Marvel Cinematic Universe Tarot: Major Arcana

With Avengers: EndGame well in the past and Marvel’s newest installment, Spiderman: Far From Home, recently released, it feels safe enough to share this big side project, spoilers and all. I’ve taken The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy and all our friends from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and cast them in the ideal MCU Tarot Deck. I’ve seen some iterations floating around the internet, but here is my take on who embodies what energy in the Major Arcana and why.

This is part one of a two part series. I’ve got the Minor Arcana (not all of it, but Court Cards and some selected numbers) coming your way later this month. If you’re wondering what the hell is an arcana? it literally means secrets or mysteries and is how a tarot deck is divided. Majors are big picture energy that are orders like a hero’s journey or the cyclical evolution of a person. Minors are more like people, places, things, feelings, actions, events, etc.

*In case it wasn’t clear SPOILERS for Avengers: EndGame and everything before.

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0 The Fool // Star Lord aka peter quill

Gamora: Fool! You should've learned!
Peter: I don't learn. It's one of my issues.

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Kicking off our journey through the Major Arcana is our darling king of fools, Peter Quill. He leaps before he looks, preferring to wing it because “not winging it isn’t really our thing.” All he needs is a 70s playlist and 12% of a plan and he’s ready to GOOOOO. He’s also unafraid of talking shit to ANYONE (much like a Shakespearean fool), not necessarily because he’s super courageous though, he just doesn’t really think about the consequences. He’s also an outlaw, and The Fool is ruled by Uranus, the chaotic outlaw planet if you will.

And just like The Fool, it’s incredible how often following his heart works out for him. He is somehow charmed, ridiculously lucky, and almost untouchable. I guess that’s what happens when you’re half Celestial.

1 The Magician // Iron Man aka Tony Stark

Contrary to popular belief I know exactly what I’m doing.

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Tony Stark turns dreams into reality. Sometimes for the good of humanity, many times for his own enjoyment. He’s cocky, self-assured, has major trickster vibes, a quick tongue (the Magician is ruled by Mercury which is the planet of communication) and he— Makes. Shit. Happen. His tools may not be wands and daggers, but fancy sci fi tech is a fine substitute for a witch’s altar. It’s often said the Magician is the connection between what is above and what is below. While, in some decks, the Magician does this through a wand, Stark has got Avengers Tower, formerly know as Stark Tower.

He also launched the franchise and the Magician is card #1 (Fool is 0). We’re all here, waiting for every new release because he made it happen and captivated us with his wit, charm, charisma and, dare I say it, magic.

2 The High Priestess // agent peggy carter

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Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in they eye, and say, “no, you move."

Peggy was one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D. and basically taught Captain America how to throw a punch. She holds all the knowledge regarding the history of pretty much everything Marvel related that wasn’t revealed until very recently. Agent Carter is truly one of the oldest keeper of mysteries, at least the oldest human in this timeline. Like the High Priestess, Peggy budges for no one, because she trusts her intuition and the deeper knowing inside her, even if society hasn’t caught up yet. 

3 The Empress // Pepper potts

Pepper: I got you.
Tony: I got you first

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The Empress teaches us how to receive. They draw in the support they need, receiving as a result of simply existing. Getting back more than they give as a result of the absolute abundance present for them. (One can argue that the kind of support Pepper gives is immeasurable, but let’s role with this for a hot minute).

Pepper: I'm taking a shower.
Tony: Okay..
Pepper: And you're gonna join me.
Tony: Better.

Is is just me or is she the only woman in the MCU that is truly allowed to revel in her sexuality? (She does do some slut shaming in the early Iron Man movies which is very shitty, but like Tony, she is not perfect). Empress is a sexual god(dess), ruled by Venus. Pepper attracts and holds and loves the most powerful man in the MCU. And I mean powerful in every sense of the word. But it’s not just the love. She holds her own beside him, wears the suit, and allows him to rest when it’s time. And she looks very good doing it.

4 The Emperor // black panther aka t’challa

In times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers.

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The Emperor offers structure and protection so as both the King of Wakanda and the Black Panther, T’Challa checks all the boxes. He stands up for his people and raises his voice, becoming the first Wakandan king to open the country up to the rest of the world.

Nakia: You can’t let your father’s mistakes define who you are. You get to decide what kind of king you are going to be.

Traditionally, the Emperor has been described almost tyrannically, but just as many Tarot scholars have rejected the toxic masculine attributes of the Emperor, T’Challa learns from the mistakes of his father and evolves to become the best ruler he can be by channeling a divine masculinity that centers around service and community. 

