Originally named the Popess, portrayed as an old woman with an open book, the Priestess Arcana is a symbol of hidden knowledge or other untapped power, wisdom, female mystery and patience when it appears in tarot readings.
Gameplay-wise, the Personas of the Priestess Arcana are commonly associated with healing and support attributes. Mythological figures of the Priestess Arcana are usually crone archetypes, goddesses of wisdom, witches, female mages, or priestess figures themselves.
Individuals associated with the Priestess Arcana are usually quiet, reserved, hardworking, and very intelligent. They are often modest and shy, and won't open up to the protagonist until much later in their Social Links as compared with other characters. A recurring theme with Priestess characters is that they have an inferiority complex due to growing under highly exigent family members, as is the case with Fuuka Yamagishi, Yukiko Amagi and Makoto Niijima.
In tarot readings, the Empress represents mothers, prosperity, creativity, sexuality, abundance, fertility, protection, and comfort(most often in helping maintain peace around them like an ideal mother would.)
Gameplay-wise, the Personas of the Empress Arcana are often Personas excelling in Ice-based attacks with healing powers also relatively common; they are usually important female figures, and many are queens and mother goddesses of some sort.
Within the Persona universe, the Empress Arcana often belongs to women of authority or wise and motherly figures.
Characters under this Arcana may also be cold-hearted in personality, but still present a high degree of care and concern towards others. And like queens, they are also very elegant in character.
In tarot readings, the Emperor symbolizes the desire to control one's surroundings, and its appearance could suggest that one is trying too hard to achieve this, possibly causing trouble for others; some elements in life are just not controllable.
Gameplay-wise, the Personas of the Emperor Arcana are Personas typically excelling in lightning-based and physical attacks; these Personas are almost always kings or emperor figures, but may simply be important male figures and deities. Typically, the king of a mythological pantheon is of the Emperor Arcana.
Within the Persona universe, characters of the Emperor Arcana are often male leaders or father figures(or both). Often times, the Emperor character is troubled by something very personal, and doesn't know how to deal with it.
The Hierophant is a symbol of education, authority, conservatism, obedience to rules and relationship with the divine. The definition of a "hierophant" is a person who interprets sacred mysteries or esoteric principles, and the term was originally used to name ancient Greek priests who did so. This Arcana's original name, however, is the Pope, the male counterpart of the Popess(Priestess in the series).
Gameplay-wise, the Personas of the Hierophant Arcana have no weaknesses, but no particular strengths as well. Hierophant mythological figures tend to mirror Priestess figures, being male priests, gods of wisdom, or divine beings.
Characters of the Hierophant Arcana are often older than the protagonist, and are typically quite wise and logical. The most common connection between Hierophant characters, however, is their association(and obsession) with the past.
In tarot readings, the Lovers Arcana initially represented two paths life could lead to, and thus a symbol of standing at a crossroad and needing to make a decision. Today, however, it is portrayed more of a symbol of love and romantic relationships, although it can also be a symbol of finding agreement with an ordinary friend or even two conflicting elements within.
This can explain that the designs of the card for most Persona entries are centered around a male and female character, though the original card shows a man who must choose between one mature and serious woman and a young and beautiful woman, with Cupid above his head preparing to shoot a single arrow. This drawing is more representative of the idea of hesitation and decision between the "right" way and the "easy" way.
Gameplay-wise, the Personas of the Lovers Arcana are commonly associated with Support-Healing attributes; these Personas are usually fairies or important figures in history or mythology that were known as the wife(or husband) of another figure. Though in some cases, they are beings associated with union of two people, or in a more general term, deities/beings that are associated with love and/or union.
A commonality among individuals of the Lovers Arcana is their popularity, cheerfulness, and their emphasis on social interaction. Lovers characters are almost always the "popular" ones, if not, then they are the "spirited" ones.
Strangely enough, the first female party member seen in the games since Persona 2, is always of the Lovers Arcana. (Although Chie Satonaka is the first female party member the protagonist meets in in Persona 4, Rise is first seen in a commercial on a train as the player heads to Inaba.)
Portrayed as a king leading a chariot made up of two differently colored horses(in some cases mythical creatures), the Chariot Arcana is a symbol of victory, conquest, self-assertion, self-confidence, control, war and command.
Personas of the Chariot Arcana are commonly Personas excelling in Physical-based attacks. They are almost invariably warrior figures or mythological war deities.
