Hermetic Tarot Guide

Hermetic Tarot Guide: Intricate Designs for Clarity and Simplicity

A Hermetic tarot guide makes the difference between playing with them and genuinely interpreting the finer details of your intentions. What piqued your interest? You have questions you’re burning to ask and solutions you’re itching to find. The Hermetic Tarot deck helps you find the connection between what lingers in your mind and the way forward.

We’re all a little lost in this life. I have days where I’m unsure which path to take as I never know which one leads down a road with oncoming traffic. The Hermetic deck offers me guidance on my life’s journey, and the more I learn to interpret the most reliable spreads, the better my outcomes become.

For anyone seeking straightforward guidance or clarity on something tugging at their minds, the Hermetic deck provides forward momentum again. The secret is to understand how the Arcanas influence each other and which spreads work best with this deck. For me, the triquetra spread is magic. I’ll share my secrets with you.

Origins of the Hermetic Deck

The Hermetic Tarot deck comes from an ancient tradition based on the esoteric instructions of the Secret Order of the Golden Dawn, a London organization in the late 1800s that practiced and studied occult rituals. It was hush-hush then, as the members-only used tarot cards based on Mather’s collection for personal readings.

The black and white deck also hid hints of the order’s instructions or laws, as we call them. Members had to abide by these laws. The instructions were finely abbreviated for the members to understand. A rare book with only 200 copies called “T” was published in 1967, outlining the practices and instructions of the organization.

Godfrey Dowson and Stuart R. Kaplan designed the more modern version of the Hermetic Tarot deck. Dowson was a true craftsman, creating intricate details, symbolism, and a fine mood in each card’s image. The details on these cards aren’t matched by other decks, which allows them to contain broader symbolism.

Dowson also included astrology in the deck, meaning you can match your zodiac signs to your readings for broader interpretations. Astrology plays a huge role in tarot readings. Dowson finished his decks with a sigil and a blooming rose on the back of each card.

A Quick Note for Beginners

Major Arcana cards make up the core of any reading, and the other four suites support or guide your decisions surrounding the main card if one comes up. This is the position to read upright and reversed cards in personal readings.

  • An upright position would be when a card is flipped to face you.
  • A reversed position is when the card is upside down.

Positions are essential to know, especially with the Major Arcana suit cards.

Hermetic Major Arcana Suite

The largest and most prominent suite in any deck reading is the Major Arcana. Interpretations are dependent on various factors, and I’ll give you some tips soon, but let’s see what cards you can expect to find in this suite and what they briefly represent.

The Foolish Man

In some cases, the foolish man is a little worrisome, but this card can also signify greater things coming.

  • Upright meaning: You might’ve stumbled in life, but this card encourages self-reflection and seeking self-development to raise yourself again.
  • Reversed meaning: You may be suffering from ignorance or an unfinished side of yourself that refuse to grow into something greater.

the foolish man

The Magician

The magician card also tells a story with a Merlin-style image on the front combined with a sense of bewitchery.

  • Upright meaning: Open your mind to something within your grasp, as the magician can be a card representing manifestation.
  • Reversed meaning: You’re uncomfortable in your role or ambitions, and you may be standing in your own way of manifesting what you truly desire.

The High Priestess

The high priestess displays a female pope lookalike, and it exudes wisdom.

  • Upright meaning: You may need a spiritual movement or a power stance based on your purpose.
  • Reversed meaning: You’re either doubting yourself, repressing your desires, or disconnecting from your purpose. You may feel withdrawn from loved ones.

The Empress

The Empress

The empress represents the daughter of the divine ones, and she’s surrounded by symbols that could indicate numerous interpretations.

  • Upright meaning: The empress exudes femininity while representing fertility, divinity, emotions, creativity, love, abundance, and nature. Ask yourself if you’re connecting with these elements, and use the other suites’ complementary cards to interpret it further.
  • Reversed meaning: You may be in for an abundance at work, flourishment in your intimate relationships, or a generous change in your finances.

The Emperor

The emperor looks like the mighty man he is while overseeing various elements, with a great eagle standing ready at his feet.

