Evolving from the first playing cards that entered Europe in the 14th Century, tarot cards have been used for divination ever since, with accounts from Milan noting allegorical images on a 16 card deck. Since then, though the suits have altered to suit higher purposes than snap with the addition of cards, The Minor Arcana still resembles many packs of cards we would use today with 56 cards, four suits, ten numbered cards and four face cards for every suit.
The Minor Arcana and Major Arcana make up tarot decks specifically designed for purposes of divination. The Major Arcana is believed to hold greater secrets, with 22 trump cards without suits and each is numbered except the fool, which is ordered either at the beginning or the end of the pack. The Minor Arcana is thought to hold minor secrets and contains the suits: Swords, Batons/Wands, Coins/Pentacles and Cups. The cards are meant to reveal past, present and future though a knowledge of each card is necessary before you can interpret your online tarot reading fully.
Aces- New Beginnings
Aces are the initial energy to a suit and therefore hold an undirected and pure spark of vitality that mirrors the characteristics of the suit in question. Madhavi Ghare is a tarot reader with years of experience, and is also the founder of Tarot-ically Speaking. When asked about what Aces represent with regards to love, she responded: “These four cards can often show the first sparks of attraction popping up — but it is often the story from the point of view of one person. Who knows what’s going on in the mind of the other person?” The Ace of Swords may represent a new idea, thought process or philosophy, The Ace of Wands may be new energy, passion or enthusiasm. The Ace of Cups expresses a new emotion while the Ace of Pentacles indicates new luck or health. If the Aces appear inverted that could denote apathy towards an aces innovation or an inability to accept the innovative vigour of an Ace.
Ace of Pentacles
The Ace of Pentacles is a particularly important ace as the single Pentacle is robust and substantial, indicating something real and long-lasting entering your life. The card often depicts a well-tended and abundant garden with an archway formed out of a hedgerow or other foliage. The trained greenery expresses patience and commitment as well as a stable and fruitful period in life. The natural element also is an indication of health and body, therefore announcing a time of good health as well as being content and centred in life.
Two of Cups
Conveying both balance and duality, the cup is a positive card to start any relationship. With the Cups suit known for denoting an emotional level of consciousness that is often associated with love, when combined with the mirroring and duality of the pair it becomes an emotional union or a loving partnership. The card often depicts a wedding ceremony or an exchange being watched by a lion-headed caduceus. The lion head suggests a ferocity and passion while the caduceus was a staff often carried by Hermes, a Greek God known for transcending boundaries, both mortal and divine, a messenger and an emblem of communication.
Madhavi believes this card has many applications to the start of relationships: “This one is all about those first dates or first encounters with that special someone. Often this card shows a couple exchanging cups with each other. While it symbolically talks about an honest exchange of feelings, this card might also show a chance encounter, or the first few dates where a couple gets to know each other (often over a drink or two).”
Four of Wands
An event or celebration is imminent with this card. An indication of finality, closure and achievement as the card rejoices in the end of courtship and the triumph of marriage. If you are in a relationship this may mean elevating to a newer and more intimate stage of commitment. If you are still single it may mean meeting someone new at a celebratory event, or moving somewhere further than friendship with someone you already know.
Ten of cups
An undeniably happy card, the Ten of Cups illustrates both domestic bliss and previous hardship that has now passed. The ten cups are arranged as a rainbow against a blue sky indicating that conflict and distress has been overcome and for the time being there will be no further struggle. The family displayed on the card signify domestic felicity while a pastoral background emanates an energy of plenty and abundance.
Though this card sounds imposing, the Judgement card is in fact about rebirth and regeneration. While one cannot leave past mistakes behind, one can come to terms with them, enabling them to move onwards and forward to better things. This is the story of the judgement card, with past selves ascending to heaven to allow the person to complete their journey. This card is about personal growth and wellbeing, which, once fully realised, allows the person receiving this card open to new love. Kate from Daily Tarot Girl feels that The Judgement card is key to enter back into the dating world: “Judgement can signify new beginnings and putting the past behind you – rising up from the ashes of past relationships and entering the romantic realm again with a fresh perspective.”
Another card that is expected to have negative connotations, The Fool rejects these assumptions and is instead another card of rebirth and regeneration. The Fool is a card of decision-making, indicating that the manner in which you approach new opportunities is key to the outcome you will experience. It implies that a positive attitude to new experiences and an element of care will see you happily on the other side. Serena from Serena Powers, an extensive guide to many of the arts of divination, treats The Fool as an essential card this Valentine’s Day: “What may sound like a pessimistic choice, this card actually touches on things like new developments, fresh starts, and taking risks – all of which can play a very important role in love and relationships.”
The Lovers is an obvious card, but what does it actually represent? The perfection of the initial union is displayed on the lower half of the card with a naked couple (thought to be Adam and Eve) delighting in each other. This is meant to portray the believed perceived perfection of a partner in this moment – although flaws may rise to the surface in the future, at this point in time you could not imagine any in your partner. Serena also warns of what to keep in mind when beholding The Lovers: “Something to keep in mind is that in addition to the emotion itself, this card also touches on emotional choices. It is important to be aware of one’s emotions when making decisions – especially when they may impact a relationship (“Should I call him?”, “Should I ask him how he feels about us?”).”
The Court Cards (face cards of Arcana Minor)
Kate from Daily Tarot Girl explains the nature of the different court cards, commenting: “Each court card has a different personality, so they can signify the characteristics of a potential mate OR personality traits you need to tap into in order to attract a mate. The Queens are feminine, mature, confident and sexy. The Kings are masculine, mature, confident and powerful. The Knights are masculine, adventurous, goal-oriented and idealistic. The Pages are young, inexperienced, enthusiastic yet naive.” This, when coupled with each suit’s identity, builds a strong character profile for each court card, and so if one arrives in your spread, look to see the type of person coming into your life or the traits you need to embrace to attract the perfect date.
Cards you wish to avoid
Unfortunately not all romance tales have happy endings and the same is true of Tarot readings. Though many cards can be interpreted positively, there are a few that hold nothing but distress. Madhavi sums the up the three most unpleasantly portentous cards:
“3 of Swords: This one is heartbreak central. With a picture of a heart stabbed by 3 swords, there’s no mistaking what this card is trying to tell you.
5 of Cups: Crying about all that one has lost is the story of this card, and there’s no escaping the sadness in here.
8 of Cups: This is another sad scene — the figure leaves all his emotions behind and walks away in his grief.
Image Credit: CircaSassy