Have you ever asked a fairly mundane question of tarot like, "So what's in store for me today?" and had a bunch of Major Arcana cards show up? So then you're like, "Oh my god, something huge is going to happen today." Then all that happens is...nothing out of the ordinary? Conversely, you could get a fairly mundane reading with a bunch of Minors and win the lottery. What is up with that?
Frankly, I don't know what is up with that, but I think the notion that Major Arcana are "destiny" cards that project something that will for sure happen in one's life is, well, not bogus per se, but just not always true. That's the wondrous and irritating thing with tarot. Pretty much nothing is always true or consistent when it comes to the meanings of the cards. They're so freaking fluid that you really can't rely on a dogmatic system and read accurately.
When I see a Major appear in a reading, depending on its position, I often see it as a compelling and strong motivation or pull in a certain direction. It's almost irresistible, in fact. I say almost because a person's chosen free will always reign supreme over anything the cards might have to say. Human beings are also very fluid and inconsistent, so they may feel a very strong urge or desire but resist it. That's why I have a very hard time seeing Majors as destiny cards in every situation. There are a few exceptions. When I see Death, for example, I know something, somehow, is going to end despite the seeker's choices or intentions. It may be a welcome end or an unwelcome one, but no matter, something will cease. In a reading I did recently for a young woman, Death and the Hierophant came up together. I asked if she or someone she was closely related to was about to leave school or the military, that some kind of institutional way of life was about to end. Turned out she was about to take her final and if she passed she would graduate. One might wonder why the World card did not instead appear. I think it's because she had not yet graduated, but was about to. The World is more about the time after you've completed that big deal thing and haven't yet moved on to the next phase of your life. Death heralds an ending coming soon.
While it's true that Majors can indicate a Big Thing it doesn't always matter much unless the little things are practiced as well. For example, I have a friend who has a difficult person in her life whom she had, for a long while, hoped and prayed would get it. This person needed a kick in the pants big time, a Judgement wake up call. Well, we did a reading and sure enough, finally Judgement showed up to say this person would indeed have that wake up call. But wait, hold the confetti and streamers. The person did in fact have that eleventh hour what the hell moment, but lacked the follow through, the every day Minor Arcana stuff to make the change actually stick.
When I talk about the Minors, I'm not really talking about the Courts. They are in their own little group to themselves. Courts project attitudes and manner, how someone is likely to go about something rather than tell you what they will actually do. The Minors, on the other hand, might give more concrete action-oriented advice or information. Some say the Minors indicate the small stuff of life, the day-to-day happenings. Yet, I've seen the Eight of Cups signal the end of a relationship, so that's pretty big. I've also seen it mean a person would be going on an extended trip far away. That's no small potatoes either. Deep hurts and losses can be indicated by the Five of Cups and winning the lottery just might be shown by the Ace of Pentacles. Though the Minors are said to be minor, they can be anything but.
Delineating the Majors and Minors into The Big Stuff and The Small Stuff really doesn't work. Instead, I tend to recognize the energies of the cards and when a Major appears I know the energy is deep and strong, its pull is magnetic and almost irresistible, and there is a compelling energy present. Sometimes they do indeed indicate destiny, something that will happen regardless the seeker's choices, but more often they show strong energies toward something the Major indicates. Aces and Courts are pretty strong, too, yet Majors trump (no pun intended...ok, maybe it was intended) them both. For example, if I were to get Eight of Cups with Strength, I might interpret it as the person really wants to leave a situation but is resisting it and/or it is taking everything they have within them to go. Conversely, the Eight of Cups with The Lovers might mean that though the person really desires to leave, their commitment to the relationship overrides this desire and they will, ultimately stick with it.
Viewing the Majors and Minors as having different levels of energy and pull really helps me figure out why when Majors come up they don't always happen and why Minors can sometimes mean huge life changes. They don't quite fit neatly into the boxes of Big Stuff and Small Stuff, do they?