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High Priestess, Chariot, Hanged Man, Death, Moon, and Judgment: Water Elemental Cards in Tarot

Andrea has been an online writer for 8+ years. She mostly writes about dating, couples, weddings, travel, interior design, and gardening.

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Water Cards in the Major Arcana

There are 22 cards in the Major Arcana in tarot. Six of those cards belong to the element of water:

  • High Priestess #2
  • Chariot #7
  • Hanged Man #12
  • Death #13
  • Moon #18
  • Judgement #20

The element of water represents matters of the heart. This includes: emotions, love, feelings, relationships, family, flow, compassion, and intuition.

In the Minor Arcana, the suit of cups represents the element of water. The Minor Arcana is made up of four suits: wands for fire, pentacles for earth, swords for air, and cups for water.

This hub will go into detail about the six water Major Arcana cards and other elements of tarot.

The Elements

ElementFireEarthAirWater

Zodiac

Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Animals

Reptiles, Lizards, Insects

Mammals

Winged Creatues

Water Creatures

Minor Arcana Suit

Wands

Pentacles

Swords

Cups

Expression

I am

I do

I think

I feel

Attributes

Powers of Vitality: Creativity, Passion, Energy, Life, Motivation, Growth

Material Resources: Wealth, Health, Property, Legacy, Home, Stability

Powers of the Mind: Logic, Clarity, Intelligence, Reason, Integrity, Communication

Matters of the Heart: Love, Relationships, Feelings, Flow, Intuition, Family

Basics of Tarot

Tarot cards have existed in Europe since the mid-15th century. They become popularized in the late 18th century. The cards were first used for entertainment purposes. They were later used for divination.

This hub will not be going into the witchy angle of determining how spirits may be using the cards to send people messages. This hub will go into the symbols behind the cards. Tarot is ultimately a story telling device: it is the Fool's journey.

The Fool is the only unnumbered card in the deck. It can be used as a zero or 22. It can be the trump card or used as an excuse to not follow suit.

The Fool is often identified as the person who asked for the reading. The card can also be seen as the hero or protagonist, and the other cards are the people, challenges, and objects the Fool encounters while on her journey.

The cards in the deck represent common scenarios that most people will go through in their lives. Each suit is about the process of maturing from youth into adulthood.

It's easy to see how this game would easily lend itself to divination. It's packed full of symbols, it plays off common experiences, and the designs are attractive.

The first two cards of the Major Arcana are the Fool and the Magician, both air cards. The Magician helps awaken the Fool to their journey, to the potential they have had all along. The Fool is like Frodo and the Magician is like Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The next card on the journey is the High Priestess, a water card.

The High Priestess invites you to explore both your conscious and subconscious mind. She is the gateway to knowledge, particularly of femininity. She has a connection to the Divine. People seek her for both mental and physical help.

The High Priestess invites you to explore both your conscious and subconscious mind. She is the gateway to knowledge, particularly of femininity. She has a connection to the Divine. People seek her for both mental and physical help.

High Priestess

The Fool can only meet with the High Priestess when he has accepted his journey. He needs to have gone through some sort of initiation process with the Magician.

The Magician acts as a kind of teacher, witch, doctor, therapist, mentor, or preacher. The Magician has knowledge and wisdom that the Fool doesn't. It is through the power of air, knowledge and communication, that the Fool realizes he can do more with his life. His curiosity is opened, and so he goes out into the world looking for quests and mini-quests that amuse him. The Fool goes into the world with an excitement to play, not work.

The High Priestess has something else to tell the Fool. She may offer him his first challenge or quest. She represents metamorphosis, initiation, and the veil that separates the conscious and subconscious realms. Her knowledge gives the Fool even more clarity and direction.

Upright: Intuition, sacred knowledge, initiation, divine feminine, the subconscious mind, communion, arcane, dreams, possibilities, puberty, clarity, flow, transformation.

Reversed: Secrets, lack of intuition, withdrawal, silence, inactivated, dormant, delayed, dryness, too cautious, too practical, can't see beyond your eyes, plain.

Card Description

The High Priestess is a respected individual. She carries the knowledge of a matrilineal line. The woman holds a high reputation in her community. People come to her with questions. They seek her help for both counseling and physical healing.

The woman sits in front of a thin veil decorated with pomegranates, a very important symbol for her. She sits at the point that separates the conscious and subconscious realms. She prevents people from diving straight into the subconscious that sits behind her. Only the initiated may enter the space.

