The Four Suits
There are 78 cards in a traditional Rider-Waite Tarot deck. These cards can be divided into smaller subsets or groupings of cards.
The Major Arcana are represented by 22 cards. In a reading these cards typically indicate major events and/or people in our lives.
The remaining 56 cards make up the Minor Arcana. They typically represent aspects of everyday life.
The Minor Arcana can be further broken down into four suits of 14 cards each. These four suits are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. They are what modern day playing cards descended from.
- Wands – Clubs
- Cups – Hearts
- Swords – Spades
- Pentacles – Diamonds
Wands – Fire Element
When you think of Wands, think of ideas, because Wands are the conception or seeds through which the tree springs forth. They are the original thought, intention or primary element of growth.
Their key words are: ideas, growth, energy, enterprise, ambition and expansion. When there are many Wands in a reading it indicates that conditions are primarily in the realm of thought, or at the very first stages of development.
Cups – Water Element
When you think of Cups, think of emotion, because Cups are the feeling or bridge between the original idea and the next stage, which is action. They are the glue or cohesive factor in the development of manifestation and esoterically signify the marriage of thought and feeling.
Their key words are: beauty, emotion, desire, inner experience, love, fertility, and spirit. When there are many Cups in a reading, it indicates that conditions are felt primarily in the realm of emotion, but not necessarily as an outward manifestation.
Swords – Air Element
When you think of Swords, think of action, because Swords are the act. On the mundane level, the Swords often indicate struggle, because of the difficulties man has to move through in order to turn a thought into a reality on the physical Earth plane.
Their key words are: action, ambition, aggression, force, movement, struggle, and strife. When there are many Swords in a reading, it shows tremendous activity, agitation, or acceleration, because Swords are the last stages of effort before the final result.
Pentacles – Earth Element
When you think of Pentacles, think of manifestation, because Pentacles are the fruits of one’s labor, the culmination of the first three ingredients, the end result of fruition.
Their key words are: manifestation, money, realization, proof, and prosperity. When there are many Pentacles in a reading, it indicates that conditions are taking form, or are in the process of being demonstrated.