Minor Arcana - The Four Suits

The Minor Arcana (or Lesser Arcana) are the 56 suit cards of the 78-card deck of tarot playing cards. The Minor Arcana comprise four suits with 14 cards each. Although there are variations, the Minor Arcana commonly employ the Italo-Spanish suits: Wands (alternatively, batons, clubs, or staves), Cups (or Chalices), Swords (or Knives), and Pentacles (alternatively, Coins or Disks). In contrast, the French suits are spades (♠), hearts (♥), diamonds (♦) and clubs (♣).
Each Minor Arcana card in a suit is numbered one (ace) to ten, except for the court cards (or courts)—page, knight, queen, and king—which are comparable to face cards. In one variation, the Toth deck, princess and prince cards replace the page and knight cards. Some Italian decks add two more court cards: the maid and the mounted lady. Since contemporary decks of French playing cards replace both the knight and the page with the jack or knave, such decks only have 52 cards. The remaining 22 cards in a tarot deck are the Major Arcana. Minor Arcana cards in contemporary tarot decks are usually illustrated—a convention popularized by the Rider-Waite tarot deck. Non-illustrated cards bear symmetrical arrangements of pips.
When reading the Minor Arcana cards, you must bear in mind that the qualities each suit has can neutralize or or influence the surrounding cards. In particular:

Wands (Fire) -- opposite to -- Cups (Water)
Swords (Air) -- opposite to -- Pentacles (Earth)

This practically means that when you get a Cup, for example, surrounded by many Wands, then the Cup loses its strength (for better of for worse). On the other hand, when a card is surrounded by other cards of the same suit, its energy grows stronger.

The Major Arcana cards are also influenced (for better or for worse) when surrounded by at least three minor arcana cards of the same suit. For exmaple, if you get Empress (growth, creativity) along with three Cups (no matter which) the extra information you get - besides reading the cards individually - is that you need to focus your creative endeavors in the field of relationships. 


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