Characters who are of the Chariot Arcana are typically very driven individuals, who have a personal goal that they aim to achieve at any cost. It is not uncommon for Chariot characters to be short-tempered or aggressive. Combat-wise, they also tend to focus on physical attacks rather than magic.
Portrayed as a woman holding a sword and balance, the Justice Arcana symbolizes a strict allegory of justice, objectivity, rationality and analysis.
Gameplay-wise, the Personas of the Justice Arcana are commonly Personas excelling in Light-based affinities. Justice Personas are usually various orders of angels, and are otherwise deities of justice, order, or vengeance.
Commonly, characters of the Justice Arcana are concerned with matters of fairness, and otherwise are very stoic individuals.
Portrayed as an old man in a dark place or cave, holding up a lantern, the Hermit is associated with wisdom, introspection, solitude, retreat and philosophical searches.
Gameplay-wise, the Personas of the Hermit Arcana are commonly Personas excelling in Mental-Ailment skills. Mythological figures associated with the Hermit Arcana are usually hermits themselves, or are otherwise figures or deities that exist and operate behind the scenes.
Similarly, Hermit Arcana characters share the commonality of placing themselves in situations that hide them from the public eye. Hermit individuals hide away from others or act in more supportive roles rather than putting themselves in the spotlight.
The Fortune Arcana is portrayed by the Wheel of Fortune and symbolizes fate, luck, fortune and opportunity. Personas of this Arcana often specialize in Wind-based abilities. They are depicted as mythological figures or deities that control fate / omens.
Human characters of the Fortune Arcana are usually individuals who attempt to seize their own destiny in spite of fate and are typically involved with making important choices and decisions in response to what life throws at them.
Portrayed as a young woman holding up a terrifying beast(more often a lion), the Strength Arcana symbolizes an imagery beyond the Beast And Beauty, and is associated with the morality about the stronger power of self-control, gentleness, courage and virtue over brute force. In tarot readings, it can also represent creative or physical energy that needs to be or is about to be unleashed, sometimes out of desire to be recognized. The card is also named Fortitude in some decks, further giving meanings revolving on courage.
Gameplay-wise, the Personas of the Strength Arcana are commonly Personas excelling in Physical attributes. Archetypes embodied by Strength Arcana Personas are warrior figures and heroes, or are figures that embody strength of body or character.
A commonality between characters of the Strength Arcana is their strength of heart. Strength characters are not upset easily and typically portray the fortitude that the Strength card represents in readings.
Like the Aeon Arcana, the Hunger/Lust Arcana is not found in standard tarot decks. The Lust Arcana is the Thoth tarot equivalent of the Strength Arcana, numbered XI.
Lust symbolizes the danger of losing control, of being consumed by power. The card also implies strength, but strength which comes through Dominance. It is not true power, but the pure bliss of abusing power.
Just as the Lust Arcana is the Thoth equivalent of the Strength Arcana, the Jester Arcana is meant to invoke the Fool Arcana, numbered 0. The Jester symbolizes much of what the Fool symbolizes — ignorance, spontaneity, and freedom — but in a suppressed form. In the case of the Jester, the querent is misguided and unwilling to work with others, in contrast to the Fool, who is compatible with everyone. Ultimately, the Jester acts like a fool instead of genuinely being a fool.
Portrayed as a man hanging upside-down from one leg with his other leg crossing it, forming a "4"; the Hanged Man Arcana is associated with self-sacrifice for the sake of enlightenment, the bindings that makes one free, paradoxes and hanging between heaven and earth. In Tarot readings, this card's appearance can be seen as an advice to take the time necessary to reflect over one's upcoming actions.
Personas of the Hanged Man Arcana are commonly Personas excelling in survivability. Hanged Man Personas are typically mythological figures that exist between two different forces, or find themselves in transition. They are also sometimes martyr figures.
Hanged Man characters are sometimes self-sacrificial, but are more often notable for being caught between two different extremes, parties or stages in life.
The Death Arcana is debated as one of the most misunderstood cards in the standard Tarot deck because of its common interpretations that imply a physical death. While it is associated with foreboding and doom, Death Arcana also symbolizes metamorphosis and deep change, regeneration and cycles. In the earliest Tarot decks, it is was the only Arcana that didn't have a name, but the depictions of an ominous skeleton bearing a sheath led people to call it Death.
