Keywords can be a valuable tool when reading the tarot, especially for the beginner. The keywords can be combined with the in-depth meanings in such a way as to create memory pegs that make it easier to interpret the cards when you’re in the midst of a reading. Sometimes just the recollection of one or two keywords is enough to trigger total recall of a card’s meaning. Once the keywords have been mastered, the ability to combine and synthesize the meanings of each of the 78 tarot cards comes with practice.
Part 1 – Tarot Reader’s Keyword Cheat Sheet
The Major Arcana
0. The Fool: innocence, inexperience, new beginnings, fresh start, freedom loving, open minded, a trip or journey, risk, following your dreams, taking a chance.
l. The Magician: manifestation, transformation, metamorphosis, will and determination, magic, psychic awareness, self-confidence, creative intelligence, mental agility, crafty, a trickster.
2. The High Priestess: intuition, inspiration, secrecy, detachment, mystery, psychic ability, passive, receptive, the unconscious, memories, dreams, spiritual development, esoteric knowledge, hidden power, women’s mysteries.
3. The Empress: abundance, fertility, nurturing, motherhood, pregnancy, sensuality, sexuality, practicality, good luck, success, feelings, property, land, synthesis, comfort, luxury.
4. The Emperor: authority, government, logic, reasoning, solid foundations, leadership, organization, order, fatherhood, bosses, courts, society in general, police, war, conquest, victory.
5. The Hierophant: tradition, organized religion, family, conventional mores, conventional belief systems, rituals, marriage, organizations, groups, rigidity, orthodox guidance, the establishment.
6. The Lovers: choice, unions, partnership, a love match, unpredictable changes, travel, new experiences, duality, decisions, new relationships, someone interfering between lovers.
7. The Chariot: ambition, motivation, focus, power, victory, success, self-discipline, travel, determination, youthful energy, bravado, willpower, fruition.
8. Strength: fortitude, inner strength, courage, passion, perseverance, wisdom, knowledge, self-dominion, self-confidence, enthusiasm, endurance, patience, stubbornness.
9. The Hermit: guidance, contemplation, solitude, study, teaching, metaphysics, travel, self-containment, truth seeking, meditation, occult knowledge and secrets, spiritual teaching, higher self.
10. The Wheel of Fortune: good and bad luck, destiny, karma, what goes around comes around, spinning your wheels, cycles, risk taking, changes.
11. Justice: equity, balance, harmony, the law, deliberations, contracts, choice, impartiality, detachment, compromise, lawsuits, legal problems, law enforcement, looking at both sides, getting what you deserve.
12. The Hanged Man: stagnation, suspended action, unconventional behavior, frustration, delays, a new point of view, going your own way, sacrifice, loneliness, victim consciousness.
13. Death: regeneration, transformation, rebirth, permanent change, renewal, revitalization, metamorphosis, the phoenix rising from the ashes, complete turn around.
14. Temperance: moderation, compromise, alchemy, adaptation, tempering, self-control, modification, patience, mix and match, weave together, blend fire and water, harmony, balance, a delay.
15. The Devil: temptation, limits, burdens, restrictions, boundaries, misdirection, self-indulgence, sensuality, lust, bondage to the past, fear of change, obsession, passive choosing, lack of self-confidence.
16. The Tower: sudden and unexpected life changes, trauma, breaking apart of structures, a wake up call, violent upheaval, violent endings, catalyst for change, clearing away of the old to make room for the new.
17. The Star: renewal, hope, healing, inspiration, inner peace, calm, insight, meditation, guidance, purpose, light, reaching for the stars, purity, beauty.
18. The Moon: illusion, the unconscious, dreams, visions, worry, fear, confusion, madness, paranoia, swamped by emotion, psychic ability, the mysterious, goddess consciousness, women’s mysteries, reflection, dark night of the soul.
19. The Sun: joy, energy, good luck, success, material wealth, things up front, god consciousness, exuberance, enthusiasm, attainment, empowerment, illumination, master of your own destiny, travel.
