Throughout this description, you will find the RWS and Marseilles equivalents for the Major Arcana. It is important that this is used only as a guide. The Etteilla Tarot system must be respected in its own right, many of the interpretations are similar to modern systems but many are not. Equivalents can be used as a learning aid but must not be used as a substitute. If you really want to learn how to read the Grand Etteilla Tarot Majors, then it is best to start a fresh, and learn the interpretations independently.
1. Chaos: The Hierophant
This card can be used as a significator and personifies the seeker, if male. If the seeker is female, it can represent a significant male in their life such as a husband, father or uncle. The seeker’s mental capacities and moral convictions will play in their favor. The card also symbolizes hope for the future.
Reversed indicates that the seeker has the potential for fame in their chosen field; skills will be put to good use. The seeker will have many resources at their disposal. There will be an increase in brain smarts which the seeker can use to their advantage at this time.
2. Light: The Sun
Light signals fertility and expansions in the family; longed for children will be born. Relationships will be fulfilling and lasting for the time being. A newfound clarity will shine on a dark and challenging situation or dilemma. In general, the seeker can look forward to a bright future. Light marks a period of happiness and end of struggles.
If this card appears reversed, it warns the seeker should control their emotions better. Anger, jealousy and explosive rage are indicated. The seeker is advised that they may experience a significant loss if they do not calm themselves.
3. Plants and Birds: The Moon
The seeker will be a victim of gossip and slander. They will have an increased awareness and sensitivity to the opinions of others. Because of their new found awareness, their emotions will be all over the place, and they will have difficulty trusting others. During this period, hypocrites will surround the seeker.
Reversed, there is uncertainty about relationships and finances. The future of these things do not seem as bright as the seeker would have hoped; improvements don’t look likely anytime soon. The disapproval of others will be made public (Plants and Birds upright relates more to passive aggressive attitudes but reversed is more evident).
4. The Heavens: The Star
The simplest way will get the job done and help the seeker to achieve their goals; nothing too fancy is needed. The metaphysical is important; soul mates, destiny and increased psychic awareness. All is not wonderful, however, the seeker should be mindful of envy. Others may be wanting to take what is the seeker’s and, often, this can indicate theft.
If reversed, the seeker will have increases control over life and the situations which are troubling them. However, although things will be okay for the time being, the seeker’s life will still need to be worked on. The Heavens reversed is still negative like upright, but the seeker may be given more opportunity for improvements.
5. Person/Voyage: The World
The seeker will find themselves in new places and they will be opened up to new experiences. Travel is usually always indicated with this card. Opportunities will come from abroad; a foreign lover or travel for work could be on the horizon. This card is said to be exceptionally favorable if the seeker seeks a promotion at work.
Reversed, the card indicates misfortune, typically, in work, fortunes or business. Loss of whatever kind is inevitable. There would have been opportunities the seeker looked forward to which didn’t materialize. Voyage reversed also signals trouble for relationships if the surrounding cards support this interpretation.
6. Stars: The Emperor
For the seeker, there will be initial problems, but then they will begin to see improvements. Relationships will need let go of to make way for new ones. In the future, they can look forward to help from a powerful, influential person. New hobbies, interests and things to do may be the reason they have gained their new found acquaintances.
If reversed, this card predicts that the seeker will have an obsession with another person. Anxiety seems inevitable in these situations. Too much focus will be placed on someone else and not enough on themselves. This individual may be someone they are close to or someone they do not get along with, and they will feel the clash. They should try to be more mindful of what they are doing and not what this other person is up to.
7. Birds and Fish: The Empress
The seeker can expect to gain support. There will be secret enemies but also close friends. There will be aid they’re not aware of, but which will none the less be appreciated. Plans and goals will come together quicker than expected. Often, Birds and Fish predict favorable legal judgments.
Reversed, there will still be help, but to a lesser extent than upright. Often the card marks a reconciliation and the return of a past lover. Good luck is on the horizon.
8. Rest: High Priestess
This card can be used as a significator and personifies the seeker, if female. If they are not female, then it can represent a daughter, mother, sister, friend, etc. The card often signals secrets revealed. At this time, the seeker is advised to keep silent. Increased psychic ability is a common interpretation.
Reversed, the seeker should watch for hidden enemies. They should also be careful they (or those around them) do not succumb to temptation. Often, the card reads that they are selfish during the period indicated.
9. Justice: Justice
Upright, the seeker can expect anything related to legal matters and signing contracts; marriages, divorces, court cases, new jobs. Logic must be used at present. Often, lies will be told about a friend or family member, and the seeker must use their intuition to work out the truth.
Reversed, the card signals gossip is being spread about the seeker by a competitor. A love or work rival may be indicated. The seeker will become the victim of discrimination.
10. Temperance: Temperance
The seeker can look forward to positivity after the storm. From this point, there will be a slow but steady movement towards a goal. The seeker is advised to be moderate. In general, there will be improvement and effort from all involved.
Reversed, the seeker will be refusing to accept assistance. Their perfectionism means that nothing will be accomplished. They can expect drained energy.
11. Strength: Strength
Success will be possible through hard work. It is possible that the seeker’s strong moral code will get them noticed. For now, they must display bravery. This card marks the period when the seeker can win over other people due to their caring personality; lovers, employers and in business.
If reversed, the seeker will abuse their power; they will display domination over others. This card can sometimes indicate that the seeker is about to meet their match in someone more powerful or dominant than them.
