The Major Arcana As “Therapeutic Insights”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: While working on my “Cards for Surgery” essay I originally planned to mention the therapeutic portent of the other Major Arcana outside the scope of surgical intrusion, but decided it really should be a separate subject. Within the context of a reading, these observations should be taken as self-help suggestions warranting thoughtful review in light of present conditions and not as immediately actionable advice; paraphrasing the old astrological maxim, “The cards don’t compel, they impel.” The goal of such hints is to stimulate awareness but not lock in its course.

When doing “wellness” readings, the appearance of trump cards sometimes implies major medical challenges, but I prefer to think of them as showing substantive health-enhancement opportunities where the justification for such action may not have been readily apparent in advance. They strike me more as wise guidance than as the “300-pound gorilla in the room.” Here is a top-of-the-head “brain dump” of some ways in which these cards could reflect different forms of response to latent wellness issues; this addresses only a tiny fraction of the vast field of preventive self-care but it attempts to capture the essence of each card. I’m using the tilde (~) rather than the equal sign (=) to show that each card approximates an approach that might be considered under the circumstances. Some of my choices are quite specific, others are more inclusive. Note that these definitions are all limited to mind-body integrity matters and are not intended for other purposes. A few of them are supplemented by astrological attributes.

In use, I would delicately explore with the querent the potential for any of these scenarios to enter the picture without making any claims of certainty that they will (or even could). I believe it is a more humane way to open the discussion instead of trying to impute a possible health risk to the elevated stature of the Major Arcana when there is no other evidence for it. I would stay well away from predictions of the “diagnostic” or “remedial” kind and treat the insights as an invitation for the querent to probe more deeply into the subject, perhaps with professional input. The assumption here is that the seeker has already broached the topic of well-being in a broad way at the start of the session; it’s not something I would choose to spring on them out of the blue based solely on the cards.

These cards all suggest that there may be a valid motive (or at least an instructive opportunity) to consider a specific type of engagement without actually dictating its application. As is often said, there are few absolutes in tarot divination so this is essentially a grab-bag of relatable ideas that is not presumed to be authoritative or comprehensive.

Note that I excluded the Tower and Death from this exercise since they reset the “wellness index” to a different scale rather than working within the established framework; they are more “purgative” than “restorative.” However, they could suggest the advantage of adopting a precautionary “crisis management” mindset.

The High Priestess and two of the trump cards of the Air element (the Lovers and Justice) suggest dialogue with the aim of conciliation or rapprochement prior to contemplating more forceful steps; the High Priestess also alludes to meditation while the others are primarily interactive;

The two remaining Air trumps, the Fool and the Star (the Magician has already been associated with surgery) invite psychological or cognitive scrutiny and experimental or innovative countermeasures;

The Empress ~ homeopathy; stress-and-anxiety relief; relaxation techniques; massage therapy; creative or avocational outlets;

The Emperor ~ appetite control; blood-pressure monitoring; anger management;

The Hierophant ~ general medicine of the traditional kind; prophylactics; spiritual or relationship counseling;

The Chariot ~ chiropractic “adjustment” and mobility enhancement;

Strength ~ physical therapy and strength training;

The Hermit ~ folk remedies and self-medication, as well as digestive redress;

The Wheel of Fortune ~ changing wellness signals and uncertain or evolving remedies;

The Hanged Man ~ alternative (e.g. “second”) opinions or wait-and-see attitudes;

Temperance ~ dietary regimes, including moderation and abstinence; circulatory factors;

The Devil ~ STD awareness; addiction management; curbing of compulsive behaviors;

The Moon ~ drug therapy; alcohol mitigation; emotional alleviation or renewal; sleep augmentation;

The Sun ~ radiation treatment; cardiovascular routines; vitamin supplementation;

Judgement ~ end-of-life care if indicated; otherwise, radical lifestyle realignment;

The World ~ Ayurvedic medicine; holistic health regimens; structural implications (muscles, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, etc).

Originally published at on December 8, 2022.


I’ve been involved in the esoteric arts since 1972, with a primary interest in tarot and astrology. See my previous work at

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Parsifal the Scribe

I’ve been involved in the esoteric arts since 1972, with a primary interest in tarot and astrology. See my previous work at