Tarot 101: The Suits


The Four Families

If you’ve ever looked at your deck and thought, I am never going to remember all this, congratulations! You’re not alone. There are 56 Minor Arcana cards, each with rich meanings and connotations, and that can be a challenge to memorize.

While it’s important to learn and understand the meanings of the card, you can learn to spot patterns and trends by considering the suits that trend in the context of a reading.

Each suit aligns with one of the four elements – Earth, Water, Air, and Fire—and can tell us quite a lot about ourselves, our challenges, and our focus. They’re like families—each with their own emphasis and priorities. For instance, a reading that is brimming with Pentacle (or Coin) cards will show an emphasis on material issues, such as money or career, while a reading full of Hearts (or Cups) points more to relationship matters.

As you understand the families of the different suit more fully, you’ll be able to intuit the reading more clearly before you even look at the individual cards.


The suit of Pentacles (or Coins in some decks) focuses on, among other things, money. (Hey, it’s tarot, not rocket surgery!) The cards in this family are all about the material world: money, career, physical health, house, home, property, practicality. The journey through the suit of Pentacles is the journey of mastery over the nuts and bolts of life—the acquisition, management, and proper use of material possessions. Since your body is your ultimate material possession, this suit will also mirror your physical health and abilities. The Court Cards in this suit often reflect financial advisors, coaches, doctors, bosses, or just your highest wisdom in the material realm. Element: Earth


The suit of Hearts (or Cups in some decks) focuses on relationships. That big old heart is going to immediately bring your mind to romance. And, yes, romantic love is one aspect of the big, warm family of hearts. But the suit encompasses all aspects of relationships, including the one we have with ourselves. If you see hearts in a reading, you know emotions, intuition, and creativity will be at play, as well as all the complications that accompany our emotional life. The Court Cards in this suit often reflect our wise leaders, nurturers, romantics, poets, and emotional healers. Element: Water


The suit of Swords focuses on intellect. Like the sharp words of a strict schoolmaster, the element of Swords can cut through extraneous fluff and get right to the point of the matter at hand. A reading full of swords is going to indicate thoughts, words, actions—anything that helps assert power and create change. The sword can be sharp and even dangerous if used improperly, but it can also be a tool of great value as you move through the world. The Court Cards in this suit often reflect teachers, mentors, and authority figures. Element: Air


The suit of Wands (Or Batons in some decks) represents energy, motivation, passion. Whether it’s a new creative venture, a change in job or residence, or a beloved hobby, you can bet the family of Wands is going to be involved. Fiery wands are the instigators, the encouragers, and the ambitious among the Minor Arcana. If your spread is filled with Wands, look to new beginnings, changes, and creative collaborations, as well as the challenges that come from going beyond your comfort zone. The Court Cards in this suit often reflect inspiring teachers, artists, innovators, and thought leaders. Element: Fire

In our next lesson, we will delve deeper into the Spreads.

Until then, if you liked this post and would like to follow us on social media, please visit our Facebook page. We are also available to readings in person, over the phone, or online. As always, comments and shares are greatly appreciated.

Peace and Love,


P.S. If you like the image on this post, please check out The Enchanted Tarot by Amy Zerner and Monte Warner.  To access the entire Tarot 101 series, click here.

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