When one follows the order of the cards in the Tarot deck, one can notice that the Death Arcana implies a change in the deck. The Arcana before this one are named "small mysteries" and are often represented by human figures, while the "great mysteries" following Death include celestial symbols and angels.
The Personas of the Death Arcana are commonly associated with and excel in Dark-based affinities, but weak towards Light-based affinities. Mythological figures of the Death Arcana are usually figures related to death, or are notable in their myths for their own deaths.
Portrayed as a woman with angel wings mixing up the water of two cups, one blue, the other red, the Temperance Arcana is a symbol of synthesis, prudence, harmony, and the merging of opposites.
Gameplay-wise, the Personas of the Temperance Arcana are often well-rounded Personas. Personas of the Temperance Arcana are mythological figures associated with balance and moderation. The Temperance Arcana is primarily home to mythological beasts rather than human figures.
Characters of the Temperance Arcana are often struggling to find a balance in their lives and in their hobbies.
Portrayed as a hermaphrodite devil over two naked and chained figures, the negative aspect of the Devil Arcana represents the urge to do selfish, impulsive, violent things, and being a slave to ones' own impulse and feelings. Occasionally, it is also portrayed as a symbol of temptation. The positive aspect, however, represents a healthy bond or commitment.
A Persona of the Devil Arcana will commonly excel in dark-based affinities. Fittingly, the Devil Arcana is typically represented by the devils and evil deities of mythology.
Human characters associated with the Devil Arcana are often "devilish" individuals; they can be greedy, proud, lustful, or otherwise of poor character. It is not uncommon for this type of character to have somewhat of an antisocial tendency, often not caring much for the needs or well-being of others. Although this is true, they are also characters that are commited to a cause, usually being their work.
Portrayed as a tower stricken by lightning, from which two small figures fall down; a straight Tower of Babel allegory about pride preceding the fall. The Tower Arcana is commonly associated to overly arrogant, prejudiced and authoritarian organization, which walk to their own ironic demise. Furthermore, it is also more generically used as an omen of doom and disaster. It can be seen as the worst card of the deck, as it rarely has a positive meaning.
Gameplay-wise, player characters usually have bad affinities with the often physical-based Persona of the Tower Arcana. Tower Arcana Personas are usually mythological figures that were once heroic or well-loved, but have since fallen from grace. Alternatively, the Personas represent deities associated with destruction, righteousness or otherwise.
Human characters of the Tower Arcana can be arrogant, and typically find themselves in bad situations where they themselves have fallen from grace.
The Star Arcana is also commonly associated with hope, self-confidence, faith, altruism, luck, generosity, peace and joy.
In gameplay, the Personas of the Star Arcana commonly excel in Wind or Ice element attacks, but are often vulnerable to fire-based attacks. Personas of the Star Arcana are sometimes astrological figures, but many Star Personas are simply multi-talented figures, or deities with many different spheres of influence.
Characters of the Star Arcana embody their arcana's traits of hopefulness and joy.
Portrayed as two dogs howling at the Moon around a pool with a lobster in it, with two towers in the background, the Moon Arcana is associated with creativity, inspiration, dreams, madness, illusions, fear, fantasy, the subconscious, and trickery. In tarot readings, it can also represent being attuned subconsciously to the world around, gaining the ability to sense things without being told about them or without anyone else knowing(which means that some identify this Arcana with psychic energy).
Personas of the Moon Arcana are usually mythological figures directly associated with the moon, are psychically-attuned figures, evil figures whose story involves treachery, or figures associated with illusion. They tend to align towards Physical Skills, while having average Magic stats.
Characters who are of the Moon Arcana are often similarly psychically-attuned, but a more common trend is their projection of their own fears and faults onto others(namely, the protagonist). They often tend to have trouble accepting themselves for who they are and, because of that fear, try to correspond to an ideal person. And like the Arcana, there is a hidden depth as to why they act in their behaviors.
Portrayed as two children holding hands under a blazing sun, The Sun symbolizes happiness, joy, energy, optimism, and accomplishment. Occasionally, it is also associated with one's initial happiness.
Persona of the Sun Arcana are commonly Persona excelling in Light and Fire-based attacks. These Personas are typically mythological figures directly related to the sun, light, or fire.
