The Major Arcana

Third Edition


Meet historic figures such as Himiko, the shamaness queen of Yamatai-koku and Menelik I, son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Learn about the Sumerian gala priestesses of Ishtar and the Shona mbonga of Mwari. Invoke Maitreya and Kuan Yin, or Anubis and Shai, Eos, Titaness-goddess of the dawn, and Asherah.

The SKT architecture features 3 versions of Key 0 as significators for accessing 3 different registers of divination

Choose one of the three based on the inquiry: The Initiate if you need spiritual guidance on which path to take; The Seeker if you have questions about purpose or how to problem-solve a pending matter; and The Keeper to activate the spirits of the deck and work with the cards in the astral realm.

Key 0: The Initiate personifies a new cycle of growth. The Initiate card is about having to take that proverbial first step of a thousand-mile journey. Ab incunabulis: from the cradle to the grave; ab aeterno: since the beginning. Ab initio mundi: from the beginning of the world to this day. The Green Man oversees this gateway, symbolic of rebirth, the cyclical forces of nature, and evocative of Osiris. Your animal spirit companion, a fox, is waiting for you. Beyond the threshold, the Orphic Egg.

Key 0: The Seeker is The Fool who seeks answers, who seeks to know. This is you in search of specific guidance and divine counsel. The journey to come will be about advancing the sophistication of your knowledge. Another aspect to The Seeker: Until you have put in more effort, the gods will not reveal to you where to find what you are looking for. You still need to prove yourself worthy. Nobody is born “The One.” Nobody is born worthy. It is an embodiment that you must prove you are capable of being. Double your efforts. Pictured here is Angkor Wat, the City of Temples from the Hindu-Buddhist Khmer Empire in Cambodia. Greek gorgon heads and Buddhist reliefs of the Medicine Master adorn the corridors.

Key 0: The Keeper engages in a more interactive relationship with the many names and many faces of the Holy Spirit. This is the key for spirit contacts, connecting you to the angelic or divine realms, for Akashic Records readings, or mediumship readings. The Keeper indicates a strong guardian spirit present around you, and that presence wants to be known or identified. If there are other cards in your reading, they will describe traits or aspects of that spirit presence. Background features the Taoist Seal of Changes. The Dharma Wheel oversees this gateway.  Here is a tribute to the Iron Age Semitic mythos of a Mother Goddess, Elath (“the Goddess”) or Qudshu (“Holiness”). In Ugaritic texts from 1200 BC, she is The Great Lady Athirat, also known as Asherah.

Read Book of Maps excerpt on The Keeper: click here.

The First Septenary

Key 1: The Magus. The Magus is the personification of creative thought. It’s time to be disciplined, so that you can master your innate talents. Embody the alchemist and create a sum greater than its elemental parts. Positive omen of culminating power. Prodigy revealed. There is also an undertone of the trickster here in Key 1, signified by the fox mask. The theme is power, but it is also performance. Time to put on a good show. Here, the Magus is embodied by Himiko, the shamaness queen from the Yayoi Period of Neolithic Japan (Wa).

Key 2: The Priestess. Go deeper to harness the full potential of your inner magic. What had been kept hidden will soon be revealed. This is the Key of Secrets. In matters of love or war, The Priestess is an auspicious omen. Pictured here is a Sumerian gala priestess, syncretized with iconic references to the high priest who enters the Holy of Holies. Upon her lunar crown is an icon of Inanna. Seek wisdom, and if that is still beyond reach, seek faith. The Divine’s reasoning cannot be revealed at this time. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways.”

Read Book of Maps excerpt on The Priestess: click here.

Key 3: The Empress. You are on the verge of producing a Work of worthy admiration. Hopes become reality. Positive omen of plenitude. Gloria Mundi is the muse for poets, writers, artists, and musicians. Mother Goddess is proud of you. The heavens shine blessings upon your life path. The Empress also embodies the spirit of Rhetoric. She wields the art of charismatic persuasion. Fertile ground and high productivity are prophesied. The inspiration here is Wu Zetian, the only woman in imperial Chinese history to rule a dynasty. Here, Wu Zetian is appearing as the goddess Houtu, the Empress Mother Earth.

