The Most Famous Tarot Deck: Rider-Waite

The Rider-Waite Tarot deck (also called Rider-Waite-Smith, Waite-Smith, Waite-Colman Smith, or the Rider Deck) is the most used and best-known Tarot deck in the world. Although the deck has only been around since 1910, it has become the gold standard for Tarot cards. It is the deck that most people who read Tarot use and the deck that inspires newer card designs.

Illustrator Pamela Colman Smith was instructed by the mystic A.E. Waite to draw the now famous images on the cards. The card deck was published by the Rider company, hence the name of the deck. The Rider-Waite deck was one of the first decks to fully illustrate all 78 Tarot cards. In addition to coming up with the basis for the cards’ designs, Waite wrote a guide called Pictorial Key to the Tarot, which provides some insight into the meanings of the cards’ symbols.

The following is a brief overview of all 78 cards:

 

The Major Arcana or Trump Cards

  • The Fool no. 0
    • Upright: free spirit, spontaneity, innocence, beginnings
    • Reversed: foolish, naïve, reckless, risk taking
  • The Magician no. 1
    • Upright: skill, concentration, resourcefulness, power
    • Reversed: latent talents, poor planning, manipulation
  • The High Priestess no. 2
    • Upright: mystery, higher powers, subconscious mind, intuition
    • Reversed: need to listen to inner voice, hidden agendas
  • The Empress no. 3
    • Upright: beauty, nature, abundance, fertility
    • Reversed: dependence on others, creative block
  • The Emperor no. 4
    • Upright: structure, solid foundation, father-figure, authority
    • Reversed: excessive control, rigidity, domination, inflexibility
  • The Hierophant no. 5
    • Upright: beliefs, identification, religion, conformity, group, tradition
    • Reversed: restriction, challenging the status quo
  • The Lovers no. 6
    • Upright: union, love, relationships, values alignment, choices
    • Reversed: disharmony, imbalance, misalignment of values
  • The Chariot no. 7
    • Upright: control, will power, victory, assertion, determination
    • Reversed: lack of control and direction, aggression
  • Strength no. 8
    • Upright: strength, courage, patience, control, compassion
    • Reversed: weakness, self-doubt, lack of self-discipline
  • The Hermit no. 9
    • Upright: soul searching, introspection, being alone, inner guidance
    • Reversed: isolation, loneliness, withdrawal
  • Wheel of Fortune no. 10
    • Upright: good luck, karma, life cycles, destiny, a turning point
    • Reversed: bad luck, negative external forces, out of control
  • Justice no. 11
    • Upright: justice, fairness, truth, cause and effect, law
    • Reversed: unfairness, dishonesty, lack of accountability
  • The Hanged Man no. 12
    • Upright: suspension, restriction, letting go, sacrifice
    • Reversed: martyrdom, indecision, delay
  • Death no. 13
    • Upright: endings, beginnings, change, transformation, transition
    • Reversed: resistance to change, unable to move on
  • Temperance no. 14
    • Upright: balance, moderation, patience, purpose, meaning
    • Reversed: imbalance, excess, lack of long-term vision
  • The Devil no. 15
    • Upright: bondage, materialism, sexuality, addiction
    • Reversed: detachment, breaking free, power reclaimed
  • The Tower no. 16
    • Upright: disaster, upheaval, sudden change, revelation
    • Reversed: avoidance of disaster, fear of change
  • The Star no. 17
    • Upright: hope, spirituality, renewal, inspiration, serenity
    • Reversed: lack of faith, despair, discouragement
  • The Moon no. 18
    • Upright: illusion, fear, anxiety, insecurity, subconscious
    • Reversed: release of fear, unhappiness, confusion
  • The Sun no. 19
    • Upright: fun, warmth, success, positivity, vitality
    • Reversed: temporary depression, lack of success
  • Judgment no. 20
    • Upright: judgment, rebirth, inner calling, absolution
    • Reversed: self- doubt, refusal of self-examination
  • The World no. 21
    • Upright: completion, integration, accomplishment, travel
    • Reversed: lack of completion, lack of closure

 

