 and July 23.
Capricorn – Capricorn is the tenth sign of Astrology and is represented by the earth element and the planet Saturn. Someone with the sun sign of Capricorn would have been born between December 21 and January 21.
Celtic Cross – The Celtic Cross is a very popular Tarot spread that is used to determine the details surrounding a person, their question, or their situation. This spread consists of a cross in the center and a staff on the right-hand side.
Chalice – A Chalice is another name for the Cups suit. It is a large cup usually used to drink wine from. Two can be found being used by Archangel Michael to pass water between on the Temperance card in the Rider-Waite deck.
Chariot, The – The Chariot is card six, or the seventh card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card is used to denote forward movement, development, progress, determination, and action.
Client – A client is a person who is receiving a Tarot reading.
Coins – Coins is another term used in place of the suit of Pentacles.
Consciousness – Consciousness is the state of being aware. In Tarot, this more specifically means being aware of what is outside of ourselves and the worldly, material things in the physical world around us.
Consultant – A consultant is another term for the person reading your Tarot cards.
Court Cards – The Court Cards are found in the Minor Arcana and consist of The Page, The Knight, The Queen, and The King. Because there are varying decks, these court cards may be referred to by other names, such as the Prince and Princess and Queen and King. Each suit has its own court cards that are used to portray four specific archetypes, or qualities that might be found within the querent or his or her particular situation.
Cups – Cups are one of the four suits found in the Minor Arcana of the Tarot deck. The cups are represented by the water element and deal with love, relationships, partnerships, dreams, memories, and feelings.
Death – Death is card thirteen, or the fourteenth card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card is used to denote cycles – more specifically, the abrupt ending of one and the beginning of another. It is also used to portray change, new opportunities, transformation, and a break from the old.
Devil, The – The Devil is card fifteen, or the sixteenth card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card represents addiction, temptation, lust, and greed. It also denotes the feeling of being stuck, trapped, or held prisoner.
Dignified – Dignified is another term used in the place of upright, as in opposite to reversal.
Divine – Divine means to be from, of, or like God.
Divination – Divination is the using of Tarot, and other spiritual means, to acquire knowledge about our future. Other words used in its place may be fortune-telling, prophecy, prediction, or divining.
Earth – Earth is one of the four elements used to help classify each suit of Tarot. This element represents the Pentacles suit in the Rider-Waite deck and describes material possessions, money, physical objects and places, people, achievements, careers, and the home.
Emperor, The – The Emperor is card 4, or the fifth card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card is commonly referred to as the Father archetype. It signifies authority, wisdom, structure, and control.
Empress, The – The Empress is card 3, or the fourth card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card is commonly referred to as the Mother archetype. It signifies abundance, fertility, sexuality, and patience.
Esoteric – Esoteric is a term used to describe a type of hidden knowledge that only a small community seeks to understand.
Fire – Fire is one of the four elements used to help classify each suit of the Tarot deck. It represents the suit of Wands in the Rider-Waite deck and describes passions, desires, courage, action, impulse and energy.
Fool, The – The Fool is card 0, the first card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. It s commonly referred to as the happy-go-lucky adventurer archetype. It signifies the start of a journey, the spark of an idea, self-knowledge and awareness, and possibility. It can also represent impulsiveness, fear, irrationality, and poor judgement.
Hanged Man, The – The Hanged Man is card twelve, the thirteenth card in the Major Arcana of the Rider-Waite deck. This card represents contradictions, restriction, waiting, reflection, and sacrifice. It can also show manipulation and passivity.
Hearts – Hearts is a suit of the modern playing card. It is also a term used to represent the suit of Cups in the Minor Arcana.
Hierophant, The – The Hierophant is card five, or the sixth card in the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. It is commonly referred to as the archetype of knowledge and spiritual connection. This card represents unity, education, mentor-ship, leadership, guidance, and development.