5 The Hierophant // doctor stephen strange

Right. Forget everything I think I know. Sorry.

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So why isn’t our actually magician, the magician? Because energetic archetypes don’t work that way, silly. The Hierophant is like a sacred teacher that also invites us to discover the wisdom inside ourselves. They ask us to question everything we think we know, everything we’ve learned from outside sources, and check it with what rings true within us. So Stephen goes through this mystical fucking training and goes from being an egomaniac surgeon to a masterful and somewhat humble Master of the Mystic Arts.

Strange: I'm not ready.
Ancient One: No one ever is. We don't get to choose our time.

In the later Avengers films, he sees the future and doesn’t reveal information to preserve potential outcomes. That’s some wise Hierophant shit. He also holds a beautiful balance of respecting tradition and incorporating his own understanding and beliefs. He can challenge norms that need adjusting, while respecting and protecting ancient wisdom. Is there some cultural appropriation involved? Certainly, but that’s more on his creators, not the character himself. (Even so, it would kind of work within the shadow side of the Hierophant.)

6 The Lovers // Black widow + hawkeye aka natasha romanov + clint barton

Nat: I don't judge people on their worst mistakes.
Clint: Maybe you should.
Nat: You didn't.

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The Lovers invites us to look in the mirror, or into the people in our life that reflect the best in us. Clint and Nat have had each others backs since the beginning from New York to Budapest and back gain. The two most normal and human folks on the team, their skill and connection is what propels them to greatness. Through their relationship, we learn the importance of loving ourselves and others in spite of and because of our flaws, as well as the importance of love that is not necessarily romantic. Even so, I still love fan videos that frame their relationship romantically. Guh, they are perfect friends. 

Whatever it takes.

I’m also going to take this opportunity to talk about Nat’s death. That’s some Lovers shit right there, believe the other is the one that deserves to live because they project their own goodness into each other. But I would like to consider the alternate ending. I know they chose Nat because it had a bigger emotional impact on the team, but what if we allowed Nat to develop by having the biggest emotional impact put on her? And now she has to be the one to tell his wife and kids that dad died bringing them all back. And she gets to work through that pain with the support of her other close allies like Steve and Bruce? What about that ending? Side note over!

7 The Chariot // spider-man aka peter parker

When you can do the things that I can, but you don’t, and then the bad things happen, they happen because of you.

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The latest in a long line of Spider peeps, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker exemplifies the Chariot best of all. This card has been typically thought of as a good omen, as moving forward, but really it’s about having arrived and some sort of peak, and having to decide how we’re going to move forward. Like a graduation of sorts. Peter gets his powers and is an over eager little Chariot babe running around trying to do as much as he can.

This is my chance to prove myself.

Over time, we realize the choices are less impulsive, and more directed from the heart. From a sense of duty and love. He gets off the speeding train and leaps within to helps those without. Wow I did not expect to get so sentimental on this one but ugh precious spider babe I love this pure child.

8 strength // captain america aka steve rogers

The price of freedom is high, it always has been. And it's a price I'm willing to pay. And if I'm the only one, then so be it.

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Steve Rogers is the heart of the Avengers, and to me, Strength is the heart of the Major Arcana. It’s the first time we are called to not only recognize the scary shadow bits of ourselves, but to face it openly. Steve marches into every battle with everything he has from fighting fascism to facing Thanos with his bare hands to holding a support group at the beginning of end game.

I can do this all day.

And really it’s Steve Rogers we’re talking about here, not Captain America because that drive, that courage, that wild heart was in him before the super serum did its work. It’s cheesy (just like Cap), but the true Strength here is on the inside.

9 The Hermit // winter soldier aka bucky barnes

I can't trust my own mind. So, until they figure out how to get this stuff out of my head I think going back under is the best thing...for everybody.

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Lonely, sad and brooding, maybe Hermit’s are my type. I did fall in love with Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd in high school. In the Hermit we are invited to pause. To stop and take a minute to sort shit out before we try to drive forward again. Bucky comes back to himself just enough to take that pause, the reflect, to go within and follow the soft light of the Hermit.

Steve: What you did all those years... It wasn't you. You didn't have a choice.
Bucky: I know. But I did it.

Sometimes the revelations are lovely, sometimes they’re a little darker, but slowing down gives us time to process, take responsibility where necessary and release where possible. And, of course, after enough time alone, the Hermit releases us to rejoin the fight.

10 The Wheel of Fortune // nick fury, maria hill + s.h.i.e.l.d.

Hill: Sir, how does it work now? They've gone their separate ways some, pretty extremely far. If we get into a situation like this again what happens then?
Fury: They’ll come back.
Hill: Are you really sure about that?
Fury: I am.
Hill: Why?
Fury: Because we’ll need them to.

