There are 56 cards in the Minor Arcana, which are divided in 4 suits: Wands, Cups, Pentacles and Swords.
Each suit is made up of 14 cards. 10 pip cards: Ace to 10 and 4 court cards: The Page, The Knight, The King and The Queen.
The Minor Arcana represents the mundane day-to-day aspects of life.
Arcana means secrets, which mean these cards, represent minor secrets. The appearance of Minor Arcana in a reading deals with daily things in our lives such as jobs, social life, money, ethics, beliefs and people.
The Minor Arcana correspond to the social class or Varna system, the alchemical elements and the modern playing cards. Below is a table to give you an overview of this.
Understanding the social class system does not play a major role in reading tarot cards, but it gives us an insight on the origin of images of the Minor Arcana and helps us to decipher the meaning of the cards.
Historically the social class or Varna system dates back 2000 BC. In Hinduism it is believed that you are born in a certain social class based on your Karma of previous lives.
It is believed that the artists who created the Tarot Cards got their inspiration from the social class system that existed during that period.
It is an overwhelming task to remember and understand the meanings of so many cards. By grouping the cards in various ways it will simplify your task and also help you understand how these cards are connected with each other. When you look at any of the pips in your reading, by just by looking at the elemental associations of the cards you will be able to get some basic idea about what the card is, without looking at the symbols or reading the meaning from any Tarot books.
Minor Arcana Associations
|Social Class system or Varna System||The Brahmins or Priests||Military or Kshatriyas||Business man or the Vaishyas
|Peasants or Shudras|
|Astrological signs||Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces
|Gemini, Libra and Aquarius
|Capricorn, Taurus and Virgo||Aries, Leo and Sagittarius|
|Positive/Upright key words||This cards stands for emotions and feelings such as joy, happiness, empathy and sorrow.
The cups also represents imagination,intuition, spirituality,family and relationship.
It suggests that the Querent is thinking with the heart rather than mind
|The swords offer new ideas and inspirations, beliefs; it stands for power, leadership and authority, ethics, intellect, ability to communicate ideas, deals with conflict and ultimate change.
|Pentacles means advent of new money, career, housing, possessions and any materialistic, real world things, prosperity, success, health and comfort||
This card depicts energy and creativity, and suggests a new journey.
This card also represents passion, drive, ambition, spirit, excitement, growth, force of life, vitality and determination.,. It warns not to be over ambitious but to be careful. It indicates support provided or needed
Reversed Key words
|Psychic drain, emotional drain, self-absorbed. It also suggests that the Querent is over emotional or none at all and needs to find a balance of their state of mind.||State that leads to unhappiness, ego, Verbal arguments, miscommunication, pain, theft, defeat||
The card warns the querent to not be greedy, and to maintain a balance in life that is not to be overly materialistic or become a workaholic
Burnt out from working too hard, fury, calamity, taking on too much, over confidence, egoist, competitiveness, aggressive, destructive
Suits and numbers
Separate your Tarot deck into Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. Now remove the Court Cards from the Minor Arcana and keep aside the Major Arcana and the Court Cards. I will cover ‘How to interpret or read the Court Cards’ in a separate post.
You should have all the 4 suits right from Ace to Ten.
Now club all the similar numbers together i.e. all Aces together, Two’s together etc.
We will tackle each number from all the four suits as they basically represent the same thing.
For example: Keep all the Aces lined in front of you and read all the cards together.
Aces are the most powerful cards in the Minor Arcana.
Aces are the family of the Major Arcana the Magician.
The Ace represents the beginning, starting fresh may be a new job or pregnancy.
You will notice there are no human figures in Aces. They look different to other cards, and give us the impression of it being larger than life, i.e. there is no situation going on in the card that we can latch on to or understand. Aces represent the whole of the suits itself for e.g. Ace of Wands represents the whole suits of Wands.
The Number two is the family of the High Priestess.
Number two is a number of intuition. It suggests discontent with the current situation; it shows an itch for movement, a desire to do something exciting. The card advises that something is holding you back, may be obligations or restrictions and so you cannot achieve or do according to your potential. It suggests the need of balance required.
The Empress of the Major Arcana is connected to all the three’s of the Tarot cards such as Three of Cups, Pentacles, Swords and wands.
Number three stands for celebrations, new birth, wisdom, fertility, possibilities, hopes, desires and heartbreaks. The number three in Tarot is contradicting; from Three of cups which represents celebrations and fulfillment to Three of swords, which stands for heartbreaks and backstabbing.
