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The Minor Arcana
As with each suit, each card takes you on a journey from new beginnings defined by the Ace up to the Ten which normally defines a completed journey in that suit. Following the Ten, the cards are then referred to as the royal court cards, these are the Page, the Knight, the Queen and the King. Some tarot readers still just use playing cards to do readings; however, they are missing the mighty major arcana in that reading which can help to complete the full picture for the reader/sitter. (We shall now refer to the sitter/reader as the querent).
Here is a more descriptive view of the minor arcana suits starting with the Ace to Ten. . .
Cups appertain to matters of the heart, emotion, love, relationships and family. They of course originally derive from the heart suit. The zodiac signs that connect to cups are Cancer, Pisces and Scorpio. Cups are aligned with the element of water and therefore water signs are identified in this suit. As water is a conduit of celestial energy, these cards also refer to intuition and psychic ability. Cups represent the natural flow of water or for the querent the natural flow of life. They define matters of the heart that overrule our head and with the help of other suits can help us find a clear path forward on our emotional journey.
Swords represent intellect, communication, inward thoughts and mental adversity. They are the spades in normal playing cards. Swords represent the element of air. The zodiac signs that are connected to this suit are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. As in the saying the ‘winds of change’ that is exactly what the sword suit can bring you. Each card can represent the double-edged sword of life where change can either bring action and power but could be thwarted by oppression, conflict and crisis. Many of the cards hold cautionary messages but are strong in defining correction of mental struggles and conflict within yourself or others.
Wands are the action cards especially highlighting your passions, creativity and goals in life. They are the clubs in normal playing cards. The wands are influenced by the element of fire. The fire represents our passions, wants, needs and our hidden creativity. They fire up our ambition and highlight what we truly desire in life. They represent spirituality and sexuality as a strong masculine energy vibrates through the suit. The zodiac signs that connect with wands are Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. When the querent needs to achieve personal and spiritual goals more than likely the spread will be wand heavy. The more calming earth and water cards will bring balance to this fiery suit, bringing clarity and direction for the querent.
Last and most certainly not least are The Pentacles that represent the material world, health, money and career. Of course, they are the Diamonds in a normal pack! They bring grounding to the querent and a more practical guide to how to approach the material side of life. They are connected to the earth element and so represent what is tangible in life and can be grown upon with nurturing. They bring clarity to real life and advice on how we can shape our futures and circumstances for the best outcome. The zodiac signs related to this suit are Virgo, Capricorn and Taurus. Pentacles can also relate to ego, self-esteem and how you see yourself in the world as well as to others. The least spiritual suit in the deck, this suit represents creativity and pursuits with a view to security, financial abundance and success.
The four suits really do take you on a journey, bringing guidance, nurturing, home truths, caution and promise of what can be achieved. When they are all brought together in a card spread, they really can balance each other out as the elements influence each card that is consulted. The heavy swords can be lightened by the calmness of the cups. The fiery wands can be grounded by the practicality of the pentacles.
Let us now have a look at the royal court cards. . .
The Jack in normal playing cards is replaced by the Page. The Page in all suits is the more subordinate of the royal family. He doesn’t carry as much strength as the other royals but can have the potential to make things happen if effort is made. He generally chills out and enjoys his environment but can be a representation of change and new beginnings dependent on what cards surround him and the psychological aspect of the querent. He can be childlike and fun but can also be ready to take on a new challenge with zest.
The Knight who serves the Queen and King is an additional court card to other playing cards and is a depiction of action, news and revelations. Again, dependent on the surrounding cards and the status of the querent the knight can be an opposing force to your life or can be the energy of the querent, riding fast and furious to a challenge, opportunity or goal. He holds a gallant and fearless energy and represents imminent change for the better or as a cautionary sign to watch out for unexpected challenges that are about to arise. He will hold you in strength, vigour and energy as he continues his mission undaunted.
The Queen is seen as the strong and empowered divine feminine. She has established balance and has all of her ducks in a row. She is confident in her power and will subtly influence other cards with her enduring stamina and passive ways of persuasion. For the querent she can represent a mature woman or a man with a strong feminine influence. Her message in the reading can represent using powers of persuasion though sageness rather than brute force. She nurtures, provides, cares for others and keeps all other cards in balance with her peaceful and sustainable stance. The Queen will always endure during adversity and will keep you sustained during pursuance of life goals.
The formidable king represents maturity and a level of success in paths travelled. He brings a stable environment and is the pinnacle of the suit. Having achieved exactly what he set out for; he sits in a prime position to help others achieve their end game. In people he represents mature men who like to manage, lead and direct the flow of energy in the pursuit of success. Of course, this can appertain to dominant women as well who have established power and control in the given suit that is shown. For the querent, seeing a king in a card layout represents the accomplishment or realization of a goal as depicted by the surrounding cards or the suit that the king sits in.
So, in short, Pages bring ideas to the table, Knight’s act upon the idea, Queens nurture the idea and Kings grow the idea bringing it to its completion.
When the Royal Court is mixed with the ten journey cards, a full picture comes into full effect. The querent may have certain issues and challenges that they wish to resolve. Amazingly the cards will usually be heavy in the suit that reflects the querent’s energy. Along with the addition of the major arcana and the strength of the court cards, you will always find solutions and advice for each situation that you find yourself in.
By sitting with the cards regularly and looking at the illustrations of the cards you really will start to get a feel for what they mean and represent. Of course, your own intuition will go a long way in perceiving the exact meaning of the card for you or a sitter when faced with them in a spread. Most tarot readers will state they ‘feel’ the cards rather than just look at them. The more you use them in a spread the more you will be able to start a narrative and see how the cards really do create a story with a beginning, middle and end.
By taking time to master the minor arcana you will find joy and magic as they display one bit of golden advice after another. Once you have started to secure a good knowledge of each card and what the suits represent you many then want to start learning the reversed side of the cards.
When cards are revealed upside down this does have significance and will bring an entirely new approach to the reading.
But for the time being, become acquainted with the minor arcana enjoying the strength and advice that each card and suit may bring.