Divining Fate: An Analysis of Tarot Cards in Persona

Welcome…to the Velvet Room.

This is a sister post to The Psychology Behind Persona 4, and was inspired by one of our commenters (Snowley) and a long volley of e-mails back and forth between myself and Kara. In the interest of not distracting you with our lovely icons, just know that anything after white slashes is me and pink slashes is Kara. She’s the tarot card master, and I’m the neurosci/psych major so it was destiny for us to work together on this!
Welcome to the Velvet Room… Again. Our names are OC and Kara (as you probably already know), and we are delighted to make your acquaintance. While we lack the ability to give you kickass powers (I know, it sucks), we can still shed some light on wtf tarot has to do with Persona. This post was a huge piece of combined teamwork between OC and I, so hopefully this answers any questions you might have. So sit back, maybe play some Aria of the Soul and allow us to help you on your journey…

Major spoilers for Persona 3 and Persona 4. Read at your own risk!

The Truth About Tarot Cards

// So what exactly are Tarot cards? Well, Europeans used them to play card games back in the 15th century, but these days people use them for the occult. The way I was taught to use them (via a Wiccan friend) was to read the future or answer questions. Cards are shuffled, are laid out in specific formations, each card symbolizes something different and altogether they give a message depending on ALL of these factors. Nyx Avatar isn’t kidding when it says “The Arcana is the means by which all is revealed” every turn or so in the final battle of Persona 3. Though a LOT of the reading is up to interpretation. It’s never just a yes or no answer.

As for what the Arcana is, I’ll have to backtrack a bit. A standard Tarot deck has 78 cards (which is a pain in the ass to shuffle) and the term ‘Arcana’ divides those cards up into two groups. The Major Arcana are 22 numbered cards (which is what this post will be focusing on). The other 56 are called the Minor Arcana and are further divided by 4 suits. These suits are Wands, Cups, Pentacles and Swords and in each suit the cards are numbered 1-10 or are the Page, Knight, Queen and King of that suit (making it 14 cards per suit). Now every suit in the Minor Arcana has it’s own overall meaning, but every single card has an individual meaning as well. Long story short, there are a ton more Minor Arcana and the Major Arcana aren’t divided into groups, so they have a more diverse set of meanings.

As for what this has to do with Persona, the games use the Major Arcana to represent their Social Links. Now I’m going to have to clarify a bit here. First, we skipped over a few cards because there are 22 cards to go over and this post is long enough even without the ones we skipped. So we’ve only highlighted the main/ important characters from both Persona 3 (P3P) and 4. If a character from Persona 3 isn’t under the Arcana you remember them, that means they were given a new Social Link Arcana in Persona 3 Portable and as much as we’d love to include the new Social Links from The Golden, neither of us have played the game. Second (third?), Persona 3 decided to get… creative with some it’s naming system. It uses names from a different deck called ‘Thoth’ (the deck that most people/most of Persona uses is called Rider-Waite). The card meanings are the same as far as I know, but in Persona 3, we have The Universe Arcana replacing The World. Also, they threw in The Aeon Arcana despite the fact that they already had Judgement (again, as far as I know, they’re practically the same thing). I have absolutely no idea why they did this other then to be different (..and it makes Persona 3 seem more badass).

Arcana Analysis


0. The Fool


// The Fool is the first card of a tarot deck (…or the last depending who you want to argue with. In this case, Persona has it as the first. No. Stop arguing with me.) and is generally unnumbered or number 0. …If you want to get Igor-level depth on what the meaning of the card is here, it’s because the number zero/ having no number holds infinite possibilities. It has nothing and therefore, has the potential to be anything. The card in a reading means that one is in such a crossroads with a crap ton of choices or possibilities. Comparing the card to a journey, this would be the starting point *coughHINTcough*. Reversed, it means that one might be looking too far ahead into the future to see the more… ‘unfriendly’ (writing ‘dangerous’ here seems so melodramatic) things in front of them. 
// The Fool represents all of the main characters at the start of the game, where they’re nothing but empty-shells without friends or any idea of what is about to happen to them. As card number zero, it reflects starting from scratch. Your stats are all at zero, your social links all at zero, and pretty much everything you would need to make it to the end of the journey is nonexistent.  However, the Fool speaks of the possibility of nothing. Where there is nothing, there is the potential for growth in any direction. The main characters can make any number of different choices during the game that may lead to a happy ending, and may lead to chaos. Being unnumbered also means that they have no specific persona, but they can fuse persona of every arcana for their use. A fool is a jack of all trades, and master of none. What persona you use down to what you make Yosuke for lunch are all important choices bestowed on you – the player. It’s the perfect card for someone with a million different routes in front of them, especially considering that every player will choose a different destiny or potential for the main character.

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I. The Magician


// The Magician is all about all about self-motivation, perseverance and getting shit done. The card represents wanting to achieve something and having the self-power to achieve it. It can also represent taking the first step towards one’s plans (or personal growth), but is generally more about the fact that one has all of the resources to do something at hand and they just need to push forward. …On the down (aka reversed) side, having power to do something can lead to corruption and intoxication with power (yay). The Magician can also represent a manipulator …The best kind of badass evil character, but in real life? Not so much.
// Most of the social links corresponding to the Magician end up being the right-hand man or “best friend” type to the main character. Junpei (P3) and Yosuke (P4) are generally the fun-loving, go-getters who constantly push the main character to try hard. The thought of using a persona envokes excitement instead of fear, and they are eager to become adept at using them to save the world. Junpei gets so into this that he fears the day he will no longer be able to use his persona again, because that power is so important to him. He even argues with the main character throughout the game when he feels emasculated by their leadership and superior fighting abilities. That corruption never breaches a certain point, but it’s still there. Yosuke, on the other hand, really doesn’t have much of a power complex. The extent of this is his mild jealousy for Yu and how easily he made friends after moving despite Yosuke having such a hard time doing the exact same thing. As for Kenji (P3), he takes it upon himself to doggedly pursue a female teacher and confess his love to her, but his over-confidence in his charm backfires and he gets burned pretty badly. All three of them require very little coddling and comforting, even when they’re dealing with rough issues. They can face their issues with only the slightest push in the right direction, and turn a bad situation into a good one just like a true magician.

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II. High Priestess

// The High Priestess represents intuition, the mystical, and also secret knowledge. …Or in other words common sense and potential that hasn’t been reached yet. In tarot, the appearance of this card means that there’s knowledge or something else that one can reach. However, to reach it, one needs to just listen to their instincts/ what that little voice in their head says. Screw logic or those people that tell you that hearing voices in your head is a sign of insanity. In reverse, the card means knowledge withheld or that one isn’t being as intuitive as usual. 

// I like to call the High Priestess card the “weirdo” card, because Fuuka (P3) and Yukiko (P4) are really out there. The knowledge part is pretty straight forward since they’re both very bright girls. Yukiko gets really high marks and Fuuka is incredible at working with machines. Despite this, they both lack something when the main character first meets them. Fuuka feels awkward, clumsy and has self-esteem issues, while Yukiko isn’t sure what her future job should be. The answer was always right in front of them, they just had to realize their true feelings about the matter. It wasn’t a matter of deciding what was right, but about coming to terms with themselves. Fuuka just needed to gain some confidence in herself and accept that she’s a machine-loving queen of dorks. She didn’t have to actually change anything. Yukiko also began to realize that she was fine working at the inn after recognizing how important it was to her all this time. If they had just listened to their instincts, there wouldn’t even be a need for a social link, because these two just end up right where they started once you’re done with them. Girls are finicky, eh?