Honestly, my first reason for this choice is that S.H.I.E.L.D. as an organization really just drives a lot of the narrative. Like the Wheel, the organization rises and falls with the Hydra takeover and then coming back to itself. They roll with the punches day in and day out which is what the Wheel reminds us of when it comes up in a reading. What’s coming for you will arrive. What’s leaving will leave. Also if Nick Fury is looking for you, there’s no way you’re not getting tracked down, sorry bb.

11 Justice // heimdall

There is always hope.

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So Justice is a tricky AF card, but let’s lay down the facts of Heimdall. Looks the part with his sword and his helm. Controls who enters and who leaves via the Bifrost. King of Rainbow Road. Takes it upon himself to save everyone he can when shit goes down. Played by Idris Elba. Can see beyond time and space.

Hard to catch a guy who can see everything in the Universe.

Justice goes beyond the laws of man and as an all seeing being, Heimdall understands the far reaching karmic effects of living in an interconnected universe. Despite that higher level understanding, he still does the groundwork of getting everyone to safety, because it’s the part he is able to play in the corner of the universe he inhabits. Badass. Like the opposite of an existential crisis know what I mean?

12 The Hanged Man // thor odinson

All words are made up.

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The opening scene of Ragnorok is Thor literally hanging from a chain. That’s it. Mic drop.

Just kidding. Thor starts off as a clueless jock, but really starts to grow as his experiences change his perspective. He has to watch his planet get destroyed and accept the best he can do is create a new home for the people he was able to save. Later, he eats a fucking star to try and save the universe.

Eitri: You understand boy, you are taking on a star? It will kill you.
Thor: Only if I die.

Then we have the whole End Game depression thing which was an interesting choice, and also totally on point for a regression of the Hanged Man. Suspended in time (or in this case, a drunken stupor and video game tunnel vision) until he’s ready to face death once again.

13 Death // Hela + asgard

I’m not a queen or a monster. I'm the Goddess of Death.

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So Hela is a literal death goddess so there’s that. Cate Blanchett is unbelievably perfect and that has nothing to do with this card but is also worth noting. While Death isn’t about actually dying when it comes up in a reading, stories deal in metaphor so it’s a little different when we’re working with myth and allegory. And so, she becomes the catalyst for the destruction of Asgard, bringing about Ragnorok because it’s what has to happen. We gotta shed baby. 

It would seem our father's solution to every problem was to cover it up.

The shedding that comes with death can be revelatory. Much like the United States, Asgard paints a pretty portrait of its path to make it more palatable for future generations. In storms Death to reveal the truth. One of the noble truths of Buddhism explains that suffering is a result of resistance to pain. When we resist the shadow, it grows and the shedding gets rough.

14 Temperance // the hulk + bruce banner

This seems like a weird choice until you realize it’s the only choice. 

For years, I've been treating the Hulk like he's some kind of disease, something to get rid of. But then I start looking at him as the cure. Eighteen months in the gamma lab, I put the brains and the brawn together and now look at me. Best of both worlds.

Looking at your inner monster like the cure? That’s some enlightened fucking shit right there. In Temperance we have a magical moment of balance within the shitshow of deep shadow work. Things start to make sense, to integrate. The two sides of our brain connect more efficiently in what’s known as a flow state. And so, Bruce and the Hulk find a way to live together after years of hard inner battling.

15 The Devil // loki laufeyson

I never wanted the throne, I only ever wanted to be your equal!

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I mean first of all, the imagery is perfect. Loki has ultimate Dom vibes complete with Devil horns, and who wouldn’t want to kneel before Tom Hiddleston’s tenacious growl. Okay maybe some people wouldn’t, but slutever.

Here’s the thing with Loki though, his thirst for power comes from his wounding. Just like the Devil, our boy is very misunderstood. I have a lot of thoughts an opinions on this cards and its historical context, but suffice it to say that Loki not only takes upon the image of the Devil, which is a false image in and of itself, but he has chained himself to this idea of “other”ness and remains caught in his own web. And so, just like some of us may reach to sex, drugs, coco puffs, etc to fill the void inside of us and face our own pain, Loki lusts for power.

Kneel before me. I said... kneel! Is not this simpler? Is this not your natural state? It's the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation. The bright lure of freedom diminishes your life's joy in a mad scramble for power. For identity. You were made to be ruled. In the end, you will always kneel.