Minor Arcana

Wands

  • Ace of Wands
    • Upright: creation, invention, origin, birth, fortune
    • Reversed: ruin, decadence, perdition, to perish
  • Two of Wands
    • Upright: physical suffering, disease, chagrin, mortification, sadness
    • Reversed: trouble, fear, surprise, emotion, wonder
  • Three of Wands
    • Upright: established strength, enterprise, commerce, discovery
    • Reversed: end of troubles, end of disappointment, cessation of adversity
  • Four of Wands
    • Upright: haven of refuge, harmony, prosperity, peace, repose
    • Reversed: increase, felicity, beauty, embellishment
  • Five of Wands
    • Upright: imitation, gain, opulence, the struggle for riches
    • Reversed: litigation, disputes, trickery, contradiction
  • Six of Wands
    • Upright: triumphant victory, great news, crown of hope
    • Reversed: fear, apprehension, the arrival of a victorious enemy, treachery
  • Seven of Wands
    • Upright: valor, discussion, wordy strife, barter, competition
    • Reversed: anxiety, embarrassments, perplexity
  • Eight of Wands
    • Upright: swiftness, great hope, great haste, the arrows of love
    • Reversed: arrows of jealousy, quarrels, internal dispute
  • Nine of Wands
    • Upright: strength in opposition, delay, suspension, adjournment
    • Reversed: calamity, obstacles, adversity
  • Ten of Wands
    • Upright: oppression, disguise, perfidy, any kind of success
    • Reversed: difficulties, intrigues, contrarieties
  • Page of Wands
    • Upright: faithful, a lover, an envoy, a postman, a dangerous rival
    • Reversed: anecdotes, evil news, indecision, announcements
  • Knight of Wands
    • Upright: flight, absence, departure, emigration
    • Reversed: discord, interruption, division, rupture
  • Queen of Wands
    • Upright: friendly, chaste, honorable, love of money, business success
    • Reversed: obliging, economical, serviceable, deceit, infidelity
  • King of Wands
    • Upright: honest, conscientious, countryman, friendly
    • Reversed: advice that should be followed, good, but severe; austere, yet tolerant

Cups

  • Ace of Cups
    • Upright: house of the true heart, joy, content, abundance, fertility
    • Reversed: house of the false heart, instability, mutation, revolution
  • Two of Cups
    • Upright: love, passion, affinity, friendship, sympathy
    • Reversed: the same meanings
  • Three of Cups
    • Upright: perfection, merriment, happy issue, fulfillment, solace
    • Reversed: consolation, cure, end of the business
  • Four of Cups
    • Upright: weariness, disgust, aversion, blended pleasure
    • Reversed: novelty, new relations, new instruction, presage
  • Five of Cups
    • Upright: card of loss, inheritance, patrimony, transmission
    • Reversed: news, alliances, ancestry, return, false projects
  • Six of Cups
    • Upright: card of the past and memories, things that have vanished, pleasant memories
    • Reversed: the future, renewal, upcoming inheritance
  • Seven of Cups
    • Upright: images of reflection, sentiment, imagination, ideas
    • Reversed: desire, will, project, determination
  • Eight of Cups
    • Upright: mildness, timidity, modesty, honor, giving joy
    • Reversed: happiness, feasting, great joy, perfect satisfaction
  • Nine of Cups
    • Upright: contentment, concord, advantage, success, satisfaction
    • Reversed: loyalty, truth, liberty, good business
  • Ten of Cups
    • Upright: repose of the entire heart, perfection of human love, town of querent
    • Reversed: repose of the false heart, violence, indignation
  • Page of Cups
    • Upright: a studious youth, news, application, reflection, meditation
    • Reversed: taste, attachment, seduction, artifice
  • Knight of Cups
    • Upright: arrival, approach of a messenger, incitement, advances, invitation
    • Reversed: duplicity, fraud, swindling, trickery, irregularity
  • Queen of Cups
    • Upright: devoted women, loving intelligence, gift of vision, wisdom
    • Reversed: perverse women, vice, dishonor, depravity
  • King of Cups
    • Upright: man of business, responsible, equity, creative intelligence
    • Reversed: dishonest, double dealing man, injustice, scandal

