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Suits - what they represent

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 16 Jul 2002, and now archived in the Forum Library.

Sorceress_Jade  16 Jul 2002 
So I want the dish on not only the stadard interpretation but also what you all have found on suits and what they cover.

I mean, I understand that swords is air and involved emotions or lack of.... but that's only the most basic way of trying to see it.

Help me to better understand the intricasies of the perosnalities of the suits please. 

Rhiannon  16 Jul 2002 
I've found the following helps me:

Wands = action/reaction
Cups = emotions
Swords = communication/pain
Pentacles = wealth/generosity

Hope that helps.
R :) 

divinerguy  16 Jul 2002 
Lay out your pip cards in a line. One line for each suit. Ace of cups, 2 of cups, 3 of cups, etc.

Do the same for each suit. Look at the progression of the cards as the numbers get higher. You'll see common themes.

Aces are always about triumph or some beneficial archetype.
In many cases, 5s are the antithesis of the suit's general theme. 10s are almost always at the zenith of the theme.

Kings always demonstrate authority and leadership, while Queens demonstrate the more cerebral aspects of leadership. Generally speaking Pages are curious and Knights are enthusiastic.

Just a few general notes, and yes, there are exceptions. While Tarot is an exercise in exceptions and contradictions, it is also one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done.


the hermit  17 Jul 2002 
So first, here’s my problem with the question…
How I interpret the suits, and individual cards of the Major AND Minor Arcana is completely dependent on the question, the layout form and what other cards surround them.

With that said I’ve seen cups that meant creativity, wands that meant intelligence, swords that meant love, pentacles that meant challenges… plus Towers that meant hope, Death that meant life, Hermits that meant closed minds.
Basically, for me, any suit, any card can mean almost anything.
This morning I decided to do a 3 card spread for myself about my job future (I’m currently unemployed and have been for a while, yet another victim of the high tech meltdown… oh well)

Past = 10 of Swords
Present = Death
Future = Tower

‘Classic’ Interpretation:
10 = bottoming out, martyr, victim
Death = ending, transition, elimination, inexorable forces
Tower = sudden change, release, downfall, revelation

The over-kill of the 10 of swords said—about time… probably should have happened long before now.
Death said—it’s time to look at something new, different, move on with life.
Tower says—be ready for anything, a quick decision may be necessary, grab life, be open.

Nothing radical here, but not necessarily what someone would see if all they looked at was the 'classic' definitions.

Now my feelings obviously have a lot to do with this interpretation. I was unhappy in my work. I knew, as many others did, that the high-tech rocket had to run out of gas sometime. I wanted to be closer to my mom, who is now alone. I need a new beginning. So all of this influenced how I see these cards now. Next month, the same spread will almost certainly mean something else to me then.

So there’s my two cents worth—probably ain’t even worth that much :) 

Sullanciri2002  17 Jul 2002 
In my understanding, I've always (generally speaking) read the four suits as follows:

- wands as the aspect of energy, action, charisma, movement
- cups as emotion, intuïtion, relationships, and mystery
- swords as intellect, reason, ratio, justice, and morality
- pentacles as earthlt concerns or material needs, goods, wealth, practicality, and nature

If I use the THoth deck, it gets a tad more complicated when the court cards pop up - in that each one of the court cards becomes an aspect of the four elements in its own right

this gives you things like the Queen of Disks, becoming "water of earth" - the more intuïtive and nurturing side of being practical and providing for one's family (as an example) ... and so forth.

I'm afraid this is the sort of question some authors could write an entire book on ... 

jmd  17 Jul 2002 
The original post by Sorceress_Jade mentions the 'intricacies of the personalities of the suits' - such a beautiful image!

If the deck used has illustrated pips, then of course these intricacies have already been rendered along a particular direction by the artist.

It should also be remembered that the elemental associations made are varied (as an example I have mentioned before, Swords has been associated with Air, with Fire... and with Water!).

But to begin to enter some of the suits' intricacies, it may also be worth considering these as the symbolic tools of various sections of mediaeval life. As such, the Staffs belong to the workers of the Earth and the Crafts(wo/)men, the Coins to merchants and their bankers, the Swords to the aristocracy and nobility, and the Cups to the Church and its inclusive learning centres.

Reflecting on these, whilst at the same time laying in sequence each suit, as mentioned above by divinerguy - as well as taking into consideration the suggestions made by other contributors will, in my opinion, reveal some of the profoundness inherent in the minor Arcana. 

Sorceress_Jade  17 Jul 2002 
wow, so much good information. Keep it coming. That was all very helpful.

That's one things I've noticed about the Thoth that seems to go further than a lot of other decks. Each card in a suit is very endowed with that suits attributes in the imagery. You can't forget what the suits elements or personality is. Very strong and forcefull that deck.

~feverishly scribbles down the suggestions in her notebook~ thnx again. 

The Suits - what they represent thread was originally posted on 16 Jul 2002 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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