Hermit, The – The Hermit is card nine, or the tenth card in the Major Arcana of the Rider-Waite deck. This card is commonly referred to as the old man archetype. It represents wisdom, observation of dreams, self-expansion, peace and patience. It can also signify maturity, spiritual connection, reflection, and planning.
High Priestess, The – The High Priestess is card two, the third card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card is commonly referred to as the wise woman archetype. It is also referred to as the female Pope. It represents secrets, hidden knowledge, spirituality, and the unconscious. It signifies the use of intuition, dreams, and higher truths through quiet observation.
Intuition – Intuition is the understanding of a situation through instant instinct as opposed to conscious reasoning. It is commonly referred to as a gut-feeling, inkling, suspicion, or hunch.
Intuitive – Intuitive is a term used to describe a person or situation that uses intuition as their form of reasoning.
Joker – Joker is another term used to describe The Fool in the Major Arcana of the Rider-Waite deck.
Judgement – Judgement is card twenty, the twenty-first card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card represents deep reflection of one’s past, preparation for the end, and transition into a new phase or cycle. It signifies forgiveness, second chances, reflection, course-correction, accomplishment and self-worth.
Justice – Justice is card eleven, the twelfth card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card represents balance, decision-making, guidance, fairness, and rationality. It signifies respect, loyalty, the need for forgiveness, and rules.
Kabbalah – Kabbalah is the ancient Jewish tradition of interpreting the Bible by esoteric means and methods. Tarot is commonly connected to the Tree of Life, a Kabbalistic philosophy describing the path to God.
Keyword – A keyword is a word or phrase that is used to shorten a more in depth meaning of a letter, word, symbol or picture.
King – King is the fourteenth card of each of the four suits of the Minor Arcana, and is the highest-ranking court card. This card is commonly connected with the mature man archetype.
Knight – Knight is the twelfth card of each of the four suits of the Minor Arcana and is the second of the court cards. This card is commonly connected with the younger man archetype, personifying youthfulness. It can also be refered to as the Prince card.
Layout – A layout is a term used to describe the organized laying of cards for any given Tarot reading. It follows a predetermined pattern where each card represents a specified meaning depending on where it is placed within the layout. Spread can be used interchangeably in its place.
Leo – Leo is the fifth sign of Astrology and is represented by fire and the sun. Someone with the sun sign of Leo would have been born between July 23 and August 22.
Libra – Libra is the seventh sign of Astrology and is represented by air and the planet Venus. Someone with the sun sign of Libra would have been born between September 23 and October 23.
Lovers, The – The Lovers is card six, the seventh card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card represents partnerships and critical life choices, as in deciding between temptation and obligation, as depicted in the story of Adam and Eve. It signifies uncertainty, self-awareness, fears, and hesitation.
Magic – Magic is an occult method of using the forces of nature, the elements, to create a supernatural effect.
Magician, The – The Magician is card one, the second card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. The card is commonly referred to as the visionary or inventor archetype. It represents planning, skills, creativity, and goal-setting. It signifies new ideas, strategies, and possibilities.
Major Arcana – The Major Arcana is a term used to describe the first 22 cards of the Tarot deck, starting with The Fool and ending with The World. This section of the deck is considered to be higher-ranking that the Minor Arcana, also referred to as Greater Secrets. These cards typically denote more permanent, life-altering events.
Mandala – A mandala is a spiritual symbol used to represent the universe. It can be used as a tool to aid in meditation and creation of sacred space.
Minor Arcana – The Minor Arcana is a term used to describe the last 56 cards of the Tarot deck and is split into to four suits: Cups, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles. These cards can be referred to as Lesser Secrets and typically denote temporary situations or day-to-day events.
Moon, The – The Moon is card eighteen, the nineteenth card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card represents dreams, illusions, fantasies, and femininity – as in the lunar phases and their connection to women (maternal, womanhood, cycles). It signifies the need for clarity and direction, as well as highlights fluctuating moods and conflicts within our subconscious.
Numerology – Numerology is the knowledge of the meanings and symbolism surrounding the significance of numbers.
