56 cards from the 78-card Tarot deck are known as the Minor Arcana. The reading of Tarot cards is done with both, the Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana cards, simultaneously. The Major Arcana cards describe the larger issues in life, whereas the Minor Arcana cards describe how the querent will react to a given circumstance, depending on the individual’s own nature, upbringing, current life style and background.
Suppose a couple of persons are fired from a job. One takes the matter stoically, and is not bothered much, as he/she may have an alternative ready. The other person may completely breakdown, as he/she may have nothing ready as an alternative. If both of these go for a Tarot reading, they would draw the Death card, denoting an end, but their Minor Arcana cards would be different, considering the different reactions.
A large number of major cards appearing in your spread, during a reading, is of extreme significance. It indicates a period of transition and adjustments in your life. The placement of the cards is equally important, as it will signify whether the period in question is from your past, present, or the future. The 56 cards of the Minor Arcana inter-relate with the spread Major Arcana cards and describe how you will react to the universal truths exposed.
The Suits Of The Minor Arcana
The less powerful Minor Arcana cards are divided into four suits. Different decks may have different names for these suits, but the following are typical:
Wands – The suit is also called “Staffs,” “Rods,” or “Staves.” The suit is associated with the element Fire, and is the suit of action, power, and creative impulse. Fire deals with our ability to experience, joy and passion, including sexuality. It rules our personal nature, creativity, and physical activity. The Wands usually predict energy, growth, and enterprise.
Pentacles – This suit is also called “Disks” or “Coins,” and is associated with the element Earth. It is the suit that represents the mundane and worldly matters, and is associated with finances. At a physical level, Earth is our physical body and represents all things required to keep us alive. Pentacles symbolize wisdom and wealth, and we use our wisdom to gain our wealth. It is wealth that provides for food, shelter, and clothing - our physical needs. To enjoy the other qualities of life, we need to maintain our physical world. The Pentacles usually predict money, industry, and material gain.
Cups – This suit of the Minor Arcana is associated with the element Water, and represents the internal world, and the emotions. It is also known as the suit of ‘feeling.’ Water rules the emotions and represents our ability to emotionally bond with others and form warm, meaningful relationships. The Cups usually predict love, happiness, and fertility.
Swords – Associated with the element Air, this suit of ‘thinking’ represents the mind, which is the cutting force of the intellect, and often results in strife. Air rules our mental state, and Swords therefore describe our capacity for logical thoughts. They rule truth, honesty and integrity, and have the ability to attack or defend. The Swords usually predict aggression, ambition, courage, and strife.
Each suit of the Minor Arcana has 14 cards – 10 numbered cards, and 4 court cards. The numbered cards are numbered up to 10, with the ‘one’ card known as the Ace. The court cards are the King, Queen, and two other cards, which are a combination of Page, Knight, Prince, and Princess.
Each suit has its own area of influence such as, the Wands influencing the ‘doing,’ the Pentacles influencing the ‘being,’ the Cups influencing the ‘feeling,’ and the Swords influencing the ‘thinking.’