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III. The Empress


// The Empress card is kind of like The Magician in that it’s all about creation. However, where The Magician was about control and pushing forward, The Empress is more about letting things grow naturally and at their own pace.  The card can also stand for, uh, motherhood (not that this has much to do with Persona) and natural growth. Reversed in a reading, it can mean being over nurturing (or in other words, smothering) or pushing things ahead too much and not letting things flourish at their own pace.
//The Empress card has the two badass characters, Mitsuru and Margaret to it. Now Margaret is a bit special as your relationship doesn’t develop with events happening between the two of you, but instead it develops with you fusing Persona with certain characteristics. Since Persona are just another extension of the soul, it’s not too far off to say that the link between you and her develops with your own personal growth. She’s there to usher you forward, but she doesn’t do it forcefully and doesn’t really provide any help with the task. As for Mitsuru, it’s another example of having her character develop on her own with a little pushing from the main character. Mitsuru is somewhat stuck in her rich girl life, but with the Protagonist’s help with gently pushing her the right direction, she becomes a bit more independent. Mitsuru is able to decide on her own that she doesn’t want to marry her arranged fiancé because he’s an asshat and not the best thing for her life, even if it would have helped the Kirijo group. On top of that, Mitsuru is also the one to give the Protagonist things if they score well on tests. If free gifts isn’t an incentive to make yourself a better person, I don’t know what is.

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IV. The Emperor


// Oh look, another card about control. However, this card is about assertiveness, masculinity and maintaining your own power over a situation. Just like a real emperor, it’s about standing above people and MANtaining that order that makes things run. This card is the opposite of the Empress, who lets things go naturally. Also opposite to the Empress, this card also stands for fatherhood. Again, outside of some really out there fanfiction, this has little to no connections with Persona. Reversed, this card is about too much control, power, assertiveness and ect. It means being less of an emperor and more of a dictator. There’s a subtle difference. ….Somewhere.
// Hidetoshi (P3) and Kanji (P4) both embody the Emperor card very strongly. The Emperor can be seen as a symbol of masculinity, and society raises men to feel the need to take charge of situations themselves. You can look at the Emperor and Empress cards as traditional gender roles, meaning that the Emperor often tackles situations too aggressively in a vain attempt to control everything to show how powerful they are. Conquering the trials of hurting people through too much control only occurs once Hidetoshi and Kanji break out of those traditional gender roles set by society. Hidetoshi abuses his student council powers and treats people badly if they so much as run in the hallways. He acts like a tyrant king who knows best, and thinks that the world revolves around his way of thinking. This is the main dilemma of the ‘Emperor’ card – learning what can be controlled and what cannot. Hidetoshi eventually learns that an Emperor must love and trust his subjects, or else they will lash back. Instead of dominating others in a patriarchal manner, he adopts a more equalized method to creating peace. Thus, he retains his power without being chauvinistic.Kanji is a bit of a different case. He isn’t trying to control other people, but he’s trying desperate to reign in his own self. Kanji is also struck hard by society’s prominent view that all men should be manly, and thus tries to control his behaviour and act in a way where he can feel like a true man. The Kanji who sews cute bunnies and cries during thunderstorms isn’t the Kanji that feels like an Emperor. It’s only when Kanji realizes that he must find confidence in his sexuality instead of restricting himself. It seems ironic that a potentially gay character like Kanji would have the ‘Emperor’ as his arcana at first. However, this just shows that Kanji can be a badass king worthy of respect while still sewing fluffy animals.

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V. The Hierophant


// The Hierophant is kind of like The High Priestess in that it represents knowledge. On the other hand though, The Hierophant is about bringing wisdom to others instead of secretive knowledge. This card is about taking what one already knows and applying it to real life or sharing it with others. Kind of like a teacher. It can also indicate a solution to a problem. On the reversed side, this card means being unwilling to listen to what others are trying to teach. It can also stand for being stuck somewhere because you refuse to listen to someone else”s wisdom. …Stuck in place metaphorically speaking, unless that person REALLY wants to tell you something.
// Dojima and Bunkichi/ Mitsuko have more in common rather then just being older. The old couple from Persona 3 don’t really appear to be much like teachers as much as kind old people who give you things until the end of the Social Link. It’s when the persimmon tree comes up that the wisdom of their age comes through. In the end, they decide that the school expanding and therefore becoming a better place for the students is more important then having the tree/ memory of their dead son sit in the courtyard of the school. In the end, they know that the future of the students is more important and that they can remember their son even without the tree there. …The tree is saved in the end anyways, but it’s the gesture that counts.In Dojima’s case, he’s a bit of both sides of this card. By being busy and stressed with work, he sometimes neglects to listen to Nanako and the Protagonist and figures that he’s the authoritative figure there, so both of them should shut up and listen. On the other hand though, Dojima also ends up acting like a father figure to the Protagonist and shares how Nanako’s mother’s death is the reason he’s the way he is. Because of the fact that Dojima takes on this role and tells the Protagonist these things though, he’s able to get over his personal issues. In the end, it pays off for both sides.

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VI. Lovers

// This card should be easy enough to interpret, right? …Not quite. Sure The Lovers represents the obvious (love, passion, bonds, etc.), but it also represents choices or duality. The Lovers are plural and they need both individuals in order to be so. As for the choices part, it can represent a major fork in the road coming up. Major choices are going to need to be made. Just like a relationship, sometimes you’ll have to chose one thing over another in order to make things work out. On the other hand, reversed, this card means an unwise decision.
// The Lovers card is represented by Yukari and Rise. Yukari is pretty much the main love interest in Persona 3 with the main character (…assuming you chose the male one), but her Social Link is a bit odd, since it focuses on a lesser part of what the tarot card represents. The focus for her Link is all about bonds and how she doesn’t want to lose anyone important to her. Also, a good portion of her link involves her repairing her relationship with her mother since she just seemed to go off with another guy right after Yukari’s father died. In the end though, things are resolved and Yukari feels more secure in her life. In Rise’s case, yes, she’s all over the Protagonist during the story, but in her story, it focuses more on the important choice aspect. Throughout her Link, Rise has trouble deciding whether or not she wants to go back into the idol business or not. Both of her choices will majorly affect her lifestyle, so I’d say that this choice for her is a fairly important one. However, with the Protagonist’s help, she’s able to make a choice and be satisfied with it.