Key 4: The Emperor. You have the power to determine what is and what will be for yourself. Your task: define your destination, then lead the charge. You are being called to direct and reign. Overcome your fears, because it is now time for you to conquer new frontier. Wield your authority with aplomb. Hold yourself out as the leader and they will follow. Pictured here is Menelik I, Ethiopian emperor, son of the Biblical King Solomon and Queen of Sheba. Behind him is a golden eagle, symbolic of a Heavenly Father, and the Ark of the Covenant. It is the dawn of your personal Age of Reason, a progressive moment toward intellectual enlightenment. See also Animated Work in Progress (Instagram Video).

Key 5: The Hierophant. The Hierophant is about confronting what you have inherited and evaluating that inheritance with individual responsibility. This is the spirit of sovereignty over your soul purpose. Divinity speaks directly to you and works through you. Here, the Hierophant is embodied by Maitreya, the bodhisattva and prophesied future Buddha of Loving-Kindness and Light, greeting you at the gates of Tushita. When The Hierophant appears, Ganesha’s blessings are coming your way. Ganesha is the remover of obstacles, a deva of intellectualism, the arts, and science.

Key 6: The Lovers. You are at a crossroads and your next step is to choose between two paths: a path of instant gratification and one of delayed gratification. Solve et coagula: dissolve and concentrate, a maxim of the alchemists. The Lovers portend the sacred marriage of your higher self and your ego. This is the key of hieros gamos, or the sacred marriage between the god and the goddess, or the metaphorical intercourse between compassion karuna and insight prajna. For the matter at hand, bring together Reason and Intuition. Mediate the polarities. In modernity, The Lovers card might appear so that attention can be called toward a romantic relationship or to the themes of Eros. Close by is the Edenic cherub with the Flaming Sword.

Key 7: The Chariot. Now is the time to make waves and create change. The Chariot is an omen that you’re gaining momentum. You possess mastery of knowledge and skills that now advance you on your Path. You have arrived at a critical milestone. A new dawn has risen. Keep going. Stay in movement and keep gaining momentum. The charioteer is a depiction of Eos, Greek titaness-goddess of the dawn (Roman: Aurora; Vedic: Ushas). Lux et Veritas: Light and Truth; today, both are your allies. See also Animated Work in Progress (Instagram Video).

The Second Septenary

Key 8: The Force. You’ve attained mastery over your own fears and now it’s time to show the world your fearlessness. The Force is the audacity to achieve personal miracles. In spite of the obstacles you’ve had to endure, you prevail, you persist, you domineer. When the beast growls at the maiden, instead of responding with violence or with fear, the maiden shows love, kindness, and compassion. Her loving-kindness tames the lion. With patience and fortitude, you overcome the initial setbacks. You are held in high esteem. The violet sun luminescent with Astral Light is an omen of your spiritual transcendence to come. Keep the Will steady and even-keeled. Extend your trust to others and you will turn their hearts. Pictured here is the Dutch Maiden, personification of the Low Countries during the reawakening of Europe in the 12th century. See also Animated Work in Progress (Instagram Video).

Key 9: The Erudite. The Erudite is the prophecy of a wise teacher. This is someone who has learned and mastered many subjects, and therefore possesses great knowledge as broad in scope as that knowledge is deep. When The Erudite appears to you, here is the core message from Spirit: Shine with the light of the heavens. Shine for others, so others can see themselves and the world clearer. Light the life of humanity. Lux ex tenebris: this is the inner light of wisdom and guidance that shines through the darkness. But take care— Luceo non uro: Shine, not burn. Pictured here is a mbonga or ascetic priestess of Mwari, the Force Behind Creation, the Supreme Creator of the Shona. The mbonga is a shamaness, spirit medium, and oracle.

Key 10: Wheel of Life. You are at a major turning point in your life. This is the symbol of changing cycles and even the cycles of our mind, how we change our perspectives based on the evolution of our experiences. This is also our karma and the law of causation. This is the guardian spirit present during a major shift in your life. Two divine forms of Shai appear here, one upright and one in reverse. Shai is the Egyptian divine personification of fate and fortune. Design for the Ezekiel’s Wheel is based on the Secret Key by William Postel. See also Animated Work in Progress (Instagram Video).

Key 11: The Chancellor. Be fair, be objective, and be impartial when you judge the situations of others. Do not make your decision based on appearances, because in the matter at hand, appearances will deceive. Choose balanced action, balanced words, and balanced thought. When The Chancellor appears, it is a divine call to make the necessary adjustments so that you might restore balance. Key 11 marks that point when the truth comes out. Across the skies is the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi in cuneiform. If Key 10 was karma as fate, then Key 11 is a sign that the gods want you to choose for yourself. Here is Themis, the singular force maintaining civil society (Homer), divine law, Mother of Diki, Libran goddess of human-ordained law.

