How Many Tarot Cards Are In A Deck? Basics You Need To Know

Ever wonder how many tarot cards are in a deck? Here’s the breakdown.

A standard tarot deck consists of 78 cards, divided into two main sections: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana, comprising 22 cards, represents significant life events and spiritual lessons. Meanwhile, the Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards, further divided into four suits: Wands, Cups, Swords, & Pentacles, each with 14 cards. These cards typically depict everyday experiences, emotions, and challenges.

The 78-card tarot deck has been used for centuries as a tool for divination, self-reflection, and spiritual guidance. Each card holds symbolic meaning and can offer insights into various aspects of life, from relationships and career to personal growth and decision-making. Understanding the composition of the tarot deck is essential for those seeking to explore the art of tarot reading and its potential impact on personal development and insight.

How Many Tarot Cards Are In A Deck

Brief overview of tarot cards and their significance

Tarot cards are a unique deck of 78 cards that are divided into two main categories: Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. They serve as a medium through which individuals can access their intuition and gain deeper insights into various aspects of life such as love, career, personal growth, and spirituality. Each card in the deck holds a distinct meaning and symbolism that allows readers to interpret messages from the universe or higher powers.

The significance of tarot lies in its ability to act as a mirror reflecting our innermost thoughts, emotions, desires, fears, and aspirations in a symbolic language. By engaging with these archetypal images depicted on each card’s face with open-mindedness and receptivity, we begin to uncover profound insights about ourselves and our life experiences.

Explanation of the structure and composition of a tarot deck

A typical tarot deck consists of 78 cards; however, it’s important to note that variations exist depending on different artistic interpretations or cultural influences. The structure can be elucidated by dividing the deck into two distinct parts: Major Arcana (also referred to as trump cards or Greater Secrets) and Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana is composed of 22 highly significant cards representing major life events, archetypal energies, and spiritual lessons.

These cards carry substantial weight in readings as they often denote significant shifts, turning points, or transformative experiences. On the other hand, the Minor Arcana consists of 56 cards divided into four suits: Cups (associated with emotions and relationships), Wands (representing creativity and passion), Swords (symbolizing intellect and challenges), and Pentacles/Coins/Disks (pertaining to the material realm such as finances and practical matters).

Each suit contains ten numbered cards from Ace to Ten, along with four court cards: Page/Knight/Queen/King or Princess/Prince/Queen/King/Jack. These court cards represent individuals or personality traits that influence our lives.

Combined harmoniously, the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana create a comprehensive system that offers deep insights into various aspects of life’s journey. The interplay between these two categories provides a rich tapestry for divination, self-reflection, and personal growth through tarot reading.

The Standard Tarot Deck

The Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) Deck: Unveiling the Iconic

The Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck, also commonly known as the Rider-Waite Tarot, is undoubtedly the most influential and recognizable tarot deck in existence. Created by esteemed occultist Arthur Edward Waite and artist Pamela Colman Smith in 1909, this deck revolutionized the world of tarot with its innovative symbolism and captivating imagery. The RWS deck comprises a total of 78 cards, divided into two distinct categories: Major Arcana and Minor Arcana.

Delving into the Total Number of Cards

Within a standard RWS tarot deck, you will find 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards. These cards harmoniously work together to provide comprehensive insights into various aspects of life’s journey.

The Major Arcana consists of archetypal trump cards that represent significant life events, universal themes, and spiritual lessons. These cards are numbered from 0 (The Fool) to 21 (The World), each with its unique symbolism and profound significance.

On the other hand, the Minor Arcana includes four suits—Cups, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles/Coins/Disks—each containing 14 cards. Each suit encompasses ten numbered cards (Ace through Ten) representing different stages or levels within their respective elements.

Additionally, each suit has four court cards—the Page or Princess/Knight/Queen/King—symbolizing different personalities or stages of maturity within their element. In total, this results in a harmonious interplay between these two categories—the Major Arcana depicting major life events and spiritual growth while the Minor Arcana delves into everyday experiences and influences.

With such an extensive assortment of symbolic imagery encapsulated within the RWS deck, it becomes a powerful tool for divination, self-reflection, and spiritual exploration. Its wide recognition and availability make it an excellent starting point for newcomers to tarot as well as a cherished deck among experienced readers.

By delving into the structure and composition of the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, we gain a deeper understanding of the foundation upon which many modern tarot decks are built. The rich symbolism and intricate artwork within these 78 cards open doors to profound insights and empower seekers to embark on transformative journeys of self-discovery and enlightenment.

