The Sun Shines on a New Day

A guide to reading The Sun tarot card and understanding its nuances

the sun tarot card tattoo

Image courtesy of Tattoofilter.

One of the happiest major arcana cards to receive in a reading, The Sun is often over-simplified in meaning and interpretation. We’d like to take you on a journey through this card’s meaning, tips and techniques for building a deeper relationship with it, and a practice reading at the end.

Think you know The Sun card?

Slather on some sunscreen and let’s get started:

  • Sun card basics
  • Evolving your relationship with The Sun
  • A worked example of a reading plus practice
Notice the lions? Sun energy is fire energy, just like Leo the zodiac Lion. Image courtesy of Sage Goddess.

The Sun card basics

Whether it’s review to an experienced card slinger or news to a newbie, starting with the basics is always a good idea. It can be easy to lose touch with the foundations of card reading, and overwhelming to learn tarot one card at a time.

With its happy child and shining full-bodied sun, it's fairly obvious that The Sun is a “favorable” card. Its essential meaning is happiness, joy, realized hopes and vitality. This may sound a lot like the 10 of Cups, but that card is more focused on the “happy home,” whereas The Sun is that archetypal moment or feeling of fully-realized joy, typically after a period of uncertainty. After all, it’s card number 19, after the temptations of The Devil, the shake-up of The Tower, and the journey through hope (The Star) and the frightening unknown (The Moon).

The Sun is an affirmation that all is well-- the harvest is bountiful, the hopes fulfilled, the dreams secured. If you were looking for a “yes” card, this is it! Where this card shows up in a reading indicates where the path to joy is laid for you to walk. The happy child is unconcerned with his nakedness and unabashed in his happiness-- this is a call to embody that child. Shed inhibitions regarding the expression of joy, and go forth with confidence.

Additionally, think about what the sun does-- it shines, it gives light, right? The Sun in a reading could also indicate a revelation or “en-light-enment” is at hand. There are no more secrets (7 of Swords, anyone?). All is revealed. Just as the real sun breaks through rain clouds and rises over the Eastern horizon, so too, will all be reliably good in your world.

It’s also worth noting that this card can be an indicator of good health, as well. That youth on the horse, plump and flush with life? He indicates a return to youthful vigor and energy. Have you been suffering from depression or anxiety? The Sun could indicate that a break-- or a breakthrough in treatment-- is coming, after long hard work.

Speaking of long, hard work-- the journey that began with The Fool is closing in on its end. Next up are Judgement and The World, before you begin a new journey as a different Fool. The Sun reassures you that Judgement is not to be feared, but embraced-- you have done the hard work, walked the hard path, and the light of The Sun shines down upon every lesson and success. Take this time to breathe, feel your strength return, and appreciate yourself.

Think about how The Sun relates to its two predecessors in the major arcana. Image courtesy of Horoscopes-- LoveToKnow.

Diving deeper into The Sun

Diving deeper into The Sun entails building a relationship with its energy and engaging with it in ways that are both personal and macroscopic.

Begin with a journal. We’ve developed a list of questions to help get you started:

  • How is the meaning of The Sun card reflected in its traditional artwork? What symbols do you see? If you have a deck that doesn’t have traditional artwork, how is the meaning reflected in its artwork? What differences are there, and what similarities? Why might the artist have chosen the elements of their representation?
  • What have your personal “Sun Moments” been? What do they feel like?
  • What Sun Moments do you dream of having in the future? What do they feel like?
  • Has humanity had any Sun Moments? When have they occurred? What do they look like? What brought them on?
  • Think about literature-- where have Sun Moments happened in literature? What was the context for them? What is your attachment to them?
  • Think about the reverse of The Sun-- what might that be? Reversals don’t always mean opposites. What might the negative aspects of The Sun be? Have you ever been burned by any Sun Reversed Moments? What did they feel like? When did they occur in your life? How did you get out of them?
  • Try doodling some drawings of suns and their counterparts: moons and stars. How do they connect?
  • Take some weather forecasts that are sun-themed and apply them to your life. For example, what has “Sunny and partially cloudy” looked like in your life?
  • Think about where The Sun is in the tarot journey of The Fool, which both begins and ends the major arcana.
  • Look up sun creation stories and compare them to each other and the story that both traditional and modern Sun card tarot artwork tells.
  • Think about the play on words in traditional tarot artwork-- “sun” and “son.” What might the connection be between those?

We could go on. What if traditional journaling isn’t your thing? If you’re artsy, keep an art journal or spend some time creating your own version of The Sun card. Make it as small or as big you want. Make several versions. Study the sun as it appears in artwork and jewelry.

Inner child work is often associated with The Sun, especially since the artwork depicts a naked boy child astride a horse, which is very masculine energy. You can achieve this with a therapist, and with a guided Sun card meditation. Hold a dialogue with your inner child, or imagine one with the child you used to be. Spend time with young children, if possible, and re-acquaint yourself with how they see the world and engage with it. Try to embody some of that in your own life.

If The Sun card truly speaks to you, considering purchasing some sun-themed jewelry as you work with its energy. Image courtesy of Wildflower+Company.

Working with The Sun

Now that you’ve gotten the basics down and understand how to build a deeper relationship with The Sun card, we will present you with a worked example of The Sun in action in a reading. Then we’ll give you an example to work on yourself, and you can let us know in the comments your interpretation.

Let’s say that you’ve been feeling out of sorts and not sleeping well. Your dreams have been confusing and half-remembered. You just aren’t yourself. You decide to sling some cards and ask the Universe what’s up. You shuffle, and draw the 10 of Wands, 6 of Cups, and The Sun. Here’s what our mental map looks like:

Problem: bad sleep, weird dreams, feeling not myself

10 of Wands: culmination of so much hard work, time to delegate

6 of Cups: a reunion, return to the past or from the past, nostalgia

The Sun: happiness, joy, youth, health

Message: You’re burnt out and ground down by the everyday and social expectations. You need to let something go, because it no longer serves you. Reconnect to your inner child-- perhaps go back to someplace in your past, or watch some shows and read some books from a happier time in your life. What was going on in your life at that moment? What made you happy as a kid? Try doing that now! Go to the park and swing on some swings (try not to get stuck in the seat). Pull out some games you used to play and host a game night with some old friends and catch up. The answer to your problem will reveal itself-- perhaps all you needed to do was regain some of that inner child to spark a new creative spurt.

Let’s take the same scenario, and give it slightly different cards. This time, we’ll give you The Sun reversed, the 8 of Swords, and The Hermit. Even if you don’t normally read reversals, try working this reading with keeping The Sun reversed. It’ll flex your skills a bit more. Think about what each card means. Notice any connections or immediate thoughts that cross your mind. How do the cards connect to each other, with what’s going on in your life? What does each card function to do in the reading? Put it all together to tell the story.

For extra kicks and giggles, try adding a clarification card to both of the readings. Let’s say the clarification card is The Empress. In the case of the worked example that we walked you through, we’d argue that the presence of The Empress indicates that a strong creative period will be the result of the inner child work-- you’ll “give birth” to a project that will really help you to reclaim your power.

How do you think it changes or adds to the reading you’ve been assigned to interpret? What exactly does The Empress serve to clarify? What is the clarity she gives?

Take your time when working with The Sun-- you don’t want to get burnt. Image courtesy of The Tarot Lady.

We hope that you try the above exercise featuring The Sun, our latest installment of our interpreting major arcana cards series. Leave us your thoughts in the comments, and lend a helping hand to anyone who is struggling. Be kind to each other, and go live your Sun Moment!

Jean Linder

Jean Linder is a writer and photographer from Pittsburgh, PA.
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