Since we’re moving into the Minor Arcana, I should make a few notes on various concepts that are going to pop up when discussing them.
The 56 Minor arcana are divided into four suits: Stars, Swords, Coins, and Cups. Each of these suits has a host of associations that goes with them.
The Suit of Stars: Stars are the suit of creativity, action and movement. They are associated with such qualities as enthusiasm, adventure, risk-taking and confidence. This suit is associated with the element Fire. This energy flows outward and generates passionate involvement.
The Suit of Swords: Swords are the suit of intellect, thought, authority, and reason. They are concerned with justice, truth and ethical principles. Swords are associated with the element Air. This suit can also be associated with states that lead to disharmony and misery. Intellect is a valuable asset, but it does not necessarily bring happiness.
The Suit of Cups: Cups are the suit of emotions and spiritual experience. They describe inner states, feelings and relationship patterns. Cups are associated with the element Water. The energy of this suit flows inward, filling up spaces, sustaining and reflecting changing moods.
The Suit of Coins: Coins are the suit of practicality, security and material concerns. They are associated with the element Earth and the concrete requirements of working with matter. It is also associated with nature and physical experiences. Coins represent prosperity and wealth of all kinds.
The suits are ranked with ten numbered cards (Ace – Ten) and four court cards (King, Queen, Knight and Page).
Ace: The ace is sort of the “base unit” of the themes of its suit. It’s the beginning, the concept in its purest form. As such, it’s the standard-bearer for the suit, and represents the positive influence of its “element.”
Numbered Cards: Each of the middle, numbered cards presents a different aspect of a suit. These cards explore different ideas within their themes as the numbers go up (and as you add more and more of that suit’s “element”).
Tens: A Ten takes the themes introduced by an Ace to their logical conclusion. It’s basically the “culmination” of the suit.
Court Cards: The Master, Mistress, Squire, and Knight are all court cards. They have a human element to them, unlike the rest of the suit cards, and they can be among the most complex. Depending on the context, a Court Card can represent an actual person, an aspect of yourself, a message, or a situation. The important thing to recall here is that these cards have personalities to them, and those personalities will be reflected – metaphorically – in whatever the card is referring to.
• The Squire is youthful and playful. She is often depicted as a young woman or androgynous figure. She is associated with the element of Earth and her card suit: she is tied to the worldly nature of her suit qualities, and thus her approach is not deep, but there is a childlike purity to it. She is a symbol of adventure and potential.
• The Knight is older than the Squire, but still swept up in the energy of youth. He is associated with the element of his suit and of Fire, and because of this, he does not do things in half-steps. He expresses the extremes of his suit, and thus is prone to excess, but he is also eager and sincere. He is a symbol of spirited action and energy.
• The Mistress is mature and (*sigh*) feminine in nature – which is to say, she represents her suit by embodying it. She is associated with the element of her suit and of Water, and her inner self reflects all the best qualities of her suit. She doesn’t have to act out her ideals, she is her ideals. She is associated with feelings, relationships and self-expression.
• The Master is mature and practical. He is associated with the element of his suit and Air, the element of logic and mental clarity (yes, we are back to those being man things in tarot). He represents his suit by action, but unlike the extremes of the knight, he is controlled and practical. He is associated with authority, control and mastery in some area associated with his suit.
Once again, don’t let the genders on the cards lead you astray. They are personalities, not people, so they can apply to anyone equally.