Are you curious about tarot cards and how many cards are in a tarot deck?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: A traditional tarot deck contains 78 cards.

In this article, we’ll explore the mysteries of tarot cards and give you a deeper understanding of the meanings behind them. We’ll cover the history of tarot, the structure of a tarot deck, the different types of tarot cards, and how to use tarot cards for divination. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better appreciation for the intricacies of tarot and how it can be used as a tool for self-discovery.

The History of Tarot

The history of tarot cards is a fascinating subject that traces back centuries. The origins of tarot cards can be traced back to the 15th century, where they were used as playing cards. The first recorded use of tarot cards for divination purposes was in the 18th century.

The practice of using tarot cards for divination has its roots in the Renaissance period, where the cards were used as a tool for spiritual growth and self-discovery. The use of tarot cards for divination became popular in the 19th and 20th centuries, with many famous occultists and spiritualists using the cards as a tool for divination and spiritual growth.

Some of the most famous tarot decks throughout history include the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, the Thoth Tarot deck, and the Marseille Tarot deck. The Rider-Waite Tarot deck is the most popular and widely used tarot deck in the world. It was first published in 1909 and has since been reprinted numerous times. The Thoth Tarot deck was created by Aleister Crowley, a famous occultist, and is known for its intricate symbolism and use of color. The Marseille Tarot deck is one of the oldest tarot decks in existence, dating back to the 17th century.

The Structure of a Tarot Deck

The tarot deck is made up of 78 cards, which are divided into two groups: the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana.

Major Arcana vs. Minor Arcana

The Major Arcana consists of 22 cards that represent major life events, such as birth, death, and spiritual awakening. These cards are sometimes referred to as “trump cards” and are numbered 0 through 21.

The Minor Arcana is made up of 56 cards and is divided into four suits: Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands. These cards represent everyday events and situations and are numbered 1 through 10, with four additional court cards for each suit.

The Four Suits of the Minor Arcana

The four suits of the Minor Arcana each have their own unique symbolism and meaning:

  • Cups: Cups represent emotions, relationships, and love.
  • Pentacles: Pentacles represent material possessions, money, and the physical world.
  • Swords: Swords represent thoughts, communication, and challenges.
  • Wands: Wands represent creativity, passion, and inspiration.

Each suit also has a corresponding element: Cups are associated with water, Pentacles with earth, Swords with air, and Wands with fire.

Court Cards in Tarot

The court cards in tarot represent people and personality types. Each suit has four court cards: the Page, the Knight, the Queen, and the King.

The Page represents youth, new ideas, and a fresh perspective. The Knight represents action, change, and movement. The Queen represents nurturing, intuition, and emotional security. The King represents authority, power, and leadership.

When interpreting the court cards, it’s important to consider the suit and element they belong to, as well as their position in the spread.

Understanding the structure of a tarot deck is essential for anyone interested in learning how to read tarot cards. By familiarizing yourself with the Major and Minor Arcana, the four suits, and the court cards, you can begin to unlock the mysteries of this ancient divination tool.

Types of Tarot Cards

There are several types of tarot cards, each with their own unique characteristics and symbolism. Here are three of the most popular tarot decks:

  • Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck: This is one of the most well-known and widely used tarot decks in the world. It was created in 1909 by artist Pamela Colman Smith and writer A.E. Waite. This deck consists of 78 cards and features detailed illustrations with vivid colors.
  • Thoth tarot deck: This deck was created by Aleister Crowley and artist Lady Frieda Harris in the 1940s. It is known for its complex symbolism and is often used by experienced tarot readers. The Thoth tarot deck consists of 78 cards and includes both major and minor arcana.
  • Marseille tarot deck: This deck is believed to be one of the oldest tarot decks in existence, with origins dating back to the 15th century. It was popularized in France during the 18th century and has since become a staple of tarot reading. The Marseille tarot deck consists of 78 cards and features simple, yet elegant illustrations.

Each of these tarot decks has its own unique history and symbolism, making them a fascinating subject for tarot enthusiasts and scholars alike. If you’re interested in learning more about tarot cards, there are many resources available online and in books. Some great websites to check out include and Biddy Tarot.

Using Tarot Cards for Divination

Tarot cards are a powerful tool for divination, offering insight into the past, present, and future. Before diving into reading the cards, it’s important to take some time to prepare yourself and your deck. Begin by finding a quiet space where you can focus, and take a few deep breaths to ground yourself. Shuffle your deck thoroughly, and take a moment to reflect on the question or issue you’re seeking guidance on.

When it comes to interpreting the cards, there are endless possibilities. Tarot spreads are layouts of cards that offer specific guidance, and there are countless variations to choose from. Some popular spreads include the Three-Card Spread, which offers insight into past, present, and future influences, and the Celtic Cross Spread, which provides a more in-depth look at a specific situation.

Interpreting tarot spreads requires a combination of intuition, knowledge of the cards’ meanings, and an understanding of the relationships between the cards in the spread. It’s important to approach the cards with an open mind and a willingness to explore the deeper meaning behind each card.

Common Tarot Spreads

Here are a few common tarot spreads to get you started:

  • Three-Card Spread: This simple spread offers insight into past, present, and future influences. Shuffle your deck and draw three cards, one for each time period. Consider the relationships between the cards as you interpret their meanings.
  • Celtic Cross Spread: The Celtic Cross is a classic tarot spread that provides a more in-depth look at a specific situation. Shuffle your deck and lay out ten cards in the following positions: (1) the present, (2) the crossing, (3) the crowning, (4) the base, (5) the past, (6) the future, (7) yourself, (8) your environment, (9) your hopes and fears, (10) the outcome.
  • One-Card Spread: If you’re looking for a quick answer or daily guidance, the One-Card Spread is a simple and effective option. Shuffle your deck and draw one card, focusing on the question or issue at hand. Interpret the card’s meaning in relation to your question.

Remember that tarot readings are a personal experience, and the most important factor is your intuition and connection to the cards. With practice and patience, you can develop a deeper understanding of tarot and its mysteries.

If you’re interested in learning more about tarot, there are many resources available online. Some great websites to check out include Biddy Tarot and


Tarot cards have been used for centuries as a tool for divination and self-discovery. The 78 cards in a traditional tarot deck hold a wealth of symbolism and meaning, and understanding their intricacies can be a powerful tool in navigating life’s challenges. Whether you’re a seasoned tarot reader or a curious beginner, we hope this article has given you a deeper appreciation for the mysteries of tarot.

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