The Major Arcana are the trump cards in a tarot pack. Originally used as gaming cards in much the same way that the standard playing card pack is used today, tarot cards became closely associated with divination, the mystical, and the supernatural around the turn of the 18th century, and it’s the Major Arcana that have been of most interest.
What do the Major Arcana Represent?
The Major Arcana cards are believed to represent the stages of life, right through from fresh beginnings to spiritual ascension and the rebirth of the soul and spiritual energy. This can be seen in the ordering of the cards, which start with ‘the fool’, and progress through stages such as ‘the emperor’, ‘death’, and ‘the sun’. Tarot cards, and the Major Arcana especially, have had a huge influence over art and design for centuries and remain a key theme throughout popular culture to this day.
In the 1970s, surrealist artist Salvador Dali put his own spin on tarot design with a pack of cards that took him around a decade to fully complete. And Dior’s tarot-inspired Spring 2021 collection certainly isn’t the first time that the Major Arcana have featured heavily in the design world; Dior also used tarot as inspiration for Spring 2017 and Resort 2018.
The big question is why is tarot and the Major Arcana so important in the design world?
Tarot’s Influence on Art & Design
Perhaps the clearest answer to why tarot is so popular in the design world is simply because the Major Arcana are relevant to everyone. We all search for meaning and purpose in life and the Major Arcana cards help us to better understand our journey.
From a consumer perspective, with 22 cards in the Major Arcana that all reflect a different stage of life, it’s easy to select a piece of jewellery or fashion accessory that precisely matches the stage of life where the buyer is at. For example, a necklace inspired by card 6 - The Lovers - could be given or worn during important relationships, while a necklace inspired by card 8 - Strength - could be worn during new beginnings.
The popularity of tarot in design is undoubtedly accelerated by the fact that tarot can inspire both directly and indirectly. While there is jewellery and handbags and other accessories that specifically feature the Major Arcana cards themselves, there are also more subtle designs that take the symbols of the cards and rework them into more understated pieces that still retain that strong connection, like these beautiful Wanderlust earrings featuring the moon and stars, and these earrings inspired by the sun with bright, sunburst patterns.
While the overall spiritual meaning of the Major Arcana has remained the same since the early 1900s, what’s truly fascinating is watching how the designs have been reworked and changed to maintain relevance in today’s contemporary landscape. Tarot isn’t about the occult; it’s about building a connection with our spiritual selves.