Minor Arcana: Tarot Card Meanings

By Lauren Williams
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The Minor Arcana captures the intricacies of daily experiences, encompassing 56 cards spread across four evocative suits. While the Major Arcana highlights life’s overarching themes, the Minor Arcana dives into the day-to-day emotions, challenges, and actions. 

This guide offers clarity on the wisdom and dynamics of the Minor Arcana cards.

Minor Arcana Meaning

While the Major Arcana represents the broader themes and spiritual lessons of a tarot deck, the Minor Arcana dives deeper into the daily ups and downs, challenges, and fleeting moments that shape our lives. These cards capture the intricacies of human experiences, relationships, thoughts, and emotions.

Consisting of 56 cards, the Minor Arcana can be seen as a detailed narrative of daily life, offering insights into the subtler aspects that the Major Arcana might overlook. The complexities of work, love, conflict, celebration, loss, and success all find a home within these cards.

Their significance in a tarot reading cannot be understated. While the Major Arcana may highlight the larger, overarching journey, the Minor Arcana offers actionable insights, guidance, and reflection for current situations. In essence, they provide a nuanced lens, enabling seekers to understand the specifics of their circumstances and make informed decisions.

Suit Descriptions and Interpretations

The richness of the Minor Arcana arises from its division into four suits, each reflecting a distinct dimension of our human experience. Here’s a deeper dive into these suits:

Suit of Wands

The suit of Wands pulses with dynamic energy. Governed by the element of fire, these cards speak to our inner drive, ambition, and the spark of inspiration that pushes us to achieve our dreams. They encapsulate the spiritual journey, one’s creativity, intuition, and enthusiasm. In readings, they often point to personal growth, motivation, and the situations that call for decisive action. Refer to our detailed Suit of Wands: Tarot Card Meanings guide.

Suit of Cups

With water as its ruling element, the suit of Cups delves deep into the emotional realm. These cards illuminate the ties that bind – relationships, friendships, and familial bonds. They tap into feelings, dreams, and the subconscious, emphasizing connections, emotional experiences, and inner reflections. In a reading, Cups can indicate love affairs, emotional choices, or the deep currents of one’s feelings. Refer to our detailed Suit of Cups: Tarot Card Meanings guide.

Suit of Swords

Airy and sharp, the suit of Swords slices through the fog to reveal truth. These cards are all about thought processes, decisions, and challenges. They engage with conflict, both internal and external, and the resolution (or escalation) of disputes. In readings, Swords highlight mental strategies, communication patterns, and the potential conflicts one might encounter. Refer to our detailed Suit of Swords: Tarot Card Meanings guide.

Suit of Pentacles

Rooted in the element of earth, the suit of Pentacles is grounded and tangible. It focuses on the material world — work, money, physical health, and the concrete actions and decisions that shape our daily existence. These cards explore themes of prosperity, hard work, and physical manifestations of success or failure. In readings, they offer insights into financial matters, career paths, and the material aspects of relationships. Refer to our detailed Suit of Pentacles: Tarot Card Meanings guide.

Interaction with Major Arcana

In tarot readings, the narrative evolves from the blend of Major and Minor Arcana cards. While the Major Arcana speaks to grand life themes, spiritual lessons, and pivotal life moments, the Minor Arcana shines light on the day-to-day nuances and the intricate weave of our daily experiences.

Wands and Major Arcana

When the vibrant energy of Wands aligns with the profound depth of Major Arcana cards, it signifies moments where our inner drive meets significant life lessons. For instance, the melding of the Chariot (Major Arcana) with any Wand card can point to a determined push towards a spiritual or life-defining goal.

Cups and Major Arcana

The emotional waves of Cups combined with the overarching messages of Major Arcana cards often underline critical emotional phases or spiritual insights rooted in one’s feelings. For example, when the Lovers (Major Arcana) appears alongside a Cup card, it might underscore profound emotional choices or connections.

Swords and Major Arcana

The cerebral nature of Swords, when juxtaposed with the grand narrative of Major Arcana cards, highlights times where clear thinking or decision-making is crucial for broader life progression. A combination of the Hermit (Major Arcana) with a Sword card could indicate introspection or seeking truth in challenging circumstances.

Pentacles and Major Arcana

When the grounded Pentacles encounter the broad themes of Major Arcana cards, it often points to material or real-world challenges that have profound life implications. Combining the Wheel of Fortune (Major Arcana) with a Pentacle card may spotlight changing fortunes in financial or material realms.

The Role of Minor Arcana in Personal Growth and Intuition

The Minor Arcana, often considered the underbelly of the Tarot, holds within its cards the nuances, challenges, victories, and day-to-day events that paint the larger picture of our lives. Beyond mere predictions, these cards serve as mirrors to our soul, catalysts for introspection, and guides for our continual growth and evolution.

Daily Lessons and Insights

Unlike the Major Arcana, which often indicates larger life themes and karmic cycles, the Minor Arcana brings our attention to the daily lessons and insights that, when pieced together, form the mosaic of our life’s journey. They help us recognize patterns in our behaviors, make us more attuned to our reactions, and teach us the importance of being present.

