The Rider-Waite Tarot deck is considered as the most familiar deck used in reading tarot cards. This tarot card deck is well suited for a beginner, as most books and reading tarot courses use Rider-Waite for illustration. The Rider-Waite tarot is often cloned and has become the basis for tarot cards currently being produced.
Rider-Waite Tarot Card Meanings List
From the meanings you’ve started to associate with the cards’ images, you can start making stories. They don’t have to be real, they don’t have to follow any rules outside of your own – but do you know what you are making, then? Your own stories. About your life, the way you think, the way you live, the way you see the world.
Major Arcana Tarot Card Meanings
These cards represent what are called the “Greater Mysteries”; they represent significantly important people or events that happen in people’s lives, so much so that their concepts have become legends, icons or archetypes.
When you start reading the tarot, it’s not uncommon to start reading with only these 22 cards. But as you learn to read with the Minor Arcana as well, these 22 cards let you know when you should sit up and pay attention, because something important is happening.
Minor Arcana Tarot Card Meanings
These are called the “Lesser Mysteries”, though that doesn’t necessarily mean they are less important. They represent the other people or events that happen in between the significantly important ones, the supporting characters and moments that help you on your journey.
Suit of Wands Tarot Card Meanings
The Wands suit represents the ancient element of fire, and so is associated with creativity, passion and drive. Frequently, it is also associated with careers, vocations, or a person’s calling in life. Think of these cards as saying things related to what keeps a person truly alive.
So what can you, personally, do with a deck of picture cards? You can look at all the pictures, you can guess at what they mean. See, that’s where tarot begins to have meaning – when you put meaning into it yourself. Everything else is just other people’s opinions that you can accept or ignore as you will.
Since our brains are so wired to putting meaning in something as simple as a deck of picture cards, the tarot eventually starts acting like a mirror to the hidden sides of your consciousness. It really is true that what we are what we think, and that starts with the deck of tarot cards in your hands.
Suit of Cups Tarot Card Meanings
The Cups suit represents the ancient element of water, and so is predominantly related to emotions. Think of the concepts of fluidity and what keeps people going with the flow.
Suit of Swords Tarot Card Meanings
The Swords suit represents the ancient element of air, and so predominantly represents the different facets of thought. Think of the power of the mind when working with cards from this suit.
Suit of Pentacles Tarot Card Meanings
The Pentacles suit represents the ancient element of earth, and so is related to things like material security and wealth.
You may not really want to acknowledge that it’s all coming from you; you may start censoring yourself, start thinking about how you “should” be making stories, how you “should” be thinking this or that way. Don’t. The tarot is meant for you to just sit down, relax, and let the stories unfold. No matter where they came from, without judgment.
And that’s how your own brand of magic begins.
The original Rider-Waite tarot deck was drawn by Pamela Colman-Smith, as instructed by the tarot scholar and mystic A. E. Waite. The Rider Company published it in 1909. Ever since, it has been the most popular deck used in reading tarot, by novices and scholars alike. The original version of the Rider-Waite tarot is drawn in both black and white and color. Reading tarot cards is not limited to owning the Rider-Waite deck. Instead, more variants emerge from artists who have added their own style to Rider-Waite tarot cards. Most variants are simply added to a personal collection, as many readers still prefer reading tarot with an original Rider-Waite.
The US Games/AGM Muller owns the copyright to the original version of the Rider-Waite tarot deck. However, this version is also a clone. The print plates of the original version of the Rider-Waite tarot deck were destroyed during the London Blitz. Stuart Kaplan took the black and white line art and had them recolored, following Waite’s personal copy of the deck, which he used when reading tarot. Waite’s daughter gave the company, US Games, the permission to claim the copyrights to the deck. It is still the most accurate reproduction of the Rider-Waite deck available.
Reading tarot with a Rider-Waite deck takes your tarot card experience to a different level of excitement, knowing that you are actually looking at the artwork in its historical context. It gives you an authentic and classic view that you can’t get from a modern-day version of a tarot deck.
There is a different feeling of connection in being able to touch an almost exact version of the deck. It is a very intellectual and well-researched deck and A E Waite was a highly acclaimed mystic. US Games first edition includes the restoration of the original reverse design of the Rider-Waite deck, which is composed of imprints of Tudor roses and lilies on pale blue background. The beautiful calligraphy of the Rider-Waite deck increases the experience you have whilst reading tarot cards, whatever language it may be.
The Rider-Waite deck is very similar to the earliest tarot decks used in the medieval times, although a few details were changed. The “Pope” card, for example, has been turned into the “Hierophant”, whilst the “Popess” becomes the “High Priestess.” The 19th century occultist, Eliphas Levi, influenced the changes in symbols. “The Pictorial Key to the Tarot”, by A E Waite, was published to provide an introduction to the symbolisms on the Rider-Waite tarot deck, which is the basis of modern tarot designs and interpretations.