Project #103.5: The Major Arcana

Hey guys welcome to another side blog the blogs between the blogs. Merry Persona-mas to everyone out there. Since we’re talking about Persona all month I think it’s best to take this side blog and talk about the major Arcana. One of the major philosophies of the Persona games is the major arcana, the tarot cards in general. They appear in all of the Persona games not just 3 and 4 and serve as a central theme to the Persona series, one could argue that without the tarot cards the entire series would fall apart. The tarot cards are used to help define a person in various ways in the game, revealing what it is they truly are under the everyday masks that culminate in the formation of a Persona and throughout Persona 3 and 4 you’ll meet characters who each represent one of the major arcana and form a bond with them. Now there are 78 tarot cards total in an actual deck, 22 of these cards are uniquely numbered and illustrated with Roman numerals. These cards are known as the major arcana and are what we’ll be focusing on today. The remaining cards are divided into 4 suits (Coins, Cups, Wands, and Swords) and numbered from 1 to 10 with the addition of a Page, Knight, Queen, and King for each suit. Basically it’s like a poker deck only with 22 wild cards instead of one. These cards are known as the minor arcana and really only serve as power-ups or bonuses in Persona 3 and 4. In Persona 3 the Page, Knight, Queen, and King cards can be found in dungeons or rewards in quests and used to increase the stats of a persona of your choosing and after battles in the dungeon they’ll be times where you’ll be able to do a shuffle time where you’ll have a chance to get a new persona or choose from one of the 4 suits which will give you bonuses. For example, the Coins give you extra money, the Cups heal you, the Wands give you extra experience, and the Swords give you a random weapon (my advice, go for the wand all the time. Experience is very important in these games). Persona 4 got rid of the Page, Knight, Queen, and King cards and didn’t use the suits in the game but the remake of Persona 4 (Persona 4 Golden) for the Vita did bring over the suits for shuffle time but still kept out the cards as they were found unnecessary. Now for this side blog I’m going to talk about the major arcana and give a brief explanation on all of them and what they represent. There’s 22 cards to go through not to mention a few special cards so let’s take a look at the major arcana.

#0: The Fool

The Fool is the first of the major arcana and represented by the number 0 meaning infinite possibilities, beginnings, innocence, divine inspiration, madness, freedom, spontaneity, inexperience, chaos, and creativity. The protagonist of each game is representative by The Fool in reference of their personality being shaped via player’s actions and decisions and because he doesn’t know about the world around him thus he relies on the other arcana to help shape his world and befriends others working with them and learning from them. The Fool is considered a “jack of all trades” since personas of this arcana can inherit all skills without preference for any type. Personas of this arcana are mythological figures that are often heroes, fools, or the protagonists of their own mythological stories such as Orpheus, Izanagi, Loki, and Black Frost (a personal favorite of mine).

#1: The Magician

The Magician is always represented by the first male friend you make in the game and is always the first social link you will establish in the game no matter what. This card is commonly associated with action, initiative, self-confidence, manipulation and the power to harness one’s talents. One of the ongoing themes I’ve noticed with this card in the game is that characters representative by this card have a lot of talent, skills, and potential but they don’t know how to use them effectively thus become lost and unsure of what to do or go in life (something I think everyone faces in their life). Personas of this arcana are commonly personas excelling towards magic, particularly fire-based magic. As the name suggests, mythological figures associated with this arcana are often associated with magic themselves, though some are fire deities rather than magicians. For example we have Pyro Jack, Hua Po, Surt, Sati, and Mada all of which are fire-based mythological figures. This arcana also features Jack Frost the mascot of Atlus and a fan favorite in the Persona series.

#2: The High Priestess

Also known as just the Priestess, this card is a symbol of hidden knowledge or other untapped power, wisdom, female mystery and patience. In the games this arcana is always represented by a female who is usually quiet, reserved, very intelligent, shy and modest meaning they don’t open up to the protagonist until level 5 or higher in the social link as compared to other characters who open up right away. Another running theme with this arcana is that the character tries to be or do something they’re not. For example, Fuuka tries to be more feminine by cooking in the hopes to help the team out more but in truth she’s not a very good cook and is instead good with technology and working with computers. Yukiko tries to convince herself that she doesn’t care for her family inn and instead wants to leave Inaba when in truth she does care for her family inn she was just afraid of the burden she would have to carry when she inherited the inn. The personas of this arcana are commonly associated with healing and support attributes and are represented by mythological figures that are crone archetypes, goddesses of wisdom, or priestess figures themselves such as Sarasvati, Parvati, Kikuri-Hime, and Scathach.