Characters of the Sun Arcana almost always(ironically) find themselves in terrible situations, the situation betrays the underlying optimism present in nearly all of them. Also, as the Sun Arcana portrays accomplishment, some of these characters have deep thoughts about the meaning of life and manage to find their answers.
The Judgement Arcana, in tarot, is associated with realizing one's calling, gaining a deep understanding of life, and a feeling of acceptance and absolution.
In gameplay, the Judgement Arcana is commonly associated with a balance of Light and Darkness. Figures of the Judgment Arcana are usually related to Judgment Day myths, or are gods tied directly to the judgment of humankind.
Personas of the Judgement Arcana are well-aware, quite intelligent and view the world with infinite possibilities. Most powerful when combining their intuition with their smarts, their thought process is among the most vast and realistic.
Although the traditional British spelling of "judgement" is considered less common than the American spelling of "judgment" today, "Judgement"(capitalized as a proper name) is exclusively applied while referencing to the tarot arcana.
Unlike the other Social Link arcana, the Aeon Arcana is not a part of standard Tarot decks. In Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot, it replaces the Judgement Arcana.
Personas of the Aeon Arcana are often divine mythological figures. They typically have varying abilities and attributes, though many of them have an affinity with Light, including their ultimate ones, Metatron and Kaguya.
A common theme for characters representing the Aeon Arcana is their attempts to fully understand themselves, as well as the world around them. In both of the Aeon Arcana's appearances, the Social Link characters in question were unfamiliar with the way the real world works, and struggled to discover their own place in this unfamiliar world.
Characters associated with this arcana are not exactly human(Aigis is an android, and Marie is a goddess) in a physical sense, but they also have human traits and qualities.
This Arcana is only present in Persona game remakes.
Portrayed as a jester laughing very close to a cliff, accompanied with a dog at his heels. The Fool represents innocence, divine inspiration, madness, freedom, spontaneity, inexperience, chaos and creativity. This Arcana is originally the only one that doesn't have a number, thus it is considered as the Arcana number 0 or number 22.
As such, the silent protagonists from the recent adaptions often start out with the Fool Arcana, in reference of their personality being shaped via player's actions and decisions. At the end of Persona 3 and Persona 4 the protagonists are given a Persona of the Judgement or of The World Arcana, probably as a reference to the Journey of the Fool in the Tarot, which is also explained in detail by a character in Persona 3.
The Fool Arcana tends to be the "jack of all trades," since its Personas can inherit all skills without preference for any type. Mythological figures of the Fool Arcana are often heroes, fools, or the protagonists of their own mythological stories.
In Persona Survivor, the Fool is associated with Wild Cards.
These Arcana are already assigned to PCs, but there isn't (yet) any restriction on multiple PCs having the same Arcana.
In tarot readings, the Magician Arcana is commonly associated with action, initiative, self-confidence, immaturity, manipulation and power(more specifically, the power to harness one's talents).
Personas of the Magician Arcana are commonly Personas excelling towards Magic, particularly towards Fire-based element. As the name suggests, mythological figures associated with the Magician Arcana are often associated with magic themselves, though some are fire deities rather than magicians.
Characters of the Magician Arcana are, as of Persona 3, typically the first male friend(and Social Link) of the protagonist, and are typically perverted male characters. They are often the right-hand men of the protagonist. (The only exception to this is Yuka Ayase, the female Magician character from Megami Ibunroku Persona). They also tend to appear to have a huge ego(which is especially prominent in Morgana's case), but only put this on as a facade to hide a serious inferiority complex.
It often appears as the final triumph arcana, creating miracles and aiding the protagonists. Portrayed as a young woman(or an androgyne, depending on deck) surrounded by figures of an angel, a bull, an eagle, and a lion(representations of the four elements in transcendent form, as well as the symbols of the four Evangelists(Luke, Matthew, John, and Mark respectively)), The World Arcana is a representation of the world's totality, the symbol of fulfillment, wholeness, and harmony.
The Universe Arcana is one of the most powerful Arcana in the Persona series. The Universe Arcana is commonly associated with Social Links, where its power is based upon the Protagonist's bonds with others. Much like the Aeon Arcana, the Universe is not part of the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck like the other arcana, rather, it is from the Thoth Deck, numbered XXI and replacing The World Arcana. The first and only known user of The Universe is the protagonist of Persona 3 where he was able to unleash its power to seal Nyx.