Tarot Hack Part Two: The Minor Arcana Narrative

The narrative of the Minor Arcana and Court cards is different to that of the Major Arcana. While the Major Arcana signifies the major life journey for the soul in this realm and often portends fate/ external drivers, the Minor Arcana is more focussed on the day to day energies by element from the stage of a new idea/concept/love through to its natural culmination/achievement. While all tarot cards have choice for the querent, the Minor Arcana cards generally give more latitude – they are markers along the way to help decide if approaches/goals are helpful and working or a new option may be better.

Rider Waite Tarot (c) US Games Systems Ltd

The Tarot Hack at Table 1 below shows this journey and highlights how different elements approach the different stages of maturation of the idea/relationship etc. Some key points to remember re that:

1.There is a kind of natural speed to the elements in the Minor Arcana. In general terms Cups and Pentacles are slower and more deliberative whereas Wands and Swords are fast. This reflects the speed of ambition/creativity (Wands) and thought/the mind (Swords) and in terms of energy expenditure. This is one of the reasons why the 9 and 10 cards in the Wands and Swords suits are more challenging. When reaching our goal we are often tired/burdened for Wands (think of running a marathon and those last few kilometres and how we feel at the finish line – elated but tired) and when pursuing knowledge/thought based goals (Swords) we often overthink and get trapped in anxiety and analysis paralysis. Both the Wand and Sword energies tend to trigger new cycles, new ideas and new goals at that point. Whereas the slower progress of Pentacles and Cups means that if we do achieve the promise of the 9 and 10 it is likely to be more satisfying and potentially lasting. 

Rider Waite Tarot (c) US Games Systems Ltd
Rider Waite tarot (c) US Games Systems Ltd

2. At other stages in the journey from 1 to 10 the elements may find particular points more or less challenging. Overall Swords is the most challenging and this is simply because of the human capacity to imagine a situation at its very worst. It is the most theoretic rather than experiential element and as such can cause the most real anxiety and pain, even when the actual situation doesn’t warrant it. In very real terms we make the Sword energy harder on ourselves. But the other suits also have some challenges at particular points because of the way emotion, material issues and ambition/creativity/desire work at different levels. 

3. Overall there is more in common between the suites from 1 to 10 than different, but those differences arise from the nature of the elements and in understanding those points in the 1 to 10 journey the card meanings become quite clear and easy to remember. To make that simpler how the Tarot Hack table has shown the times when cards ‘struggle’ with a number level in CAPITALS/BOLD.

4. Last, you will sense that there is a kind of natural ‘push/pull’ flow to the 1 to 10 journey that is very true to life. In most areas we vacillate between confidence/optimism and doubt/uncertainty as we progress to our goals, and we start with a wide reach of aim/ambition that is gradually refined and narrowed as we better understand ourselves and our goal. This also helps you to remember the stages of the journey if you remember that every two or three cards you usually move from certainty to doubt as you progress from 1 to 10. In most packs the imagery of the cards (with the exception of ‘pips’ packs) will help anchor that dance for you.

The Court Cards operate on three levels. First, they are a ‘next stage’ of the elemental journey for the querent, showing a version of them as actualising and developing skills, approaches, relationships etc shown in the Minor Arcana journey. This is the way I have presented them in the Tarot Hack table.

Alternatively (and possibly more often in fact) the Court Cards represent other people in the reading. You can extrapolate the energy/personality of them from the way they are depicted for the querent below when that occurs: ie the Knight of Wand’s creative drive and confidence presents another person who has those characteristics and is often charismatic and influential and the Knight of Cups may well portend a romantic suitor. In addition, when considering the Court Cards as other people there is a third interpretation which gives an age range – with Pages as children or young adults and Kings as the eldest.  For this reason Pages turning up in readings with certain other cards (such as Empress or Nine of Pentacles) can predict a child on the way (for some querents).

Rider Waite Tarot (c) US Games Systems Ltd

There are other correspondence for the tarot with astrology and with the pathways of the Kabbalah but I don’t cover these here. There’s also the whole issue of reading reversed cards too (though for the moment you can read those as the opposite to the upright and/or as suppressed energy). I can cover these in a later article if people are interested. For the moment they will only over-complicate the aim of this series: to get the new reader up and running and confident as quickly and easily as possible.

