The traditional Tarot deck consists of 78 cards. They are divided into two sets, one set of cards are called as major cards i.e Major Arcana and they are 22 in number. The Major Arcana reflects the turning points in our lives, triumphs, tragedies and deals with a person’s karmic cycle. Arcana means profound mysteries or secrets. The second set of cards is called as the Minor Arcana and contains 56 cards. They represent daily life and deal with day to day experiences, people, influences and situations in our lives. They are further subdivided into four suits and are numbered from Ace to 10 and four court cards called the Page, Knight, Queen and King. The four suits are associated with the four elements, which are as follows:
Wands – Fire element
Cups – Water element
Swords – Air element
Pentacles – Earth element
Each card is associated with a number, a ruling planet or Sun sign and picture as well as color symbology.
The Wands or the Fire
The symbol of the wand represents that which is spiritual, soulful, intuitive, creative, and enterprising. All wands represent the Element of fire and spirit. The fire card or the wands represent the realm of action and response. The Wands are mostly concerned with the field of human spirit, work, and enterprise. The Wands represent the season of spring. They speak much about the ideas, intellect, planning etc. In some cards they are called as the suits of clubs, rods, staffs, staves and batons. Often the wands indicate the beginning stages of identifying and planning a new course for one's life, usually related to self-development and accomplishment.
The Cups or the WaterThe suit of Cups represents the human imagination. They are connected with our feelings and our emotions. In a reading they represent the emotional side of the life of the seeker. They are primarily the cards of love, romance, poetry, artistic endeavors, instruction, imagination, creation, and regeneration. Cups are connected with the Element of Water. In some cards they are called as the Suits of Hearts. The water card or the Cups or Heart cards represent artistic, poetic, loving, sensitive, intellectual class as opposed to the stern legalistic or military ruling classes. They are concerned with friendship, romance, harmony, and love. The Cups represent the season of summer.
The Swords or the Cloud
The suit of Swords is concerned with intellect, decision, judgment, and conflict, human conflict and trouble in making intellectual decisions. The Sword is the ancient symbol for intellectual decision, choice, compartmentalization of knowledge, and the resultant conflicts. It denotes the ability to make quick, strong, logical, and hardheaded choices, to make value judgments, and weigh opposing factors. The Cloud or swords, represents the qualities of the Element of Air. It represents the season of winter. In some cards they are displayed as the Suit of Spades. The Swords signify the powerful nobility. When this card appears in a reading it means some dark or cloudy situations will come or has come but it will also go away. We should now worry too much about the problems, as the Universe will solve it. The supporting cards will tell us how and when it can be solved.
The Pentacles or the Rainbow
The Suit of Pentacles signifies that which is physical, practical, and down-to-earth, the physical body, and the physical world. The element connected with this suit is Earth. Pentacles also signify the season of the harvest/fall. All cards in the suit of Pentacles are connected with things or ideas that are material. It is also mentioned in some cards as the Suit of Diamonds. The Pentacles signify the merchants, the townsmen, the businessmen in general. When this card appears in a reading it is taking our attention towards practical and material aspect of life.