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VII. The Chariot


// The Chariot card is representative of two conflicting energies. These two things might be internal, external, hidden, or really freaking obvious, but the important part is that they conflict. Now the important thing about this conflict is that The Chariot represents asserting control over the situation and using both sides of the conflict in harmony in order to make it to the goal. It’s not about choosing one or the other, but instead working with both. Reversed, the card means that either control is out of your hands/ a lack of unity, or to beware of recklessly running over everything in reaching your goal. ….Yeah, this card is pretty metaphorical.
// The Chariot is a very goal-driven tarot card, oriented around the balance issues found while trying to achieve something. The 3 people of the Chariot arcana are likewise very motivated people with very clear visions of what the end goal is, although they waver a bit in how to get there. As Kara said, the whole being a chariot that can plow through things might have been taken a bit too literally, because Chie (P4), Rio (P3) and Kazushi (P3) are all sports addicts with a bit of a violent streak. Chie especially. Yikes. Anyways, the struggle between two energies is also seen in Kazushi and Rio.Kazushi is on the kendo team (well, any sports team, I believe…but I’m a martial artist so I obviously chose the kendo club in my playthrough) and is trying to win a tournament for his nephew despite having a seriously messed up leg. He has two options 1. keep going and win, but potentially screw up his leg or 2. give up and be a loser, but be able to keep doing kendo in the future. Kazushi is full of conflicting feelings about whether to tell anyone about his leg and what to do about it. Both options are fairly plausible, but Kazushi chooses to play it safe (and smart) and back out of the tournament to let his knee heal. To meet his goal, he decides to try another tournament once he’s recovered fully.As for Rio, she wants to be hard on the volleyball team (again, it could be any sport but I play volleyball so…) but she also doesn’t want them to hate her. She basically just finds a happy medium between being a hardass and acting like a normal girl her age. The volleyball team likes her AND they’re working hard for the finals! Yes everything involves sports and beating people up…

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VIII. Justice


// Justice represents… well, justice. Or at least the ideal type of justice. This card is making decisions based on facts and the truth as opposed to making decisions based on emotions. It’s also about bringing things back into balance. With that, the card’s appearance also suggests that a fair amount of cool-headedness and a sense of realism is required. …Of course, this can make yourself look like a heartless bastard, but the end result of the decision is what’s important. The lesson here? Excess isn’t always better. Reversed, this card warns about making decisions based on emotions, imbalance of something or corruption of justice.
// The funny thing about Justice is that it’s an arcana dominated by small children who are too smart for their own good. Ken (P3) and Nanako (P4) are two young kids who are very mature and responsible. They have had to grow up a bit faster because of some sort of sad event in their past, and this has made them wise and deeply interested in morality. They constantly ask about what is objectively right or wrong in the world, and prefer logical explanations than anything fluffy and emotional. Nanako wants the criminals in Sotoba to be captured, and constantly asks the main character questions about the police and what they’re up to.Ken wants justice for his parent’s death…but that soon turns into more of an emotional desire born from rage. Ken makes a bad mistake when he relies on his emotions to make a decision, and he attempts to kill Shinjiro. That is not true justice, and Ken only realizes this when it’s too late.However, there is some good in having a bit of a heart. When hanging out with Ken, he likes to pretend that he isn’t interested in childish things like action figures or comics, so that he won’t be treated like a kid. He’s hiding his real feelings because his brain is calculating what will be the best way to act in order to make the main character like him the most. Even when the main characters gets closer and starts up the romance route with him, he refuses to give into his emotions because he thinks it’s wrong for a someone as young as him to date an older girl. Of course, the little bugger is a lot happier when he gives in and just lets Minako be a shotacon. Having a route like Ken’s in a game is gutsy for something like Persona, but really fascinating…and no, I’m not talking about his short shorts.Chihiro (P3) is the only girl your age in the Justice arcana. She’s very shy and is a hard-working member of the student council looking to make the school a better place. It’s a small bit of justice, but justice nonetheless. However, Chihiro becomes suspected of theft, and is the target of abuse for quite a while until she gathers up the strength to set things right. A bit less dramatic than trying to murder someone for justice, but hey…she tried.

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X. Wheel of Fortune


// The Wheel of Fortune card is pretty much like the name suggests. It represents an upcoming sudden major change that one has next to no control over because life is a bitch that way (or you could throw ‘fate’ here if you like that word better). It could be bad or it could be good, but either way, it’s out of your hands. The card suggests that it’s probably best to just go with the flow and pick up the opportunities that you can since you have no control over it, and any outright resistance is pretty much just wasted effort. Though when it’s right side up, it usually means that the change means good things to come (this card heavily depends on the positions on other cards though). If it’s reversed, that means either a useless struggle or a setback in life.
// The Wheel of Fortune (though the Persona games seem to just shorten this to Fortune), is represented by the main characters, Ryoji and Naoto (..and also Keisuke). Before I go on, let me just say that this contains MAJOR spoilers for Persona 3. You’ve been warned twice now.Neither Naoto or Ryoji’s Social Links have much to do with their cards (or the whole sudden change thing), other then it connects with their overall storyline that’s already present in the game. In both cases though, it has a lot to do with ‘fate’ and things that can’t be controlled. Naoto’s link with this card is because of her whole complex of not being born male. She has absolutely no control over her gender, but she works her way through it and accepts who she is.Ryoji links to this card because he’s the Avatar of Nyx.  It’s something completely out of his hands and as much as he’d like to change it, he can’t. Instead, he gives a choice to the protagonist. Kill him and live in peace until the end of the world, or let him live, and struggle up until the end. Depending on your decision, things work out though for the most part. On a non-main character scale, the Arcana is represented by Keisuke (president of an arts-related club of your choice), who’s Social Link focuses on him trying to decide his future with an overly controlling father wanting him to become a doctor instead. A bunch of things happen that allow Keisuke to travel abroad and follow his chosen art career, but in the last minute, two old people  almost die (in a very conveniently timed fashion). Keisuke saves them, realizes that he DOES want to become a doctor (and not just because his father is pressuring him into being one), and goes with that career instead.

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XI. Strength


// Strength is somewhat straightforward as well, though it has more to do with inner strength then the ability to flip cars or bust through brick walls using your fists. Strength here refers to knowing about your inner desires and keeping them in check. Suppressing desire altogether isn’t the correct answer either though. In this case, it’s about understanding yourself and using that to push forward. This card can also symbolize inner female empowerment. As for when it’s reversed, the card can mean not keeping desires in check or suppressing them too much. Or in short, falling to either extreme.
//Although Strength is supposed to be more about inner strength than being the Hulk, all of the characters with this arcana just happen to be the sporty type (much like the Chariot arcana). They all have inner desires that clash against their current goals, thankfully, so the similarities don’t just end there. Koromaru (P3) is a bit torn between honouring his old owner and staying loyal to his new owners. He doesn’t leave one for thr other, but finds a balance between visiting the shrine of his dead master and accepting SEES as his master. He won’t ever forget his old master, but there was a period of time where he thought of his old master so much that he was a bit lost and sad. Yuko (P3) basically wants to teach kids, but she doesn’t admit it until she spends a good deal of time coaching them. I mostly remember her getting distracted with food when I was playing her route, so that’s..really about everything she has to offer in terms of deep relevance to the Strength arcana.Daisuke and Kou (P4) are two separate social links of the Strength arcana that you can play through depending on whether you choose the basketball team or the soccer team. Kou is on the basketball team, but his super rich family calls the sport barbaric and don’t approve of it at all. Kou is stuck between wanting to play basketball and having his parents smother him with special lessons about how to be a hoity-hoity gentleman. He feels like he’s not able to do what he truly wants in life. Ironically enough, he comes to realize his family actually really cares for him despite not even being next in line to be the head of the family, so he chooses to stop playing basketball. He’s happy to study abroad and help out his family instead of being selfish and doing whatever sport he wants to.As for Daisuke, his problems are a bit simpler. He wants things so badly that he’s afraid to try hard. If he just goes half-assed at everything, the pain of failure won’t be so bad. However, he never accomplishes anything like this, so Kou and the protagonist get him to overcome his fear. Instead of suppressing his own desires and just being passive about attaining things, they get him to go all out. You’ll never get what you want if you don’t chase after it with all your might.