Occult – Occult is a term used to refer to the details and philosophies of hidden knowledge, which is only discovered by those who can obtain it through the use of their intuition or awareness of what is beyond us, or higher awareness.
Oracle – An oracle is someone who is able to provide spiritual guidance through divination and precognition of the future, usually directly from God.
Oracle deck – An oracle deck contains cards that are used specifically for forecasting the future. Commonly, these cards are classified by the author of the deck.
Page – Page is the eleventh card of each of the four suits of the Minor Arcana and is the first of the court cards. This card is commonly referred to as the young feminine archetype, although it can be either male or female. This card usually signifies a messenger.
Path – A path in Tarot refers to the spiritual journey one takes to find oneself, as in finding peace and personal purpose in life.
Pentacles – Pentacles is one of the four suits of the Minor Arcana and is represented by the element of Earth. It represents earthly possessions, material, money, career, home, objects, places, and health.
Pips – A pip is a numbered card in the Minor Arcana of the Tarot deck.
Pisces – Pisces is the twelfth sign of Astrology and is represented by water and the planet Neptune. Someone with the sun sign of Pisces would have been born between February 19 and March 20.
Pope, The – The Pope is another name for The Heirophant. It is used interchangeably with The High Priest.
Prediction – A determination of the future through intuitive forecasting, such as with Tarot, astrology, and numerology, among others.
Prince – Prince is another name that refers to the Knight card of the Minor Arcana.
Princess – Princess is another name that refers to the Page card of the Minor Arcana.
Psychic – A psychic is someone who is very sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of other people and is able to forecast the future.
Queen, The – The Queen is the thirteenth card of each of the four suits of the Minor Arcana and is the third of the court cards. This card is commonly referred to as the mature woman archetype.
Querent – A querent is the person on the receiving end of a Tarot reading. It is the one seeking guidance.
Reader – The reader is a person trained and skilled in reading the Tarot cards in order to provide guidance to the querent.
Reading – The reading is the act of interpreting the cards in an attempt to provide guidance to the querent.
Reversal – Reversal cards, or reversals, are cards in the Tarot deck that were placed upside down and denote a specific interpretation as a result.
Rods – Rod is another term used to refer to the suit of Wands.
Sagittarius – Sagittarius is the ninth sign of Astrology and is represented by the element of fire and the planet Jupiter. Someone with the sun sign of Sagittarius would have been born between November 22 and December 21.
Scepters – Scepter is another term used to refer to the suit of Wands.
Significator – A significator is a card drawn from the deck to provide more information on a specific subject in a spread. It can also be used to represent the querent.
Spades – Spades is a term used to refer to the suit of Swords.
Spirit – Spirit is said to be the energy that gives us life. It is referred to as the fifth element, also referred to Akasha or Akash.
Spread – Spread, also known as layout, is the strategic placement of cards where each card represents a different interpretation depending on its placement.
Star, The – The Star is card seventeen, or the eighteenth card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card represents positivity and confidence, hope and guidance. It signifies peace of mind, personal expansion, optimism, and emotional and spiritual development.
Staves – Staves is another term used to refer to the suit of Wands.
Strength – Strength is card eight, or the ninth card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite Deck. This card represents determination, patience, action, and bravery. It signifies gentleness, carefulness, and respectfulness, as well as the ability to overcome difficult situations gracefully.
Suit – A suit is one-fourth of the Minor Arcana consisting of fourteen cards of the Tarot deck.
Sun, The – The Sun is card nineteen, or the twentieth card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card represents overall positivity, joy, warmth, and light. It signifies good health, recovery, moving energy, growth, children, and opportunity.
Sun sign – A sun sign is a predetermined set of qualities and traits one is said to have upon birth depending on where the Sun was located at the time of one’s birth. This is more easily determined by comparing one’s date of birth to the predetermined chart of the signs of Astrology.