Aids in Emotional and Mental Healing

The emotive Cups, the intellectual Swords, the passionate Wands, and the grounded Pentacles all represent different aspects of our psyche. When these cards show up in a reading, they can pinpoint areas in our lives that need healing or further understanding. By tuning into the messages of these suits, we can address buried emotions, confront limiting beliefs, and embark on a journey of mental and emotional healing.

Fostering Intuition

Working regularly with the Minor Arcana helps in sharpening our intuitive abilities. As we connect deeper with the symbolism and energy of each card, we start relying less on the bookish meanings and more on our inner guidance. This practice not only enhances our readings but also strengthens our trust in our own intuition.

Pathway to Personal Development

Each suit in the Minor Arcana offers a unique pathway to personal development. For instance, the Wands inspire us to chase our passions, the Cups teach us the depth of human emotions, the Swords challenge our intellect and beliefs, and the Pentacles ground us in the physical world, reminding us of our earthly responsibilities. By understanding and integrating the lessons from these suits, we pave the way for a balanced and holistic personal growth.

Common Misconceptions about the Minor Arcana

The world of Tarot is deep and vast, and with its mystique comes a myriad of misconceptions. The Minor Arcana, being a significant part of the Tarot, isn’t exempt from these misunderstandings. Delving into some of these can offer clarity and enhance the reading experience.

1. The Minor Arcana is Less Important than the Major Arcana

One of the most prevalent misconceptions is that the Minor Arcana cards hold less weight or importance than the Major Arcana. While the Major Arcana does deal with the broader themes and life’s major events, the Minor Arcana delves deep into the day-to-day aspects, making them crucial for comprehensive readings.

2. The Cards Solely Represent External Events

Many assume the Minor Arcana strictly relates to external happenings. In reality, these cards equally signify internal dynamics – emotions, thoughts, and personal challenges. For example, a suit like Cups, though often related to relationships, is deeply intertwined with the realm of emotions and intuition.

3. Negative Cards = Negative Outcomes

It’s a common belief that certain cards in the Minor Arcana signify misfortune or negative outcomes. However, every card in the deck, including those with challenging messages, offers guidance and insight. They highlight areas that need attention or changes, fostering growth and understanding.

4. All Decks Interpret the Same Way

With countless Tarot decks available, each brings its unique flair and interpretation to the Minor Arcana. While foundational meanings remain, nuances can vary. It’s essential to familiarize oneself with the specific deck being used.

5. Reading the Minor Arcana Requires Psychic Abilities

Many are under the impression that to read or understand the Minor Arcana, one must possess psychic abilities. While intuitive readers may integrate their psychic senses into readings, the art of Tarot, including understanding the Minor Arcana, is a skill that can be learned and honed by anyone.

Minor Arcana FAQs

Navigating the vast landscape of Tarot, especially the intricacies of the Minor Arcana, often brings forth a slew of questions. Here are some frequently asked questions about the Minor Arcana.

What Differentiates the Minor from the Major Arcana?

While both the Minor and Major Arcana are essential components of the Tarot, they serve different functions. The Major Arcana focuses on life’s significant events, spiritual lessons, and karmic cycles. In contrast, the Minor Arcana delves into the daily nuances, challenges, and joys, offering insights into more transient aspects of our lives.

How Should I Interpret the Four Suits?

Each suit in the Minor Arcana corresponds to a particular realm of experience. Wands typically relate to actions, passions, and inspiration. Cups delve into emotions, relationships, and connections. Swords represent thoughts, words, and conflicts, while Pentacles are grounded in the material world, addressing topics like finance, work, and health.

Are Court Cards About Specific People?

Often, yes. Court cards can represent individuals in the querent’s life or aspects of their personality. However, they can also symbolize situations or advise on how to approach a challenge. Context is crucial in determining their significance in a reading.

Do Reversed Cards Always Mean Something Negative?

Not necessarily. While reversed cards can indicate challenges or blockages, they can also highlight areas requiring introspection, offer alternative perspectives, or suggest a subdued version of the card’s upright meaning.

Do I Need a Special Deck for the Minor Arcana?

No. A standard Tarot deck includes both the Major and Minor Arcana. However, different decks might have variations in imagery and symbolism, so it’s beneficial to choose one that resonates with you and study its unique interpretations.


The Minor Arcana, comprising 56 cards across four distinct suits, delves into the myriad facets of daily life, offering insights into emotions, thoughts, actions, and the material world. While each suit has its unique domain—Wands represent passion and action, Cups cater to emotional realms, Swords signify intellect and conflict, and Pentacles revolve around material matters—their combined narratives provide a comprehensive understanding of life’s nuances. 

The Court cards, integral to each suit, can depict specific people or characteristic energies. As with all aspects of Tarot, context remains key, and each card, whether upright or reversed, provides a nuanced message, guiding introspection and decision-making.

Lauren holding a crystal ball in her hands.


Lauren Williams
Lauren merges ancient wisdom with modern insights, offering a fresh perspective on life's mysteries. She's passionate about guiding individuals through the world of astrology, lunar cycles, numerology, and tarot. When she's not charting the stars or reading tarot, she enjoys getting out in nature, hikes and yoga.