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XIII. Death


// Before you even start, yes this card can mean actual death, but that’s not really it’s meaning. Death is more about the ending of one thing and the start of another. This can range from relationships, the end of a hobby, the closing of a shop or a million other things that have nothing to do with the end of a life. It doesn’t even have to be a negative thing, as the card can represent  the end of a fight or something. Another thing this card represents is rebirth or the start of something new. Sure the loss of something is never really easy, but sometimes what comes after is better. As for when this card is reversed, it represents something being dragged beyond it’s ‘lifespan’. Sometimes ending things is actually better then any other alternative.
//So despite my rant above, the Persona characters for this card don’t exactly help prove my point. Pharos is the shota who the main character signed a contract with and he randomly appears at the Protagonist’s bedside when they sleep. …It’s less creepy then it sounds. He’s the one who warns the protagonist about the Fall (aka the end of the world), but he also is linked to the concept of death because it’s heavily implied that he had something to do with killing the Protagonist’s parents (while he was still a Shadow). Also interesting to note, his ‘end’ marks Ryoji’s ‘birth’. As for Hisano, her route focuses on how she believes that she’s the embodiment of death since her husband died. The Social Link involves the Protagonist trying to get her to stop dwelling so much on the past instead of letting go and moving on with her life. In the end though, the Protagonist helps her find new meaning in life.

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XVII. The Star


// The Star is a card of hope, optimism, regeneration and enlightenment. …That sounds really cheesy. It’s one of those feel good cards that people like getting because it means that there are better things to come sometime in the future. Think of those stereotypical movies with a scene where the protagonist feeling depressed, but for whatever reason, looking at some star in the sky somehow sparks an epiphany and suddenly everything is okay again. Yeah. Just because it appears though doesn’t mean immediate changes. You could still be stuck in a slump for some time before the whole hope thing kicks in. The important thing though is that something better is out there for you, and you just need to look for it. Reversed, the card means that you’re dwelling too much on negative issues, or you’re getting distracted from finding all of this hope and etc.
//Representing the Star card, we have two athletes and a bishie in a bear suit. Mamoru is the non main character of this group and he connects to the theme of the card since his Social Link revolves around him helping his family… Kind of. Everything he does is for his family, he complains about it after taking on more responsibilities after his mother collapses, but after a while the whole enlightenment thing kicks in and he realizes that it’s not that bad. Akihiko also has family drama throughout his Social Link, but in his case, he’s depressed since he had no parents (like pretty much everyone else in SEES) and his little sister Miki died in a fire at the orphanage. His connection to the card though is because through the Protagonist’s efforts, he realizes that losing his little sister wasn’t the end of the world and he still has people to protect. As for Teddie (Kuma; whatever you want to call him), part of it probably comes from the fact that he’s so bloody bright and cheerful all the time. The rest comes from his backstory, where he was an extremely ronery Shadow, but then he worked his way towards becoming more human, eventually became friends with the Investigation Team and things just went uphill for him from there.

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XVIII. The Moon


// If The Star is about hope, then The Moon is about… hallucinations. I’m only half joking. The Moon has a lot to do with the subconscious, illusions, irrationality, and anxieties. It can also represent a feeling of uncertainty and fears that are made better or worse by your own imagination. With that though, comes the strength of turning fears into some form inspiration. There’s a fine line between insanity and genius and that’s partially what this card represents. The Moon is also heavily associated with dreams and nightmares. Reversed, it can warn of bad mood swings, giving too much into fears  or just… being confused. It happens.
// Shinjiro is kind of the odd one out, so we’ll leave him for last. Nozomi (P3) and Ai (P4) share more in common. Both of them were teased for being fat as kids, and this had lead them to create elaborate illusions and false hopes to make themselves feel better. Nozomi is basically brainwashed by a cult, and completely buys into their sketchy ideals of finding “paradise” once the world ends. Nozomi ignores all thoughts of common sense that any normal person would have when confronted with a cult, and simply joins them so he can find some sort of purpose in life.As for Ai, she tries exceedingly hard to lose weight and act like a really superficial whore. She thinks the only way to survive is if people tell her she’s pretty and if she has a boyfriend. Nothing else matters to her – to the point where she tries to commit suicide after being indirectly rejected by Kou. Ai and Nozomi both are a little off their rocker, and all this is because they’re terribly insecure. Seeing no worth in themselves, they look to something outside to justify their existence. It’s only when they define their worth themselves that they start to do less rash things and act like normal, functioning human beings.Shinjiro is a bit more rational than these two, and didn’t have the displeasure of being called fatty or piggy by his classmates. Shinjiro falls prey to his own insecurity nonetheless though. He feels an immense guilt for accidentally killing Ken’s mom and is afraid about his inability to control his own persona. He was never teased or anything – but he understands the weight of his actions. He is his own critic and his worst enemy. Despite being tormented by nightmares and terrible flashbacks, Shinjiro does decide to do something about his crimes by joining SEES. He also confronts Ken about the issue and lets him decide if he wants revenge or not. In the end, he protects Ken and earns redemption.

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XX. Judgement/ Aeon


// Judgement represents a final call (which sounds badass), rebirth, redemption and putting the past behind. The card has heavy ties to the idea of self reflection, learning from past mistakes, and becoming someone new and better for it. It’s about absolution. After this hypothetical period of enlightenment, this card represents absolutely being free of the negativity (guilt, past wounds, bad habits, etc.) of something from the past. There is no regression. That’s how much you’ve thought and learned from all of this… hypothetically. In this way, it can also represent a decision of some kind (normally the decision of moving forward from the past) and finding the right path (again, this can be substituted with the word ‘fate’). There is going to be major change involved, but this time, it needs to fully be controlled. In reverse, the card means holding too much onto the past and avoiding moving forward. …Or moving forward, but still holding on too much to the past. Same thing really. …Also, like I said before, The Aeon card means pretty much the same thing.
// Yep. Aigis gets an entire Tarot card to herself (and kind of shares it with the rest of the team). In her case, her whole connection to the idea of putting the past behind and no looking back has to do with the fact that she’s a robot. After being broken by Ryoji and subsequently  repaired, Aigis is still convinced that she’s nothing but a Shadow fighting robot. However, the rest of SEES tells her that she’s more human then she thinks, and so from there on, Aigis becomes more human and gains lesbian-like tendencies if you’re playing as the female protagonist. I’ve never played P3 FES, but I assume that she never reverts back to her robotic personality.The Judgement Arcana pops up in the main storyline and represents the team’s desire to see their tasks through to the end. By this point, the team is done with indecisiveness (and those months of where no one wanted to level up their Social Links because they were too busy being angst ridden and antisocial). Their resolve to stop The Fall/ discover the true murderer is what pushes them forward. This Social Link always comes after a major decision the Protagonist makes and only when the ‘right’ decision is made, or else the game will end early. For P3, it’s deciding to struggle to the end instead of giving up and killing Ryoji. In P4, it’s deciding not to give into anger and shove Namatame into the TV. In either case, there’s no turning back and no desire to either.

