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Tarot Basics: The Suits

My darlings, I'm such a big nerd for tarot suits (or minor arcana).


Obviously, I'm an intuitive reader. That means I don't just analyze the meanings and symbolism described in the books. I also listen to my intuition, my guides, and the current energies of the question and cards to provide the best answer. I'm not dragging those who do exclusively use the books -- they are extremely valid. But their way is not mine.


But I really like classic, often book-described, meanings of the cards, and I think that whether you're an intuitive reader or not you should at least learn the basics. Even if you're not a tarot reader, I think having some basic information can help you a lot with understanding your messages. So today I'm going to talk about the suits of tarot.


Wands, Cups, Pentacles, and Swords! I'm sure most of you are at least aware of the names. I've also seen Pentacles referred to as Coins. Most of the minor arcana have many alternate names depending on who you ask, but I like the original four. Very fantasy and magical.




WANDS


Wands! I love this suit. Often depicted as either a literal magic wand or a staff (I've also seen them as deer antlers, I think. But that definitely isn't common). Wands are the fire element: passion, creativity, heat, moving fast with little time for stopping to think. In a love reading, they can be a sign of sexuality or moving too quickly.


From Ace to Ten, Page to King, Wands is all about starting projects, innovation, and powering through tough situations with the determination and heat of a forest fire. Wands thinks they are unstoppable, the shit, the hottest minor arcana in town. Their tenacity and intensity is very cool and inspiring, but it is also their fatal flaw. Wands, if left unchecked, has a habit of burning themselves out much faster than necessary. They get too focused on their passions and they forget to feed their flames. I tap into my Wands energy quite a bit and use it to drive all my creative projects, but I've definitely burned myself out a few times.


Wands doesn't always have to mean work! Turn some of that fire and passion towards self care. "I'm not going to stop drinking this water until this cup is empty! Then I'm gonna do some fuckin' yoga and eat a healthy snack because I'm a BADASS who LOVES MYSELF! Can't stop, won't stop until I feel like a PAMPERED QUEEN! Let's go take a brisk walk in the sun to get the blood flowing and own this day, MOTHERFUCKERS!"


You get it.


CUPS


Ah, Cups. I love this suit, too.


Cups is water, emotions, subconscious, and so much more. They show up as cups, goblets, sometimes bowls. Where Wands is intense and fiery, Cups soothes and flows. They have a calming energy that heals. It speaks to cycles, surface versus depth, the flow of life that speeds up and slows down with time. In a love reading, Cups can either be a thumbs up to your relationship -- congratulations, you communicate your feelings and emotions -- or a sign that hard times are ahead if you don't start connecting with your deeper intuition and feelings.


Cups talks a lot about relationships. Your relationship with your romantic partner, your friends, your family, your colleagues, and most importantly yourself. It's always a good idea to get more in touch with yourself, your intuition, and your emotions. Cups can mean shadow work, breaking down the barriers between the shadow self and the side of yourself you deem presentable, learning why the shadow self bothers you, and learning to let those feelings go.


Cups likes to remind us that were are all just human beings with a connection to each other and to our subconscious. Much like Wands, you can't be deep in your own intuition constantly and you need to take breaks. You need to know when you're breaking down barriers in a healthy way and when you're crossing the line.


PENTACLES


Oh damn, this suit's pretty cool too!


My card, the card that shows up in almost every reading, is the King of Pentacles. We've been through a lot together, he and I. When I first grew interested in tarot and purchased myself a deck, the Pentacles suit was my least favorite. I really don't know why (probably some underlying issues with money I've since worked through), but over time I've grown to love them.


Pentacles is earth. Grounding, steady, the root chakra. This suit is all about the physical world. It can mean money, but it can also mean your belongings, your physical body, your job, or house -- and almost any other physical thing on this plane. The King of Pentacles specifically taught me a lot about abundance and self-worth. I realized he didn't mean money or wealth, but that I am abundant just as I am. All the time. There are billions of cells and living things that make me up as a person, coming together with the soul purpose of keeping me alive and happy. If that's not abundance, I don't know what is.


Pentacles can teach you about saving money and getting out of a tough situation, or it can tell you to maybe loosen your pockets a little bit. Give to somebody else. Put that money back out there to flow with the rest of the energy. There's a difference between saving your money and belongings, and becoming a hoarder.


SWORDS


Shit, let's be real -- I just love all the suits.


I'll be real with you: I have way too much Swords energy much of the time.


Swords: air, logic, the mind, mental health, communication. Nowadays, it is often associated with social media. As with all the suits' energy, you can have too much Swords energy -- and I think I definitely do. I try to understand and logic my way through most of life (and in my line of work, that often just doesn't fly!). Of course, without Swords energy we have ignorance and poor judgement which is not good either. It's important to have a balance.


I get the King of Swords and the Queen of Swords a lot, and they give me a very specific energy. They're a power couple, a united front. They always seem to be on the exact same page, though they aren't very outwardly emotional or affectionate. The other court cards wonder: How do they achieve this?


The King and Queen of Swords are smart about everything they do. They don't like to show weakness via uncertainty or emotional outbursts. They communicate constantly, working out whatever strategy or disagreements they have so that when they make their appearance they are a force to be reckoned with. They may not be as passionate as Wands, emotionally connected as Cups, or rich as Pentacles, but they have each others backs completely.


I know. That's a lot to get from a couple of cards, but that's the exact dynamic I get from them. Like I said, Swords can be mental health too! I once did a reading for a woman who had asked about her physical health, but when I pulled a couple cards I got the Ten of Swords. Her mental health, if not properly cared for, was about to reach an all-time low and needed to be handled ASAP. Swords is not a gentle suit, but it's never failed to tell me what I (and others) need to hear.



So those are the suits. The basics of them anyway. I'd love to write more about the basics of tarot, and maybe eventually dive a little deeper than the basics! I hope this encourages you to pursue tarot if that's what you're interested in. And if not, then I hope you at least found it interesting. The Fool knows I do!

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