- Written by Frederick Gimino
The tarot deck consisting of seventy-eight cards can be broken down into three categories. The twenty-two major arcana cards, the forty minor arcana cards, and the sixteen court cards make up these categories. In addition, the minor arcana and court cards are further separated into four suits namely wands, cups, pentacles, and swords.
The twenty-two cards of the major arcana can be defined as "big secrets". As this name implies global questions and answers can be expected during a tarot reading solely using these cards, in a tarot spread. The major arcana often define the character, mental state, and other vital attributes of the person asking the question. Almost any question posed to a spread composed of the major arcana can be answered. This segment of the tarot deck starts its journey with the number zero, which is the fool card and ends with the number twenty-one the world card.
The forty cards of the minor arcana may be interpreted as meaning "little secrets". As you may expect and the name implies the minor arcana shows specific directions in our personal lives. These cards often explain specific relationships at home at work, or at school. Any tarot reading using a deck comprised solely of these cards should produce very specific results regarding the query.
The court cards are the royalty of the tarot deck. These sixteen cards are Comprised of Kings, Queens, Pages, and Knights. These cards often represent immediate environmental influences. An example of these influences may include immediate family, friends, lovers, and coworkers. These cards may be symbolic of imagery present in the questioner's mind.
Kings generally signify a male of 36 or older possibly a fatherly figure with authority, wisdom and experience. Queens also generally represent a female thirty-six or older with matriarchal aspects of authority, nurturing, understanding, compassion, and maturity. Knights are the messengers of the tarot deck and generally range in age from the mid twenties to the mid thirties. Knights may be male or female conveying a positive message when right side up and a negative message when reversed. Pages usually represent children and naivete. They have various meanings typically representing messengers, schoolchildren, young adults, or assorted issues related to the inexperience of youth.
The four suits of the tarot deck are wands, cups, pentacles, and swords. These suits correspond to various aspects of our lives. For example, the suit of wands often corresponds to work or social activities. Furthermore, the suit of cups usually corresponds to love or emotional matters. The suit of pentacles generally refers to money matters or health problems. Lastly, the suit of swords signifies problems or troubles the questioner's may be facing.
The four suits of the Tarot deck also have other notable attributes. For example, the suit of wands corresponds to the element of fire and the astrological signs of Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius. The suit of cups corresponds to the element of water and the zodiacal signs Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. The suit of pentacles embodies the element of earth and corresponds to the sun signs of Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. The suit of swords forms a relationship with the element of air corresponding to the astrological signs of Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius.
Performing your own tarot readings and trying various tarot-reading systems often helps in memorizing the meanings of the cards, in various tarot spreads. Do not feel overwhelmed and remember practice makes perfect. I hope this basic introduction to the tarot deck helps bring the rewarding experience of tarot reading into your life.