#3: The Empress

This card is pretty simple it represents mothers, prosperity, creativity, sexuality, abundance, fertility and comfort basically anything you would associate with a mother is represented by The Empress. Once again this card is represented by a female in both games who have authority, are wise, and considered motherly figures. Both Mitsuru and Margaret represent The Empress as they both have authority over others, are wise beyond their years, and can be seen as mother figures with Mitsuru trying to take on the burden of eliminating the Shadows all by herself when she has trustworthy friends by her side but refuses to rely on them and Margaret can be seen as a motherly older sister caring for the protagonist and worried about her sister who has gone missing but knows that she’ll be alright. Personas of this arcana are often personas excelling in ice-based attacks with healing powers also relatively common among them. They are usually important female figures, and many are queens and mother goddesses of some sort such as Yaksini, Titania, Mother Harlot, and Isis (not my Isis the goddess from Egypt theology).

#4: The Emperor

Just like the Empress represents a mother the Emperor represents traits you associate with a father and symbolizes the desire to control one’s surroundings suggesting that person is trying too hard to achieve this causing troubles for others all while not realizing that some elements in life are just uncontrollable. Characters represented by this arcana are characters troubled by something very personal, and doesn’t know how to deal with it. For example, Kanji struggles with peer pressure and acceptance because he likes to sew and do other crafts stuff that many people find weird given his physical appearance and personality. Personas of this arcana are typically excelling in lightning-based and physical attacks. They are almost always kings, emperor figures, important male figures, or male deities such as Oberon, King Frost, and Odin.

#5: The Hierophant

This arcana represents spiritual guidance and is a symbol of education, authority, conservatism, obedience to rules and relationship with the divine. This card was originally named Pope and served as the male counterpart to the Priestess but since a lot of people who used the cards weren’t believers in the catholic faith it was changed to hierophant meaning a person who interprets sacred mysteries or esoteric principles. In the games this card is represented by a person who is much older than the protagonist and even though these characters are wise and logical they are obsessed with an event that happened in the past that still affects them to this day. Personas of this arcana have no weakness but they also have no strengths as well making them the second weakest personas in the game however they do excel in light-based attacks. They are represented by male priests, gods of wisdom, or divine beings such as Thoth, Daisoujou, and Kohryu.

#6: The Lovers

In the past this card represented two paths life could lead to, a symbol of standing at a crossroad and needing to make a decision that will affect your life forever. Today, it represents a symbol of love and romantic relationships. It also represents finding an agreement with an ordinary friend or even two conflicting elements within. Characters represented by this card are characters who are conflicting with others or themselves and are usually very popular characters who have a romantic interest in the protagonist. Example, Yukari is very popular at school but she has a bad relationship with her mom. Rise is a popular idol but she’s in a conflict with herself figuring out who she really is. Both of these characters have a romantic interest in the main protagonist of each game and considered to be the main love interest of each game. Personas of this arcana are commonly associated with support-healing attributes and are usually fairies or important figures in history or mythology that were known as the wife (or husband) of another figure like Pixie, Undine, Queen Mab, and Cybele.

#7: The Chariot

This arcana is a symbol of victory, conquest, self-assertion, control, war and command. This card can also be associated with one’s external struggles as the person usually represented by this arcana is a very driven individual who has a personal goal that they aim for at any cost but are often stopped by their own external struggles. Personas of this arcana are commonly personas excelling in physical-based attacks and are invariably warrior figures or mythological war deities like Ares, Thor, and Futsunushi.

#8: Justice

Just like the name implies this arcana represents a strict allegory of justice, objectivity, rationality and analysis. Characters represented by this arcana are characters concerned with matters of fairness and are very stoic beings. Personas of this arcana are usually various orders of angels who excel at light- based and magic attacks or other deities of justice, order, or vengeance. Personas like Archangel, Principality, Power, the list goes on.

#9: The Hermit

This arcana is pretty simple, it represents wisdom, introspection, solitude, retreat and philosophical searches. Characters represented by this arcana are characters who place themselves in situations that keep them out of the public eye acting in a more supportive role rather than putting themselves in the spotlight for others to see. Personas of this arcana are in my opinion the worst personas in the game. They don’t have strong physical or magic attacks and are just good at inflicting aliments on others and if you’re like me you’ll find aliments useless and pointless. The personas themselves are also hermits or other mythological figures/deities that exist and operate behind the scenes such as Mothman, Nebiros, and Ongyo-Ki.