20. Judgement: enlightenment, a spiritual awakening, second chance, starting over, regeneration, critiquing and judging others, higher consciousness, wisdom, a more meaningful existence.
21. The World: fulfillment, success, growth, change, milestone, coming full circle, travel, having it all, ending one cycle and beginning another, journey’s end.
The Court Cards
King of Wands: entrepreneur, visionary, self-starter, enthusiastic, self-employed, independent, motivated, an inspiration to others, promoter, salesman, agent, manager, impatient, impulsive, con man.
King of Cups: compassionate, loving, kind, romantic, nurturing, family man, metaphysician, preacher, cook, counselor, psychologist, operating a home business, working at what you enjoy, tendency to over indulge in food and drink.
King of Pentacles: stable, astute in business, loyal, secure, dependable, successful, materialistic, family oriented, accomplished, square peg in a square hole, financier, CEO, manager, industrialist, banker, measurable risk.
King of Swords: logical, warrior/scholar/diplomat, professional man, lawyer, judge, doctor, writer, law and order, the justice of the establishment, authority, wise, impartial, detective, undercover agent, spy.
Queen of Wands: exuberant, spirited, creative, businesslike, energetic, enterprising, dramatic, ardent, passionate, honest, open, creative, outgoing, opinionated, fiery.
Queen of Cups: nurturing, loving, romantic, motherhood, psychic, clairvoyant, compassionate, emotional, dramatic, spirituality, sexuality, secretive, tendency towards overweight, loves animals and children.
Queen of Pentacles: practical, nurturing, responsible, secure, down-to-earth, business oriented, go-getter, materialistic, over-protective, efficient, earth mother, writer, actress, inventor, accountant, psychologist.
Queen of Swords: courageous, intelligent, creative, feminine, a woman alone, independent, a widow or divorcee, outspoken, sharp tongued, self-motivated, secretive, demanding, dominating, vindictive, deceitful.
Knight of Wands: informative, travel related to business or spiritual matters, heightened intuition, synchronistic events, a spiritual quest, eager, ardent, energetic, a messenger bringing good news.
Knight of Cups: romantic, travel, flirtations, social activities, new romance, improvements and increase, following a path with heart, flights of fancy, charm, excessive emotion, Don Juan.
Knight of Pentacles: dependable, serious, responsible, hard-working, practical, working behind the scenes, workaholic, smoldering temper, travel related to finances, business, investing, saving.
Knight of Swords: assertive action, aggression, travel, communication, social activities, courage, bravado, overcoming obstacles, headstrong, sharp mind, mental challenge.
Page of Wands: communicative, spreading good news, new projects, new beginnings, adventurous, spiritual, fun-loving, charismatic, easily bored, unfinished projects, messages about work and employment, advertising, promotion.
Page of Cups: expansive, pregnancy, birth, new beginnings, social messages, sensitive, emotional, romantic, psychic, creative, intuitive, immature.
Page of Pentacles: enthusiastic, student, scholarship, apprentice, perpetual beginner, solitary journey, vision quest, work as play, negotiations, financial communications, computer nerd.
Page of Swords: cerebral, intellectual, not taking things seriously, intelligent, outspoken communication, assertive, crusader, detached, watcher, ironic observer, active and curious mind.
The Pip Cards
Ace of Wands: new enterprises, creative beginnings, birth of an idea, new challenges, boundless energy, fiery enthusiasm, optimism, exhilaration, a journey, birth of a child, a sexual escapade, mail or phone messages.
Two of Wands: impending success, moving in the right direction, creative partnerships, collaboration of ideas, successful negotiations, ships just over the horizon, friendship based on common interests.
Three of Wands: imminent success, past efforts starting to pay off, ships coming in, commerce, overseas transactions, imports and exports, alliances with others, pooling talent and ideas.
Four of Wands: foundations, stability, solidly laid plans, architecture, property, building and planning, a new home, a happy family, committed relationships, business partnerships, friendship, births, marriage, engagement, rites of passage.
