How Many Cards Are In a Tarot Deck? – Explained

Tarot decks have been used for centuries as a tool for divination, self-discovery, and spiritual growth. When it comes to tarot, one of the most common questions is how many cards are in a tarot deck? The answer might surprise you. While there are many different types of tarot decks available today, from traditional Rider-Waite decks to modern, themed designs, they all share the same basic structure. Understanding this structure and the number of cards in a tarot deck is essential for anyone interested in learning to read tarot or exploring its rich history and symbolism. In this blog post, we will delve into the structure and history of tarot decks and answer the burning question: just how many cards are in a tarot deck?

What is a Tarot Deck?

A tarot deck is a set of cards used for divination or as a tool for spiritual practice. Although the exact origin of tarot decks remains unclear, they are believed to have originated in Italy in the 15th century as a form of entertainment. Over time, tarot decks evolved into a tool for divination and spiritual exploration.

Tarot decks consist of 78 cards, divided into two main categories: the major arcana and the minor arcana. The major arcana consists of 22 cards that represent the major themes and archetypes of life, while the minor arcana consists of 56 cards that represent the details and daily aspects of life.

Each card in the tarot deck has its own unique symbolism and meaning, often related to the suits of the minor arcana (wands, cups, swords, and pentacles) and the elements (fire, water, air, and earth). Readers use these cards to gain insights into a person’s past, present, and future, as well as to explore their own personal growth and spirituality.

The images on the tarot cards are rich in symbolism and can be interpreted in many ways. For example, the Fool card often represents new beginnings, while the Death card represents transformation and change. The meanings of the cards can vary depending on the reader’s interpretation and the context of the reading.

In summary, a tarot deck is a powerful tool for divination and self-exploration. Through its 78 cards, readers can gain insights into themselves and others, as well as explore the deeper mysteries of life. Whether used for entertainment or spiritual practice, the tarot deck remains a fascinating and captivating tool for those who seek answers and guidance.

History Of Tarot Decks

The history of tarot decks is a fascinating subject that dates back several hundred years. The origin of the tarot deck is unclear, but it is believed to have evolved from various card games played in Europe, such as the Italian game of Tarocchi.

The first tarot decks were created in the mid-15th century and were used for playing games and gambling. It wasn’t until the late 18th century that the tarot deck began to be used for divination and spiritual purposes.

Over time, the design and structure of the tarot deck have evolved. The earliest decks had only 16 trump cards, while modern tarot decks have 78 cards. The traditional tarot deck consists of two parts: the major arcana and the minor arcana.

The major arcana consists of 22 cards, each with its unique symbolism and meaning. These cards represent significant life events, such as birth, death, love, and wisdom. The minor arcana is divided into four suits: cups, swords, pentacles, and wands, each with 14 cards. These cards represent everyday life events, such as emotions, conflicts, finances, and creativity.

Many cultures and traditions have influenced the evolution of tarot decks, including the French, Italian, and Egyptian cultures. Additionally, prominent figures, such as Aleister Crowley, have contributed to the development of tarot decks.

In conclusion, the history of tarot decks is a rich and complex subject that has evolved over many centuries. Understanding the origins and evolution of tarot decks can provide valuable insights into their significance and symbolism.

Structure Of A Traditional Tarot Deck

Structure Of A Traditional Tarot Deck

The structure of a traditional tarot deck consists of two main parts: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana are comprised of 22 cards, while the Minor Arcana contain the remaining 56.

Major Arcana

The Major Arcana is composed of 22 cards that represent significant life events or archetypes. These cards are numbered from 0 to 21 and each one has its own distinct meaning. Some of the most well-known cards in the Major Arcana include The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, The Hermit, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgment, The World, and The Fool (again).

Minor Arcana

The Minor Arcana is divided into four suits: Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands, each with their own distinct meaning. Each suit contains 14 cards: Ace through 10, plus four court cards: Page, Knight, Queen, and King.


The Suit of Cups represents emotions, love, relationships, and creativity. The Ace of Cups symbolizes new beginnings in these areas, while the Ten of Cups represents emotional fulfillment.