#10: The Fortune

Also known as The Wheel of Fortune, this arcana represents fate and varying luck, fortunes and opportunities. The philosophy of this card is what goes up will go down, what goes down will go up. Fate is neither with us nor against us. Characters of this arcana are people who are aware of their fates, and attempt to seize their own destiny in spite of their seemingly-locked fates. This leads to them making some very important decisions and choices in their life. Out of all of the arcana Fortune probably has the least number of personas. These personas are associated with myth-figures related to Fate and Time and excel at wind-based attacks. The most notable are the Norn sisters and Norn.

#11: Strength

This arcana is often considered to be one of the more confusing of the arcana as it’s an arcana that’s hard to explain since it has various meanings. Some say it represents the morality about the stronger power of self-control, gentleness, courage and virtue over brute force. In other readings it represents creative or physical energy that needs to be or is about to be unleashed, sometimes out of desire to be recognized. But the most common explanation I’ve heard about this arcana is that it represents one’s internal struggles. Just like the Chariot is an external battle with yourself Strength is an internal battle with yourself. Characters of this arcana are characters who are often struggling internally with themselves but at the same time they don’t get upset easily and display the characteristics associated with Strength. Much like the Chariot, personas of this arcana excel at physical strength and are warrior figures and heroes such as Titan, Kali, Hanuman, and Siegfried. I personally found the personas of this arcana to be stronger than the ones in The Chariot so if you prefer physical attacks over magic attacks I think the personas of this arcana are your best choice. Just be sure you’re at a high level to use them.

#12: The Hanged Man

Here’s another confusing arcana. The Hanged Man is associated with self-sacrifice for the sake of enlightenment, the bindings that makes one free, paradoxes and hanging between heaven and earth. In other readings this card serves as a warning to take the time necessary to reflect over one’s upcoming actions. Characters represented by this arcana are very self-sacrificial, but are more often notable for being caught between two different extremes, parties or stages in life. Personas of this arcana have very good defense and are mythological figures that exist between two different forces, or find themselves in transition like Inugami, Makami, Attis, and Hell Biker. These mythical creatures are neither dead or alive they’re just somewhere in between.

#13: Death

Originally this arcana didn’t have a name but the drawings of the grim reaper led people to call it death. This arcana doesn’t represent one’s physical death but instead a spiritual death. Going through a deep change and being reborn in the world spiritually. Characters represented by this arcana are characters that are associated directly with death as well as the cycles of change they experience. Personas of this arcana excel at dark-based spells and are mythological figures related to death or notable in their myths because of their deaths. Personas like Ghoul, Mot, White Rider, and Alice can be seen in the Death arcana. Another interesting fact about this arcana is that after this arcana the deck goes through a change. The arcana before this one are named “small mysteries” and are often represented by human figures, while the “great mysteries” following Death include arcana represented by celestial symbols and angels.

#14: Temperance

This one is easy, the merging of opposites. Two opposite factors coming together and creating harmony with each other. Characters of this arcana are struggling to find a balance in their lives with others and in their hobbies. Personas of this arcana are pretty well-balanced and are mythological figures who represent balance and are home to mythological beast such as Genbu, Seiryu, Suzaku, and Byakko.

#15: The Devil

This arcana has two sides to it, one good one bad. The good part is a healthy bond or commitment with someone or something. The bad part is an urge to do selfish, impulsive, violent things and be a slave to ones’ own impulse and feelings. Characters associated with this arcana are devilish individuals who are greedy, proud, lusty, or otherwise of poor character. As fitting for this arcana the personas are all devilish creatures such as Pazuzu, Lilith, Succubus, and Beelzebub.

#16: The Tower

Considered the worst card in the deck because it rarely means anything good and is an omen for disaster in the future. The Tower arcana is a symbol of destruction associated with one being overly arrogant, prejudiced and authoritarian organization, which walk to their own ironic demise. Characters associated with this arcana are arrogant people who find themselves in bad situations where they have fallen from grace and usually they’re the ones at fault. Personas of this arcana are physical-based with bad affinities and are mythological figures that were once heroic or well-loved, but have since fallen from grace. Personas like Cu Chulainn, Masakado, Shiva, and my favorite persona Yoshitsune.

