Unfolding the Arcana: Tarot and its Relation to Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG)


May 30, 2023

Unfolding the Arcana: Tarot and its Relation to Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG)

Table of Contents

As we face the dawn of a new age, where the intricate balance between environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) has never been more important, one ancient practice stands ready to provide us with a unique perspective: Tarot.

Many associate Tarot with divination and personal guidance, but its profound symbolism also serves as a mirror reflecting the vital interplay between ESG factors in our rapidly changing world. Just as each card weaves a narrative, so too does each pillar of ESG construct the grand tapestry of sustainable development. Let's delve into the 78-card deck to decode how this mystic art form is intrinsically tied with the essence of ESG.

Environmental Stewardship in the Cards

The Tarot deck’s Minor Arcana represents everyday life and is divided into four suits: Cups, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles. These suits correspond to the four elements - water, fire, air, and earth, respectively, which metaphorically resonate with our environmental concerns.

For instance, Pentacles, related to earth, align with the environmental aspect of ESG, emphasizing sustainability and resource conservation. The Four of Pentacles card, showing a man holding tightly to his coins, encourages us to reflect on our consumption habits. Like the man holding his pentacles, businesses too must learn to use resources judiciously, lest we deplete our planet’s finite reserves.


Social Equity and Justice in Tarot

On the social side, many Tarot cards demonstrate a profound awareness of social justice, inclusivity, and equity. The Justice card, part of the Major Arcana, symbolizes fairness, truth, and law. In an ESG context, it encourages businesses to adopt fair trade practices, ensure worker welfare, and promote diversity and inclusion.

Similarly, the Six of Pentacles represents the concept of giving and receiving. It signifies philanthropy and charity, highlighting the importance of a business's responsibility to give back to society. It reiterates the philosophy that corporations should not just be profit-centered but also focus on contributing positively to their communities.

Corporate Governance and Tarot's Wisdom

The suit of Swords, related to intellect and power, has several cards that can be connected to corporate governance. The King of Swords, for instance, represents clear-mindedness and intellectual power. It speaks of a leader who is unbiased, makes rational decisions, and maintains high ethical standards. This card, like the corporate governance aspect of ESG, emphasizes accountability, transparency, and ethical decision-making in business operations.

The Hierophant card, another Major Arcana, represents tradition, conformity, and morality, suggesting the need for companies to follow established rules, regulations, and ethical norms. As with corporate governance, the Hierophant’s guidance goes beyond mere compliance, urging an internalization of ethical norms to build trust among stakeholders.

The Fool's Journey and ESG

The Fool's journey, a metaphor for the narrative told through the Major Arcana, also has significant correlations with ESG. The Fool represents every individual, company, or society standing at the precipice of a new journey. The path from the Fool to the World, the final card, involves trials, challenges, learning, and growth, much like our collective journey towards a sustainable future.

From the Fool's initial naivety and ignorance (akin to businesses that neglect ESG factors), through experiences of strength, temperance, and, inevitably, the tower's destruction (symbolizing crises that may arise from neglecting ESG aspects), we finally reach the World. This card represents wholeness and completion, resonating with the ultimate goal of achieving sustainable development through balanced ESG practices.


The Interconnectedness of Tarot and ESG

One crucial lesson that Tarot imparts, which is especially relevant to ESG, is the concept of interconnectedness. The Tarot deck is not a collection of disjointed cards, each with its meaning. Instead, each card is part of a larger, holistic narrative, just as each ESG factor – environmental, social, and governance – does not exist in isolation. They are interconnected parts of a comprehensive framework that businesses must consider to achieve truly sustainable growth.

The Wheel of Fortune card in the Major Arcana epitomizes this concept of cyclical change and interconnectedness. It speaks to the fact that we exist in a world of cycles – natural, social, and economic – that are intrinsically linked. From an ESG perspective, this reinforces the understanding that environmental, social, and corporate governance issues are closely intertwined. Damage to the environment, for instance, can lead to social problems, which in turn can lead to governance and business risks.

Tarot and the Future of ESG

Another aspect where Tarot and ESG converge is in their forward-looking approach. Both embody a journey into the future – Tarot, through its predictive aspect, and ESG, through its focus on long-term sustainability. This shared perspective underlines the necessity for foresight and proactive planning.

The Seven of Pentacles represents a time of hard work, patience, and future planning, urging us to invest in sustainable practices now for future rewards. Similarly, the Two of Wands, depicting a man holding a small globe and looking outwards, signifies planning, future prospects, and progress. It mirrors how corporations must strategize their ESG commitments, focusing not just on immediate gain but long-term sustainable success.

In the same vein, the High Priestess card, with her emphasis on wisdom, intuition, and secrets yet to unfold, embodies the importance of businesses foreseeing potential ESG issues and mitigating them proactively.


Conclusion: An Enduring Dance - Tarot and ESG

As we reflect on these shared themes within Tarot and ESG – interconnectedness, forward-thinking, and a journey towards a sustainable future – we see how intricately they are woven together. Tarot, with its profound symbolism and timeless wisdom, provides us with unique insights into understanding and implementing ESG principles.

Just as a Tarot reader weaves together the narrative of the cards, so too must businesses weave ESG considerations into their core strategies. By embracing these lessons from the Tarot, we can envision a future where businesses operate in harmony with the environment, contribute positively to society, and are governed by the highest ethical standards.

In our shared journey towards sustainable development, the wisdom of Tarot, much like the guiding North Star, can illuminate our path. As the World card concludes the Fool’s journey, symbolizing wholeness, achievement, and harmony, we too can aspire for a future where ESG principles are integrated seamlessly into corporate frameworks, leading to a balanced and sustainable world.



Hi, I'm Andrew. I've always been interested in exploring the deeper meanings of life and recently decided to embark on a spiritual journey. Meditation has become an integral part of my routine as it offers a sense of calm and inner peace. With an open mind and a thirst for knowledge, I'm excited to see where this journey takes me.

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