Major Arcana Cards

In-depth exploration of the Major Arcana, also known as trump cards or Greater Secrets

The Major Arcana, often referred to as the trump cards or Greater Secrets, forms an integral part of any tarot deck. Comprising 22 cards, these archetypal symbols hold profound significance and tap into the realms of spirituality and universal wisdom.

Each card within the Major Arcana represents a pivotal stage in the journey of life, reflecting fundamental human experiences and lessons that transcend time and culture. These cards encompass a range of themes such as birth, death, love, power, growth, and enlightenment.

Explanation of their symbolic meanings and archetypal representation

The symbolic meanings embedded within the Major Arcana cards are rich with depth and complexity. Each card depicts a distinct archetype that resonates with universal human experiences and emotions.

For instance, The Fool represents new beginnings, spontaneity, and childlike innocence. The High Priestess embodies intuition, mystery, and divine femininity.

The symbolism is carefully constructed to evoke deep emotional responses from those who engage with these cards. From the imposing figure of The Emperor to the enchanting imagery of The Star or The Moon—each card carries its own unique symbolism that invites contemplation and interpretation.

Discussion on how these cards relate to life’s major themes and spiritual lessons

The Major Arcana serves as a guide through life’s major themes by offering profound insights into our personal journeys. These cards address universal aspects of human existence such as love relationships (The Lovers), personal transformation (Death), inner strength (Strength), or spiritual awakening (Judgment). By connecting with these archetypal energies represented in the Major Arcana deck during tarot readings or introspective practices like meditation or journaling—they can provide valuable guidance on navigating life’s challenges and finding meaning in our experiences.

Detailed analysis of each card within the Major Arcana, from The Fool to The World

The Major Arcana encompasses a diverse range of cards, each deserving thorough examination and interpretation. From the whimsical energy of The Fool to the culmination of wisdom in The World, each card tells a unique story and holds layers of symbolism waiting to be unraveled.

In this section, we will delve deep into the meanings behind each card within the Major Arcana, exploring their symbolism, associated archetypes, and how they contribute to the overarching narrative that unfolds throughout a tarot reading or meditation practice. By understanding the intricacies of these cards, one can unlock profound insights into their own lives and gain valuable guidance on their soul’s journey.

In this portion of our exploration into tarot decks, we have focused on the Major Arcana cards—the trump cards or Greater Secrets. These potent symbols hold immense power in helping us understand life’s major themes and spiritual lessons.

By delving into their archetypal representation and symbolic meanings, we connect with universal wisdom that transcends cultures and time periods. Moreover, by analyzing each card within this arcana from The Fool to The World in great detail, we unlock invaluable insights that can guide us on our personal journeys towards self-discovery and enlightenment

Minor Arcana Cards

An Exploration of the Intricate Tapestry of the Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana, forming an integral part of a tarot deck, consists of four distinct suits: Cups, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles/Coins/Disks. These suits offer a rich tapestry of symbolism and meaning that complements the Major Arcana’s profound spiritual lessons. Each suit holds unique characteristics and elemental correspondences that deepen our understanding of the human experience.

The Enchanting Suit of Cups: Emotions Flow Like a Gentle Stream

The suit of Cups captures the essence of water—fluid, emotional, and intuitive in nature. Representing emotions, relationships, and matters related to the heart and soul, this suit delves into our emotional realms with profound sensitivity.

Each card within this suit embodies different aspects of love, compassion, joy, and healing. From the youthful exuberance symbolized by the Page to the mature wisdom embodied by the King or Queen cup bearers—the depth and complexity within this suit mirror our own emotional landscapes.

The Fiery Spirituality Within Wands: Igniting Passionate Pursuits

Aligned with fire’s transformative energy and creative force, the suit of Wands ignites our passions and propels us toward action. These cards embody inspiration, ambition, intuition, growth,and enterprise—characteristics that fuel our desires to manifest dreams into reality. From youthful enthusiasm represented by Pages or Princes to leadership qualities embodied by Kings or Knights—the vibrant energy within this elemental realm fans our inner flames as we navigate life’s journeys.

