The Symbology of Tarot: Understanding Imagery and Symbolism in Readings


Tarot, a fascinating tool used for divination and self-exploration, is filled with a tapestry of symbols, colors, and imagery. Each card is an intricate blend of these elements, encoding a narrative that helps to illuminate the path of our lives. Understanding the symbolism in each card enables a deeper, more enriched interpretation of Tarot readings, fostering a profound connection with our intuitive and subconscious realms. In this extended post, we will journey through the world of Tarot symbolism, exploring how this ancient language of images guides our interpretation of the cards.

The Language of Symbols

Symbols serve as a language that can communicate complex and profound ideas through simple visual forms. They act as a bridge between our conscious mind and the subconscious, the part of our minds that communicates through imagery and metaphor. In the realm of Tarot, symbols are the primary language. Each card in a Tarot deck is replete with a variety of symbols: from animals and plants to colors, shapes, and numbers. All these elements carry distinct meanings, contributing to the overall narrative of a card.

Colors and Their Resonances in Tarot

Colors hold an integral place in the symbolic universe of the Tarot. They invoke specific moods and sentiments, help to highlight key elements, and give cues about a card's overall energy. For instance, red, often associated with passion, vigor, or anger, could imply a call to action or heightened emotions. Blue might signify tranquility, intuition, or deep emotional understanding, while a card dominated by yellow hues might suggest creativity, intellectual pursuits, or positive energy. Examining the predominant colors and their interplay in a card provides valuable insights into the card's deeper meanings.

The Influence of Numerology

Numerology, another important facet of Tarot symbolism, infuses the cards with additional layers of meaning. Each of the Minor Arcana cards (from Ace to Ten) carries a numerical value that corresponds to specific energetic vibrations. For example, the Aces, representing the number one, are typically associated with beginnings, potential, or individuality. In contrast, tens usually denote completion, the culmination of a cycle, or a sense of plenitude. Understanding the significance of these numbers can enrich your interpretation of a card and the overall reading.

The Symbolism of Animals and Plants in Tarot

Animal and plant symbols in the Tarot resonate with their inherent traits and qualities, contributing to a card's interpretation. The lion in the Strength card, for instance, symbolizes courage, authority, and raw power, while the roses and lilies in the Magician card represent desire and purity respectively. These natural elements, with their specific symbolic associations, enhance our understanding of a card's message and provide additional context to a reading.

Archetypal Characters and Objects

The Tarot is also inhabited by archetypal figures: kings, queens, knights, and others. These characters often represent aspects of our own personalities, or they may reflect individuals in our lives. Similarly, objects like towers, boats, or swords symbolize broader concepts like radical change, journeys, or conflict respectively. Understanding the role and symbolism of these archetypal figures and objects can offer more nuanced interpretations and provide greater clarity during readings.

Personal Symbolism and Synchronicities

While each Tarot card carries traditional interpretations and common symbolic associations, it's also essential to consider your personal connections to the symbols. Your unique experiences and perceptions can shape how you understand a specific symbol. For instance, the rose, traditionally a symbol of love and passion, might evoke personal memories or associations for you, adding a layer of personal relevance to yourreading.

Carl Jung, the pioneering psychologist, recognized the importance of personal connections to symbols and developed the concept of synchronicity to describe the meaningful coincidences that occur in our lives. If a symbol appearing in your tarot reading also manifests in your life—like in dreams, conversations, or random sightings—it's worth exploring this 'symbolic synchronicity' for additional insights. This personal connection to the symbol not only adds depth to your reading but also strengthens your connection with your subconscious.

Tarot Symbols

A Dynamic Language: The symbology in Tarot is not static; it's a dynamic, evolving language that changes with the context. A symbol's meaning can shift based on its relation to other symbols in the same card, its placement in a spread, or the specific question or situation at hand. For example, a sword, which usually symbolizes conflict or intellectual clarity, could take on a different meaning when found in a love reading or when paired with cards like the Two of Cups. This dynamic nature of Tarot symbols encourages flexibility and intuitive thinking, leading to more nuanced and personalized readings.

Cultivating Your Personal Symbol Dictionary

As you delve deeper into the Tarot, it can be beneficial to maintain a Tarot journal where you note down the symbols appearing in your readings and your interpretations. Over time, this journal can evolve into a personal 'symbol dictionary' that reflects your unique understanding and experiences with the Tarot. Remember, the goal is not to memorize fixed meanings but to engage with the symbols and allow your intuition to guide your understanding. This practice enriches your relationship with the Tarot, turning it into a profound tool for self-discovery and personal growth.


The world of Tarot symbology is a vast and enchanting realm, brimming with profound insights and guidance. Whether through colors, numbers, animals, or archetypal figures, each symbol holds the potential to unlock deeper levels of understanding in our readings. The key is to balance the traditional interpretations with your personal associations and the context in which a symbol appears. Remember, the Tarot is a tool to connect you with your subconscious, and the symbols are the language through which it communicates. Embrace this language, and you'll find that your Tarot readings become a deeply personal and illuminating journey of self-exploration.