Minor Arcana Narrative
NumberNarrative PhaseSuite‘Says’
1Beginnings/ new energy which is undifferentiated and largely unknownCups“new love, new feelings”
  Pentacles“new business, new health, new opportunity’
  Wands“new vision, new desire, new skill’
  Swords“New idea, new philosophy, new study’
2First realisation that there are a range of aspects to this and/or others to considerCups“I need to consider the needs of the other, I see that my emotion is more complex’
  Pentacles“I have material choices to make or partnerships; I need to prioritise or balance my options’
  Wands“My vision or ambition involves more than I thought; I need to understand’
  Swords“This idea is complex and there is more than one way to consider it; I need to choose.’
3The first choices are made and the other is accepted or left behind.Cups“I celebrate my union with another; I am more than just me’
  Pentacles“I have a foundation in place and known where to put my energy”
  Wands“My vision is clearer and I have a way forward -alone or with others’
  SWORDS“I have to simplify and clarify and that can involve loss or pain’
4Consolidation of first choice and actionsCUPS“Is this all there is? Is this enough?”
  PENTACLES“How do I keep my resources? If I move forward/change could I lose?”
  Wands“Team work and shared visions are to be celebrated’
  Swords“I’ve made the first difficult choice so I can withdraw and contemplate/recover”
5Clearance of Un-needed or Obsolete energy and crisis of confidenceCUPS“I have lost/may lose this love; is there enough left to go on with it?”
  PENTACLES“I have suffered some losses, not every investment pays off, can I continue?”
  WANDS“Different visions cause conflict, can I prevail?”
  SWORDS“The process of letting go some beliefs or thoughts has been a battle.”
6New confidence and energy after loss or reversalCups“I can see value in this love, there is much to be gained and built from memories of the best times”
  Pentacles“I have resources coming again, the momentum is back, I have a benefactor or supporter”
  Wands“Victory is mine -I have recognition and energy.”
  Swords“Peace of mind and a way forward – my mind is clearer.”
7Negotiating and building next stage – assessing value and choiceCUPS“Is this my ideal now or an illusion?”
  Pentacles“How do I best invest what I have for a better return?”
  Wands“I’m ready for battle and levelling up; I have courage.”
  Swords“I’ve figured this out and can negotiate to my advantage.”
8Moving to next phase – assessing costs and benefits from more informed perspectiveCups“I can choose now to stay or to leave behind old and no longer useful emotional beliefs. I value myself in my choice.”
  Pentacles“I can build more by learning more/building my craft.”
  Wands“I have all the energy in the world – let’s go!”
  SWORDS“Did I negotiate enough – am I trapped in this situation of my own making or can I get free?”
9Near achievement/completion of the questCups“I am full of joy and love and happiness.”
  Pentacles“I am my own person; I have built resources/health/wealth.”
  WANDS“Nearly there…Do I have enough energy to make the finish line/win?”
  SWORDS“I’m caught in my own fears and insecurities – I don’t have enough information to be sure.”
10Culmination and achievement/conclusion of issueCups“I have lasting happiness, a good love/home life, emotional security.”
  Pentacles“I have established lasting wealth/health/security.”
  WANDS“I got there, but I’m exhausted and need to recover and unburden myself before the next quest.”
  SWORDS“I’m mentally exhausted. I need rest and then to rethink/re-start anew.”
PageI am taking the previous pursuit to a new level (if a new cycle is occurring it goes back to the Ace)Cups“I am ready to make an emotional offer/ take a relationship to a new level.”
  Pentacles“I have developed resources for the next level.”
  Wands“I am ready to compete at new levels.”
  Swords“I can communicate my learnings to others/influence others’ beliefs.”
KnightI am established as a prime actor/influencer in this areaCups“I take the emotional lead, I am romantic.”
  Pentacles“I am dedicated to my job/profession/business.”
  Wands“I energetically pursue my vision.”
  Swords“I know enough to be mercurial and inventive.”
QueenI am fully confident and seen by others as an expert/skilled in this area and can influence and develop othersCups“I am empathic, responsive and self actualised.”
  Pentacles“I am loyal, grounded and nurturing.”
  Wands“I am creative and visionary and inspire others.”
  Swords“I am confident and clear, my vision is keen and my words sharp as I value truth and clarity above emotion.”
KingI am a master at this skill/endeavour/pursuit and can lead othersCups“I am a servant-leader, I can counsel and support others.”
  Pentacles“I am a master manifester; I build resources that last and I lead others.”
  Wands“I am supremely confident in my vision, ambition and energy; I inspire and lead others.”
  Swords“I am balanced, fair and an excellent judge; I lead with ethics and justice.”

Published by iotaserpentis

Hi, I'm Helen, a tarot reader of over thirty years' experience who juggles spiritual learning and life with a very secular day job and a creative passion for writing in all forms: novels, stories, poetry and theatrical productions. I hope to help others seeking the guidance of tarot: to learn its secrets and other spiritual traditions. Especially those looking for practical guidance on relationships, career and creativity and other readers looking to unlock and connect the wisdom of their daily life with their spiritual insight.

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