  • Pomegranates are often a symbol for abundance, growth, fertility, and the divine feminine.
  • Persephone ate the seeds of the fruit and then had the ability (or curse) of going to the underworld every six months.
  • Persephone knows what it is like to be in both the world of mortals and the realm of Hades. She is symbol of the seasons and puberty.
  • Things are never the same after she eats the seeds of the pomegranate.

The High Priestess sits between two pillars, which mark the entrance to the sacred temple. This temple is often associated with the Temple of Solomon, the most lavish king of Ancient Israel. The Biblical book Song of Songs is full of references to pomegranates, and the young growing love of two people.

One pillar is black: it has the letter B on it. This represents the name Boaz, meaning "strength". The other pillar is white: it has the letter J on it. J stands for Jachin, meaning "the will to establish".

"J" was the last letter added to the English alphabet. It was added in 1524. It's only 500 or so years old. Tarot itself is older than the letter J.

The pillars represent duality: black and white, masculine and feminine, conscious and subconscious. In order to enter the sacred space, one must acknowledge both. Duality is about the end points on a spectrum.

The High Priestess wears a blue gown with a cross on her chest. She wears a horned crown, both a symbol of her divine knowledge and her status in the community. She is the keeper of arcane knowledge: she is literally holding a scroll with the letters TORA, the Greater Law.

She is partly covering the word and scroll. The knowledge can only be revealed when the student, the Fool, is ready for it.

The crescent moon is at her feet. The moon is a symbol for the feminine and the astrological sign Cancer. This card may represent a Cancer in your life.

  • The moon is a symbol for the cycles women go through from month to month.
  • Cancer is considered the mother of the zodiac.
  • The moon also has to do with the mood shifts and hormone shifts women go through.

Does the High Priestess Always Have to be a Woman?

Not necessarily. It more than likely will be a female character, but it could also be someone who has tapped into knowledge about femininity. Someone who identifies as gender neutral, fluid, or as a third gender could also identify as a High Priestess.

It would be very unusual for a straight, cis-gender man to be in the role of High Priestess. Not impossible, but there are many other cards that would likely fit him better. He would have a very interesting story if that was the tarot card that was the best fit for him.

Famous Fictional High Priestesses

  • San, Princess Mononoke
  • The Oracle, The Matrix
  • Great Fairy, The Adventures of Link
  • Yuna, Final Fantasy X
  • Glinda, The Wizard of Oz
  • Ursula, The Little Mermaid
  • Persephone of Greek Mythology
  • Ophilia, Octopath Traveler
  • Rydia, Final Fantasy IV
  • Edea Kramer, Final Fantasy VIII
The Chariot encourages you to move. You must accept dual forces in order to move. You have to be open to both your heart and your mind.

The Chariot encourages you to move. You must accept dual forces in order to move. You have to be open to both your heart and your mind.

The Chariot

This card is about controlling different opposing forces to arrive at your desired destination. The Chariot can be read as a type of vehicle necessary for travel. This is the exact kind of card that gets screwed up during Mercury Retrograde.

Upright: Control, willpower, vehicle, success, action, determination, wheels, movement, synergy, mechanical force, balancing mind and heart, travel.

Reversed: Opposition, lack of direction, stagnation, engine light on, delays, no change, travel troubles, turbulence, split allegiances, vehicle failure, car wreck.

Card Description

A warrior stands inside of a chariot. The man wears armor decorated with moons. He wears a star crown signaling victory, power, and wealth. He is a valued soldier.

The warrior doesn't hold the reigns. He holds a wand. He uses magic to control the vehicle. He uses his strength of mind to go where he wants.

Above his head: six pointed stars, a total of seven stars if you count his pointed crown. He is connected to the celestial plane and the Divine. A black and a white sphinx sit before the Chariot. Symbols yet again of dualism, something water likes to explore.

The Chariot card appears after the Fool has met with people. He has observed different places and obstacles. Now he has enough information to make choices and get into action. The Chariot could be a symbol for his first car, his first journey away from home on a train, or his first plane ride ever.

The Fool can succeed with his goals if he takes the power of the Chariot with him. It takes the balancing of different energies to make transportation work. You cannot simply want to travel the world, you have to put in the work to make it happen.

Challenges will be in the way, but with focus the Fool can travel further than he ever dreamed. He can take on his goals in ways he never considered. This is a card for someone who wants to be a champion, someone who wants to have victory over the elements.

Travel is necessary for growth. It is through travel that we really learn about ourselves, the people of our planet, and the different and similar obstacles we all go through. Water pushes people to travel, so they can learn how to better use their heart. When we meet with people, we begin to have empathy. It is not good to hide from the world forever. There are times for quiet solitude. There are times to leave our homes and go on wild adventures to meet other souls.

