Minor Arcana

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Two of Pentacles from the Tarot de Marseille

The Minor Arcana, sometimes called the Lesser Arcana, are the suit cards in a Tarot deck. Minor Arcana cards first appeared in tarot card games, with pip cards numbered one (ace) to ten, along with court cards (or face cards) in each of four suits. In contemporary tarot decks the Minor Arcana are often illustrated—a convention popularized by the Rider–Waite Tarot deck in 1910. Used in a tarot card reading in conjunction with the Major Arcana, the cards of the Minor Arcana suggest subtleties and details and signify day-to-day insights.

Tarot variations derived from Italian decks and Spanish decks typically have a Minor Arcana of 56 cards, with 14 cards in each suit: Wands (alternately batons, clubs, staffs, or staves), Cups (chalices, goblets, or vessels), Swords (or blades), and Pentacles (coins, disks, or rings).

The four court cards are commonly page, knight, queen, and king. Some variations have princess and prince cards replacing the page and knight cards; the historic Visconti-Sforza tarot deck expands the court with two additional cards: the damsel and the mounted lady. While the historic Tarot of Marseilles contains 56 cards, later decks based on the French suits of clubs (♣), hearts (♥), spades (♠), and diamonds (♦) have only three face cards per suit, with a jack (or knave) in addition to the queen and king.

The term "Minor Arcana" was coined by French author and occultist Jean-Baptiste Pitois.


In divination, the Minor Arcana are believed to represent relatively mundane features of life. The court cards represent the people whom one meets.

Each suit also has distinctive characteristics and connotations commonly held to be as follows:

Latin suit French suit Element Class Faculty
Wands Clubs Fire Artisans Creativity and will
Pentacles Diamonds Earth Merchants Material body or possessions
Cups Hearts Water Clergy Emotions and love
Swords Spades Air Nobility and military Reason

Planetary associations

In the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, number cards are associated with planets, corresponding to their placement in Kabbalah.

Tarot Topics
Major Arcana The FoolThe MagicianThe High PriestessThe EmpressThe EmperorThe HierophantThe LoversThe ChariotStrengthThe HermitWheel of FortuneJusticeThe Hanged ManDeathTemperanceThe DevilThe TowerThe StarThe MoonThe SunJudgementThe World
Minor Arcana Pentacles AceTwoThreeFourFiveSixSevenEightNineTenPageKnightQueenKing
Wands AceTwoThreeFourFiveSixSevenEightNineTenPageKnightQueenKing
Cups AceTwoThreeFourFiveSixSevenEightNineTenPageKnightQueenKing
Swords AceTwoThreeFourFiveSixSevenEightNineTenPageKnightQueenKing
Decks Visconti-Sforza TarotTarot of MarseillesRider-Waite TarotThoth TarotOccult TarotAngel TarotVlad Dracula TarotHieronymus Bosch Tarot