The Major Arcana is the story of consciousness interacting with, and developing through the four elements. It is very familiar to Joseph Campbell’s “A hero’s journey”, in that it tells a timeless story which goes full circle; from the start of a journey, escalating into greater understandings, only to end up in the exact same spot that it started at, yet with a newly evolved consciousness. Within the Major Arcana, all four elements are present, and engage with each other through the pathway of this fifth element. This element might be seen as consciousness itself, or simply the structure by which your consciousness exists in this created universe.
The story of the Major Arcana tells the journey of The Fool; from humble beginnings to greater understanding, hence describing the evolution of their consciousness. Each card in the Major Arcana represents an aspect of us moving through life experiences; within you, all four elements are growing and evolving together (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual), and your soul is the fifth – the awareness of the four states of being united into One.
The Tarot is speaking to this part of you – your soul, and describes nothing less than who and what you really are.
For those who struggle to comprehend the “fifth element”, consider it to be your ‘spiritual substance’, your ‘higher power’, your ‘soul’, your ‘inner light’, or any other word you might use that fits in this general description. From here we simply establish a starting point of understanding this aspect of ourselves; and remember that no matter how far you go – you can always go deeper.
The Major Arcana begins with voidness – whose number is zero and represented by a circle. It is titled ‘The Fool’ and embodies the state of infinite possibilities, the state of pre-story. The moment a story begins, you move into One – the Magician, which is followed by Two, Three, Four, and so on. Along the way this character experiences different aspects of itself such as male and female, youthful and mature, internal and external motion, internal and external stillness, death and rebirth, temptation and repulsions, and expansion and contraction. These opposing forces continue to engage with each other all the way up until reaching the final gateway called The Aeon, followed closely by the completion of the cycle with what is normally called “The World” or “The Universe”, which in Patch Tarot have been fused together into what is called “The Crown”.
Once you are familiar with the Royal Arcana, you may even observe the pattern of the elements in the beginning stages of the 4 elements, which build off of each other in a similar fashion. The Magician embodies the energy of the Princes, and the Priestess connects with the Princesses, the Empress takes on the role of the Queen, and the Emperor holds the space of the King. The Hierophant after that however takes another step farther, and bridges all four together in one, and embodies the birth of the fifth element which could also be known as Christ Consciousness.
In Patch Tarot, we’ve also reversed the positions of The Emperor and The Empress from the traditional flow, where now The Emperor is card III, and The Empress is card IV. This was done incredibly purposefully, in order to align The Empress with the Hebrew letter Heh – which is the symbol of the Divine Feminine in the Tetragrammaton – the holy name of God. In doing this, it also allows these initial four characters (Cards I through IV) to follow the same pattern as the Royal Arcana – Male, Female, Male, Female. Finally, doing this describes that it is through the feminine that the new consciousness – The Hierophant – is born. Thus, this switch is not only about the natural flow of energy between the Masculine and Feminine, but a reflection of our evolving consciousness wherein we learn to honour and respect the majesty of the divine feminine. To learn more about the reasons for changing the positions of these cards, we encourage you to check out The Book of Patch, which explores these ideas in much greater detail.
To begin reading about each Major Arcana individually, begin your journey with the Fool by clicking here.
Or, continue reading about each of the suits by checking out the Minor or Royal Arcana links below!