You cannot really know what is happening to others without travel. Even just scrolling through the Internet is a form of travel, but without guidance it won't create empathy but jealously, rage, and discord.

Water is also encouraging innovation, technology, and tactics to better connect you with people. Its purpose is to bring people together in love, to bring long distance couples together, and to reunite people with their families. Water doesn't just sit in a bowl, it moves and spreads. Water is an element that travels, but not for wars or competition. It moves for love.

Fictional Chariot Devices

  • Airships, Final Fantasy Games
  • Epoch, Chrono Trigger
  • Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam
  • Falkor, Neverending Story
  • Cat Bus, My Neighbor Totoro
  • Magic Carpet, Aladdin
  • The Plane, Animal Crossing
  • The Eagles, Lord of the Rings
  • Broomsticks, Harry Potter
  • Floo Powder, Harry Potter
You can only contort yourself so far before you've gone too far. The Hanged Man card is about changing directions. You need to surrender your old habits and replace them with habits that better serve you in the present.

You can only contort yourself so far before you've gone too far. The Hanged Man card is about changing directions. You need to surrender your old habits and replace them with habits that better serve you in the present.

Hanged Man

The first real encounter for the Fool that lets him know not everything is manageable. There will be setbacks. There will be sorrows. There will be time of pain. Sometimes we have to make big changes in order to survive. Don't be afraid to surrender and regroup.

Upright: pause, surrender, letting go, avoiding major challenge, new direction, processing grief, unusual therapy, intense emotions, fork in the road, resolving pain.

Reversed: resistance, stalling, indecision, escape, withdrawal, mischief managed, overcoming challenge, air back into lungs, close call, haphazard, clumsy.

Card Description

A man hangs from a tree in the woods by his foot. The man is upside-down, viewing the world from a perplexing angle. His face is calm. He seems to be okay in this position, but it's not one he can stay in forever. The card is often depicted at night.

The man's right foot is bound to the tree. His left foot remains free. His arms are bent over his chest. He isn't flailing.

The man wears red pants: symbolizing creativity, aggression, growth, and decision. He wears a blue vest: symbolizing knowledge, logic, and clarity.

The Hanged Man is the card of surrender, of getting into a perplexing position, and of martyrdom. This is a character the Fool finds doing something out of the norm, away from others, and conspicuously dangerous. Somehow this character is numb to reality.

This card is foreboding. There are only so many positions you can get your body into before you realize you need to surrender. The way you're going about things isn't working. You're trying too hard to make things work. It's like using a sword to spread butter on bread.

The only way forward is to recognize your own thought patterns and behaviors and release yourself from them. It's a time to meditate. You have to stop your current way of life or you will be harming yourself. It's a death to your habits, not your life. It may mean you have to change your career, move to a new place, or breakup with someone because things are not quite working.

The Hanged Man contrasts the Chariot. The Hanged Man is about a position that doesn't give real movement. It's about meditation and surrender. The Chariot is about taking the bull by the horns and getting into immediate action.

The Hanged Man is a pool of undisturbed water. It isn't moving too quickly; it could be a block of ice in a strange frozen position. The Hanged Man is guided by the moon to consider its mood and its stance.

When the Fool comes across the Hanged Man, she is often shocked. She wants to help get the Hanged Man off the tree and into safety. She wants to know why he was doing such a ridiculous act. He may go on about how he was trying to be a savior or martyr. He may also say he had to find out what it was like to be in that position or he was practicing for death.

The Hanged Man is always a sign to give up the current path you're seeking and to do something new.

Fictional Hanged Men

  • Maurice, Beauty and the Beast
  • Harley Quinn, Batman
  • Meeseeks, Rick and Morty
  • George Costanza, Seinfeld
  • Pierce Hawthorne, Community
  • Moira, Schitt$ Creek
  • Scully and Hitchcock, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Job, Arrested Development
  • Charlie, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • Andy, The Office
Death can't be avoided. You can only cheat Death for so long before he comes to collect his share. Death isn't just about endings but new beginnings.

Death can't be avoided. You can only cheat Death for so long before he comes to collect his share. Death isn't just about endings but new beginnings.

Death

If you didn't pay attention to the warning in the Hanged Man card, the next very natural evolution is Death. The Death card is automatically ominous. It doesn't always mean your own death, but the completion of a cycle, the end of an era, famine, pandemic, or war. Death isn't generally a favorable card.

Upright: Endings, finale, change, transformation, transition, mortality, war, destitution, major loss, breakup, cancellation, no choice in the matter, exhaustion, underworld.

Reversed: Hopeless resistance, personal transformation, inner purge, slim chance, fate, begging for mercy, second chance, recovery from fatal blow, deeply hurt.

