The Minor Arcana of the tarot is divided into four suits, much like a deck of playing cards.

The suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. They are usually associated with elements, fire, water, air, and earth respectively, although some decks do reverse Wands and Air. Each suit contains the Ace – 10, Page, Knight, Queen, and King.

Each suit focuses on specific areas of life or human experience.

Wands are associated with fiery passion, will, determination, career, and projects. It is an active energy, fast-moving and hard to contain. If not handled properly, it can burn wildly out of control. At its best, it is inspiring and uplifting and fuels our efforts and accomplishments.

Cups are associated with emotions, creativity, and relationships. It is a passive energy that can quietly flow into and around everything, coloring or obscuring our perception. At its best, it heals, cleanses, and connects.

Swords are associated with thoughts, ideas, problems and solutions, truth, and communication. It is an active energy that can be hard to pin down. It is associated with both thoughts and truth and while those are not the same, we can convince ourselves that just because we think something it is true, which can cause problems. At its best, it helps us see our situation clearly and find solutions to problems.

Pentacles are associated with money, finances, resources, health, and the physical world. It is a passive, heavy energy. It can be prone to stagnation and can kill the passion of Wands or muddy the feelings of Cups. At its best, it keeps us grounded in reality, making our day to day lives easier and more prosperous.

Understanding the suits will help make learning the cards easier.

Sasha Graham provides one of the best discussions on the suits (in the form of a guided meditation for each) that I’ve ever read in her book Tarot Diva.

Written by Barbara Moore
The tarot has been a part of Barbara Moore’s personal and professional lives for over a decade. In college, the tarot intrigued her with its marvelous blending of mythology, psychology, art, and history. Later, she served as the tarot specialist for Llewellyn Publications. Over the years, she has ...