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XXI. The World/ The Universe

 

// The last card of the Tarot deck is The World, and the name and number are fitting on so many levels. The World represents completion, achievement, fulfillment, and all of those other fancy synonyms. Some people compare the order of the cards and their meanings to a story of The Fool becoming The World. At the beginning, there was a blank state, and now at the end there is knowledge and fulfillment after the since whatever The Fool has been trying to achieve is done. Of course, this means that this journey (or whatever metaphor you want to fill in here) is over, but instead of it representing an end, it’s more like a shift from one adventure to the next. …Think of it like graduating high school or something, you feel accomplished (hopefully), but there’s still the rest of the world out there to experience. That’s what the card represents. …Or it can also mean travel, which is still pretty exciting, but doesn’t quite sound so exciting with all of these other metaphorical things flying around. Reversed, it can mean that there’s a setback to accomplishing something or there’s a feeling of lack of closure.
//This is the final Arcana of both games and only comes up at the absolute ending. It has a lot to do with Social Links and represents the Protagonist’s growth since they first started with The Fool. Over the course of the game, they’ve learned a ton, fought a lot of battles and also gained a bond with a bunch of other people just by listening to them complain and occasionally giving one sentence retorts. They’re no longer a blank slate with a million different possibilities, but instead, at their full potential. This Arcana forms due to the bonds they’ve created over the game and gives them everything they need to face the final boss. In Persona 3′s case, The Universe allows the Protagonist to fly to the moon and seal away Nyx, thus stopping the end of the world. …Of course, this also results in the Protagonist dying, but that links to the whole idea of new beginnings. As for Persona 4, The World allows the Protagonist to level up Izanagi to Izanagi-no-Okami and defeat Izanami, thus solving the mystery. In the end, the Protagonst has to move back to the city and leave Inaba, but again, the end of one journey leads to the beginning of another. Hopefully by this point, you as a player are satisfied with your X amount of hours of gameplay and feel closure from the storyline. …And if you’re like me, you’ll replay the game and start the process all over again.

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Conclusion

I’ve always wanted to do a tag team editorial, but I could never really think of a topic for two people to cover. Until now, of course. :3 It took over a month’s worth of planning, writing, and me failing at MS paint graphics, but we got it done in the end (all 7000 words of it…and we didn’t even write about all the arcana!) It feels good to have completed such a large project together. Even if you didn’t have the steam to power through all ‘o dat text, don’t feel shy to let us know what you thought and drum up some discussion in the comments section.
My first editorial! …Ish. It feels like a while since I’ve written something not related to what I’m watching every week, so this was a fun change of pace. Thanks for putting up with me, OC! m(_ _)m We really tried our best to sound… sane in these explanations since it’s rather easy to go off on a crazed rant when talking about Tarot, but this was a fun project. If you want clarifications/ further detail/ to express your undying love to Persona, feel free to comment!

Good luck pursuing your true self!

About

We live, laugh, enjoy and strictly believe on "more the merrier". When together, we usually come up with very chatty, conversation-based episodics and interesting posts.
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59 Responses to “Divining Fate: An Analysis of Tarot Cards in Persona”

  1. Tofu says:

    I’m kinda annoyed how you have to max out Charm to start Yukari’s social link in P3P and also max Knowledge for Mitsuru D: Oh wells…

    After reading all the tarots, I decided to consult a site to find out which suited me best because I see myself connecting with a few here and there, some more, some less and none at all sometimes XD Apparently, I lean more to the Lovers~

    I love what you girls have done, analyzing the tarots in relation to Persona ^^ Can’t wait to see the true end animated and that soon-to-come Persona 3 movie(?)

    • Karakuri says:

      … You didn’t if you played as the female protagonist! I feel your pain though. Maxing stats to start Social Links felt like a waste of time to me.

      Ahaha it’s hard to match people with Tarot exactly. I’m sure you’d make a lovely Persona heroine though, Tofu xD …I honestly don’t think that there have ever been any male characters with the Lovers aside from the MC’s, but that doesn’t really count.

      This post was fun to write. HELL YES I”M EXCITED FOR THAT PERSONA 3 MOVIE.

      • D-LaN says:

        But now I’m worry tht whether can the movie do a good job on balancing Tartarus climbing and SLinking…. And the important issue is: Do they intend to squeeze them into a movie or split it up?

        W8, I don’t care!! I just want to watch animated P3 with Minato PIMPing animated boss shadow fight withbetter animation. Or just include the Strega LN story in it. (And I will say, the Strega LN story final boss will be one hell of a ATLUS boss if it is a game.)

        • Karakuri says:

          Yeah, I definitely see issues with squeezing the whole story in there… I think I’ll watch the P4 movie just to see how they paced that one. I think it will give me a good idea on how P3 is going to be.

          I have no doubt that Minato will be his pimping self, but I would really love it if they include a cameo of Minako so I could finally use her picture as my icon OTL

      • Tofu says:

        Nawh~ <3 thanks Kara~ *^^*

  2. TheVoid says:

    Tatsuya Suou, Maya Amano, and P1 Protagonist are not “The Fool”. So the statement about it representing all the main characters is incorrect. Show ▼

    In fact everyone in the first 3(since P2IS and P2EP are different games) can use personae of different arcanas.

    Also Pentacle, Sword, Cup, and Rod were all arcana in the P2 games. Show ▼

    Now this is getting away from the Tarot symbolism but I must say it. Show ▼

    la! la! Tarot fhtagn!

    • TheVoid says:

      I replied too soon. But I had to make sure it was known that being “The Fool” was not a requirement to be Protagonist in Persona. Show ▼

      Also the thing about Adachi. Show ▼

      • Overcooled says:

        About the Fool…we’re only covering P3 and P4 because I haven’t played any other Persona games (Karakuri might have, I’m not entirely sure). So in relation to those 2 games, The Fool is basically the card for the protagonists since no other characters posses it. If we were covering the whole franchise then I’d have to write something quite different (and 2x longer!) for the Fool arcana. So yes, you’re right. The Fool doesn’t automatically equate to “protagonist”, but it certainly is a fitting card for one.

        P1 and P2 are definitely on my “to-play” lists though. They look like a lot of fun, and they seem to be pretty different from P3 and P4 in their own ways. Although I’ve heard some mixed reviews about P1…would you recommend playing it? Err, I might play The Golden first though because it looks like it has enough new features to be worth buying. An Adachi social link? YES, PLEASE.

        • TheVoid says:

          I played P1 when a friend gave it to me. Just wasn’t my cup of tea.

          As for P2 I personally love it but I’ve seen plenty of people get mad over the gameplay and the outdated graphics. Not to mention you only find out all sorts of things by talking to all the NPCs/your party members in between story/plot events(some of which won’t become significant till P2:EP). But P2:IS difficulty was also dumb downed for the PSP cause it’s a whole lot easier. Like Persona 3/4 easy mode is usually harder than it.

          Yeah Adachi and Marie have social links. I spoilered it because one of the things I mentioned is a spoiler in the game itself. Plus the girls have new fanservice armor that’s worse than the High cut armor. Show ▼

          • Karakuri says:

            …So being serious here, yep, this analysis is a P2 free zone. I’ve played 2, but it just doesn’t have the same appeal for me as 3 and 4 had… I’m struggling to force myself to play it so I can play Eternal Punishment, but yeah.

            Like I said above,

            as we’d love to include the new Social Links from The Golden, neither of us have played the game

            Marie’s Aeon SL sounds really good. …But yeah, I saw the new Naoto costume. It’s not as… revealing as the high cut armour from P3, but it’s still pretty damn revealing.

            • TheVoid says:

              I missed that when I was reading it. Adachi’s Pierrot I can say isn’t based on a actual arcana but it’s another way the Japanese say “The Fool”.

              So how far have you gotten in P2? Gotten to the Show ▼

              yet?