  • Upright meaning: You may need to step away from self-limiting beliefs to observe and achieve your full potential, which may be mastery as the emperor wields control over the material and unseen worlds.
  • Reversed meaning: You might be missing the truth or reality of your life. You may be demanding and tyrannical. The emperor is about balance, which requires you to master your ego, not topple it over.

The Hierophant

The hierophant is a righteous figure who wields a staff representing the interconnectedness of all divine beings. The card reminds us that all divine beings are eternal, unlike humans.

  • Upright meaning: The hierophant may indicate your need to seek the secrets of your life or nature. You may have a missing spiritual link you once had.
  • Reversed meaning: Do you feel rebellious toward your spiritual path introduced to your lineage? Rebelling against higher powers, including governing laws, might welcome the reversed position. Consider it a warning card.

The Lovers

the lovers

Some modern decks show Adam and Eve because the card is confused with relational love alone. The Hermetic deck portrays a man wielding a sword to a snake’s head while a woman stands behind him. This isn’t only romantically interpreted.

  • Upright meaning: In romantic terms, you may be at a crossroads in your relationship and need to make a decision. In personal terms, you may need to choose between growth and perfection, the latter of which doesn’t truly exist.
  • Reversed meaning: Seeing the card in reverse means you’re keeping your head low. You won’t decide between growth or perfection, or you allow the relationship to continue as it is now. Indecision is a warning because you can’t be genuinely happy if something subconsciously nudges your mind.

The Chariot

The chariot represents the Lord of the Triumph of Light in the Hermetic deck. Light always trumps darkness, so this card is an empowering sight.

  • Upright meaning: You’re being encouraged to seize the moment and take charge of your ambitions. The only caution is to keep an eye on your judgments and not allow them to derail your chariot.
  • Reversed meaning: You may be feeling like you’re in a slump. You need to pick up the pace and take charge of your life now.


Fortitude displays the Daughter of the Flaming Sword standing over a mighty but submissive lion. This card is known as the strength tarot in other decks.

  • Upright meaning: You need to bring your persuasive power and intuitiveness into consciousness to harmonize all aspects of your life, family, and career. You can tame lions if you use your intuition.
  • Reversed meaning: You might be struggling with persuasiveness or leadership, especially at work and over your children. Allow the reversed position period to end before trying to harmonize things again. Sometimes, we need to step back first.

The Hermit

the hermit

A hermit is an isolated man who possesses a different type of wisdom, which comes from the inner self.

  • Upright meaning: It’s time to take a self-discovery trip into your mind, life, and nature. You’re too consumed and distracted to understand your true self and desires.
  • Reversed meaning: You may fear loneliness or avoid finding your inner truth or greater wisdom. Allow your fears into your isolation so you can gain the wisdom you need to master yourself.

Wheel of Fortune

The wheel of fortune sounds like the kind of card you want to flip over, and it might be. The Hemetric card looks like an Egyptian god overseeing the wheel of life, fortune, and destiny.

  • Upright meaning: A wheel reminds you that your fortune, destiny, and even happiness will change daily or monthly. The wheel is always turning. If you’re on top of your wheel, enjoy it while it lasts.
  • Reversed meaning: You might be at the bottom of the wheel, indicating that you’ve hit rock bottom, but don’t fret, as the wheel will turn again. Revisit your strategies surrounding finances to help the wheel turn upward.


The justice card displays the Daughter of the Truth, showing the balance between good and evil, right and wrong, and male and female.

  • Upright meaning: You need to be careful of your judgments, always weighing the competing needs against the greater good or universal acceptance.
  • Reversed meaning: A decision or judgment on your part may have brought chaos. Take a moment to stand back and watch the tiding change before making another move.

The Hanged Man

The Hanged Man

The Hermetic card displays a man hanging from his attached foot while balancing on a triangle. The hanged man represents distressing ideation. Some symbols are upside down, which may display a lack of sure-footedness.

  • Upright meaning: You may be facing your self-limits, unable to exude independence to move toward your ambitions. You’ll need to wisen up, self-reflect, and find your independent soul.
  • Reversed meaning: You’re sacrificing yourself for others, allowing them to be dependent on you. This isn’t in favor of the greater good. Reconsider your extension to others.