Swords

  • Ace of Swords
    • Upright: triumph, conquest, card of great force, great prosperity or misery
    • Reversed: upright meanings are disastrous; augmentation, duplicity, childbirth
  • Two of Swords
    • Upright: conformity, courage, tenderness, affection, intimacy
    • Reversed: disloyalty, imposture, falsehood, duplicity
  • Three of Swords
    • Upright: removal, absence, division, rupture, dispersion
    • Reversed: error, loss, distraction, disorder, confusion
  • Four of Swords
    • Upright: retreat, solitude, hermit’s repose, exile, tomb
    • Reversed: economy, avarice, precaution, testament
  • Five of Swords
    • Upright: infamy, degradation, destruction, loss, dishonor
    • Reversed: same meanings; sorrow, mourning, burial
  • Six of Swords
    • Upright: journey by water, route, expedient, commissionary
    • Reversed: confession, publicity, declaration
  • Seven of Swords
    • Upright: design, wish, hope, confidence, annoyance
    • Reversed: counsel, slander, babbling, instruction, good advice
  • Eight of Swords
    • Upright: bad news, violent chagrin, conflict, calumny, crisis
    • Reversed: disquiet, opposition, accident, treachery
  • Nine of Swords
    • Upright: failure, miscarriage, death, deception, despair
    • Reversed: shame, suspicion, doubt, imprisonment
  • Ten of Swords
    • Upright: pain, affliction, tears, desolation, sadness
    • Reversed: profit, success, advantage, power, but all are temporary
  • Page of Swords
    • Upright: overseeing, secret service, vigilance, spying, examination
    • Reversed: sickness, unprepared state, astonishing news
  • Knight of Swords
    • Upright: skill, bravery, defense, wrath, war
    • Reversed: impudence, extravagance, struggle with a rival, impudence
  • Queen of Swords
    • Upright: widowhood, female sadness, embarrassment, sterility
    • Reversed: malice, bigotry, prudery, bale, deceit
  • King of Swords
    • Upright: authority, command, judgment, militant intelligence, law
    • Reversed: barbarity, cruelty, perversity, perfidy

Pentacles

  • Ace of Pentacles
    • Upright: perfect contentment, felicity, ecstasy, gold
    • Reversed: bad intelligence, a share in finding treasure
  • Two of Pentacles
    • Upright: card of gaiety, news, written messages, obstacles
    • Reversed: simulated enjoyment, handwriting, letters of exchange
  • Three of Pentacles
    • Upright: trade, skilled labor, nobility, aristocracy, glory
    • Reversed: mediocrity, pettiness, weakness
  • Four of Pentacles
    • Upright: surety of possessions, gift, legacy, inheritance
    • Reversed: delay, opposition, hindrance, suspense
  • Five of Pentacles
    • Upright: material trouble, destitution, concordance, affinities
    • Reversed: chaos, ruin, discord, disorder
  • Six of Pentacles
    • Upright: gifts, gratification, present prosperity
    • Reversed: desire, envy, cupidity, illusion
  • Seven of Pentacles
    • Upright: card of money, barter, altercation, quarrels, ingenuity
    • Reversed: anxiety regarding money, suspicion, apprehension, impatience
  • Eight of Pentacles
    • Upright: work, employment, craftsmanship, commission
    • Reversed: voided ambition, vanity, exaction, cunning
  • Nine of Pentacles
    • Upright: prudence, safety, success, accomplishment, discernment
    • Reversed: deception, bad faith, voided project, roguery
  • Ten of Pentacles
    • Upright: gain, riches, family matters, archives
    • Reversed: chance, fatality, loss, robbery; gift, dowry
  • Page of Pentacles
    • Upright: application, study, scholarship, management, reflection
    • Reversed: luxury, liberality, dissipation, unfavorable news
  • Knight of Pentacles
    • Upright: utility, interest, serviceableness, responsibility
    • Reversed: idleness, stagnation, discouragement, placidity
  • Queen of Pentacles
    • Upright: opulence, magnificence, security, liberty
    • Reversed: suspicion, suspense, fear, mistrust
  • King of Pentacles
    • Upright: valor, realizing intelligence, mathematical gifts, business intellectual aptitude
    • Reversed: vice, ugliness, perversity, corruption

With the straightforward nature of the deck, it’s wide availability, and beautifully illustrated cards, the Rider-Waite deck has stood the test of time and continues to be the most popular Tarot deck.

With over 37 years of experience reading the Rider-Waite Tarot, I can reveal hidden insights into your past, present, and future. If you’re ready to have some answers revealed to you, request your free 3-card reading from me, the Tarot Prophet, Sophia Loren today. This 3-card, no strings attached reading is personally tailored to meet your specific needs.

Request your free 3-card Tarot reading here today.

 

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