Day 004: Major Arcana Card Pairings


Photo By: Sam’s Republic

Ten Card Pairings Impacted By An Additional Card

When I began paging through my Holistic Tarot Beginner’s Study Guide, I was drawn to the Major Arcana section. There’s plenty to digest in this section, and I’m still admittedly working through it, but I did notice the exercises to get better acquainted with the cards. This inspired me to sit down and start pairing my Majors. About three hours later, I was frustrated. The cards just never seemed to pair concretely with one another. But, lo and behold, I suddenly realized common pairings being impacted by additional cards. Inspired by this, I wanted to take a moment and share ten of them with you.

01. The Lovers, The Devil, & Judgement

Most people notice the similarities between The Lovers and The Devil. The two cards both feature an angel, a couple, and fruit or flames. These two cards are also linked numerically, as fifteen reduces down to six. But, Judgement also features a red winged angel. To me, the grouping is a natural one. The Lovers card often represents a choice between a self-destructive option and a divine, or better for you, option. The Devil then, symbolizes the results of the materialistic, or self-destructive, choice. In combination with this, Judgement represents a sense of divine calling or purpose. Many interpret the card as the results of our journey in comparison to our ultimate purpose, or simplistically, karma. Altogether, the cards in combination give hope to people struggling with self-destructive behaviors. Judgement may represent a restart button, or the freedom from the self-destructive behavior.

02. The High Priestess, The Empress, & The Lovers

The High Priestess and The Empress is a pairing you don’t see too often, but when you do, it’s great. Both cards represent different aspects of the Divine Feminine. The High Priestess tends to represent the ‘virginal’ aspect of femininity, the mysterious preserver of understanding. The Empress, on the other hand, represents the motherly aspect of the Divine Feminine. This is the nurturing aspect of the sacred feminine so often seen. Add to this pairing The Lovers, and the implications are quite interesting. To some, the scene depicted on The Lovers represents Adam and Eve, but also the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. If this is the case, then it’s an interesting observation that the woman, Eve, is next to the Tree of Knowledge. Two plus three is six, and The Lovers then, represents both the High Priestess and Empress energies combined. Somehow, I take solace in the symbolism of this fact.

03. The Emperor, Justice, & The High Priestess

While it may not seem like an obvious pairing, The Emperor and Justice have mutual themes in common. Both cards represent a form of authority. To many, the difference is in which realm the card governs. The Emperor is an authority over social justice. Justice herself, is an authority over the self, or individual justice. But, add to this pairing The High Priestess, and the concept of individual justice increases significantly. The High Priestess is, at times, considered the Queen of the Heavens. She is the compliment to the King of the Heavens, a concept reflected in the tarot. In Greek Mythology, these three cards are associated with Hera (High Priestess), Zeus (Emperor), and Athena (Justice). The connections there are filled with intriguing concepts. Mainly, The High Priestess adds personal knowledge to the concept of justice.

04. The Hanged Man, The World, & The Empress

What often leads to The Hanged Man and The World pairing is the stance. The Hanged Man symbolizes an emotional withdrawal from the world in favor of inner knowledge or enlightenment. The World, in contrast, indicates movement and completion. Now add to this The Empress. At first, she doesn’t seem to fit much at all. However, The Empress contains themes of emotional experience and nurturing ideas. This is a concept reflected in both The Hanged Man and The World. In some ways, I see The World as a nurtured form of The Hanged Man. The Empress wears her crown of victory. The Hanged Man glows with newfound enlightenment. The World however, combines both. This theme is essential to tarot, not just the cards involved.

05. The Moon, The Sun & Death

Many people pair The Moon and The Sun cards. The similarities between the two are obvious, as both are rulers in their own right. The Moon reflects The Sun, but it is The Sun that adds clarity, and thus, preserves freedom of self. What The Moon reveals, in many ways, The Sun reconciles. Before The Sun can do so however, we must add to this pairing Death. This seems strange, but if you look closely, Death depicts a path to The Moon off in the distance. Perhaps the journey there is possible by the boat, or rather, the subconscious. This would make our journey to The Moon even more likely. In combination with The Sun, the Death card itself also seems to indicate themes of rebirth or living beyond this realm. The message is still one of hope and joyous occasions.