#17: The Star

This arcana is associated with hope, self-confidence, faith, altruism, luck, generosity, peace and joy. Characters of this arcana embody their arcana’s traits of hopefulness and joy. Even when things are bad in their life they have hope that things will work out in the future. Personas of this arcana excel at wind and ice attacks and are astrological figures, but many are simply multi-talented figures, or deities with many different spheres of influence such as Saturnus, Kartikeya, and Helel.

#18: The Moon

This arcana is associated with creativity, inspiration, dreams, madness, illusions, fear, fantasy, the subconscious and trickery. In other readings it can represent one’s hesitation as well as being attuned subconsciously to the world around them, gaining the ability to sense things without being told about them or without anyone else knowing. Characters represented by this arcana project their own fears and faults onto others and tend to have trouble accepting themselves for who they are and, because of that fear, try to correspond to an ideal person. Example, Ai tried to be the perfect girl that all the boys wanted denying who she really is and what she really likes. Personas of this arcana tend to have good physical attacks and mediocre magic skills. The personas of this arcana are also personas associated with the moon such as Yamata-no-Orochi, Seth, Baal Zebul, and Sandalphon.

#19: The Sun

If the Tower arcana is considered the worst card in the deck then the Sun arcana is considered the best card in the deck. This card symbolizes happiness, joy, energy, optimism, and accomplishment. In other words one’s initial happiness. Ironically however, characters represented by this arcana are in terrible situations but the upside with these characters is that they have deep thoughts about the meaning of life and manage to find their own answers. Personas of this arcana excel at fire and light-based attacks and are mythological beings directly related to the sun, light, or fire with most of them being birds such as Yatagarasu, Phoenix, Tam Lin, and Asura.

#20: Judgement

This arcana represents one realizing their calling, gaining a deep understanding of life, and a feeling of acceptance and absolution with the world and everyone in it. In the games nobody represents this arcana and it’s possible to miss this arcana all together depending on the choices you make in the game. But if I really have to give a representation with this arcana it would have to be the characters and the protagonist finally understanding the full scope of the situation they’re in and making the right choices to solve it. Personas of this arcana are probably the strongest in the game having good physical and magic stats and are represented by mythical figures who are usually related to Judgment Day myths, or are gods tied directly to the judgment of humankind such as Anubis, Satan, Lucifer, and Messiah (only in Persona 3).

#21: The World

The final arcana is simply The World which represents fulfillment, wholeness, and harmony. This arcana simply represents the world that you have created for yourselves through your interactions with others. After this arcana you simply go back to The Fool arcana and start your journey all over again. There is only one persona of this arcana and that is Izanagi-no-Okami which is considered to be the strongest persona of the game for Persona 4.

Special arcana

These next few arcana are not from a regular deck of tarot cards but instead an alternative deck known as the Thoth Deck. The regular deck is known as the Rider-Waite Deck. Now for the most part the decks are pretty much the same, each deck has 21 major arcana, and they all have the same meaning. There are just a few arcana that get replace with a new arcana.

The Jester

This arcana replaces The Fool in the Thoth Deck. This arcana represents the same thing as The Fool only in a suppressed form. Unlike The Fool who will work with others and is compatible with them The Jester is misguided and unwilling to work with others using his powers incorrectly and causing trouble for everyone around them.

Hunger

This arcana replaces Strength and is also known as Lust. This arcana symbolizes the danger of losing control and being consumed by power. The arcana also implies strength that comes through dominance and isn’t consider real power but power that comes from the pure bliss of abusing power.

Aeon

This arcana replaces Judgement and much like Judgement this arcana is about one’s attempt to understand themselves and the world around them. Characters represented by this arcana struggle to discover their own place in the world. Personas of this arcana are divine mythological figures who vary from stat to stat but they all have an affinity with Light such as Metatron and Kaguya.

The Universe

This arcana replaces the World arcana and has only appeared in Persona 3. Said to be the most powerful arcana in the Persona series its power is based on the bonds the protagonist has with others. This arcana is so unique and powerful that it has no design to represent it’s immense power.

And there you have it those are all the arcana in the Persona series. I hope this enlightened you and gave you a better understanding on what the cards mean, as well as the characters represented by them, and helps you better organize your persona team when you go into dungeons. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj when Persona-mas continues until then have fun with Nicktoon-cember.

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