              It’s the way it focuses on her body that makes me disgusted. Naoto’s swimsuit isn’t bad to me. Also Featherman Ranger outfits!

            • Karakuri says:

              Uh, definitely not. I have yet to see ‘The Fuhrer’ (as they now call him) at all.

              I saw a screencap where she said something along the lines of “I’ll wear this for you” to Yu. It just felt so out of character. Ahaha YES! Though I’m more excited about the Halloween ones. I want to make Yu run around as a vampire xD

      • Karakuri says:

        Next thing you know, you’ll be telling us that Naoto is actually female or some BS like that xD

  3. Antz says:

    Persona 3 Portable does, sort of, acknowledge that The Fool can also be the last arcana with the female main character. Her hairclips are the roman numeral for 22. But that’s about it. They pretty much have to stick to 0 for thematic reasons. And because 22 is a lame number.

    • Karakuri says:

      Eh, I read that it was a shoutout to the fact that she’s a new (important) character (though of course, new=the Fool=22/0)

  4. D-LaN says:

    Kanji cried during thunderstorm!? Nvr knew tht be4….
    Kazushi is also on swimming team in the vids I watch.
    Fun fact: Chihiro in one of those parody comics (P3FTW) is a shy girl w/h a gun…..go figure.
    Oh btw, not sure if this is spoiler or not….Show ▼

    I dunno whether is the stuff I am saying is mentioned above so if it being repeated so i am very BEARY sorry 4 tht.

    I thought the tarot card is symbolic but WOW. Thk 4 the tarot lecture both of you!! Can’t w8 to see u guys doing the tag team post on P4 movie and P4 True Ending.

    • Karakuri says:

      I feel like I’m copying and pasting at this point, but

      we’d love to include the new Social Links from The Golden, neither of us have played the game

      Oh, Aigis did? Good to know. I know about the whole Metis thing, but more yuri? AHAHAHA, oh Aigis.

      Ahaha yep, there’s some deep stuff with Tarot and Persona. We totally want to cover the P3 movie too!

  5. D-LaN says:

    My comment just got swallowed….

  6. Metalsnakezero says:

    It’ll be interesting how the characters in the next Persona will connect to the cards.

    • Karakuri says:

      P5? Yeah, that will be interesting. Hopefully OC and I can do another post like this for that… if it’s even necessary.

      • Overcooled says:

        …orrrrrr a game review! We’ll see!

        • Jrow says:

          Kara, do you have PS3? I ask because when P4 Arena comes out I’d like to organize fight nights with other bloggers, etc. that are getting the game.

          • Karakuri says:

            …Not yet. Depends on how much I make this summer, but I should get one soonish. !!!! That would be fun!

  7. Anca says:

    Really nice entry. I’m a big fan of both Tarot symbolism and Persona, and this really spoke out to me. It’s interesting that Persona had roughly the same symbolic groundwork as what I had been using in my readings, possibly because of the obvious Kaballah association – or we might have been reading the same books.

    A couple of things to add:
    The Fool: reversed I always interpreted it as recklessness and lack of foresight. The Fool doesn’t know what he’s doing, just doing it and hoping for the best. If Adachi is included in this Arcana, then it might be this aspect of him described – how he skipped towards doom with childish recklessness.

    The Magician: this is the one I personally have the most trouble connecting to the characters, so I bow to your interpretation. The Magician is the beginning, the creative force, the point of origin – yet it’s a stretch to attribute these to the Best Friends.

    The Priestess: No, the card means knowledge one CANNOT reach. It’s hidden. If use the tarot to describe, say, a pregnancy, The Magician is the conception and the High Priestess is when the conception has occurred, but nobody knows this yet. If the Magician is ‘active’, this card is ‘passive’. Nobody knew how Yukiko and Fuuka felt – Fuuka was even hidden inside her Persona! Fuuka’s SLink involved stripping the layers of shyness around her; this wasn’t as much an issue for Yukiko, because her dungeon already took care of hers.

    The Empress: She has dominion over intelligence and thoughts – she is what allows the idea, the Magician to manifest as a conscious thought (Mitsuru had her organization, and Margaret primarily allows and encourages the MC to create stronger demons). Continuing the pregnancy motif, it’s when the expecting mother realises she’s pregnant. She’s also the expectation that something will happen in the future. Reversed, she’s lateness. These are aspects that tie Margaret and Mitsuru together, even if they don’t have much else in common. Yukino was the Empress in P2, although she had a less typical role there, like all other characters.

    The Emperor: Control is one word, but I personally prefer security. The Emperor allows the Empress to manifest, and it builds the base upon which it does – if he’s reversed, the base is brittle and everything will crumble. The few times I got an Emperor in a reading it was with regards to someone not being prepared enough for something, such as an exam. The Emperor is birth, materialization, physical beginning. Hidetoshi sat on his throne as the Emperor, but he didn’t know when to stop controlling his subjects as he hadn’t realised the implicit laws of groups yet (arcana VI). Kanji is a more difficult case – although he fits the actual characteristics of the Empror persona, rather than the symbolism I listed. The only way I can tie him to the symbolism is bringing up his ‘insecurity’ (reversed arcana), his brittle bases.

    Now that I think about it, P3 has characters that represent the Arcana, and P4 that represent the reverse of it. Yuu dates every girl in town and throws himself into the TV without regard, Yukiko was secretly extremely unhappy with her situation (pre-canon), Margaret puts too much emphasis on fusing things with specific attributes, and often asks for specific Persona by the time they start to become or already are obsolete, and Kanji… well. Okay, I’m going on this tangent.

    The Hierophant: Yup, benevolent teachers. They teach you – impose – the laws, and have authority to condemn or forgive failures. Old people are, of course, a natural extension of this. The Hierophant’s decisions all have good intentions behind them, but he’s in danger of losing sight and falling into straight intolerance. Dojima was pretty much on the verge of this. He was very strict about the order he imposed and his responsibilities to both his job and his late wife, and didn’t realise what it was doing to his daughter.

    You already nailed Lovers.

    The Chariot has all the control issues the Emperor actually lacks, because that’s what it represents: overcoming the duality of Arcana VI and the road to becoming an adult and gaining control over your own life. Remember Chie’s Shadow? That. The fight for independence and for dominance. Kazushi’s issues were also partly the loss of control over his decisions his injury gave him.

    *The Moon: the Moon not only describes hallucinations – it’s one of the most complex arcana! Because of what it represents: illusions, fakeness, imagination, lies, irrationality, issues hidden away in the unconscious… In Ai’s reversed case, she lost grip of reality and had to be talked out of commiting suicide. Nozomi is also strangely reversed for P3.

    I typed the Moon out before the others, and I don’t have time to finish writing this comment. Still, I’d like your opinion so far and if you’re interested I could type up the rest when I get back home.

    • Overcooled says:

      Whew, I’m glad Kyokai caught this in the filter. I know very little about tarot cards, but the topic interests me, so I like to grab knowledge about the subject wherever I can. Thanks for taking the time to talk about all of the tarot cards! Kara will be very pleased.

      You mentioned that you’ve gotten cards in readings before…Does that mean you’ve tried tarot readings for other people or that you’ve had your own cards read?

      Kanji feels more like the Emperor in reverse precisely because most of his character revolves around insecurity. He does try too hard to control how others see him, but that’s a bit more obtuse than Hidetoshi and his actual rein over the student body. I think most of the characters have some hints of the reverse qualities to them, but P4 does relate better to the reverse position for some of the cards.