Five of Wands: competition, rivalry, aggressive action, standing your ground, struggle, beating the bushes for new business, flushing out opportunities, fighting for what you want.
Six of Wands: victory, success, triumph, overcoming obstacles, achievement, winning, honors, realization of goals, vindication for hard work and struggle, attaining a cherished dream.
Seven of Wands: holding your own, success against all opposition, winning out over unfavorable odds, position of advantage, fighting back successfully, taking a stand, self employment, writing.
Eight of Wands: swiftness, energy, messages, good news, moving closer to your goal, plans nearing completion, travel, mail, faxes, email, phone calls, advertising, promotion, new ideas, new projects, taking a risk.
Nine of Wands: final test, one last challenge, a pause in the struggle, wait and see, caution and patience, drawing on reserve strength, poised on the threshold of victory.
Ten of Wands: overburdened, excessive responsibility, carrying a heavy load, biting off more than you can chew, doing everything yourself, stress, pressure, all work and no play.
Ace of Cups: new relationships, new love, joy, fulfillment, pregnancy, birth, fertility, new opportunities, renewed passion, a new appreciation for life, a happy situation, the Holy Grail.
Two of Cups: partnership, true love, one-on-one relationships, marriage, engagement, emotional compatibility, mutual trust, openness, dating, good feelings, give and take.
Three of Cups: celebrations, rejoicing, reunions, the holidays, births, baptisms, engagements, good fortune, success, happiness, friendships, convivially, happy hours, fun, eating and drinking, overindulgence, oversensitivity.
Four of Cups: apathy, unappealing choices, lack of enthusiasm for the future, opportunities that merit a second look, jaded outlook, boredom, dissatisfaction, a ho-hum attitude.
Five of Cups: regret, disappointment, loss, holding onto past wrongs, sorrow, emotional pain, end of a relationship or job, reversal of fortune, demotion, passed over for promotion, burned out.
Six of Cups: nostalgia, old memories, new opportunities, children, childhood, appearance of an old friend or lover, birth, pregnancy, happy times, a new use for old skills and abilities.
Seven of Cups: indecision, imagination, fantasy, an abundance of options, inability to distinguish between good and bad choices, feeling muddled and confused, vacillating.
Eight of Cups: walking away, moving on, the gradual withdrawal of affection, loss of interest, conscious decision to leave a relationship or job, backing off, pulling back, searching for higher meaning.
Nine of Cups: wish fulfillment, happiness, joy, contentment, abundance, material success, physical well being, fulfillment of a dream, good luck, earthly pleasures.
Ten of Cups: happy family, joy and contentment in personal relationships, lasting success, complete happiness, emotional harmony, prosperity, security, commitment, marriage, children, a house or home.
Ace of Pentacles: financial opportunity, a fresh start, a new job, renewed health, expansion, material gain, a raise or promotion, auspicious time to launch a new business venture.
Two of Pentacles: Your relationships are going through a period of change and adjustment, and you’re mainly concerned with maintaining your equilibrium and striking a workable balance between the various aspects of your life.
Three of Pentacles: master craftsperson, an expert, public recognition, reward for expertise, master builder, payment of royalties or residuals, satisfying work, achievement.
Four of Pentacles: security, a solid financial foundation, stability, financially conservative, protective of possessions, seeking happiness from money, self-sufficient, professional advancement, a miserly disposition.
Five of Pentacles: insecurity, hardships, poverty, unemployment, debts, self-employment that tends to feast or famine, misfortune, out in the cold emotionally, feeling abandoned and ignored.
Six of Pentacles: financial aid, assistance, loan, social security check, welfare, a grant, a scholarship, a gift, an inheritance, bonus, raise, prize, benefactor, patron, what goes around – comes around.
Seven of Pentacles: financial harvest, evaluating accomplishments, weighing options for the future, royalties, a surge in sales, reevaluation of goals, a pause in progress.
Eight of Pentacles: apprentice, education, learning a new trade, polishing skills, attention to detail, fine tuning of ability, taking pride in what you do, a new hobby.