But there’s also a lightness there that comes later once he’s given up his quest for dominance. The Devil is a trickster of sorts after all (very much like the Magician), and Loki is the god of mischief. He seeks out pleasure by saddling up to the Grandmaster and calculating the quickest routes to self preservation, but he shows up when it counts.

Your savior is here!

16 The Tower // rocket raccoon + groot

I live for the simple things... like how much this is gonna hurt.

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Everyone’s favorite chaotic duo, Groot and Rocket are great at destruction which is what the Tower is all about. A flash of lightning strikes and this building crumbles because the foundations sucked anyways and it’s time to build something new. In this case, Groot sacrifices himself for the teams survival, offering them the chance to build again.

Rocket: No, Groot... don't do this, you'll die... why are you doing this?
Groot: WE are Groot.

And after the Tower that is Groot falls, Rocket picks up the pieces and creates a new relationship with his best friend. Precious.

17 The Star // mantis

The crabby puppy is so cute he makes me want to die!

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Too precious for this world, Mantis is the only true healer in the MCU. The Star is a guiding light in the darkness and Mantis is unafraid of going deep with people and understanding their darkest emotions. Also, totally unfazed by the mean shit Drax says because this marshmallow is emotionally solid and untouchable. 

If I touch someone who is sad, I can ease them into contentment for a short while. I can make a stubborn person compliant.

Just like Mantis can move people though tough emotions, the Star guides us in the aftermath of the Tower’s destruction and gives us the space to heal.

18 The Moon // scarlet witch aka wanda maximoff

Vision: If you do this, they will never stop being afraid of you.
Wanda: I can't control their fear, only my own.

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I totally forgot about that quote when I made Wanda the Moon, but fuck if it isn’t exactly perfect in embodying everything this motherfucking card is about. Can you tell it’s my fav? It is. Or tied with the Devil. Jury’s still out.

So what’s her deal? Witch in name. Plays a repressed Wild Woman, but when she unleashes is clearly the most powerful of them all. Could wipe out half of humanity with a word (or three “no more mutants”). What are her powers even because “manipulates probability” doesn’t even make sense which is why it totally works in this context.

The Moon exists beyond sense and has long been feared as an invitation to lunacy or madness. That comes from a fear of the unknown and the power of the wild. When harnessed, this shit is boundless, potent, world changing, but like the actual moon subtle and quiet with no direct answers. This is where we search in the wilderness with no expectation on mental clarity, but a deeper connection of feeling.

19 The Sun // vision

It's not fair. It shouldn't be you, but it is. It's all right. You could never hurt me... I just feel you.

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And then we arrive at her boyfriend. A literal computer. Her opposite. Who could have more clarity than Vision?

Ready for a cute hot take, he’s the source of the Moon’s light <3. Shut up. Sentient robot, computer, database thing that is constantly evolving. His very existence comes from a YELLOW stone. Yellow like the Sun. Right? So while the Sun brings clarity, it’s not always easy or great or fun… like the harsh reality that your girlfriend has to be the one to murder you and then watch you get murdered by a mad Titan. Yeesh. Still, as our Sun, Vis does his best to take it in stride.

20 Judgement // thanos

I am...inevitable.

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Thanos himself I think would both love and hate this placement for himself. On the one hand his whole deal is about NOT judging and letting the deaths of half the life in the universe be random, but on the other hand, simply deciding to perform the act is a judgement call, so…. ?

Gamora: …you murdered half the planet!
Thanos: A small price to pay for salvation

The one thing that really tethers him to this card for me is the big picture thinking. He’s a grand contradiction because he claims its not about him and yet, in so many ways, it also is. The card, ruled by Pluto asks us to zoom out, find redemption and a sense of forgiveness. Did he ever find that forgiveness in himself for murdering his daughter? Does he feel guilt for his actions? Does he believe it just to have removed himself from the trenches and live out his life in solitude without experiencing the consequences of his actions? Judgement asks the questions, the answers are not usually clear.

Strange: And then what?
Thanos: I finally rest. And watch the sun rise on a grateful universe. The hardest choices require the strongest wills.

21 The World // captain marvel aka carol danvers

I have nothing to prove to you.

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To me, having the sense of completion, integration and understanding that means you no longer have to prove anything to the people whose approval we so desperately wanted is peak World. It’s freedom from all the blocks and chains and patterns that held us back from love and enlightenment and truth. It’s integrating logic and emotion, masculinity and femininity, yin and yang, giving and receiving and all the dualistic components we struggle with. Until we have to start back at square one and learn new things all over again.

That’s a wrap for the Majors? So what do you think? Who are your favorites? Who would you swap? What key details or character traits would you point out?

Selected Minor Arcana (including all Court Cards) coming next week!