The Intellectual Dance in Swords: Navigating Life’s Mental Labyrinth

The intellectual prowess held within the suit of Swords mirrors air’s sharpness—thoughts slicing through consciousness like a double-edged sword. These cards encompass matters of intellect, communication, conflict, and decision-making processes. Spanning from the analytical Pages or Princesses to the authoritative voices of Kings or Queens—this suit challenges us to navigate the labyrinthine landscapes of our minds, offering opportunities for growth through mental acuity and clarity.

The Earthly Abundance of Pentacles/Coins/Disks: Grounding Prosperity and Materiality

Elementally tied to earth’s stability and abundance, the suit of Pentacles/Coins/Disks explores our connection with the physical realm—material possessions, wealth, health, and practical endeavors. These cards embody prosperity, practicality, embodiment,and resourcefulness. From the diligent labor symbolized by Pages or Princesses to the pinnacle of achievement represented by Kings or Queens—this suit reminds us to honor our tangible existence while nurturing a harmonious relationship with material resources.

The Royal Court: A Stately Display of Archetypal Roles

Within each suit resides a royal court that reflects a specific hierarchy of archetypal roles—Page/Knight/Queen/King or Princess/Prince/Queen/King/Jack/Ace/Ten through Two. The court cards bring forth nuanced energies that blend with their respective suits.

As vibrant characters within this tarot landscape, they offer guidance for navigating different aspects of life’s multifaceted challenges. Whether embodying youthful energy or mature wisdom—the court cards invite us to explore both external influences and internal facets within ourselves as we embark on our individual journeys.

By delving into the intricacies of each minor arcana suit and exploring their unique characteristics and elemental correspondences, we unlock profound insights into ourselves and the world around us. The Minor Arcana forms an exquisite mosaic that complements the Major Arcana’s spiritual teachings—a testament to how tarot encapsulates the multifaceted nature of existence itself.

Numerical Distribution in Tarot Decks

Exploration into how numbers are distributed across both Major and Minor Arcana cards

The numerical distribution of the tarot cards holds significant importance in unraveling their meanings and interpretations. Within the Major Arcana, these cards are numbered from 0 (The Fool) to 21 (The World).

Each number represents a specific stage or lesson on the spiritual journey. The Minor Arcana, on the other hand, is divided into four suits, each with its own unique distribution of numbers.

The Cups and Pentacles suits consist of Ace through Ten, followed by four court cards: Page, Knight, Queen, and King. The Wands and Swords suits also include Ace through Ten but feature Page, Knight, Queen, and King as well.

Explanation on why there are varying numbers within different suits

The variation in numerical distribution within different suits of the Minor Arcana stems from their elemental correspondences and symbolic representations. For instance, the suit of Cups is associated with emotions and relationships; therefore it encompasses a full range from Ace to Ten to adequately capture the depth of emotional experiences.

On the other hand, swords represent intellect and communication; hence they have a similar distribution pattern as Cups. However, each suit brings its own unique energy to the deck.

Analysis on how numerology plays a role in interpreting card meanings

Numerology plays a significant role in interpreting tarot card meanings as it adds an additional layer of symbolism connected to each card’s numerical value. By examining the numerological significance of a particular card or combination of cards within a reading, one can gain deeper insights into their life circumstances or potential outcomes. For example, if multiple cards with high numbers appear throughout a reading focused on career growth or material success (such as Knights representing action), it may indicate an impending period of advancement and achievement.

Variations & Alternative Tarot Decks

Brief mention on other popular tarot decks

While the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck is considered the standard in tarot, there are numerous alternative decks that have gained popularity over the years. Decks such as the Thoth Tarot, Marseille Tarot, and Osho Zen Tarot offer unique interpretations and artistic styles. The Thoth Tarot, for example, developed by Aleister Crowley, delves into mystical symbolism derived from various esoteric systems.

The Marseille Tarot maintains a more traditional approach with its simple yet captivating imagery. The Osho Zen Tarot combines elements of Eastern philosophy with contemporary insights to provide a fresh perspective on tarot readings.


Understanding the numerical distribution within tarot decks enables us to delve deeper into their inherent symbolism and interpretative significance. As we explore each card’s number in relation to its suit and overall placement within a spread, we unlock valuable insights into our spiritual journey or specific areas of inquiry. Additionally, exploring alternative tarot decks expands our horizons by offering diverse interpretations that resonate with different individuals’ tastes and preferences.

Embracing the rich tapestry of tarot ensures that this ancient divinatory tool continues to captivate and empower seekers on their path to self-discovery and enlightenment. So embrace the cards with optimism as they unveil hidden truths and illuminate your path ahead.

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