The Emperor rules the suits number four. It represents authority, strength and stability. The Four of Cups suggests discontentment with what is being offered, Four of Wands suggests celebration, home, happy times, and dwelling in the past. Four of swords burn out, time to take it easy and finally when you look at the Four of Pentacles you may have mixed meanings that cross your mind, it may suggest that contentment with what they have or greed for wanting more, you may be able to make the judgment depending on the cards that surround it during a reading.
Five stands for higher authority, dominance and spiritual knowledge. The Hierophant is linked to the number fives in the Tarot cards.
Five of Wands stand for struggle, finding balance, minor arguments, disagreements.
The Five of cups depict sadness, loss, and salvation it asks to keep faith in oneself to be able to move on.
Five of swords suggest dominance, gloating, loss and defeat.
The Five of pentacles show us financial loss and struggle.
On the whole the number fives help us to re evaluate our current situation and helps us understand how we can get out of the darkness that surround us.
The number six is all about that you are ready to relate with the world, how you best handle any situation in life or how you overcome challenges you are face with.
The Lovers card is the number six of the Major Arcana.
Six of wands stands for a completion phase; it stands for victory and glory. This card also warns you not to be proud and get carried away by the success but rather be humble and care about other people’s feelings.
Six of cups symbolizes feelings good or bad, it also symbolizes friendship, reunion, nostalgia, happiness and sharing.
Six of Swords depicts unhappiness in the current life, a need to leave the current situation and create a distance from the situation, which is out of hand. It is about starting a new life after a painful experience.
Six of Pentacles is a card of charity, generosity, trusting nurturing, sacrifice and sharing. It does not represent only wealth but a sharing of wisdom, knowledge, love as well as any other resources.
Seven stands for a period of reflection, what you have learnt and how you cope with what you have learnt. The number seven is associated with Chariot; the Chariot is a positive card and is related with travel, victory, pursuing your dreams, trusting yourself and determination.
Seven of wands stands for defending oneself, challenging someone, being competitive, arguments and lack of confidence.
Seven of cups card is about living in a dream or fantasy, obsessiveness, wishful thinking. It is also about making choices and deciding what you want from life.
Seven of swords card is about distrust, deception and betrayal, it represents unrighteous decisions, avoiding responsibility, sneaking off and taking undue credit.
Seven of pentacles is about procrastinating, you have so many possibilities in front of you but you are unsure of the direction you want to take, lack of priority.
The Strength card of the Major Arcana is the foundation of all the number eight’s of Tarot Cards. This card is not about the physical strength but rather more spiritual and mental strength. The card reminds us to be compassionate and patient.
The Eight of Wands is a very energetic card; the wands flying suggest speed and good news on the way. It suggests the ability to overcome any obstacles that might come in the way.
The Eight of Cups is a card that suggests moving on from an overwhelming or sad situation. This card also represents loss or sorrow.
The Eight of Swords in a reading suggests that you feel burdened or tied down to your current situation. You feel a sense of hopelessness and despair. Keep a check on your emotions and you will be able to see the way in front of you.
The Eight of Pentacles suggests that to achieve your goal you will need to work hard and acquire some skills. It asks you to be focused and to put in the extra time and effort required to acquire these new skills and knowledge.
The Hermit is the Ninth card of the Major Arcana and represents the number nine of the Tarot cards.The Hermit in a reading suggests that you need to take time off, and do some soul searching before moving on.
Nine of Wands suggests that you have come out victorious after a long battle. You are persistent and go after what you want.
Nine of cups show that you have achieved what you were and are proud of it. It shows that you are content and are happy to enjoy the fruits of your achievement.
Nine of swords suggest unhappiness, depression, worry or sickness. It suggests that you change your attitude and not be so anxious.
The image in the Nine of Pentacles is very serene and luxurious. It suggests that at this point in your life you have everything that you need or want. You can relax and enjoy your fruits of labour.
The Wheel of Fortune is number 10 of the Major Arcana and is associated with all the other number tens of the Tarot Cards. The Wheel of Fortune represents the cycle of life. Just like the wheels, our life turns and we go through phases of good and bad times. We need to appreciate the good times, and remember that the bad times will pass.
The Ten of Wands informs you that though you are working hard there is still a long way to go. You need to learn to trust others and delegate work. The card reminds you to share your responsibilities and not over burden yourself.
The Ten of Cups is a card of celebration, completion and happiness. This is a very positive card in a reading and shows that you will get whatever you are after.
The Ten of Swords in a reading suggests betrayal, backstabbing, or becoming victim of circumstances. It tells us that though we may feel powerless/ helpless at this moment it asks you to look for a silver lining during this phase. Always remember there is light after darkness!!
Over to you
I would like to hear from you, how you think numerology is associated with Tarot Cards by commenting in the section below.