      I’m so glad that someone who knows a lot about tarot cards read this and commented. If you have time and want to write about the other arcana, please do :D

      • Anca says:

        I’m happy it got saved too! I thought my internet had problems again, then was really disappointed because in a few days when I would return I wouldn’t have the motivation to write about it again.

        :D I did do readings, years ago. Then the cognitive dissonance (when I started studying physics) got the better of me and I couldn’t eliminate my doubts while using them, so the readings turned, well, inaccurate.

    • Karakuri says:

      So you got this from the Kaballah? Never heard of that connection with Tarot.

      Fool, Empress, Emperor, Hierophant, etc: I took out some of the other meanings of the cards to help better connect it to what was going on in Persona (to make things easier for OC), but yeah. I also tried staying away from the whole “Tarot cards tell a story” thing since that would have made the post longer than necessary. Thanks for the addition though!

      Magician: Yeah, I let OC have that one since I had no idea how to connect the dots there. Having a fresh perspective with little to no background in Tarot was helpful though since OC saw things I couldn’t.

      Priestess: I’ve never heard of the unattainable knowledge part before. Is that part of the Kaballah thing, or am I just interpreting it wrong? Every book I’ve consulted about it says ‘hidden knowledge’ which I’ve always taken as ‘you need to dig deeper and not through conventional methods’ it’s never directly said anything about ‘you absolutely cannot obtain this’.

      !!! That is a great point about the P4 links being reversed. I never even noticed that for all of them. Only really for Dojima.

      Moon: This one was probably the hardest for me to write about due to it’s complexity!!! It’s hard fitting all of that without just making it a whole list.

      Yes! I’d love it if you wanted to continue with this! It’s nice to actually talk to someone about Tarot.

      • Anca says:

        Ah, no, I didn’t get all this from the Kaballah. Well, not directly. The people who were involved in the creation of our modern decks – Crowley, Rider-Waite et all – were incredibly into it though, and threw every bit of symbolism and association they could at it. The hebrew alphabet has 22 letters, and my own deck has one letter drawn on each card.

        I thought a little about the Magician, and the Fool, and if you at it closely the Best Friends fit the personality profile of the fool, and Minato and Souji/Yuu fit the personality profile of the Magician. The Fool has more imaginative and fitting symbolism, but its character attributes – innocence, recklessness, lack of foresight – are more appropriate to Yosuke and co. Magicians, in turn, are charismatic, cunning, subtle… stuff like that. They also represent the beginning of a journey.

        Unattainable, hidden, well, the correct term is actually ‘secret’. It’s not that you can’t obtain it (my bad), it’s that you don’t know it exists in the first place.

        And thanks, I’ll do so :D

      • Anca says:

        Justice: more than justice itself it stands for balance; it’s ‘justice’ in the sense that it always tried to correct whatever imbalances appear. Chihiro balances her family’s financial situation with her role as the school treasurer, and her route is about a theft (taking money from one side cases an imbalance). Similarly, Ken tries to correct the imbalance of his family being death and their murderer being free. Nanako, on the other hand, LIVES the imbalance: her mother is dead, and even though she tries very hard at being a responsible adult, she isn’t and can’t make up for it. She does have a tie to police type justice, but it doesn’t really describe her personality or SLink.

        Hermit: wisdom, time, things like that. It’s interesting that the P3 Fox is pretty much all aspects of it, good and bad – the bad is along the lines of obstacles (all yo yen yip yip), unhealthy isolation (does he ever communicate with anyone other than Souji?), things like that. But he also represents the good parts, being a (probably) very very old genie-thing. I imagine they Ms Toriumi was a tad tongue-in-cheek, since she had issues with maturity, and liked to spend her Sundays cooped up in her room. I don’t actually know anything about Saori, so I can’t comment on her.

        The Wheel of Fortune: Chance and change; the wheel spins, and each result brings something new – my book says “It is adventure, the chance that must be seized”. And because it’s a wheel, you can attribute all the symbolism of renewal, reincarnation and evolution to this card. The cards have EVERYTHING to do with them (I love love the Shin Megami Tensei producer’s amount of research.) Using this explanation, Ryoji is obvious: he’s Death reborn (in a sense, and Death’s own symbolism in quite close), incarnated as a human; it’s also through him that you decide which ending you get. Keisuke is less clear, but he rediscovered himself. Reversed, it’s bad fortune, and how it takes a superhuman effort to go against it; the cards fate dealt Naoto meant that she ended up being discriminated against due to age and gender in her chosen field, and she went as far as to deny her own sense of identity (her gender) to stand against it.

        You hit the spot with Strength’s description. It also ties into overcoming yourself, having the (emotional, spiritual) means to realize your goals, and there’s also some loss of control issues in reverse Strength that fit with Kou and Daisuke.

        The Hanged Man is interesting. Although it can mean selfless sacrifice, it usually doesn’t. It involves being tied up with various things, like promises, beliefs, careers. Taking the two into account, you can interpret it as ‘getting over yourself’, which was what Maiko had to do with regards to her parent’s divorce. Reversed, it means that you can’t get over things; Naoki’s wiki entry says that he “seems trapped and is unable to move on with his own life since he’s reminded of Saki’s death constantly.”

        You nailed Death. And it’s interesting how Death Pharos turned into Wheel of Fortune Ryoji.

        Temperance is about where we came from and where we are going. Following Death, it is the renewal it implies, and it symbolizes growth. Bebe’s role in this is fairly obvious, as a Frenchman in Japan. Reversed it means being afraid to renew yourself, especially when your circumstances don’t fit your expectations; it fits Eri Minami who spent her SLink running away from her son.

        The Devil is materialism, essentially everything that is considered ‘profane’, Tanaka thanks to his fixation on money, and Sayoko on lust. This is another card with a strong control implication, as Tanaka controlled his business, and Sayoko couldn’t control her life. Loss and unhappiness are also some of its reverse aspects, which Sayoko experiences in full.

        The Tower means destruction. Since the Persona characters are associated with the psychological explanations, the destruction refers to beliefs and ego. Also pride (think Tower of Babel). I don’t remember what Mutatsu did to estrange himself from his family, but being what appears to be a drunk, failed monk certainly fits the destruction theme. The P4 creators went with the idea that reverse Tower is more positive than upright Tower, hence Shu being in less of a bind than Mutatsu. The Tower’s interpretations are pretty fuzzy though, so I can’t say for certain whether Shu appears reversed.

        Star is just what you said. Since reversed star hints at lateness and disorientation, and Teddie would only fit here with some logical leaps, I’d say that this one is another P4 card that doesn’t seem reversed.

        The Sun is partly about the hidden truths being brought into the light, and about gaining peace. Akinari’s SLink was about the second. Reverse Sun is about the opposite – Yumi’s was blind to her father not being a bad guy, and he died before she could make peace with him. I have no idea how Ayane factors into this though – she fits the personality profile (kind, emotional, wanting to shine, friendly etc etc), but not the symbolism.

        Judgment is about enlightenment. That’s its major theme, but that’s also kind of hard to work with, so a more useful interpretation of it is ‘awakening’ (and success, but c’mon, this is a video game). Reversed it just means slow awakening, so it’s always a positive card. Both Persona have this cool moment when it appears and then everything seems to go really fast. For Aigis, her enlightenment was when she became more than the robotic sum of her parts.

