The Aten, depicted in these Tarot cards, is an image of the sun disc with its arms outstretched offering the Ankh or ‘breath of life’ to those beneath its rays. This solar symbolism came into being under the reign of Akhenaten, who denoted the Aten as the ‘sole god’ of Egypt. However solar imagery has long been connected to Egyptian mythology and has varied greatly in its manifestation, such as the lotus, Horus headed depiction of Re-Herakhty, the scarab headed Khepri and the sun disc of the god Ra.
Fragment of an alabaster relief showing Akhenaten, Nefertiti and Princess Meritaten beneath the Aten’s outstretched arms – common Amarna symbology, from early in Akhenaten’s reign (c. 1350 BCE).
Although the sun as a generalised symbol appears frequently in the cards, the sun specifically as the aten appears on a number of tarot cards:
XIX ‘The Sun’ (Shining Light – Happiness).
‘The Lord of the World’ (King of Pentacles) – “A sovereign gathers the rays of the sun with his own hands.”