THE TAROT PATH OF ACHIEVEMENT
The Path of Achievement is charted by the Major Arcana of the Tarot Deck. Each
of us is aware that achievement is based on the accomplishment of goals. The
Major Arcana accurately charts the process of setting and completing goals
through 22 steps, each represented by a Major Arcana card. The understanding of this 22-step process is a very important tool for self-development.
The Path begins with The Fool. This card illustrates each one of us. We walk
along a path with our heads in the clouds, and fall into the abyss. The fall is
normal and almost a part of our nature. The shock of landing in the abyss is,
however, the separation between success and failure. The failures blame this
fall on others, or on circumstances or the Gods and Goddesses. When they pick
themselves up they walk upon whatever path is easily found. The successful
person stops at this point and asks “Why have I fallen?” This question leads to
the realization that one need not have fallen, and that to prevent a future
fall, one must make a change in what one is doing. This realization is the
beginning of the Path of Achievement. The realization that change is necessary
leads us to The Magician.
The card of The Magician illustrates that we have all the tools needed to make a
change in our path. The four tools upon the table are symbolic of the four tools
available to us. The sword symbolizes reason, and the cutting edge of logic that
is the conscious mind. The Wand represents the subconscious mind. The Cup is
symbolic of the superconsciousness, and the Pentacle represents our experience
and knowledge of the world around us. These four tools are all that are needed
on this path. The understanding that we have all we need to proceed along the
path, is the first step on the Path of Achievement.
The High Priestess represents the subconscious mind symbolized by the Wand on the Magician’s table. This is intuition, and the hidden wellspring of knowledge that we have gained from experience. Through this intuition we learn what change must be made to prevent another fall. The knowledge of what change is needed is inherent within us. We must allow what is there to come forth. Quiet meditation is the key to allowing the subconscious mind to tell us things we need to know. This change, suggested by our subconscious, now becomes our goal. This is the second step on the Path of Achievement.
The Empress represents our experience and knowledge, and is symbolized by the
Pentacle upon the Magician’s table. Here, we add up the experience learned in
our life about the world around us, and the nature of existence. This is the
basis that the other tools will use to chart our path toward the goal. Here we
must take time to reflect and remember. This is the third step upon the Path of
The Emperor represents the conscious mind, and is symbolized by the sword upon the Magician’s table. We know the goal. We have our experience to guide us. Now, through reason and logic, we must set forth the necessary course that we will traverse to achieve the goal. The conscious mind will take the goal and what we have learned, and develop the specific acts needed to achieve the goal. Each act must be clearly defined and stated before we can proceed. This is the fourth step of the Path of Achievement.
The Pope represents the superconsciousness symbolized by the cup upon the
Magician’s table. Here is the first test of the goal we have set for ourselves.
Our emotions guide us to understanding the superconsciousness. Does this goal
feel right? Is this what I need to do? Seek quietly within the mind and allow
your emotions to tell you the rightness of this goal. This is the fifth step on
the Path to Achievement.
The Lovers card is the point of decision of whether to proceed with the goal.
Here, we must take all our intuition, our knowledge and experience, our reasoned thought, and our emotions as the basis for this decision. If there is something wrong with our goal or the acts we will perform to achieve it, we will know it here. If there is something wrong, return to the High Priestess and start from that point again. The sixth step is your decision. When your decision is Yes,
the Chariot awaits you!
The Chariot begins the second phase of the Path of Achievement. It represents
the drive and self-discipline needed to carry out each specific act set down as
part of the first phase. Here we must set ourselves to the accomplishing the
specific acts needed to reach the goal. This is the key to achievement. The
self-mastery needed to complete what we set out to do is thus the seventh step
on the Path of Achievement.
