A Note on Trumps
Alright, so what is the difference between a Major Arcana and a Minor Arcana? A tarot professional could probably give you a long, drawn out answer, but the basic premise is this: the Major Arcana are more all-encompassing and universal, representing the journey through life. The Minor Arcana are temporal circumstances, not quite as heady as “universal truths” or “finding inner wisdom.” That doesn’t mean the Minor Arcana are less important – certainly, they represent more of the things you would care about right now – but the Major Arcana are usually considered to be higher concepts. Hence why they’re called “Trumps”.
(Well, actually, they’re called Trumps from an earlier time when they had simple meanings and little occult significance. Don’t get your logic and history in my grand explanation!!)
So of course, the fact they’re representing higher concepts means they’re a lot more complex to explain. Even though most of the Trumps show people on the card, it shouldn’t be taken to mean this card represents a person. Rather, it represents the aspects and themes of that particular person/figure. For example, suppose we drew the Innocent below in a reading about an old and grizzled veteran. Nothing says that card can’t apply to him – it simply means that he is approaching something new with the mindset of someone that was Innocent.
The Innocent/The Fool
The Innocent is exactly what she sounds like – she’s innocent! She’s pure and good and untainted by the harshness of real life. She still has her faith and high ideals. She’s carefree and open and wants to see the world, because she hasn’t yet learned she should be afraid of it. Sounds great, right? Sort of.
Most people wouldn’t argue that innocence is a bad thing (unless they’re quite jaded), but they might argue that naivety is. And the flip-side of innocence is naivety. The Innocent is a good person, and she still has faith in people, but that’s only because she has never experienced anything to challenge that. She’s not scared of other people, because no one has ever wronged her. She believes in her ideals because she’s never been confronted with something that might prove her wrong. She has faith because it’s never been tested. She certainly can’t understand why other people would be bitter and angry, because she’s never been hurt.
The Innocent hasn’t experienced life, which is why she’s out and starting her journey to see the world. But the dangers and choices are hers to face – hers alone – and she doesn’t recognize the complexity of them. She can’t really, until she’s experienced them for herself. No matter how much she is lectured on the dangers of this and that, it’s not the same as actually living it.
The Innocent is considered the sign of a beginning, or approaching something like… well, like a beginner, an innocent. She is starting out on a brand new journey, plunging into the unknown, and ready to follow wherever life will take her.
Alright, so what does this mean if inverted? That’s sort of the thing… no one can agree on how to do the darn Inversions. Some people go with exactly the opposite meaning. I prefer the idea of a “twisted” meaning – the major themes of the card are still there, but they’re presented in a different light. Unfortunately, sometimes that is really hard to figure out. Sometimes it’s easier to just say “alright, it means the opposite!!”
Opposites you can probably figure out on your own. So what’s the “twisted” version of The Innocent? This person is still innocent, but it manifests in a less charming way. She’s brash, she’s reckless, she’s headstrong, she’s a straight up blundering fool. She’s irresponsible, because she doesn’t see the importance of what she’s being told to do. She won’t listen, because she’s young and thinks she knows everything, and she hasn’t yet encountered something that proved her wrong. She might even be insensitive and cruel, not because she’s malicious, but because it honestly hasn’t occurred to her that she could be hurting people with her actions. We all know those kids who have the whole world figured out, and can’t figure out why it’s just so darn difficult for everyone else. Unfortunately, much like the uninverted Innocent above, experience is likely the only thing that’s going to change her mind. No matter how much we want to control her and make her listen, it’s her life and her mistakes to make.
If you see the inverted Innocent in a reading, it’s probably time to seriously reassess your decisions.