A tarot deck has 78 cards. The cards are divided into sections, which makes learning them easier because the section a card is in shapes its meaning.
The sections are:
Major Arcana (22 cards)
Minor Arcana (40 cards)
Court Cards (16 cards)
This article focuses on the Minor Arcana.
The Minor Arcana is divided into four suits, usually: Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. Technically, the Court Cards are included in the Minor Arcana, but they are discussed separately. The cards here are the numbered cards, Ace through 10. They represent everyday events and situations. While the energy of the Major Arcana cards is often beyond the querentâ€™s control (querent is the person getting the reading), the Minor Arcana cards are usually more within the realm of individual control.
The meanings of the Minor Arcana cards are derived from the suit, the number, and the image.
Wands (associated with fire): will, passion, drive, careers or projects
Cups (associated with water): emotions, creativity, and relationships
Swords (associated with air): logic, thoughts, communication, truth, and challenges
Pentacles (associated with earth): money, resources, and the physical world
It is worth noting that some decks reverse the associations for Wands and Swords.
Aces: new beginnings, opportunities
Twos: duality, balance, relationship, choices
Threes: creativity, full expression of the suit, nurturing
Fours: stability, structure, organization, stagnation
Fives: conflict, loss, or chaos
Sixes: communication, problem solving
Sevens: reflection, assessment
Eights: movement, speed, power
Nines: compromises, possible stagnation, nearing completion, satiation
Tens: completion, ending a cycle
For example, all the Aces usually show the suit designator (often being offered by a hand, as if a gift) and represent an opportunity in that area (love, career, solution to a problem, or finances). Many say that the opportunities offered by the Aces are fleeting, so it is best to grab it quickly before it vanishes. The 4 of Pentacles shows someone holding tightly to their resources, and so indicates the stagnation that occurs when we hold too tightly to our money or hoard things. The 10 of Wands shows someone carrying a heavy load, which is what it might feel like if we take on too many projects.
Most tarot books cover the Minor Arcana, but to develop a basic foundation of understanding, check out Tarot for Beginners.