The Suit of Pentacles represents physical possessions, wealth, and material success. The Ace of Pentacles signifies new financial opportunities, while the Ten of Pentacles represents ultimate wealth and abundance.


The Suit of Swords represents intellect, power, and change. The Ace of Swords is a card of victory and achievement, while the Ten of Swords represents a painful ending or loss.


The Suit of Wands represents creativity, energy, and passion. The Ace of Wands signifies new inspiration and energy, while the Ten of Wands represents the end of a journey or task.

Understanding the structure of a traditional tarot deck is essential for anyone interested in divination or seeking spiritual guidance. By familiarizing oneself with the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana, as well as the suits and the cards within them, one can begin to unlock the wisdom and insights that the tarot has to offer.

Number Of Cards In A Tarot Deck

Major Arcana Cards

The major arcana cards are an essential part of the tarot deck and play a significant role in divination. There are 22 major arcana cards, each with its own unique meaning and symbolism. Understanding the significance of these cards can provide valuable insights into different aspects of our lives.

The major arcana cards represent significant life events or situations that we all experience at some point. These cards are also associated with archetypes that can help us understand human behavior and personality traits.

The first card in the major arcana is The Fool, which represents new beginnings, adventure, and taking risks. Other major arcana cards include The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgment, and The World.

Each card has its own meaning and message, which can vary depending on the context of the reading. For example, The Magician card symbolizes creativity, manifestation, and action. It encourages us to take control of our lives and use our skills and talents to achieve our goals. On the other hand, The Hanged Man card represents sacrifice, letting go, and surrendering to the will of the universe. This card teaches us the importance of patience, surrender, and detachment.

In conclusion, the major arcana cards are an integral part of tarot readings and offer valuable insights into our lives and personalities. By understanding their meanings and symbolism, we can gain a deeper understanding of our experiences and make informed decisions about our future.

Minor Arcana Cards

The Minor Arcana Cards make up 56 of the 78 cards in a traditional tarot deck. These cards are divided into four suits, much like a regular deck of playing cards: Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. Each suit represents a different aspect of life and reflects various interpretations depending on the reader’s perspective.

Wands represent creativity, passion, and inspiration. Cups symbolize emotions, relationships, and spirituality. Swords embody intellect, logic, and communication. Pentacles signify the material world, finances, and physical health.

Each suit also contains ten numbered cards, from Ace to Ten, and four Court Cards: Page, Knight, Queen, and King. The Court Cards represent personalities or archetypes that influence the meaning of the cards in a reading.

In readings, the Minor Arcana Cards offer insights into everyday situations and can provide guidance on how to approach challenges or opportunities. Depending on the context of the reading, the cards’ meanings can be positive or negative. For instance, the Ace of Cups may indicate new emotional beginnings, while the Ten of Swords can suggest betrayal or pain.

It’s important to note that the interpretation of the Minor Arcana Cards is not fixed and can vary based on the reader’s intuition, experience, and cultural background. Therefore, it’s crucial to find a tarot reader who resonates with your beliefs and values to get the most out of a reading.

In conclusion, the Minor Arcana Cards add depth and nuance to a tarot reading and provide a window into the querent’s daily life. By understanding the meanings of the suits and cards, readers can gain valuable insights into themselves and their surroundings.
After exploring the history, structure, and number of cards in a tarot deck, we can conclude that this tool has stood the test of time as a powerful instrument for divination and personal insight. The traditional tarot deck consists of 78 cards divided into major and minor arcana, each with its unique meaning and symbolism.

Whether you are new to tarot or an experienced reader, understanding the significance of each card is crucial to unlocking the insights and guidance that they offer. From the Fool to the World, each card serves as a mirror that reflects our innermost thoughts, desires, and fears.

So the next time you encounter a tarot deck, take a moment to appreciate the rich history and depth of symbolism contained within its cards. With patience, practice, and an open mind, you may discover new insights and perspectives that can help you navigate the twists and turns of life’s journey.

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