The humans who first conceptualized the Tarot Cards had more than one thing right, at least: the Tarot Cards alternately, if not sometimes all at once, represent individual facets of the human psyche, different human drives, or the different stages of a man throughout his life. For Cards, however, the symbolism of the Tarot goes well beyond a simple matter of representation. For wielders of the power of Persona, the Arcana whom he or she is a part of as one of its “Cards” is the force that governs his or her second life, the set of unspoken rules that he or she must follow, or face the consequences.
The principle reason why a Card is bound to an Arcana is because of the Persona he or she possesses. One’s Persona is the desires, urges and Id of the character crystallized. At the point of his or her death, the character became the point through which all oppositions of fate met, and the Arcana that best represents the culmination of this point is the one whom he or she is fated to belong to, after Awakening. Your Persona knows little else beyond following the tenets of its Arcana, its origin point. Because your character is tied to his or her Persona, he or she must follow suit.
Here is a short list of the 22 Major Trumps of the Tarot, and how they relate to states of man according to Tarot divination. The flavor text that I used here was taken from Mr. Edogawa’s class lectures in Persona 3.
The Fool, Numbered 0, is “the spirit in search of experience”. It represents the beginning, and the infinite possibilities at the start of one’s journey.
The Magician represents action and initiative, “the divine motive” in man. It also, however, preludes the immaturity born out of looking nowhere but forward.
The Priestess represents contemplation and inner knowledge. She is often depicted looking back, as though the mistakes wrought by the attitude of the Magician cause her to turn to the past for answers.
The Empress is “mother, creator and nurturer”, representative of the creation “of life, of romance, of art or business”. She is the germination of an idea before it is ready to be fully born.
The Emperor, on that note, is an opposing card to the drive of the Empress, symbolizing the desire to rule over one’s surroundings. It represents fathering, and relates to leadership and decision-making skills.
The Hierophant, literally translated into “the one who teaches holy things”. It stands for knowledge and religion, and represents assistance, friendship, good advice, alliances, religious interests.
The Lovers card represents choice, one brought about, perhaps, by the steps represented in the Magician, the Empress, the Emperor, and the Hierophant. It is at this stage that one’s consciousness is said to finally emerge fully formed.
The Chariot – the card of self-reliance, righteousness, conviction and plain hard work – represents the individual’s victory in an external battle, won through sheer willpower. The victory won, however, is only temporal.
Strength represents both passion and self-control. It is depicted as power with reason.
The Hermit represents isolation, and the individual’s search for answers by looking to no other place but inward, deep inside his heart.
Fortune represents fate, and the opportunities that come with it.
Justice represents the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong.
The Hanged Man represents all-consuming despair, and reflects the individual’s inability to take action.
Death, numbered 13, is the point of transition and change: the old “dies”, and the new is “reborn”.
Temperance is the balancing of opposites. Opening his eyes to the world allows the individual to grow.
The Devil represents temptation and hardship, the odds that an individual must face while seeking to become himself.
At The Tower, the individual’s values collapse on him. It seems as if he no longer has anything to believe in, but…
…it is in the card of the Star, which represents a glimmer of hope, that he is suffused with a serene calm. The Star is also the card for the spirit of excellence.
The Moon represents “life of the imagination apart from the spirit”. The bliss brought about by the calm offered by the Star render the individual vulnerable to fantasy, spectacle and illusion.
The Sun signifies true achievement, one that is only brought about after the individual has risen above the delusion and the doubt.
The card of Judgment represents what awaits the individual at the end of his journey, as he looks back towards the path that he has traveled.
The final card – the World – represents the individual’s full awareness of his place in the order of things.
It should also be noted that Cards can never begin under the World Arcana. The World Arcana can only be obtained after a Card has “perfected” four other Social Links beyond his own – that is, the character needs to have a total of Five Social Links at Rank 5, together with the Social Link that she possesses with her Persona.
Click on the links for each Arcana for more information on the Trump within the context of a Persona campaign and playing a Card, together with a list of each Triumph’s powers.