What Are the Minor Arcana Cards in a Tarot Deck?

What are the minor arcana cards in a Tarot Deck? Well, they are the cards that make up the other 56 cards in a standard 78-card Tarot deck. These minor arcana cards are split into four groups or suits. Each suit has its own properties and by reading the suit we can get a better idea of what the card means. 

To help you better understand what the minor arcana really is and how to use it, here are some ‘need to know’ tips. 

The Elements and the Minor Arcana

With the four suits of the minor arcana come the four divine elemental energies. These are as follows: 

  • Water = Cups

  • Air = Swords

  • Fire = Wands

  • Earth = Pentacles/Coins

By understanding which element is paired with which suit, we get a better idea of its energy. We can start to better understand the context of the card and its impact on our situation. 


Knowing the elements of the minor arcana cards allows us greater insight into their area of expertise.


For example, say you are currently at a crossroads and need to know which avenue to take.

  • A sword card may suggest that the decision needs more thought or strategy behind it. Swords are the elemental energy of air, which means they rule our mentality, intellect and communication. 

  • A wands card may ask us to take a leap of faith and do what feels right, just do something. This is because wands are the element of fire and rule our personal power, actions and creativity. 

  • A cups card may ask us to follow our intuition and do what feels right in the moment. This is because cups are the element of water and therefore rule our emotional and intuitive selves.  

  • Finally, a pentacles or coin card may ask us to stop overthinking things and choose the safest option. This is because pentacles are the element of earth and rule our stability, material world and safety needs. 

Knowing the elements of the minor arcana cards allows us greater insight into their area of expertise. It is what separates their energies from each other. 

Want to find out how to use Tarot cards in a variety of different ways? Click here to find our more.

The Court Cards and Numbered Cards

Within any of the four Tarot suites, you’ll find the cards run from Ace to 10 and Page to King. This is reminiscent of the Tarot cards days as a simple card game. Knowing what the minor arcana cards in a Tarot deck are, means also understanding their history. 

In the very early days, the Tarot had ‘trump’ cards which are now the major arcana running from 0 to 21. The minor arcana had similarities to a standard deck of playing cards however. This means that each of the classic suits – hearts, clubs, diamonds and spades – were transformed into: 

  • The Cups = Hearts

  • The Swords = Spades

  • The Wands = Clubs

  • The Pentacles/Coins = Diamonds

Along with the suits, the Tarot also adopted the courts. These became the pages, knights, queens and kings. Just lie the numbered or ‘pip’ cards, the court cards also adopt the elemental energies of their respective suits. 

However, these court cards also contain a second energy. They are dual energy cards. This means their dominant energy is that of their suit, but there’s also the court energy which influences the direction of the suits energy. 

  • Kings = Air 

  • Queens = Water

  • Knights = Fire

  • Pages = Earth

When we read the court cards of the minor arcana, we have to acknowledge their duality. So, for example, a Queen of Wands will be the emotional aspect of our personal power and creativity. She may suggest a need for creative expression or to reclaim personal power that’s been lost. 

Another example would be the Page of Pentacles. This is still a dual energy card, but teaming earth with earth. 

This simply means that he is an extremely grounded card. His energy is heavy and he suggests a need to get right back to basics. To explore your very foundations and do a full survey of where there may be cracks. 

Minor Arcana Means Minor Lessons

One of the main things to understand with these cards is that they are the smaller baby steps. They require smaller adjustments and shifts to make a difference. Compared to the major arcana which are all about big life altering energies. 

The minor arcana are what we face day to day. It is the smaller lessons we learn in life. This is why we have more of them in a Tarot deck than we do of the major arcana. We face these things every day, whether it be consciously or subconsciously. 

Allow the major cards to set the tone or the theme of your readings. Use the minor arcana to build the meat, the action and plans that lead off the reading. 

Want to learn more about the individual minor arcana cards? Make sure to take a look at my free Tarot directory
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