        • Anca says:

          Oh god all the mistakes.

          *it always tries
          *his parents being dead
          *P4 fox
          *I imagine Ms Toriumi was
          *The cards have everything to do with the characters

          *hides*

      • Anca says:

        I think the spam filter ate the comment again :/

  8. Anca says:

    Bah, I type a really, really long comment analyzing each card up to IX in terms of symbolism, but the site ate it.

    I don’t have time to retype it right now, so: the interpretation you’re using is not necessarily the symbolism the Persona staff were using. The hint is in Kaballah and all the explanations in the game proper, that were strangely, eerily accurate, perfectly in line with the system I had studied in the past. Look up the Rider-Waite deck, Crowley’s explanations for his Thoth deck and other related texts relying on the symbolism they incorporated, generally related to the Golden Dawn family of thought the writers must have been familar with consider how much they studied occultism. For instance, The Emperor is not as much about control as the Chariot is, The Empress has little to do with motherhood (although it can signify pregnancy, in a sense), and The Priestess is about information you CANNOT attain at your current state. With a few exceptions, I just realised that P3 corresponds with the regular meanings of the cards, and P4 with the reversed meanings (Yuu was a huge reckless manslut, Yukiko’s dungeon was about just how secretly unhappy she was, Hisano was about actual death, and so on). It’s all rather brilliant. And long. Gah.

    I’d really love to type out the much less abrasive long version, but I’m in the process of missing my train as it is. I could if you’re curious still do it when I get back home.

    • Kyokai says:

      Sometimes our spam monster gets hungry. But no matter, it’s saved! :3

      • Anca says:

        Oh thanks! I just returned and leaving a comment so late really would have been anticlimatic. Well, I was still around on my phone, but long posts like this are awkward to check on it…

        I’m really really glad :D

  9. Kyokai says:

    A very well done write-up girls! I know for a fact that it took quite long for the both of you to get this out.

    Looks and reads awesome! I just breezed through it due to spoilers as I am intending to play the game in future but I’ll know when exactly to come back to this and read through. ^^

    • Overcooled says:

      2 months…We were distracted by real life things for a lot of the time though, haha.

      Thanks Kyokai! I hope you like it if you get around to playing it :3

      • Karakuri says:

        …More like Oc kept having to remind me that she couldn’t continue writing since my part wasn’t done yet xDDD.

        Yes, thanks Kyo!

  10. Reaper says:

    Heh heh, having written a fanfic, I already had an idea of the Tarot cards and who would have thought a game played by the people of the Medieval Era could be used to give us such awesome games? Now, we just need Persona 5 to come out :D Oh and the P3 movie of course :D

    • Overcooled says:

      Writing a fanfic taught you about tarot cards? How did this come about?

      Ah, yes, it will be a long wait for P5…but I am willing to wait. The P3 movie should be here a bit quicker and I’m rather excited! It may be a bit rushed, but I don’t care because anything Persona-related instantly has me hooked.

    • Karakuri says:

      I second that question. Fanfic? Persona?

      YES, that P3 movie.

  11. Liza says:

    Yay for Persona editorials. XD I’ve always loved how deep the social links in the game were and how they related to the tarot cards themselves(had so many discussions about this with my friend. XD) Now if only Atlus can hurry up and reveal things about P5…

    • Overcooled says:

      The social links are great fun to play because of how intricately involved you become in these character’s lives…even if they have nothing to do with the main story. So addictive! The tarot card system just made things all the better because it added a new layer of meaning (and badass persona to fight people with).

      Based on the comments, everyone is yearning for P5 so bad it hurrrtsss. Me too, Liza…Me too…

      • Liza says:

        Yeah, I was really excited when I stumbled upon the AtlusXP5 videos on youtube but after finding out they were fanmade, that made me really sad.

    • Karakuri says:

      Shhh, they can’t come out with P5 until I buy a PS3. …Or whatever system it’s going to be on.

  12. Snowley says:

    You did it :D. Thanks so much for covering it up. Would you mind is I use this as supporting material (I mean, give the link ot the page for people to exploit the topic) for my Shin Megami Tensei panel on conventoin?

    • Overcooled says:

      Thanks for giving us the idea. It took a while for us to finish it, but here it is :3

      We’d be flattered if you used this for your panel! Are you talking about all Shin Megami Tensei games?

      • Snowley says:

        No, thank you!
        Well, I’ll be talking about the main series (I-IV) and recent spin-offs (Devil Summoners, Personas, Devil Survivors), I know others installments only by description on wikipedia ^^’. I want to promote Megaten a bit, since it’s completly overshadowed by FF to the point I found only one (!) shop in my country where I could buy something from Atlus (they’re bringing games from GB). So yeah, I wonder if anyone’d come ^^’

        • Overcooled says:

          Wow, sounds like you have a lot to talk about. Is it just an hour long? I think because you’re covering so many games that someone will have played at least one of them, so people will go. Even with obstacles like stores not selling Atlus games, there must be more dedicated fans like you who scour the lands for places to buy it, or order things online. Good luck and I hope the panel goes well. :3

    • Karakuri says:

      Thanks again for the awesome idea!!! 。◕▽◕。Y-you’d use our post as supporting material?! HELL YES you can! We don’t mind in the least bit!

  13. Elucidator says:

    I hope that someday Atlus makes a villain that’s your social link as well. They never have those.

    Also, I thought Adachi was a villain the moment I saw him ingame.

  14. foomafoo says:

    Actually… I’ve thought of this silly post where I would be associating each and every Tarot card to a certain writer in the blogosphere. but meh :P

    The thing with Tarots though is that… it somehow fits EVERY TIME, just like Horoscopes. It’s fun and a bit inspiring or at least mind stirring, since I rather enjoy these personality test stuff – but at the end of the day, the pragmatic me tells me that it’s nothing but a hoax.

    The way persona used it was neat though since it was able to made a cycle or process of how shujinko-san’s personality or story progressed based on the usual tarot explanation of having death as a spiritual death that symbolizes drastic change and rebirth.

    Did you guys listen to Edogawa-sensei’s lesson on this? Like for example, Yosuke, Junpei and Kenji represents Magician not only because of their getting the shit done attitude but also because of immaturity that the Magician also represents.

    I think the vaguest of all these cards in relation to their characters is Justice, having been associated to two kids.

    • Overcooled says:

      That actually sounds REALLY COOL, although kind of hard to do since the tarot cards are so eerily specific. I don’t even think I know 22 blogs…

      My pragmatic side tells me it’s nonsense too, but I can’t help but be charmed by the idea of it. I feel the same way about horoscopes, yet I check them whenever I can. It’s fun when it’s right!

      I love the idea of using tarot cards to represent the journey of the characters as well as specific meanings for each individual. I listened to Edogawa’s lecture very carefully during my first playthough. =w=

      Actually, Justice felt very straightforward and easy to connect to Ken and Nanako. Just because they’re younger doesn’t mean they don’t have a strong sense of what’s right and wrong.

  15. 093474 says:

    I tried to login with wordpress account since it was powered by WP. Failed. So does it mean that its accounts are separate from WordPress proper? BTW, The analysis was good

  16. Kizan says:

    very excllent explanations my friend thank you for those fine well explaned things. you gave the tarot cards perfect examples and can i ask what arcana do u belong in? i belong to the Magician Arcana

  17. Anon says:

    Yeah, you should really update Aeon arcana as Marie is added to P4 as the holder of that arcana.

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