The meaning of Plants, Flowers, and fruit on tarot card images

Apples/Pears – Apples alone generally represent knowledge, as the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden was an apple tree. The knowledge is of a mystical nature, since if you slice open an apple, the seeds form a pentagram. Pears and apples are also shown together in several RW cards (Queen of Pentacles) and in this context generally symbolize fruitful abundance and nourishment.

Grapes – Seen in cards such as the Nine of Pentacles and the King of Pentacles, grapes symbolize abundance, prosperity, and celebration of the good life.

Holly – A symbol of the masculine, used in pagan and Celtic cultures, and later incorporated into Christianity. Not seen in RW, but used in many other decks.

Iris – Seen mainly in the Temperance card, growing by the side of the water, the iris symbolizes a message from the gods, or the inner guides. Iris was also the goddess of the rainbow, suggesting a spectrum of possibilities for the future, and the harmonious blending of all colors.

Ivy – A symbol of the feminine, used in pagan and Celtic cultures, and later incorporated into Christianity.

Laurel – Generally seen in the form of a wreath – victory and accomplishments.

Lily – White – As discussed in the lesson on colors, white lilies are often used in tarot to symbolize purity of thought or action, innocence, chastity, clarity of thought, and the feminine/yin principle. Often paired with red roses.

Lotus – The lotus is traditionally shown on the Ace of Cups, and may also be found in other cups cards in some decks, such as the Page of Cups (RW) and the Three of Cups (Wheel of Change). The lotus symbolizes peace and purity, a flowering of the psychic self and opening upward toward higher consciousness.

Oak Leaves – Strength, wisdom, age, kingly attributes, gateway into the otherworld (pagan/Celtic).

Pomegranate – The pomegranate is seen on both the High Priestess and the Empress cards, and symbolizes female fertility and sexuality, and the Goddess. Secret knowledge and rebirth.

Rose – Five-Petaled – The five-petaled rose is the symbol of the Rosicruceans, and symbolizes the four elements plus the fifth element of spirit, with the fifth point or petal pointing upward toward Heaven, similar to an upright pentacle.

Rose – Red – The red rose is the rose of passion, courage, action, masculinity/yang, and blood. It is often paired with white lilies.

Rose – White – The white rose is the rose of transformation, and is usually a five-petaled rose. Its most prominent use is on the black flag carried by death, as a symbol of what awaits once you pass through darkness and the dissolution of self.

Squash, Garden Vegetables – These are very simply symbols of the harvest. In the Three of Cups they symbolize the abundance of the harvest and the celebration that comes with it, and in the Seven of Pentacles they symbolize a harvest yet to come, through one’s own patient hard work.

Sunflower – The sunflower has long been used as a symbol of the Sun, and appears in cards related to the Sun, such as the Sun card itself, the Ace of Wands (Robin Wood), the Queen of Wands, and other fiery court cards. It symbolizes joy, vitality, and glowing energy.

Tree of Knowledge – The Tree of Knowledge appears in the Lovers card, usually on Eve’s side. It symbolizes the conscious choice of knowledge and the transformations and separations that inevitably follow.

Tree of Life – The Tree of Life can also be seen in the Lovers card, usually on Adam’s side (with the flaming branches). It sometimes appears in the window of the church on the Five of Pentacles as well. This is a reference to the Kabalah in modern decks.

Wheat – Wheat appears in the Empress card as a symbol of fertility and her connection to the earth and nature. It symbolizes wholesomeness, life, nourishment, and death/rebirth of the seasons and all living things.

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Teresa Michelsen is a well known and highly respected tarot reader and instructor, and also the original creator of Tarot Moon.
Theresa has over 25 years experience in reading tarot.
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