Death is an eery card to find in any position, probably due to the artwork on the Hermetic deck. However, the skeletons don’t necessarily represent their direct interpretation as death is also a part of rebirth or transformation.

  • Upright meaning: Something is about to end, which may be a career, relationship, or anything that must give way to a new path. A change, renewal, or transition is awaiting you. Don’t fear it.
  • Reversed meaning: You might be aware of the impending transformation and fear the change. Don’t allow your fears to stop beautiful renewal.


Temperance portrays the Daughter of the Reconcilers as she maintains the balance above the chaos.

  • Upright meaning: Your personality and what lies within your mind could be in chaos. Patience is the key while allowing the chaos to unfold so the beauty underlining it can overflow.
  • Reversed meaning: You’re not allowing the chaos to pass as it will. You have no faith in yourself and may give up on your personality and thoughts. Practice patience while keeping your faith in your abilities.

The Devil

The Devil

The devil is portrayed as the Lord of the Gates of Matter, also known as Baphomet. It’s not necessarily a bad card, but its interpretation must maintain a balance.

  • Upright meaning: You fear expressing your true passions and character. Allow yourself to express your inner truth, but keep the greater good in mind. Don’t hurt someone to elevate your passions.
  • Reversed meaning: Take care of what you say and do to others. You may be expressing an impish demeanor, creating chaos in other people’s lives for no good reason. Remember that balance is the key to this card.

The Blasted Tower

The symbolism of the blasted tower also exudes chaos, and it contains a hint of masculine energy. The lightning represents karma in its full force from the divine ones.

  • Upright meaning: Things are about to change for you, meaning the hierarchy of oppression at work or home is about to topple. Those guilty of exploiting you are about to be brought down to your level so everyone can start at the same place again.
  • Reversed meaning: The blasted tower chaos is over now, so leave the emotions and past behind where the fallen towers lie. Don’t bring up the past. This signifies you should move ahead now.

The Star

The star is a beautifully designed card with numerous energies intertwined, including astrology blending masculine and feminine energies.

  • Upright meaning: Let go of any pretentiousness on your part and allow yourself to transcend to your true nature while connecting to your spiritual side. Find your purpose and follow it.
  • Reversed meaning: You’re temporarily disconnected from your purpose and true intentions, meaning you might be clumsy, doubtful, or opposed to your true self. Shift your focus to your talents, skills, and strengths.

The Moon

The moon represents ebb and flow, yin and yang, and incoming and outgoing tides. Designed from the Ruler of Flux and Reflux, it displays a mirror effect of two towers.

  • Upright meaning: It’s time to realize that life comes with ups and downs. Open your soul and consciousness to accept that life’s path doesn’t always run downhill.
  • Reversed meaning: You may be stuck in memories, unable to move ahead due to exaggerating or reliving the past events until they stop your journey. The only way to move forward again is to allow the emotions to sweep you onto a new path.

The Sun

The Sun

The sun represents the fire that watches over the world and nature, keeping it warm and alive.

  • Upright meaning: You’re being encouraged to cultivate your true self as it’s the only way to express ultimate goodness, kindness, and beauty.
  • Reversed meaning: You may have forgotten your blessings, and you’ll need to reflect on what you’re grateful for in your life to allow your sun to shine again.

The Last Judgment

The last judgment is an evolutionary card like no other. It’s about becoming one with all parts of you, including talents, hidden emotions, and childlike natures.

  • Upright meaning: To become your greatest self,  express every part of your being. Allow your hidden talents to amalgamate with each one of your personalities. Bring forth the side of you hidden in the depths of fear.
  • Reversed meaning: You might experience external limitations imposed by others. Allow yourself to be resilient enough to await the passing of external forces patiently.


The universe card is an all-encumbering one with symbolism representing oceans, skies, nature, and humans. It shows how everything is interconnected.

  • Upright meaning: Reflect on your creative freedom and allow your soul’s potential to fade into the universal background while it still glimmers enough to catch everyone’s attention.
  • Reversed meaning: There’s no meaning attached to the reverse position for this Major Arcana.

Minor Arcana Suites

Four suites make up the Minor Arcana, and their meanings complement the previous suite. They’ll direct your Major Arcana with simple strategies.

