Over twenty years ago, when I began my relationship with Tarot I was-- understandably and willingly-- seduced by the Major Arcana card series. Literally the “Big Secrets”, this run of twenty-two cards take us sequentially through an archetypal marathon journey. Each card individually is a powerful archetype, a transpersonal yet keenly personal bundle of BIG. The Death card, Fool card, Lovers card.
There are epochs in our lives that are “Major Arcana” from top to bottom. The rising themes are powerful, transformative, ground-shaking, Some folks are Major Arcana magnets! And of course there are those cards that have a kinship and affinity for our unique soul-stories: the client who says dreamily, oh I always pick that card! (Yes, I know you do.)
Though the Majors have the juice to stand alone and blow your mind, your ego, your sense of security, your broken thinking, your downtrodden belief that there is nothing/no one /no place for you-- the Minors weave the web fully, showing us the when, the where, the how that bridges the pure, raw magic of the Majors into our-plain-old-days.
(Cue the cheerleading for the wisdom and beauty of these humble allies. Go!)
The Minor Arcana series is divided into four suits which correspond to four elements: Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. The elemental symbology on the cards differs depending on the tradition and deck you are using as your lens. Air could be swords or arrows. Fire symbology could be wands, staves, batons, bows. Water is represented as cups, vessels, bowls. Earth would be pentacles, coins, disks, rings, stones. each suit has ten numbered cards (as well as a court of four noble members...post for another day).
Integrating the message of a reading depends on these helpers. They lack the Bling of the Majors but do not underestimate them-- or you undervalue the small, precious moments that comprise our lives. These cards chronicle the fulfilled heart-spring of friendship (Three of Cups), the slow and steady diligence of skill acquired (Eight of Pentacles), the sting of jealousy and the mental torment it brings (Three of Swords).
My degree in Victorian Literature(truly from another epoch in my life) wants you to know that while the Majors are the jaw dropping plot device (damn, it was the doppelganger), the exclamation point, the wrist peeking out from the glove-- the Minors are the gracefully placed comma, the brilliant semi-colon, the quiet as you close the pages of the book and it all falls into place. Oh, dear Minor Arcana your “little secrets” are revealed as we wash dishes. How I once wronged you!