The tarot is a pack of seventy-eight cards with an origin from 15th century Europe. In the late 18th century it was embraced by mystics and occultists as a map of mental and spiritual paths. Today the tarot is a fixture in pop culture for assessing fortunes and futures.

The tarot card has two distinct parts:

MAJOR ARCANA (Greater Secrets) – consists of twenty two cards, without suits, each with a particular character:

The Fool, The Magician, The High Priestess, The Empress, The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Lovers, The Chariot, Strength, The Hermit, Wheel of Fortune, Justice, The Hanged Man, Death, Temperance, The Devil, The Tower, The Star, The Moon, The Sun, Judgment, and The World.

Carl Jung was the first psychologist to connect psychological meaning and symbolism to the tarot cards. He saw the Major Arcana as representing various universal personality types rooted in the subconscious of mankind. Since the cards depict these contrasting archetypes within each person, ideas of the subject’s self-perception can be gained by asking them to select a card that they relate to. Timothy Leary suggests that the cards represent, as a whole, the cumulative range of the human life-span.

MINOR ARCANA – (Lesser Secrets) – consists of four suits (like traditional playing cards): of 14 playing cards each. The suits lend themselves not to characters but to images or symbols: swords, wands, coins, and cups.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Aleister Crowley , at the height of a lifetime’s devotion to occultism, engaged the artist Lady Freida Harris to paint the cards, expanding on what he had learned in the Order of the Golden Dawn to design his version (Thoth Tarot). The project began in 1938 but achieved such an epic scope that Crowley did not live to see the final result.

Sorabji’s Opus Archimagicum uses the two different tarot parts to mirror its own first two sections; Part I is titled Major Arcana, Part II, Minor Arcana. The content within is largely free from any further reference to the cards; overall, Sorabji seemed to be thinking of the cards as a signpost for his overall design. Sorabji’s decision to use such programmatic connections, obvious or vague, seem to derive from the limits he set on the composition by sticking to concerns and associations most appealing to the original dedicatee, Bernard Bromage.