Read Book of Maps excerpt on The Chancellor: click here. See also Animated Work in Progress (Instagram Video).

Key 12: The Outlaw. Examine your situation from a different perspective. Be the outlier. This is the spirit designating how we break from establishment to serve a higher purpose. This is the heretical, the eccentric, the dissident. This is the rejection of authority and rebellion against establishment. The Outlaw appears to you when the answer is to operate outside of orthodoxy and institutions. Do ut des: I give that you may give. This is also an omen of self-sacrifice. Coram Deo: you are in the presence of God. Across the skies is Psalm 102 (KJV 103) from the Latin Vulgate. The butterfly has just emerged from its chrysalis, resting its wings before it takes flight—an omen revealing the influence of Psyche.

Key 13: The Reaper. Lucem sequimur: follow the Light. You are being guided through an initiation phase and the suffering you experience serves a greater divine purpose. A change that you know in your heart is imminent but have been denying is the change that you will face. The Reaper appears to you when the circumstances call for this gentle reminder: All is not fair to the human perception. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. That is the purpose and the absence of purpose to human Genesis. Endure through the difficult changes to come and when those winds of change have settled, you will find yourself better for it. There will be rebirth.

Key 14: The Angel. This is where it gets better. Your Holy Guardian Angel whispers words of reassurance. Mutatis mutandis: the necessary changes have been made. This is the primordial spirit of exceptionalism. “Genius hits a target no one else can see.” (Arthur Schopenhauer, 1788-1860). Genius, in Greco-Roman lore, is one’s tutelary deity, or a guardian spirit that protects an individual person. It is your daimon calling to you. Rainbow ripples reveal Iris, messenger of the gods. When your guardian angel appears, take a moment to intuit the pulses of energy in the space around you. Can you feel the presence of the daimon? Do you know that you are watched over and looked after? Here is the manifestation of a composite duality, Destroyer of Evil and Bringer of Harmony. Blended, they are Creative Power, here to endow blessings. This is also the Divine Androgyne of Khunrath (Eliphas Levi, Magic Chain).

The Third Septenary

Key 15: The Demon. You know you’ve begun the final prong of your spiritual journey when you’re thrust into a battle with the Typhon (son of Gaia and Tartarus), the serpent who challenged Zeus. This is the mental and emotional chains of bondage you must break, and to break those chains, you must see clearly that those chains have always been an illusion. This is self-sabotage, holding your own Reason and Intuition captive, the personification of interferences that undermine the pursuit of our aspirations, obstructing the advancement of our knowledge and wisdom. You have been surrendering your self-control. When The Demon appears, a usurper may be lurking nearby. Yet the spirit of The Demon is the source of chaos magic, the wellspring of unbridled power. Pictured here is the Baphomet of the Templars. The serpent of the Edenic Mysteries is Azoth, the soul of the earth.

Key 16: The Tower. The Tower is the spirit of disappointment when you feel what you have worked hard for is not propelling you toward the higher ground you desire. The Tower appears when the message you need to hear is this: change your direction. Revision work is needed. Before the physical construction of your Great Work can manifest, you must build a solid inner foundation. Focus on that inner foundation and then when the conditions are ripe, the physical construction of your Great Work will manifest. This is the moment your material and spiritual worlds collide. Dismantle your own preconceived notions. Reach skyward for noble reasons, beyond personal vanity. Ascend from ego. No matter the fall, you always get back up and thrive. Heed these teachings: there can be joy in sorrow and stability in change. Lux mentis lux orbis: light of the mind, light of the world. Key 16 can also be an omen of armed conflict. Pictured in the back: the Eye of God, the Helix Nebula.

Key 17: The Healer. The fragments of your broken world will be healed. This is the omen of restoration, of rebuilding, salving, and alleviating your pains. When The Healer is making her presence known, it is the prophecy that a blessing is soon to be conferred. You have overcome a brutal yet necessary trial in your life, and now is a time for healing your battle wounds. With your goodness, you revitalize the world around you. Pictured here is Kannon, or Kuan Yin, the Buddhist bodhisattva of mercy and compassion. Upon her crown: Amitofuo. The Shinto shrine in the background honors beneficent nature spirits. “Born Shinto, die Buddhist” is expressed here. What had been taken from you shall be restored in even greater glory than before.