The Wands

Three of Wands

The wands represent personal motivation, passion, purpose, and energy. These are simple interpretations to help you along:

  • Ace of wands: Get ready to act on opportunities quickly.
  • Two of wands: Be patient about a decision.
  • Three of wands: Follow your intuitions now.
  • Four of wands: Seek ideas and support from others.
  • Five of wands: Reflect on your passions and use them to move forward.
  • Six of wands: Be fearless in pursuing your convictions, which will gain support if you’re relentless.
  • Seven of wands: Pivot yourself past your limits.
  • Eight of wands: Reflect on your most recent success to boost your confidence.
  • Nine of wands: It’s time to step back and rest.
  • Ten of wands: Rediscover your youthful ambitions to inspire yourself.
  • Princess of wands: Gather information patiently to unite ideas and bring harmony.
  • Knight of wands: Focus on the action you need to take, and draw resources where you need them.
  • Queen of wands: Move to a supportive role and forgo the leadership role in this situation.
  • King of wands: Obstacles are gone. Now’s the chance to take action to ensure success.

The Cups

Two of Cups

The cups represent emotions, creativity, feelings, intuition, relationships, and bondage. These are direct interpretations to support Major Arcanas:

  • Ace of cups: Make a conscious effort to see the potential in the person or situation.
  • Two of cups: Express your love to important people.
  • Three of cups: Ask for support from your family and trust that it will happen.
  • Four of cups: Renounce what made you get stuck right now.
  • Five of cups: Accept material losses and focus on your strengths.
  • Six of cups: Seek wisdom from your past for the current situation.
  • Seven of cups: Daydream to find creative solutions.
  • Eight of cups: Reflect on your emotions to see why you’re depressed or negative.
  • Nine of cups: Listen to your intuition.
  • Ten of cups: Share abundantly with anyone in your boat.
  • Princess of cups: Avail yourself to those who need you.
  • Knight of cups: Apply everything you have now.
  • Queen of cups: Offer empathy and understanding to others.
  • King of cups: Provide strength and wisdom to someone who needs it.

The Swords

The swords represent communication, words, actions, thoughts, decisions, ideas, and power assertion. Simple interpretations include:

  • Ace of swords: Stay focused because you’re close to your goal.
  • Two of swords: Take no action until the time is right.
  • Three of swords: Disconnection from the situation might be healthier for you.
  • Four of swords: Forget other people’s biases and focus on your opinions.
  • Five of swords: Challenge the negativity in those around you.
  • Six of swords: Respond quickly to the need for immediate action, which will be appreciated.
  • Seven of swords: Discipline yourself to focus on your ambitions, and all else will fade away.
  • Eight of swords: Be confident in your abilities and talents.
  • Nine of swords: Acknowledge a situation that can’t work.
  • Ten of swords: Take cover during the chaos and await the rebuild after it passes.
  • Princess of swords: Take anonymous action, even if you want credit.
  • Knight of swords: Communicate and negotiate effectively.
  • Queen of swords: Be independent enough to make your own decisions.
  • King of swords: Focus on the wise elder speaking from inside you to gain wisdom.

The Coins (Pentacles)

The Coins (Pentacles)

The pentacles represent material possessions, money, careers, and work situations. Supporting interpretations would be:

  • Ace of Pentacles: Take small steps to build momentum toward your ambitions.
  • Two of Pentacles: Don’t think fast. Take your time.
  • Three of Pentacles: Express your talents and skills to the world.
  • Four of Pentacles: Focus on your responsibilities and not just the potential benefits.
  • Five of Pentacles: Draw resources to make a bolder statement or investment shortly.
  • Six of Pentacles: Be confident that you can assist others in a time of need.
  • Seven of Pentacles: Persevere to succeed, and show responsible use of your time and energy.
  • Eight of pentacles: Dedicate yourself to quality outcomes to achieve the best results.
  • Nine of Pentacles: Realize your potential to create any lifestyle you want, and share it with supportive people.
  • Ten of Pentacles: You may benefit from something great with some effort.
  • Princess of Pentacles: Be the confident student who wants to learn more.
  • Knight of Pentacles: Participate in the upcoming endeavor with your current resources to benefit.
  • Queen of pentacles: Feel safe to express your inner truth without consequences.
  • King of pentacles: Own your confidence as though you’ve already achieved your ambitions.
  • Having a combination of Major and Minor Arcana in your spread makes things a whole lot simpler to interpret. However, don’t forget that the Hermetic deck has intricate details so that you may see something beyond the typical meanings.

