Osho Zen Tarot and the Corresponding Rider-Waite Cards

Q: I have an Osho Zen Tarot card deck that I’m still getting to know and understand. I was trying to match up the Major Arcana cards with the traditional tarot deck (Rider-Waite) and I’m not sure which is which.
~ Carla

A: Even though the Osho Zen Tarot is based on the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, most of the Major Arcana card names differ. Because the Osho Zen Tarot is a creative reinterpretation of the Rider-Waite Tarot, it isn’t always clear which Osho card corresponds to which Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot card. The Osho Zen Tarot usually comes with a book that makes it all quite clear, but if you don’t have the book, its easy to get lost!

Below I have matched up the Osho Zen Tarot cards to their Traditional Rider-Waite Major Arcana counterparts (Osho cards are in bold):

0 Fool – The Fool
1 The Magician – Existence
2 The High Priestess – Inner Voice
3 The Empress – Creativity
4 The Emperor – The Rebel
5 The Heirophant – No-Thingness
6 The Lovers – The Lovers
7 The Chariot – Awareness
8 Strength – Courage
9 The Hermit – Aloneness
10 The Wheel of Fortune – Change
11 Justice – Breakthrough
12 The Hanged Man – New Vision
13 Death – Transformation
14 Temperance – Integration
15 The Devil – Conditioning
16 The Tower – Thunderbolt
17 The Star – Silence
18 The Moon – Past Lives
19 The Sun – Innocence
20 Judgement – Beyond Illusion
21 The World – Completion
The Master
(This is just an extra Osho Zen Tarot card that is unique to this deck – there is no Rider-Waite equivalent)

Minor Arcana
Each Minor Arcana suit in the Osho Zen Tarot is represented by a different element
Pentacles – Rainbows
Swords – Air (grey)
Cups – Water (blue)
Wands – Fire (red)

Court Cards
The different court cards in the Osho Zen Tarot are identified by a triangle on the bottom of the card.
King – Upright triangle
Queen – Inverted triangle
Knight – Left pointing triangle
Page – Right pointing triangle

You may want to print this out and use it as a quick reference while working with your Osho Zen deck. Hope it helps!

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28 thoughts on “Osho Zen Tarot and the Corresponding Rider-Waite Cards”

  1. Just read all of this. I have been using the Osho Zen deck for years as my go-to tarot. My observation is this: the Zen tarot actually faithfully follows the “standard” (rider waite smith) Tarot, card for card. All you need to know is that in the Zen deck red/fire is “wands”; grey/clouds is “swords”; blue/water is “cups”; rainbow is “pentacles.” (also the triangle symbols on the Zen cards, and “up” arrow is king, a “down” arrow is queen, an arrow to the left is knight, and an arrow to the right is paige. And no number or arrow is an “Ace.”). The real difference between the decks is their purpose. Standard Tarot is used for predictive/divinatory purposes. Telling us about why who did what in the past, or to be excited or worried about somebody or something in our future. “Why did my husband leave me?” “Don’t buy the ticket on this airline, the flight is cursed,” “Spend all of your savings on a lottery ticket next wednesday, you will win!” The zen tarot will have none of this. The zen tarot is existential, and focused only on the here and now, the cards are contemplative of the existing condition, the could care less about what happened in the past or will happen in the future….that is all the playground of mind that separates and takes us out of actually living the life we have, which is only right here right now.

    So, for example in zen tarot, the “red, down arrow card” is the Queen of Fire, which *is* the Queen of Wands. The 4 of rainbows *is* the 4 of Pentacles. The “no number” of grey, is the Ace of Clouds *is* the Ace of Swords. Once you have these correspondences, draw a zen card, and then look up and read the parallel rider waite interpretation and look at the rider waite card’s imagery. Then look at the zen deck’s alternative imagery and explanation. You will see that both really are getting at the same thing, just with very different angles/purposes. Standard tarot is for when you want an explanation for what happened and is done, or when you want to know whether some future event (marriage, divorce, quitting your job, buying a ticket for the Titanic’s maiden voyage) will turn out well or in disaster. Zen, as a practice, has no interest in any of that. The zen deck very deliberately and thoughtfully, card-by-card, recasts the standard tarot’s predictive themes/meanings into parallel zen wisdom/insights/thoughts on how to let go of the distractions of the mind and clinging to the impermanent, so that you can make the most of the actual life you do have which is only in the right here, right now.

  2. I would like to learn more about the Osho zen deck with the timing. Which suits would represent the weeks,months, a year of time? I have come across many questions like this and i would like to know if there’s any specific timing that the suits have to guide

    1. Thanks for your question, Pal 🙂 I really don’t have an answer for you. I’m not the best at using the cards to predict timing of things. But generally, the Aces can mean something will happen soon, pay attention to the suits and see if a particular season is depicted in them – for example, I associate the suit of Swords with Winter, Wands with Summer, Cups with Spring and Pentacles with Fall. I know the suits have been renamed in the Osho Zen, but I think this theory still applies to this deck. Hope this helps a bit and gives you some ideas to work with.