06. The Emperor, The Chariot, & The High Priestess

Both The Emperor and The Chariot go together in a way that seems destined. Both cards tend to be very masculine cards, even in very female friendly decks. This is partially because these two cards represent two aspects of Kings. You have the Wise King and then you have The Conqueror. In mythology, the Conqueror is usually young, while the Wise King is old. But, if you look closely at both cards, you can see themes of The High Priestess. We’ve already discussed the connection between The High Priestess and The Emperor. The Chariot and The High Priestess though share a lot of symbols in common. This brings to mind Ares from Greek Mythology, the product of Zeus and Hera. Interestingly, Zeus hated Ares and they were feuding all the time. And yet, The High Priestess’ veil is behind The Charioteer. The crescent moons on the shoulders is another good indicator these two cards belong together in some form.

07. The Magician, The High Priestess, & Justice

Many people find it natural to pair The Magician and The High Priestess. The two cards are right next to each other, and they both allude to divine currents of possibility or knowledge. Admittedly, they do work well together as a pair. However, adding Justice to the mix creates an atmosphere that enriches the mind. It may not seem natural to add Justice to such a powerful pair, but notice the posture of Justice herself. She mimics the pose of The Magician, while being framed by the pillars similar to The High Priestess. In fact, Justice combines both The Magician and The High Priestess to symbolize the divine current combined with understanding. This is why Justice balances both our past experience and our future. Justice makes a powerful pairing that much more meaningful.

08. Temperance, The Star, & The Chariot

For some, the two goblets being poured out on Temperance and The Star link them together. Admittedly, the definitions of these cards is also extremely similar. Temperance is about moderating, while The Star gives freely and renews. This theme is largely carried by both cards in various ways, even up to the figures being clothed or unclothed. However, very few people add The Chariot to this combination. In my opinion, I think The Chariot adds a bit of movement or forward progression to the combination. The Chariot also features the same eight pointed star as on The Star card. Temperance however, features an evolved form of personality to The Chariot, and features not just a square on his chest, but a triangle within the square. Combined, all three cards symbolizing a way to move forward as a person and grow.

09. The Magician, Strength, & The Fool

Alright, so we’ve mentioned Strength and The Magician before, but both cards do relate to each other. They often get paired together due to the infinity symbol being a share trait. This, and both cards are also a row apart utilizing seven cards a row. It’s typical to see this interpreted as two aspects of the spirit or soul slowly evolving. However, the unspoken link between them is The Fool. Admittedly, The Fool and Strength don’t seem to share much in common save a yellow background, but their essence is comparable. Likewise, The Magician and The Fool both possess wands. It’s an interesting pairing, one that requires time to draw out all the symbolism. What’s even more interesting is that The Fool links every line of seven cards to each other, appearing in various pairings then. You can create even more of them if you want to for personal meditation.

10. Justice, The Magician, & The Devil

This last pairing is a bit strange, as I’ve never seen anyone discuss it. But, for better or worse, I want to bring it up. The Magician, Justice, and The Devil all contain figures in the as above so below stance. One hand points up, the other points down. Each card in numerical order, adds to the last. The Magician represents that divine current at work. Justice, represents two aspects then, both the choice between right and wrong, and the balance of self (past and future). The Devil in contrast must represent a similar form this and have an additional point. This is true, as The Devil represents the consequence of our decisions and likewise, accepts a divine current. However, The Devil holds a torch, representative of Passion or Life. The Devil brings passion or a life focus down to the material level. All three cards are an interesting representation of ones spiritual journey, until we reach the last as above so below card, that of The World. This card actually has two wands, representing a balance between both concepts.


About Samantha

Hello, Thank you for checking out my blog. If you're wanting to know a little bit more about me then you've come to the right place. I'm currently focusing on being a mother and sharing that experience with others. Whether the topic is life, religion, food, or even history, there's always a new story to share. I hope you enjoy sharing in the experience!
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