Tarot Minor Arcana

The Lesser Tarot Cards

The Minor Arcana of the Tarot are considered less powerful than the Major Arcana and as such are less significant when they appear in a reading.

There are 56 Minor Arcana cards divided into four suits. The exact names of the suits vary between the different decks on the market however the following are typical:

  • Wands (also called “Staffs” or “Staves”)
  • Pentacles (also called “Disks” or “Coins”)
  • Cups
  • Swords

Within each suit there are fourteen cards. Ten are numbered, with the one being referred to as the Ace. The other four are the court cards. These consist of a King and Queen along with two others, usually some combination of Page, Knight, Prince and Princess.

In most tarot decks each suit of the Minor Arcana is allocated an area of influence. For instance, the suit of pentacles is often associated with money and worldy affairs.

Each number also has a symbolic association, for example five often means problems and obstacles. These two interpretations are then combined to give the divinatory meaning of the card – hence the five of pentacles might well be seen as indicating financial difficulties. This interpretation needs to be viewed through the context of the reading and as it relates to the rest of the spread, particularly any Major Arcana cards.

Unlike the Major Arcana, the Minor cards are not necessarily illustrated individually in each deck. Some decks simply contain generic images – for example, six cups for the six of cups. Such decks are more akin to our modern playing cards and could prove difficult for a beginner to Tarot reading.