Spreading Secrets for Hermetic Decks

There are some wonderful spreads available to read Hermetic Tarot cards. If you’re into the straightforward past, present, and future readings, you can stick to a three-card spread. It works well for beginners. Some other spreads include:

Seasoned and confident readers often use customized spreads or the Celtic Cross as their main method of reading the cards. The Celtic Cross spread looks like two main cards surrounded by six complimentary cards. However, I have a simpler version that works perfectly with Hermetic Tarot decks.

The Holy Grail of Hermetic Spreads

The triquetra spread is a personal favorite, and it simplifies my interpretations. It was designed to represent three powerful forces coming together to supplement the ambition, situation, or problem in the center of the trinity layout.

wheel of fortune

A trinity represents many things, namely:

  • The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (religious)
  • Ego, superego, and id (psychology)
  • The individual subconscious, supreme wisdom, and collective unconscious
  • Love, honor, and protection
  • The maiden, crone, and mother

A signifier card is placed in the center, representing the situation, problem, question, intention, or yourself. The three surrounding cards support the signifier. They guide you on what you need to do with the signifier. The signifier will either be a caution or a guidance system, but the supporting cards direct your decisions.

You, as the seeker, must choose the signifier card, even if someone else is shuffling and flipping for you. You have to set your intentions or ask a question before pulling the signifier card. The layout would look like this:

Find the spread that works for you, and you’ll be able to ask any questions. 

Hermetic Tarot vs Rider Waite Tarot

At first glance, Hermetic Tarot seems similar to traditional Rider Waite cards but with some notable differences. Hermetic Tarot has a rich history connected to a secret order that believed deeply in various esoteric workings.

The Secret Order of the Golden Dawn designed the cards using elemental and astrological symbols that are important to their teachings; this also allows for more in-depth readings that allow the reader to use astrology to find the message the cards are giving.

The tarot card meanings are also tied to the Golden Dawn and its teachings, with a greater emphasis being put on the Major Arcana. Some of the cards in the Major Arcana are named differently or appear in a different order.

Lastly, the Hermetic Tarot is illustrated in black and white, with the illustrations being a bit more macabre than the Rider Waite Deck, which is illustrated in full color. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Knowing the tip of what the cards mean and how the Hermetic deck came about is one thing, but you may still be curious about a few more factors.

Question: What is the Hermetic Tarot Deck best used for?

Answer: Hermetic decks are best used for personal readings as they tap into the energy of your subconscious mind to manifest your interpretations from your intentions.

Question: What is the best way to shuffle and cut the Hermetic Deck?

Answer: Ellen Goldberg from Schools of Oracles posted a video to show you how you can shuffle and cut tarot decks easily, which is a struggle for beginners.

Answer: From a seasoned reader directly to you, I can confirm that a Hermetic deck is a perfect option for beginners and advanced readers. The intricacies will speak directly to your intuitions, so listen to them.

Question: Should I choose the Hermetic Tarot Deck over others?

Answer: This is a personal choice, but you can always compare what you learned to other popular decks. It comes down to which deck attracts you. Your subconscious mind will be drawn to the deck that works for you. Moreover, it’s believed to mystically enhance your readings if you’re gifted a deck. Wink-wink.

Question: How many cards are in the Hermetic deck?

Answer: There are 78 cards in total, but the Major Arcana suite contains 22 while the others contain 14 cards each.


I hope this Hermetic Tarot Guide gave you the answers you sought. It’s an incredible deck designed by a true artisan, and it’s based on an old school of thought, even inspired by the Greek god Hermes and the Egyptian god Thoth.

Moreover, it’s a simpler way to read or interpret your desired intentions with beautifully detailed work. It certainly is my number one tarot deck, and it’s helped me open doorways and find solutions to seemingly impossible problems. I recommend adding it to your collection, even if you’re starting with tarot cards.

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