Do cards have universal meanings or should each deck have its own?


Each tarot deck is unique because of its imagery and meaning descriptions given in the companion books. It might be frustrating to have many decks and study each of them separately spending months or years on just one of them. But should we?

We can spend some time on studying cards we are connected to or we can find that we like the card in one deck and don’t like the same card from another one. We can feel that a particular card from one deck means for us something that we don’t see on the same card from a different deck. There might be special symbols drawn here and absent there. So many choices!

However, tarot is a universal system. If we accept this concept, we broaden our perception of tarot cards meanings in general, universally, and on an energetic level.

Below is Eight of Wands from Sola Busca Tarot and Rider-Waite tarot decks. On the Sola Busca Tarot Eight of Wands card, eight wands are inserted into the urn, and their ends form some walking legs. There is no any person depicted. On the Rider-Waite Tarot card, eight wands pointing down fly through an open country. Again, no figure is shown. In the LWB we read, “The card represents motion through immovable. Activity in the undertaking, the path of such activity, swiftness, as that of an express messenger; great haste, great hope, speed towards an end which promises assured felicity; that which is on the move, also the arrows of love.”

eight of wands

Imagery is different. But what about meaning? Let’s see it in a situation. While scrolling down FB newsfeed, I stopped on the video featuring a mum working from home. I watched the video without sound and didn’t read the description at first. I just watched the woman talking something with her child holding a magazine. What’s in this video for me? I pulled out Eight of Wands (Venetian Carnival Tarot) and tried to connect the video and the card. Again, I didn’t know that this woman is a mum working from home and advertised her book because the sound was off and didn’t read the words around.


8 of wands, Venetian Carnival Tarot by Roxana Paul

So, how this video and eight of wands from my Venetian Carnival Tarot are connected?

Venetian Carnival Tarot by Roxana Paul

 A description in the companion book to Venetian Carnival Tarot:

“Arise from your knees; victory is yours. The price was high, but we paid it. Together we can move mountains. Who cares of obstacles? Our glory goes at the front of us. Hooray! We said it, and we’ve done it.”

 Upright Divinatory Meaning:

Having an ability to start up new enterprises, pushing oneself to the limits, caring for others and helping them.

 If I knew what that video was about I would say “Yes, it is” – mum is carrying a child and starts a new enterprise to earn from home. But without this knowledge, it’s like to read for a person you met for the first time, and many details are hidden. Let’s try.

 Sign #1:

A closed door behind the woman and a door behind a person in the mask on the card.

Sign #2:

An open magazine in child’s hands and eight wands on the cards, in both cases forming “V”.

Sign #3:

Light on the woman’s forehead and the Sun brooch on mask’s forehead.

Sign #4:

The woman holds her child close to her heart, and the masked figure touches his heart.

A quick analysing of these signs would reveal the woman is doing something being isolated from the outside world (closed doors, Sign #1), she is doing something  that excites her (light, Sign #3) and brings her satisfaction and rewards (V-sign #2), and she cares about others (child, heart, Sign #4). On this stage, we can already say that she is working from home.

Could we reveal this fact looking at eight of wands from other decks? Absolutely!

Eight of wands from Sola Busca Tarot:

Eight wands are inserted into an urn symbolise an isolation from the outside world in the same way as close doors. Walking wands’ ends symbolise an activity beyond limits, doing something extraordinary – work from home here. The urn is richly decorated symbolises rewards as result of the activity. This imagery we can relate to working from home activity.

 Eight of wands from Rider-Waite Tarot:

Eight wands cover the view of the country in the background reminding window shutters. The river separates the viewer from the country in the background. These signs might symbolise isolation from the outside world. Flying wands might symbolise that some activity is undertaken. Activity in isolation relates to work from home.

The purpose of this article was to show that the cards do have a universal meaning and that looking at cards from different decks might enrich your understanding of this universal meaning.

Venetian Carnival Tarot by Roxana Paul