Swords – Swords are one of the four suits of the Minor Arcana and are represented by the element of Air. It represents action, intellect, communication, and thoughts. It signifies the energy one exerts.
Tarot – Tarot is the representation of illustrations portrayed across seventy-eight cards of the Tarot deck. Each card provides endless opportunity to interpret through the use of intuitive insight.
Taurus – Taurus is the second sign of Astrology and is represented by the element of earth and the planet Earth. Someone with the sun sign of Taurus would have been born between April 20 and May 21.
Temperance – Temperance is card fourteen, or the fifteenth card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card represents balance, negotiation, blending of elements, coordination, and cooperation. It signifies moderation, tolerance, and harmony.
Tower, The – The Tower is card sixteen, or the seventeenth card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card represents abrupt endings, change, starting over, breakdowns, and revelations. It signifies freedom, release, forward movement and understanding.
Tree of Life – The Tree of Life is a symbol used in Kabbala to describe the path to God. It consists of ten interconnected spheres that represent each of the ten archetypal numbers – Crown, Wisdom, Understanding, Mercy, Strength, Beauty, Victory, Splendor, Foundation, and Kingdom. In Tarot, one can lay the cards according to the points of the Tree of Life to interpret the message in the area of each card’s placement.
Trumps – Trumps is a term used to refer to the twenty-two cards in the Major Arcana.
Unconscious – Unconscious refers to the part of one’s mind that is hidden, such as memories. It is said to be responsible for one’s behavior and emotions. It is also known as the subconscious, psyche, inner self, and ego.
Virgo – Virgo is the sixth sign of Astrology and is represented by the element of earth and the planet Ceres. Someone with the sun sign of Virgo would have been born between August 23 and September 23.
Wands – Wands is one of the four suits of the Minor Arcana and is represented by the element of Fire. It represents desire and passion, energy, action, inspiration, and creativity.
Wheel of Fortune, The – The Wheel of Fortune is card ten, or the eleventh card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card represents the ups and downs of life, chance, fate, luck, and circumstance. It signifies inner growth and maturity as a result of experience of life’s cycles.
Water – Water is one of the four elements used to classify each of the four suits of Tarot. This element represents the Cups suit of the Rider-Waite deck and represents emotion, dreams, feelings, relationships, and healing.
World, The – The World is card twenty-one, or the twenty-second card of the Major Arcana in the Rider-Waite deck. This card represents success, accomplishment, the end of a cycle, and recognition of effort. It signifies a culmination of events leading to the end of a chapter or phase.
Yang – Yang is one half of the compound Yin-Yang, used to describe opposite forces that together are complimentary and interconnected. It is said to represent positivity, action, masculinity, the sun, relief, and openness.
Yin – Yin is one half of the compound Yin-Yang, used to describe opposite forces that together are complimentary and interconnected. It is said to represent negativity, passivity, femininity, the moon, shade, and hidden.
Zodiac – The Zodiac is an organized system of the twelve signs of Astrology and is based on the twelve constellations used in astronomy.
Zero in numerology denotes possibility, openness, and potential.
One in numerology represents independence, beginnings, originality, dominance, self-reliance and self-sufficiency.
Two in numerology represents intuition, coexistence, partnerships, relationships, romance, and cooperation.
Three in numerology denotes motivation, mentor-ship, creativity, expressiveness, optimism, and inspiration.
Four in numerology represents structure, security, focus, patience, organization, and planning.
Five in numerology represents change, versatility, personal freedom, intensity, curiosity, and adventure.
Six in numerology represents peace, compassion, nurturing, support, cooperation, domestic, and family centric.
Seven in numerology represents perception, introspection, spirituality, intuitiveness, introversion, sensitivity, and fairness.
Eight in numerology denotes ambition, leadership, organization, discipline, drive, action and efficiency.
Nine in numerology represents generosity, nurturing, compassion, soul, spirit, creativity, loyalty, intuitiveness, and passion.
Ten in numerology represents the end of a cycle, a culmination of events, completion and closure.