Tarot Introduction & Catalog
The Major Arcana
Scenes From The Play Of Life
While the Major Arcana represent the archetypal roles it is possible to play in one's lifetime, the Minor Arcana represent the archetypal experiences one may encounter in that life. There are four suits of these Arcana, from which our familiar four suits of contemporary playing cards are derived. It doesn't surprise me that this would happen - the energies contained within these cards is pervasive and attractive - people "play" with Tarot cards (albeit disguised as something else) every day and most don't realize it!
Each Minor Arcana suit deals with a primary aspect of living in the world, and the energies connected to that aspect of life. Each one of these suits also corresponds to one of the four alchemical elements, and to one of the four directions. There is also a seasonal orientation for each suit, and different primary and secondary colors are associated with each one as well. When taken together and in order, these Minor Arcana form a Wheel of Experience; a Wheel of the Year, and a Spectral Wheel. I will go into greater detail about the particular attributes and associations for each suit in the pages devoted to them (when I get to them), but briefly they are...
Suit of "Wands"
Element FIRE - deals with energies/channels (expression, in-spiration); home and business AND health. The Self (as contained within one's life energy). Orientation South; time of day Noon; time of year Summer - colors Yellow to Green. My Wands are strongly green-gold. These turned into the playing card suit Clubs (the connection between wands, sticks and clubs can easily be seen).
Traditional Suit of "Wands" (also known as "rods", "sticks", "pipes", "batons")
Suit of "Bowls"
Element WATER - dealing with emotions (love and/or friendship, devotion); passion, transition, and the passage of time. Dreams and intuition. The Psyche. Orientation West; time of day Sunset; time of year Fall - colors Green to Blue. This is very much a blue and silver suit for me. These turned into the playing card suit Hearts (for matters of the Heart, I suppose!).
Traditional Suit of "Cups" (also known as "vessels", or "chalices")
Suit of "Discs"
Element EARTH - deals with the physical/material (resources, livelihood); issues of poverty and wealth. The Body. Orientation North; time of day Night; time of year Winter - colors Purple thru the Red of a New Dawn. This is a red-brown Earth-colored suit as I see it. These turned into the playing card suit Diamonds, after all they are a symbol of wealth, born of the Earth!
Traditional Suit of "Pentacles" (also known as "coins", "stones", "shields", "beads")
Ones (Traditionally Aces) - Keyword: "Gifts"
Symbolize beginings; first causes; gifts; roots. The primary impulse that evolves thru a particular suit.
Twos - Keyword: "Balance"
Symbolize balance; polarity; receptivity; magnetism, as in attracting the energy of a particular suit to yourself. A balance between opposites as the personality juggles the new activity with that already being experienced. Twos are ruled by the Moon.
Threes - Keyword: "Synthesis"
Symbolize synthesis; a coming together or flow. The personality stops the juggling act of the two and begins to integrate the new energy harmoniously into life - this may be symbolized by the strong shape of an equilateral triangle - 3 equal sides.
Fours - Keyword: "Stability"
Symbolize stability; order; boundaries. Corners and the four directions, as in a foundation that has been laid - symbolized by a perfect square. A protected space: the energy is grounded now.
Fives - Keyword: "Struggle"
Symbolize change and some sort of break. Conflict or struggle ensues. A questioning or challenge of how or why one has arrived here. There is destruction necessary to rebirth and further growth. Symbol of a pentagram.
Sixes - Keyword: "Enthusiasm"
Symbolize fullness and expression; exuberance and a climax of feeling following recovery from the conflict of the five. Validation. A peak: the personality feels on top of things. This is a card of, "YES!"
Sevens - Keyword: "Reflection"
Symbolize the begining of a time of self-examination and inner work. A time of evaluation and response; completion and reflection. The conscious mind may not be aware of this inner process...
Eights - Keyword: "Change"
Symbolize another change; one born of inspiration. Entry into a new phase. A definite step upward. External movement and the energy taken in a new direction.
Nines - Keyword: "Completion"
Symbolize true completion and finality - the energy is mature and wielding it is the pervue of a Wise Crone or Old Man of the Mountain. This is the final digit summing up the sequence, and another one ruled by the Moon.
Tens - Keyword: "Transformation"
Symbolize transformation and transfiguration; overview or composite. Development now flows into a cycle of return. This is the "Oversoul" of the sequence.
I understand these last four cards in each suit to reflect growth and development thru phases of life. Each character suggests the personal style you use in bringing thru the energy or impulse of a particular suit as you develop that aspect of your personality in relation to the energy. And so I retain the idea of personalization, however I long ago dropped the idea of any dominance of a certain character (such as a King). Instead there is greater depth of experience - as one progresses; one becomes more "qualified", if you will, within that area of expertise! I gave much thought to names for the cards that describe this progression of experience, and decided on the terms Child; Student; Teacher, and Elder as my designations for the People Cards. Non-gender-specific ways of describing these levels of experience! Below is a chart outlining the progression of growth and development within the People Cards as I understand them. Again I give the traditional names as well as my designation. As with the other aspects of the Minor Arcana described above, in depth discussion can be found on each card's specific page.
"Child" - Traditionally known as "Page"
Signifies new growth; first thought; enthusiasm and movement. A messenger or herald, anticipating things to come. Feeling the urge to action; this personality can be rash and impulsive. Body-oriented and often instinctive. Tied to the material world. The Element EARTH. Female energy. This is "The Young Self", "The Child Within".
"Student" - Traditionally known as "Knight"
Signifies learning: intellect and analysis. Dissection, observation and concentration. Embodies the opportunity to gain knowledge of the energy of the particular suit. This personality is in school - truly a "student", learning but still quite playful: generally positive. Numbers and symbols (readin', writin' and 'rithmetic!) are associated with this character. The Element AIR; male energy. This is "The Talking Self"
"Teacher" - Traditionally known as "Queen"
Signifies a pure parental energy: this personality houses; provides, enlightens and nurtures. Acts from the Heart. A channel of loving energy: feeling; liberating; teaching; inspiring. This person is a vessel: a womb or storehouse - receptive or full. The symbols of hearts; Venus and the Full Moon are associated with this character. The Element WATER. This is female energy - this is "Mom", whether the personality is male or female!
"Elder" - Traditionally known as "King"
Signifies wisdom; dynamism and courage. Authority, strength and experience; master craftsman, an expert in the field. The embodiment of self-confidence and maturity. A Sage and master storyteller - expressive - an example to those embarking on the same path. This personality is a mediator, capable of creative and/or forceful behavior as needed. The character is strong and has activated the Crown Chakra. This character has come into their Power. A Protector. The Element FIRE; male energy. This is "Dad", whether the personality is male or female. Also "The High Self".