Card Description

A skeletal version of Death comes riding in on a white horse. The skeleton is wearing black armor. Death will appear at some point no matter what. All will be reduced to bones.

The card is mostly black. It represents mourning. The Grim carries with him a black flag with a white rose on it. The flower symbolizes purification and immortality. The five-pointed flower has the number representing change, often disastrous and sudden change.

Death isn't just about endings but also beginnings. It creates a cycle of birth, death, rebirth, change, and transformation. Death is about karma, reincarnation, and infinity. Most people don't like to face this card. It means whatever false security they created will one day have to stand in the light of Death. Nothing can last forever. All must go to the grave, including the Fool.

For the Fool, this is something they have to take seriously. Recognizing that Death is in the cycle of life means we need to find some maturity. It isn't easy, nor even suggested, to try to beat Death.

In the card, a body dressed in royal garments is on the ground. A young woman, a child, and a bishop plead for Death to spare him. Their request isn't honored. Death will take the king.

In the background, a boat floats down a river. Boats escort the dead to the afterlife. The sun sets between two tall buildings. The Major Arcana water cards often have pillars, dualism, and the like. Each night the sun disappears and is reborn the next morning.

This is one of the most misunderstood cards of the deck. It is a representation of Scorpio. It has the full scope of emotion in it from hope to despair. Scorpio occurs around the time of year that the veil between our reality and the afterlife is at its thinnest.

The Death card could represent a Scorpio in someone's life. Especially one that is a loner, very serious, and brooding. The Scorpio is aware of the full cycle of life, the mysteries we encounter, and the intimacy we can find in a partner. Scorpio wants a partner to have a child as a way to beat the cycle of Death.

Scorpio has the most complicated cycle of any of the signs. It is represent by three different animals: the snake, the scorpion, and the eagle. The Scorpio cycles through these animals to learn how to be a predator, to learn how to survive, and to ultimately learn how to sacrifice so that others can live.

This card is sometimes referred to as a character of immortality who cheats Death or longs for it.

Fictional Characters with Complicated Relationships with Death

  • Wolverine, X-Men
  • Edward Cullen, Twilight
  • Macbeth, Gargoyles
  • Ignotus Peverell, Harry Potter
  • Jon Snow, Game of Thrones
  • Light, Death Note
  • Sephiroth, Final Fantasy VII
  • Anton Chigurh, No Country for Old Men
  • Gollum, The Lord of the Rings
  • Norman Bates, Psycho
The Moon calls for you to examine your memories, your past, and your trauma. The card is about recovering yourself. It's about allowing yourself to feel pain, so you can finally grow. The Moon belongs sharply to the water element.

The Moon calls for you to examine your memories, your past, and your trauma. The card is about recovering yourself. It's about allowing yourself to feel pain, so you can finally grow. The Moon belongs sharply to the water element.

The Moon

Everything about the Moon belongs to the water element. In feng shui, the moon is considered yin and the sun is considered yang. Water loves rounded objects, the dark colors of the night sky, and paleness. Cancer is ruled by the moon, Scorpio howls to it, and Pisces is looking for a gateway to another universe. Pisces sacrifices itself for the greater good.

Upright: Illusion, fear, anxiety, subconscious, intuition, imagination, fantasy, dreams, parallel realities, mental health scare, femininity, yin energy, secrets, transformation.

Reversed: Release of fear, repressed emotions, repressed memories, confusion, lupine thoughts, hidden persona, heartache, relentless thought stream, moodiness.

Card Description

The full Moon hangs in the night sky. It comes between two large towers. The Moon only slightly lights up the path in the land. The Moon looks like a pool of water: it represents the subconscious, the dreams at night, and secrets.

A crayfish crawls out of the water: it's a symbol of Cancer. A dog and a wolf howl at the moon, those are symbols for Scorpio. The dog represents the tamed parts of the mind, the wolf the untamed mind. Either way: they're both howling at the moon and its influence.

The Moon is about fears and illusions. These could be present fears or old ones. This card represents repressed memories and trying to process them. The card calls people to think about their past and resolve their fears and anxieties, so they can go forward.

The Moon indicates a time of uncertainty. You have to listen to your intuition. You need to feel in situations and not just try to think through them. Your dreams at night could be your solutions to your problems at day.

  • Let go of negative self talks. Learn to love yourself again.
  • Stop trying to whittle mental blocks. Let water ran over them.
  • Listen and use better judgment to interpret your reality.

The Fool gets knocked hard in the Hanged Man, Death, and the Moon. These are cards that cause the Fool to get in better touch with his memories, his heart, and his spirit.

