Traditionally, each tarot card has a specific meaning. As mentioned in the previous courses, the numbers and suits of the individual cards, as well as whether it’s in the major arcana or the minor arcana, add more layers to a card’s meaning. In this course, we’ll cover other aspects of tarot card symbolism including color and shapes found in the tarot cards.
Colors play a big role in our everyday lives. We recognize them on our traffic signs, associate them with our favorite sports teams and intuitively connect them with different emotions. Though color symbolism is prevalent, it’s by no means universal. Sometimes other cultures assign different meanings to colors than what you might be used to. For example, many witches use the color black to signify power, whereas non-witches may use black to demonstrate grief and loss. Because of the subjective nature of symbolism, let this process be intuitive and personal.
Sift through your tarot cards and note the overall color themes. Journal about what you associate with those colors, as well as what others in your region or culture tend to connect with those colors. Add these notes to your grimoire or tarot journal.
Once you’ve identified the color themes throughout the deck, look at how colors are used in the different suits: wands, swords, cups, and pentacles. Journal about any colors associations that come up for you with each suit.
As a tarot reader, it’s appropriate for you to integrate color symbolism into your readings as you feel called to do so. Notice if the colors in your particular deck support the traditional meaning of the card, or if it goes against the color symbolism you’re familiar with.
General List of Color Associations:
Red: Romantic love, passion, temptation, danger, excitement, urgency, courage, strength
Orange: Confidence, goal-setting, productivity, motivation, creativity, caution
Yellow: Happiness, joy, enthusiasm, intellect, warmth, innovation
Green: Health, growth, money, earth, prosperity, fertility, luck, power
Blue: Mental clarity, insight, communication, learning, problem-solving
Purple: Inspiration, psychic abilities, wisdom, spirituality, intuition, connection to a higher power
Pink: Friendship, self-love, unconditional love, general relationships, compassion
Black: Banishing, protection, power, death, mystery
Brown: Nature, conservation, grounding energy, manifesting energy
White: Abundance, success, peace, wholeness, protection, hope
You can copy this list into your tarot journal, and add to it whenever you think of a new meaning or association for a particular color.
Shapes are used not only in the tarot card images themselves but also in the way you lay down your cards in a tarot spread. If you’re creating your own spread, you may want to use shape symbolism in the layout of your custom tarot spreads.
General List of Shape Symbolism:
Square or Rectangle: stability, trustworthy, foundational, order, calling in the elements
Circle: creation, fertility, completion, cycles, repeating, never-ending, harmony
Triangle: Motion, directional, strength, trinity, power
Upside-down Triangle: instability
Cross: health, balance, spirituality
Spiral: upward movement, cycles, progress, ascension, spiritual journey
Common Symbols in Tarot
Planets, the Sun or the Moon
Compass or arrows
Rain, clouds, storms or lightning
Light and darkness
Angels and demons
Exercise: Go through your favorite deck of tarot cards and journal about any pieces of symbolism you’ve never noticed before. Explain how these symbols shed new light on the traditional meanings of the tarot cards. Note any color, shape or symbol themes that run through the entire deck. Why did the artist include those? How do they support the meanings of the cards, suits, or the deck as a whole?