      1. Timing is not really a part of the concept of the Zen Tarot, because zen asks us to let go of the past and preoccupations about the future, so that we can place our full attention and awareness in the right here, right now. The past is not now, it is done and finished; the future is not now, it has yet to come and cannot be known. Yet that is where our churning and spinning mind constantly lives. The last thing the untrained mind is willing to do is just take a break, sit down and be quiet long enough to observe and simply experience what is actually happening in the right here, right now. Now,… that all having been said? Sure, one can certainly cross reference standard (rider waite) tarot if one wishes to use the Zen Tarot cards for standard tarot timing or divinatory purposes, just as Daily Tarot Girl suggests. The four suits could be read as predictive of seasons when something may happen, an ace could perhaps suggest a new beginning will occur sometime in the future. A 10 may represent that something in the past is finished and has reached its completion. …and so on. So, things like timing (and even predictions of the future or explanations of the past) can certainly be considered when reading the Osho Zen, but to get such answers, one has to step out of zen and back into rider waite, because setting aside the mind’s obsessions with explaining the past and predicting future is the essential nature of what zen is all about.

  3. Ana del Carmen

    I am new in understanding the significance of the Tarot Cards. What does the Completion Card mean?

  4. I m not sure but may be i lost my connection with my osho zen tarot deck and I m afraid to tell this to my teacher cz the 3rd is not yet done. So what should I do to reconnect with it??

    1. The Hierophant is the High Priest and an elevated Teacher, leading others toward oneness with all, including Source. In oneness, there is no distinction between things. In short, you become comfortable in your state of not being a thing, hence “no-thingness.”

  5. Just bought a deck. I am excited by how loudly they speak to me. Thank you so much for the comparison it is so helpful, I normally read the Goddess deck so on a standard level I was lost.

  6. Hi Kate,
    Why are there 2 different Suppression cards in the Osho Zen Tarot? Why and when did it change? I also notice that the diamond color in the Master card changed from purple to blue. Is there a significance for this change?

  7. I am very thorough with Osho zen Tarot cards. I just bought RW Deck. Was finding an easy way to understand them. Your article will definitely help to associate the RW cards with those of Osho Zen. Thanks a lot.
    I wanted to know if there is specific meaning if the RW cards open as reversed (upside down)

    1. When I first got the Osho Zen Tarot deck, I did the standard thing and started reading the zen cards as “upright” (meaning what the book said) or “reversed” (meaning the “opposite” of what the book said). But that didn’t make much sense, when considering the cards. I thought it was careless oversight in plain view, how could they have forgotten such an obvious thing as putting “reversed” interpretations for each of the cards into the book?

      Then, after meditating on it, the zen brick hit me on the head. There is no such thing as “reversed” in zen! One need look no further than the yin-yang symbol to understand. A complete circle, half completely black, half completely white, swirling around each other. And at the very center/heart of each color? An infinitesimally small dot of the opposite color as its source. Then it all made sense. There is and can be no such thing as a “reversed” card in the zen tarot, if there was then it wouldn’t be….zen. 😉

      In fact, what is very interesting is to consider any given Osho Zen card in the context of its rider-waite equivalent. Many times, the zen take on the card is actually building on/amplifying the reversed interpretations from rider waite, typically because the reversed interpretations (not always, but usually) are “negative” and constitute the same kind of challenges, distractions, and misdirections of the churning mind that zen seeks to quiet and still. Can one read the Osho Zen cards with “upright” and “reversed” meanings? Sure. But that would be a bit like looking just at the white half of the yin-yang, or the black half, and saying that half is the whole thing.

  8. This is very helpful, thank you.

    I’ve got an Osho card that I can’t identify – Consciousness.
    It’s a grey diamond, no number, no triangles.
    What does this correspond to in a traditional deck?

    Thank you.

  9. Thank you for this! I couldn’t find on your list “lazyness”, “sharing” and “participation”, could you help me please?

    1. These are all minor arcana cards. Look at the diamond at the bottom with the number in it – notice the color. It’s blue, which means it’s water/cups. Fire/wands is red, pentacles/rainbows is rainbow coloured and swords/air is grey. Sorry, I didn’t include that bit in my article and it probably would have been helpful. Since it’s blue and a 9, it corresponds to the 9 of cups.
      Hope that helps 🙂

  10. Thank you for this correspondence chart! Am giving a reading next week online, will be using my decks, she’ll be using hers, and this will help me align us quickly in mirror layouts. Also love the way you approach the cards with warmth and humor on your blog. Tarot blessings!

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