Strength illustrates that while physical strength is needed, it alone is not
enough. We cannot open the jaws of the lion (nature) without his cooperation. We must work with and cooperate with the natural order in carrying out our specific acts. Many strong people fail because they do not realize that nature must be worked with, and not against. This is the eighth step on the Path of
The Hermit represents the constant need for vigilance as we carry out the
specific acts. It is easy to become distracted by the day to day events of life
and thus abandon our goal. Vigilance is the lonely sleepless watcher who warns
us when we are about to go astray. The ninth step is to be vigilant each day and
remember the importance of what we are accomplishing.
The Wheel of Fortune illustrates the working of fate in our daily lives. We all
experience the daily variations of existence, but allowing these variations to
rule your life is not the path to your goal. Accept that fate has a hand in all
things, and thus all things change. Accept also that we are not ruled by fate,
and our will to succeed can overcome the casual acts of fate. This is the tenth
step of the Path of Achievement.
Justice pictures the need to balance our daily affairs with the accomplishment
of our goal. The need for balance and harmony in the midst of the changes we are under-going must be realized. The single-minded pursuit of a goal leaves too
many routine tasks unfinished. Therefore, we must balance our daily needs with
the specific acts required to accomplish our goal. Proper rest and leisure, an
adequate diet, daily household chores must be part of the balance and harmony of accomplishing the goal. This is the eleventh step upon the Path of Achievement.
The Hanged Man represents the need for sacrifice. The task of creating something new is always preceded by the destruction of something else. We must sacrifice old ideas and old patterns to achieve the goal. We must be willing to sacrifice, and we are at the point in reaching our goal where certain things must be given up. This realization is the twelfth step on the Path to Achievement.
Death illustrates that the sacrifices we are making from the previous step have
opened the door for new ways. Death is the transformation from old to new. Old
growth must be pruned to allow the new seeds a chance to grow. The destruction
of the old ideas naturally results in the growth of new ideas. This is the
thirteenth step on the Path to Achievement.
Temperance is the time of prudence to allow the new ideas to grow and develop.
Give yourself time to allow your conscious and subconscious minds the
opportunity to set these new ideas in place. Haste is not a sign of progress.
It is a sign of failure. Thus step fourteen is the growth of new ideas and the
putting of these ideas into their proper places.
The Devil illustrates that we are easily chained to our past. It is never easy
to break old patterns and habits. Here we must sift through the ideas which have
grown and chose those of benefit to keep. Not all the new ideas are good, and we
must separate good and bad before we can continue. The task of the Devil is the
separation of good and bad, and is the fifteenth step on the Path of
The Tower Struck by Lightning is a graphic description of our break with the
past. Here we destroy and leave behind all the old patterns and habits. This is
the stripping away of what is no longer needed. The Tower suggests that this
stripping away is not always a painless task. But it is a necessary task. Thus,
the sixteenth step is the final removal of the ideas and patterns that have
hindered us on the Path of Achievement.
The Star represents the calm following the storm. Here one must take stock of
what remains and place it in proper order and perspective. This is not the time
for action but a time for ordering the cycle of our existence. The water in this
picture shows that we are in the emotional storm that gives no outward look. The
stars in the sky each have a definite place and so do we. This is the
seventeenth step on the Path of Achievement.
The Moon illustrates climbing out of the emotional sea and into the heights of
reason. The dark night of the soul is that climb from emotion to reason. Here we
stabilize what has occurred within us. We are emotionally calm and the light of
reason is just a short distance ahead. This is the eighteenth step on the Path
The Sun shows the new person we have become in the full light of reason and
enlightenment. We are again as children, looking through our garden at the
wonders and delights it holds. We have gained new meaning and new ideas, and
here we can explore all that we have achieved. This is the nineteenth step on
the Path of Achievement.
The Final Judgment. Here we must ask “Have I completed my goal?” This is the
final step. A final judgment of all that has been done along this path. It is
also the judgment of our higher power on what we have done and accomplished
along the way.
The World illustrates the victory of our achievement. We have successfully
negotiated the Path of Achievement, and reached a new summit to our life and
being. But remember, the Fool again waits ahead for us to stumble. We will not
fall so deeply into the abyss next time, and our rise will be to a higher