Key 18: The Necromancer. The matter at hand is steeped in ambiguity, but emotion and intuition will converge to guide you. Seek out counsel from your ancestral lines. You cannot rely on superficial impressions; instead, trust your psychic responses for judgment. You are about to walk into the dark night and will be navigating fluctuating terrain. Trust your intuition and you will avert danger at each turn. Pictured here is Anubis weighing a heart against Maat’s feather. At the center crux of the balancing scales is an icon of Maat facing right. Egyptian hieroglyphs are from the Book of the Dead. This Key unlocks the underworld. When The Necromancer appears, the veil between worlds is thin. It endows you with mediumship powers—the cards in the spread are messages from beyond. Those who have passed on return to see you.

Key 19: The Warrior. This is the spirit of heroic acts. Libertas perfundet omnia luce: freedom floods all things with light. Luceat lux vestra: let your light shine. You are now liberated and triumphant. The sun symbolism above represents Sol Invictus. Below is Victoria, Roman goddess of victory in war and politics (Greek: Nike). Here is victory in the battles you’ve fought for your own independence. You’ve broken all chains. The ruby light that powered The Demon (Key 15) now powers The Sun. You’ve detached yourself from that which had tried to control your will. And now your light shines freely out into the world. The Warrior is the spirit of fighting to protect others, fighting in service. This is success and glory you achieve not for yourself, but so you can be in the empowered position to help others thrive and grow. You are about to attain the highest echelons of greatness, because the heavens shine righteously in your favor. See also Animated Work in Progress (Instagram Video).

Key 20: Apocalypse. You’ve arrived at a point of no return. What has transpired is now irreversible. “The only way out is through.” (Robert Frost, 1874-1963). This is that moment of full realization for why all that has happened to you has happened. Revelation is coming, when the answers that were hidden before will become obvious. Positive omen: A resurrection. Ill-dignified meaning: There are casualties, collateral damage. When the Apocalypse appears with other cards, it adds an emphasis of spiritual importance to the divination. Pay closer attention when Key 20 is present. The Apocalypse is a mythic personification of an event horizon—this is a space-time in which no event that comes subsequent can affect the outcome, because all that could have affected it has either transpired or not transpired. The Apocalypse card appears when you have crossed the boundary of where gravitational pull over you is such that turning back is impossible. Into the Deep you go. Pictured in the background is Angkor Wat during the height of the Khmer Empire in Cambodia. See also Animated Work in Progress (Instagram Video).

Key 21: New World Order. This is the spirit you encounter when a cycle has come to its completion. You are the New World Order who brings positive change to the zeitgeist. You are the catalyst. This is the spirit of you succeeding at creating the change you have wanted to see in your world. The New World Order ushers in a period of personal renaissance and unification. When Key 21 appears to you, it is the divinatory mark of a new epoch in your life path. With it comes dramatic changes to your world. This is the spirit of a great power rising. You are on the right path for achieving that greatness. Pictured here is a pelican with wings outstretched who has pierced her own heart and is now feeding her young, a set of three nestlings at her feet, suckling upon three rivulets of their mother’s blood. In old medieval lore, it was believed that in times of need, a mother pelican will pierce her own breast with her beak and feed her young with her own blood. Thus, the pelican became an allegory for the Messiah and the self-sacrifice of Christ.

On each Major Arcanum card, the top left features the elemental or astrological correspondence. The center is the tarot key title. To the right is the corresponding Logos, or letter from the Proto-Canaanite/Phoenician alphabet. Three of the Majors will bear an elemental glyph in the top left, for the Tria Prima, or three alchemical primes.

Seven of the Majors will show a planetary glyph for the Sacred Seven, as you see for Key 1: The Magus, featuring the astrological symbol for Mercury.

Twelve of the Majors will show a zodiac glyph, for the twelve zodiac signs. For example, Key 4: The Emperor corresponds with Aries under the Golden Dawn system of attributions, which is what this deck follows.

The bottom caption features the I Ching trigram correspondence on the left. For example, the above caption under The Emperor card features the trigram Fire.

Where the symbol “※” appears in lieu of a trigram, that Major Arcanum is one of the six points of divinity, equating to six principles of magic.

To the right is the number assigned to the card, in the Mayan numeral system. Planetary cards are assigned 9, zodiac cards are 12, the three tria prima mothers are 3, etc. In the Mayan numeral system, the bar equals 5, while a dot equals 1.

The center title is the spirit’s epithet for invocations and evocations.

The Major Arcana. Click on image for full-size viewing.