Q: Do you ever use the Major Arcana without the Minor Arcana or vice versa?
Actually, except as part of Tarot learning groups I’ve participated in, no. I’ve thought about it for certain questions (like keeping to just the Minors for mundane daily questions), but I like to give the Tarot the freedom to let me know if something is more of a big-part-of-life issue vs. an everyday issue for the querent.
One place that I used only the Major Arcana was a little course on a Facebook group on the Marseille cards that I belonged to a few years ago. We had exercises to do with traditional Marseille decks, emphasizing all material aspects of the symbols to get a reading, including how the simple colors juxtapose with each other (called “pooling”). I found this fascinating, coming up with meanings from all these little bits of concrete symbolism. Now this is not your spiritual journey Major Arcana; this use of the cards is much more grounded for fortune-telling with daily life issues. The pic below is the Camoin mini deck. Some of the more recent recolorings of the Marseille don’t work as well for this; the meanings for the colors were based on the old four-color print process, and many of the recolorings have too many colors or have moved them all around.
I’m really struck by the way the dark blue (cold, restrained) runs like a river from one card to the other and from lower to higher, while the light blue (intrigue, sentiment) has an up-down-up pattern, and the yellow (old, venerable, closure) from the scepter in the Empress (along with its shape) is echoed and extended in the yellow tree trunks holding up the Hanged Man, and then reshaped over to the halo on the angel in the Judgment card. This last forms a straight and stable line of color with a conclusion in Judgment. On colors alone I’d say that a successful conclusion is likely, but will involve taking a cool and detached approach, rather than allowing the ups and downs of drama and trauma to carry you along. Interesting what you can get just from the colors.
And then you can add that to the traditional card meanings (Marseille, now, not the New Agey meanings for the Tarot), with the Empress representing the feminine side of earthly authority and power, the Hanged Man representing a sacrifice or loss of dignity or making a mistake and being punished, and the Judgment (or Angel as it was originally called), representing a second chance at redemption.
So, let’s say this is a reading on the prospects over the next two weeks and things one should be aware of. You may have made a mistake (Hanged Man) in your dealings with a powerful woman (Empress), maybe by being too focused on the ups and downs of sentimental attachment (light blue) when you should have looked at the situation more rationally (dark blue). You do have a second chance (Judgment) for repairing the relationship (yellow), but you will need to take a more objective (dark blue) approach.
It’s kind of cool how it all hangs together when you think about it!
If you are on Facebook and interested in the Marseille decks, I now belong to the Tarot de Marseille group here. It is a closed group, so you will have to ask to be added, and the conversations within the group will not be public.
I like the idea of exploring different approaches to the Tarot, old and new, and this one seemed to fit the question best for right now. 🙂
I found the questions for this series at a Tumblr account that no longer exists. A lovely person named Rhee started the thing. These are great prompts for telling stories about one’s journey through the world of Tarot, so I’ve started the series again on a weekly basis so you all can get to know me better, and also share your own answers to the questions in comments or links to your own posts. I’d love to hear from you!