A tarot deck is broken down into two major kinds of cards. There are the Major Arcana, and there are the Minor Arcana. What does “Arcana” mean? Arcana means mystery. This is the hidden side of life. What is hidden within us? Think of tarot as a way to delve into the secret side of life, with each card representing but one aspect of this great mystery.
Think of the Major Arcana cards as representing the spiritual aspect of our lives. These cards are attached to our higher purpose and the higher meaning of our life. They speak beyond the worldly, mundane aspect of life. They speak to us at a spiritual, higher-self level. Consider what these cards are telling us about our truth and our highest and greatest good. They reflect our path, and what we have chosen to accomplish and be challenged by in this life time. These go beyond the day to day issues. When they appear in a reading, consider them as guidance and messages from our spirit guides as to where we have been, where we are, and where we are headed on our spiritual path to perfecting ourselves.
The Minor Arcana represent the mundane, down to earth, day to day aspects of our life. What does it take to get by as humans on the planet? What are our highs? Our lows? What do we need? What do we not need? How do we interact and relate to each other? How do we deal with the duality of ego and spirit? What does it mean to incarnate in human form? What are the shared experiences of our human existence? How are our thoughts, emotions, passions, and earthly needs categorized and understood? These are the questions that the Minor Arcana focus on. The Minor Arcana are divided into four aspects, each representing one aspect of our shared earthly experience.
There is the suit of wands. Wands represent our passions for life. How do we utilize our passions? What makes us excited? What do we put our energies towards? Do we put our energies towards self improvement, or do we waste them? What do we do to encourage the passions of others? How do we handle it when our own passions are challenged? How do we deal with adversity? How do we handle success? These are the questions that the suite of wands focuses on and speaks to us of.
There is the suit of swords. Swords represent our mind. How do we use our mind? How do we think? How do our thoughts manifest as joy, fear, worry, expectations, disappointments, excitement? How do our thoughts contribute to or degrade our overall well being? Our thoughts have the ability to fill us with hope, as well as fill us with dread. The suit of swords speak to us as to what effect our thoughts are having on us, what we are doing for ourselves and what we are doing to our selves by the force of our own mental processes.
There is the suit of cups. Cups represent what we feel. They represent our emotions, the condition of our heart. How do our interactions with others effect how we feel? How strong is our relationship with ourselves? Are we capable of self-love, or are we dependent upon the validation of others? What do we give to the world in terms of love? What are we open to receiving, and what do we expect in terms of emotional support and recognition from those in our lives? These are the aspects of daily life that the suit of cups focuses on.
There is the suit of pentacles. Pentacles represent the earthly survival aspect of life. What earthly materials do we need to survive and have a satisfying experience here on the earth? Are our financial needs being met? Do we have enough money? How does possession or lack effect our relations with others, both those that we know and those we do not? These are the things that the suit of pentacles focuses on.
There are fourteen cards per suit. They go from aces to the number ten. Additionally, there are court cards. Each number of the Minor Arcana carries with it its own weight and energy. The court cards represent aspects of our personality, or perhaps the personalities of people in our life.
Our life is made up of both spiritual and mundane facets. A proper balance of the two is essential for a rich, rewarding experience on the earth. Tarot helps illuminate this balance, as both aspects are represented in the cards.