Nine of Pentacles: comfort, independence, financial security, alone but not lonely, contentment, well-being, self-reliance, a beautiful environment, love of animals and nature, a home body, material success.
Ten of Pentacles: wealth, prosperity, riches, purchase of land or stock, business travel, transactions involving millions, a windfall, improved health, happiness and contentment, security.
Ace of Swords: new ideas, new beliefs, new projects, invention, resolving old problems, solutions to a mystery, cutting through illusions, a sudden romance or sexual encounter.
Two of Swords: stalemate, deadlock, procrastination, a paradoxical situation, a temporary truce or compromise, a fork in the road, a decision yet to be made, the need to decide soon.
Three of Swords: heartbreak, loss, physical and emotional pain, letting go, deep suffering, a broken relationship, divorce, separation, open heart surgery, abortion, miscarriage.
Four of Swords: respite, incarceration, jail term, hospital stay, a period of rest and recuperation, time out for quiet contemplation, a spiritual retreat, inactivity, waiting.
Five of Swords: empty victory, winning through the use of deception and unfair tactics, sabotage, treachery, escape from danger, breaking of bonds, lifting of restrictions, a battle with no clear victor.
Six of Swords: travel, moving away from problems, change of residence, a turning point, improvement in a situation, a trip over water, an overseas visitor, assistance.
Seven of Swords: bold action, an impulsive act, furtiveness, stealth, outsmarting the opposition, playing your cards close to the vest, taking advantage of a person or situation, mistrust, a victory that brings only partial success.
Eight of Swords: restriction, illusion of limitation, a mental prison, mental distress, fear, insecurity, blocked exits, lack of options, feeling boxed in, looking for a way out, a sense of hopelessness.
Nine of Swords: worry, anxiety, sleepless nights, stress induced nightmares, fear, mental anguish, depression, concern for family, concern for the problems of the world, dark night of the soul.
Ten of Swords: betrayal, unhappy endings, treachery, misfortune, being stabbed in the back, loss, final and dramatic resolution of a situation, the end of a thing on which you had been counting.
Part 2 – Keyword Practice Exercise
1) Study the keywords and phrases for each of the majors
2) Examine the following poem.
3) Using different keywords and phrases from the ones in the sample, write your own poem about the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana.
Innocent Fool says, “I begin”.
Crafty Magician says, “I manifest”.
Secretive High Priestess, says “I intuit”.
Fertile Empress says, “I nurture”.
Authoritative Emperor says, “I govern”.
Traditional Hierophant says, “I believe”.
Harmonious Lovers say, “We choose”.
Ambitious Chariot says, “I succeed”.
Courageous Strength says, “I persevere”.
Contemplative Hermit says, “I guide”.
Cyclical Wheel of Fortune says, “I change”.
Balanced Justice says, “I decide”.
Suspended Hanged Man says, “I don’t conform”.
Transforming Death says, “I am reborn”.
Alchemical Temperance says, “I compromise”.
Limiting Devil says, “I tempt”.
Traumatic Tower says, “I clear away.”
Healing Star says, “I inspire”.
Reflective Moon says, “I create illusion”.
Glorious Sun Says, “I energize”.
Enlightened Judgement says, “I awaken”.
Affirming World says. “I’ve arrived”.
About Phyllis Vega
Phyllis Vega is a professional tarot reader and astrologer. She has been a New Age counselor and teacher for more than three decades. Phyllis is the author of 10 books, including Romancing the Tarot, Power Tarot (with Trish MacGregor), What Your Birthday Reveals About You, Your Magickal Name (with Debra Vega), and Celtic Astrology. Her new book, Erotic Astrology, will be in the stores on July 17, 2009.
Phyllis also does tarot readings and teaches workshops on a variety of topics including, SpellCraft, Crystal Power, Candle Magic, and Past Life Regressions at Five Sisters on South Dixie Highway in Pinecrest, Florida. Phyllis works out of her office in Miami, Florida where she is currently writing a new tarot book and giving private tarot and astrology readings in person and over the telephone. She can be contacted through her website.