The Minor Arcana: Meanings Behind the Number Cards
An intro to Tarot card numbers
After the Major Arcana, the Minor Arcana suits are certainly the most well-known aspect of the Tarot. Wands are fiery action, Cups are watery emotions, Swords are airy intellect, and Pentacles are our earthy material concerns -- but there's another layer to these cards. How do the number meanings influence the Minor Arcana suits? How would the Seven of Cups differ from the Eight of Cups? Let's take a dive into the number meanings of the Tarot and learn how we can heed their wisdom in our readings.
Meanings of the Suits
In the 56 cards of the Minor Arcana, there are four suits, and each suit is made up of 14 cards. According to the Western traditions, the order of these suits follows the order of the elements themselves: Fire, Water, Air, Earth. Here's a quick recap of the classical correlations with these suits:
Suit of Wands -- Momentum (Fire)
The suit of Wands illustrates our soul's action, movement, and growth. Wands in a reading prompt us to look at how we move through life, reach our goals, and find our purpose.
Suit of Cups -- Emotional (Water)
The suit of Cups relates to our emotions and matters of the heart. Cups in a reading are associated with love, feelings, and inner conflict, and they can ask us to consider what is deeply important to us.
Suit of Swords -- Mental (Air)
The suit of Swords is associated with the mind. Specifically, it focuses on the mind's decisive capabilities. Swords in a reading can indicate the need to make a decision, be it difficult or clear.
Suit of Pentacles -- Physical (Earth)
The suit of Pentacles is based in the material or physical world. Pentacles in a reading can speak to us about money, resources, and levels of success and prosperity.
Number Card Energies
Each of the Minor Arcana suits contains an Ace card, numbered cards from two through 10, and four Court cards: Page, Knight, Queen, and King. Each of these cards holds an important position within the suit, and these positions have their own potent energies independent of the suits themselves. Here, we will take a look at the numbered cards, including the Ace as the "One" card.
Aces in Tarot
The Ace position holds the boundless energy that exists before creation. It symbolizes the space between cycles, the existence between life and death, the pause between inhale and exhale. An Ace reminds you that your potential is limitless, and where you go next is entirely up to you.
Twos in Tarot
The second position along the path of the Minor Arcana suits represents our first taste of union. As we move from One to Two, we find partnership and harmony. Twos can symbolize the beauty of relationships, duality and opposition, or even the potential for creation.
Threes in Tarot
From the Two's potential for creation, comes the Three. Three cards represent development and creativity. They speak to the inevitable realization that we need help if we are to continue to grow. Collaboration, a willingness to delegate, and wisdom in selecting who we will work with are all needed in order to progress forward.
Fours in Tarot
The completion of the Three creates the firm foundation for the work of the Four. Fours represent success and a strong base upon which to build, as well as the melancholy of realizing our work is not yet done. They can also indicate the need to take a period of rest before moving forward again.
Fives in Tarot
The work of the Fives is to build towards our goals. The early structures here are often unstable and we truly have to fight to keep them upright as forces around us may try to tear them down. Fives represent this struggle and remind us that difficulties are necessary but fleeting.
Sixes in Tarot
After the chaos of the Fives, the Sixes represent the effort to restore balance, a realignment to the whole. They are the bridge between the battles of the past and the potential for the future. The Sixes acknowledge our need to let go and put ourselves back on stable ground.
Sevens in Tarot
The Sevens speak to the need to stay in control and apply what we've learned from the trials we endured. Even in the face of hardship, there is a lesson to be gained. Remaining unwavering will allow us to work our way out of the struggle and toward success.
Eights in Tarot
The Eights indicate a time of profound but positive change. Our role in our own work is shifting. We have established systems and foundations that support us. We are nearing mastery, but our work isn't finished yet. We must put forth intentional effort and use any roadblocks as an opportunity to learn a new way of doing things.
Nines in Tarot
When Nines appear in our readings, we know that the work we have done has grown into something larger than ourselves. We are nearing the completion of this phase, and this is a moment of pause before we do a final push toward the finish line.
Tens in Tarot
The Tens indicate the end of a cycle, both physically and spiritually. This is the time between when we move from one phase of our lives to a brand-new one. The journey we went on can deplete us, so it's important to take time for rest before moving forward again.
Pulling it All Together
The number cards of the Tarot are powerful communicators within a reading. While each of these 10 card positions carry their own energy, the areas of one's life which they pertain to will vary based on the suit in which they appear.
As with any reading, the cards not only speak to us, they speak with one another. Taking care to understand each suit and each card helps us attune to their unique voice and energy. With time, we can learn to hear their collective wisdom loud and clear.