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What is the Minor Arcana?

This post was written by Barbara Moore
on November 7, 2013 | Comments (2)

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 querent’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.

Reader Comments

Written By Ty Bevington
on November 7th, 2013 @ 3:17 pm

Barbara-these have been some great introductory posts, and I’ve archived them for sharing with future new students. Thanks for getting us back to basics.

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