The Fool may have been playing and hopping from one event to the next without really processing what was happening to him. We have to accept that as we live we will absorb and go through trauma.

The Hanged Man urges you to surrender and switch gears, the Death card is about fate and ending one cycle to start a new one, and the Moon is about stepping deeper into grief to process it.

The Death card may take everything from you, but the Moon seeks to show you what happened. It's like a videotape or photograph. It's packed with data. It's the only source of energy that can revive the past and display it before you.

Fictional Characters with Moon Influence

  • Magus, Chrono Trigger
  • Vincent Valentine, Final Fantasy VII
  • Mystique, X-Men
  • Rogue, X-Men
  • Nymphadora Tonks, Harry Potter
  • Remus Lupin, Harry Potter
  • Jack the Dog, Adventure Time
  • Sophie Hatter, Howl's Moving Castle
  • Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland
  • Mina Harker, Dracula
Judgment comes for people when it's time for a higher calling. Angels with trumpets announce when the dead can rise. This card is about connecting to a higher purpose, to the Divine, or the cosmos. It's about letting go of our past selves.

Judgment comes for people when it's time for a higher calling. Angels with trumpets announce when the dead can rise. This card is about connecting to a higher purpose, to the Divine, or the cosmos. It's about letting go of our past selves.

Judgment

Will the world end in fire or ice? That is the question everyone wants to know in tarot. There are different theories about why Judgment should belong to the element of fire or water. Before Pluto was discovered, the Judgment card was given to Mars. Mars is the ruling planet of Aries and Scorpio. The card was assigned to Pluto to help spread out the planets among the cards. It still retains properties of Scorpio.

I would argue Judgment is closer in theme to Pisces than Scorpio. Pisces is about sacrifice, it is about oblivion, and it is the final sign of the zodiac. Pisces' goal is to find true love, to find the highest revelation, and to guide all of us to the next realm. Scorpio fits the aggressive side of Judgment, but Pisces is the full picture of it.

It honestly doesn't matter whether it is more fire or ice. Judgment is judgment.

Upright: Inner calling, judgment, rebirth, final call, final battle, declaration, highest justice, reckoning, deliverance, atonement, absolution, the final chapter, finale.

Reversed: Self-doubt, inner critic, fears of abandonment, failure, paranoia, survival of the fittest, dismay, plans of an attack, poor judgment, giant risk.

Card Description

The Judgment card shows men, women, and children coming up out of a cemetery. They're no longer bound by the grave. Their arms raise up to the sky. Above them an angel blows a trumpet. Some interpret this as the Archangel Gabriel, the Messenger of God.

The people respond to the call. They're ready to be taken to a new realm. In the background is a mountain range. It symbolizes the impossibility of avoiding Judgment. It's even harder to cheat Judgment than Death.

This card is about raising your level of consciousness. It encourages you to get in touch with your crown chakra and your third eye. It is about a spiritual awakening and drawing closer to the Divine and the cosmos. You're doing an internal tune-up to a higher frequency.

You must let go of your old self, shed it like a snakeskin and step into the newest version of yourself. You need to be anointed, liberated, and matured. This is all about life changing decisions, bigger than life epiphanies, and wild dreams.

Judgment means you are reaching a significant stage in your life. You first must review and evaluate your past experiences. After learning from those experiences, you can be reborn into something new and great.

Integration of past memories is necessary for healing and growth. You have to accept the lessons of earlier cards, like the Hanged Man, Death, and Moon.

You will need to go through your lingering emotions from past events, both anger and sadness. You must allow yourself to heal of deep wounds if you want to enter a new episode in your life.

There will be a time to forgive yourself, to release yourself from guilt, and to clear up your past experiences. Maybe you have been pushed into solitude or you're at home more because of a pandemic, so you have lots of time to actually clean up what's taken place in your head. You will have time to study your trauma and to replenish yourself.

Judgment is chaotic. It's a sampling of what is to come in the future whether there is a big upheaval from the cosmos or massive change in the future from technological advances.

Everything you know around you will one day change. Acceptance of this is one of the hardest lessons in our lives.

Judgment Scenarios

  • The Book of Revelation in Christianity
  • Ragnarok, Norse Mythology
  • Meteor and Jenova, Final Fantasy VII
  • Lavos alien crisis, Chrono Trigger
  • Death Stars, Star Wars
  • Magical dictator takes over the world, Final Fantasy VI
  • Ganondorf with the Triforce, Zelda
  • Resurrection of Sauron, Lord of the Rings
  • Alien seeks to rid planet of humanity, Final Fantasy IV
  • Death of the planet after the rise of an ape, Chronicles of Narnia

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence

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