12. Prudence: The Hanged Man
Prudence is a warning to be mindful of saying too much to other people; do not share your plans too freely with others. Assess that you are not being influenced by other individuals in a negative way. Patience is needed because the future of situation the seeker cares about is uncertain at this time.
If reversed, the seeker may be placing their loyalty and trust in the wrong places. Arguments with friends, family or lovers will become a daily occurrence. The seeker can expect mass judgment by the public.
13. Marriage: The Lovers
Clearly this card indicates marriage or relationships which will one day result in a wedding. The emphasis is on a happy love and family life. There could also be a birth. Important decisions are to be made.
Reversed, Marriage indicates love which is emotionally painful, possible infidelity or hate. The seeker can expect a delay of plans such as marriage, contracts, etc. This card reversed does not always have to represent difficultly. However, it may just represent a ‘common law marriage’ which has never become official.
14. Force Majeure: The Devil
The seeker will have goals which may be morally questionable but which will result in a good outcome for them. The seeker may listen more to their animal instincts than common sense or intuition. Often, it represents the seeker’s need to control and manipulate other people. In the area of interest or life in general, it marks intensity.
In the case of reversals, the seeker will be the one to be dominated for another person to achieve their goals. Also, others will go out of their way to ensure that the seeker’s plans fail. Those round the seeker are using them for their own benefit. Reversed, this card often symbolizes depression.
15. The Magician: The Magician
The Magician predicts health problems, sickness and disease. Ill health is to be expected. If not, the seeker will find they have a drive to take risks. In this case, the seeker will form associations and friendships which are dangerous to them and their reputation.
Reversed, the card represents illness of a mental kind. There will also be trouble in personal relationships. The seeker may also be a bit of a con man; pretending to have skills and knowledge which they do not will land them in trouble.
16. Judgment: Judgment
The seeker will receive a calling which once they follow, they cannot go back. They have the potential for fame and notoriety. In general, their life will have increased clarity, health and vitality.
When reversed, the seeker will experience regrets. It appears there is some unfairness towards them. The seeker will feel defeated by life in general.
17. Death: Death
With Death, there will be the end of one thing and the start of another. The death can represent the end of a relationship or job. Things which are not working need let go to turn the situation in a more positive direction
If reversed, the seeker will display an inability to achieve what they want. There will be opportunities for greatness, but they will be lost or will evaporate. It is extremely common for this card to symbolize acute illnesses; the seeker should be vigilant.
18. Hermit: The Hermit
The Hermit always represents a betrayal. The seeker will discover that their friends, lover or work mates lack loyalty to them; value wise they are not a good fit. At work, attempts will be made to prevent the seeker from achieving their goal.
If reversed, a back stabber will reveal themselves. Other people will cause significant emotional distress to the seeker. There is also the possibility that the seeker will do hard work which will result in nothing. They should be mindful of where they spend their time and resources.
19: Temple: The Tower
The seeker should be aware that a significant loss and even theft could be on the horizon. Misfortune, difficulty and (in some cases) physical violence are possible. In other interpretations, the seeker can expect the breakdown of previously held morals or values, but even this definition does not look fortunate.
Traditionally, The Tower reversed can indicate prison or extreme poverty. Even if this is not a possibility, the outlook looks grim for the seeker. Change or improvement is not possible just now. The seeker will feel the need to move away from the conflict they are involved in.
20. The Wheel: Wheel of Fortune
The Wheel symbolizes an increase in luck. The seeker can expect the results of good fortune; holidays, profits, new purchases. Positivity and happiness are on the cards, as well as improvements. They will enjoy good health and vitality.
When reversed, the seeker will still see success but success which is inconsistent. Often, The Wheel reversed can signal gambling; the reader should look to neighboring cards if this is a problem or a negative pattern in the seeker’s life. Sometimes the card predicts ill health which goes away but then returns in cycles. Sometimes it can just symbolize minor failures and setbacks.
21. Carriage: The Chariot
The seeker should be mindful of their pride and vanity. They can expect tension with their personal relationships. However, success in work and career is guaranteed, so this looks like a good omen. The card is often associated with the seeker having a desire for revenge.
If reversed, there will be the overthrowing of a tyrant which the seeker will witness or take part in. Typically, this tyrant may be a superior at work or in the community but it may also be someone in the seeker’s country’s government as well. As upright, the card is excellent for the ambitious; great achievements are foretold. In general, this card reversed can signal an increase in the seeker’s independence (which, in this context, is a good thing).
78. Folie: The Fool
Folie marks a period of confusion and disorder which is, usually, of the seeker’s making. The seeker lacks both the maturity and mental clarity to reach their goals. In love relationships, the seeker may have an inability to commit to anything which will cause them to shoulder too much responsibility (marriage, children, etc.). Sometimes, Folie can symbolize rebellion and wild behaviour. Mental disorders and delirium is a traditional interpretation.
It is traditional to read Folie the same way reversed as it is read upright.
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The cards used in this post are The Book of Thoth Etteilla Tarot and are (c)Lo Scarabeo slr. and The Grimed Etteilla (Grand Etteilla ou Tarots Egyptiens).
Lisa Boswell is an award-winning psychic reading teacher who currently resides in Scotland. Through her website DivinationAndFortuneTelling.com she teaches both experienced and would be diviners how they can predict the future.
Born into a Romany Gypsy family of fortune tellers, Lisa has had an active interest in the occult from a young age. She specialises in teaching predictive divination, easy mediumship and fortune-telling. Learn more here.