The Suits Of The Tarot, Explained

produced by Julie Borowsky; produced by Lorenna Gomez-Sanchez; photographed by Megan Madden; modeled by Milana Baker.
If you were to base your understanding of tarot cards solely on how they're depicted in pop culture, you'd think there were only 22 cards in a deck, all of which depict mythic archetypes like "The Fool," "The Hanged Man," and "The Devil." In reality, these cards, known as the Major Arcana, make up less than half of a traditional tarot deck. The remaining cards are the Minor Arcana and, at first glance, look a lot like regular playing cards.
Consisting of four suits (Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands), the Minor Arcana are just as valuable in a tarot reading as the Major, though they should be interpreted a little differently, says intuitive tarot reader and author Theresa Reed.
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"While the Major Arcana represents the big, fated events in life, the Minor Arcana cards represent the day-to-day life or things that are within our control," she explains, adding that using both in the same reading can give you a better idea of how things are going on both a macro- and micro-level. As Reed points out, why separate your daily life from your spiritual life?
For any astrology fans reading, each Minor Arcana suit shares properties with one of the elements of the Zodiac (fire, earth, air, and water). In turn, each suit is associated with the three signs ruled by their corresponding element. So, since the Pentacles suit is believed to represent the element of earth, its associated signs are Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn. This doesn't mean that you have to identify with the suit that represents your sign. If you're still getting familiar with the meaning behind the Minor Arcana cards (but already have the basics of astrology down pat) this parallel may offer some clarity around the suits' realm of influence.
Ahead, Reed leads us on a tour through the Minor Arcana's four suits — the areas of our lives that they rule, their connections to the Zodiac, and more.
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Cups
Associated signs: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Given its connection to the water signs, it's no wonder that this suit rules our emotions, relationships, and feelings of love, Reed says. A reading dominated by Cups cards suggests that matters of the heart will be (or already are) top of mind for you.
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Pentacles
Associated signs: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

As we mentioned earlier, Pentacles represent the element of earth — and the grounded, sensible worldview that the earth signs of the Zodiac tend to possess. Pulling a Pentacles card suggests that financial, material, or simply practical needs may take center stage in your day-to-day life.
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Swords
Associated signs: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

The aptly-named suit of Swords touches the areas of conflict and challenge in our lives, "which is why many people groan when they come up in a reading," Reed explains. But a Swords card doesn't only imply difficulties ahead. "They also indicate ideas, thoughts, and truth," she adds.
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Wands
Associated signs: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Wands rule our creativity and passions, Reed says. Like its corresponding fire signs, this suit is action-oriented — seeing a Wands card or two in your regular reading could allude to the spark of inspiration. Who knows what it might ignite?
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