In tarot, there are a total of 78 cards.
The total deck is divided into the major arcana, which is made up of the main 22 recognizable cards, while the minor arcana is made up of four suites. These suites are the the suites of cups, wands, swords, and pentacles and each suites contains 14 cards.
What is the Minor Arcana?
The Minor Arcana can be broken down into four separate suites. These suites are known as the suite of cups, the suite of wands, the suite of swords, and the suite of pentacles. Each one represents both an element and a natural process of life. Fyi, the same element that it is represented by is also the same representation of that same process of life– which can also be found in astrology, mythology, within ancient cultures, etc.
Suite — Element — Natural Process of Life
Cups – Water – Emotions, Intuition, Dreams, Feelings, Feminine wisdom, etc.
Wands – Fire – Passion, Creativity, Brute Force, Willpower, Determination, etc.
Swords – Air – Mental Agility, Thought Process, Communication, Intelligence, etc.
Pentacles – Earth – Work Ethic, Physical Reality, Money, The Body, Health, etc.
So, if someone did a reading and pulled multiple cup cards, for example, and they made up the majority of the cards within the reading, that would mean that that person is likely experiencing something that provokes their emotional self or that they are dealing with something in their current life that is making them quite emotional or that their emotional self is taking a lot of their time and energy, which is likely why they have come for the reading.
Numbers and Court Cards
In each suite, there are 14 cards. These cards are the Aces, twos, threes, fours, fives, sixes, sevens, eights, nines, tens, pages, knights, queens, and kings. Obviously, each of these 14 cards also have to represent something different because there are 4 Aces, 4 nines, 4 queens, etc.
Each ace, for example, represents the beginning of something. So, if a person were to draw an Ace of Pentacles, this may mean they are starting a new job, beginning a new diet, or moving into a new home. An Ace of Wands would mean a new passion project, a new lover, or a new creative endeavor. Whereas a ten represents an ending or fulfillment. Therefore, a ten of pentacles or a ten of wands would represent the end of a job or the fulfillment of a passion project.
2-9 within each suite represents every stage in between the beginning of something and the end of something: including partnerships, celebrations, organization, conflict, realization, acceptance, balance, and grounding. Meanwhile, the court cards, (page, knight, queen, and king), represent being an amateur, other people, messages, and mastery.
To note, the MAJOR Arcana cards are also numbered, but these are different than the cards in the suites. So just remember that if you don’t see Three (or whatever number) of Swords (or whichever suite), then it is a Major Arcana and not a Minor. Also, the Major arcana contains an Empress and an Emperor, but not a Queen or a King.
If you would like to go further into the meanings of the numbers within each suite, click here.
If you would like a deeper understanding of the court cards, click here.
Similarities, Differences, and Reversals
It is worth mentioning that because there are four separate suites, each one of them has their own meanings and connections within symbolism, archetypes, etc. On the opposite end, the numbers connect the cards in a different way.
What I mean is that everything in the suite of cups will have something in common with one another (because they’re all cups) that it won’t have with the other cards that are not cups. Whereas, the five of cups will have something in common with the five of pentacles, the five of wands, and the five of swords that it won’t have in common with the other cups.
That is how you make connections in tarot.
The easiest route is to learn each number meaning (1-10), each court card meanings (page, knight, queen, and king), the symbolism of each separate suite, and the hardest, but most important part of tarot: the major arcana. Once all of that is understood, you can later understand the meanings of the cards in reverse.
If you’re new to tarot, I highly suggest not overwhelming yourself by trying to learn the card reversals at the beginning of your tarot practice. In my opinion, it is best to really become familiar with what each card represents before you attempt its opposite meaning.
If you don’t take this advice, the best tip I can give you is to remember that each card reversal also indicates that the upright position’s qualities are still present, but they are likely blocked, just out of reach, something has not yet been decided on and it could go either way, resides in the unconscious mind where the person is not aware of it, is being misused, or that the potential is there for the upright position, but that it is still in development.
From Within the Labyrinth,
- The Planets: Uranus
- Palmistry: The Three, Major Palm Lines
- What is Palmistry?
- What is Divination?
- Slow-Moving Planets