Tarot Cards – Understanding and Interpretation – How to easily read the minor cards
There are many arguments about the secondary tarot deck, and some readers ignore them, preferring to use only the primary cards. Certainly the major cards seem more dramatic, focused, specific, and emphatic, but when the reading includes the minor cards, it heightens the meanings of the major cards, putting them in proper perspective.
Without the secondary cards, a reading can easily be too overwhelming, plunging the questioner into a big soap opera. Used correctly, secondary cards add vital light and shadow, touches of everyday reality, and also many small but vital functions that are not affected or obliterated by the popular main deck. For beginners, however, the 56 secondary cards can be a daunting prospect to learn and read without reference to the child sheet, so here’s a flying start.
The 21 main cards are unusual and their main aspects are quickly remembered. Once you get used to these cards, look again at cards 1 (The Wizard) through 10 (Wheel of Fortune). The Fool stands apart and cards 11 to 21 represent more developed states. The 10 human states that are represented in the first half of the main deck are repeated in each of the four dot cards of the suit (which of course are 1 through 10). Thus the Wizard is represented by every Ace, the High Priestess by every 2, the Empress by every 3, and so on. When you know the base cards 1 through 10, you also know another 40 cards. The trick is to apply the meaning of the major card to the suit of the minor card:
The main themes of cards 1 to 10 are:
1 Singularity, individuality, fixedness (The Wizard)
2 Duality, partnership, ambivalence (The High Priestess)
3 Growth,Nurture (The Empress)
4 Stability, Logic, Method (The Emperor)
5 Authority, Conflict, Conformity (The Hierophant)
6 Choice, Sacrifice, Altruism ((The Lovers)
7 Control, Conquest, Challenge (The Chariot)
8 Justice, morality, ethics (fairness)
9 Awareness, Meditation, Truth (The Hermit)
10 Chance, New Potential, Closure (Wheel of Fortune)
Take the time to re-read the interpretive meanings of the main cards with these themes in mind. You may have a deck where Strength and Justice are transposed with Strength as the primary card number 8 and Justice as the number 11. If this is the case, you will need to remember that the minor 8s refer to Justice, not Strength.
To connect the above theme to the minor card in the reading, you need to understand the associations for each suit:
Swords represent the intellect, the ideas, the plans, the problems, the things we deal with in the mind. Astrologically, Swords represent the element of Air.
Wands represent life force, energy, creativity, motivation. Our driving. Astrologically, wands represent the element of Fire
Cups represent the emotional and the spiritual. Love, dreams, beliefs. Astrologically, cups represent the element of Water
Coins represent the material world, the sensual, our appetites, practical things. Astrologically, coins represent the element Earth.
Go through your deck several times, reading the meanings for each of the first 10 major cards and connecting them to the minor card of the same number in each suit, thinking about the major card meanings in terms of the minor associations listed above. For example, all 7s are associated with card number 7 of the Major Arcana, the Chariot; The Chariot is a card associated with control, conquest and challenge. Control problems can take many forms and can be positive or negative. With the 7 of Swords we know that these main associations are related to intellect, ideas, plans, problems; these are the associations of the color of Swords and the element of Air.
We immediately have a clear indication of how control is a problem. At this point the reader considers the position the card is in, giving a more refined context such as the area of family and loved ones or the area that represents hopes and fears. These areas are determined by the type of plaster used. Additionally, the reader can also connect this 7 to the other cards in the reading, with the entire interpretation being further shaped by the client’s questions. With control related to intelligence, we could look at problems with self-control, perhaps from the perspective of lack or perhaps from the perspective of manipulation. If the 7 were Cups, we might see issues like reluctance to commit to emotional needs; or excessive dependence on them.
7 of Wands can suggest a lack of control over passions or a tendency to take on too much at once. The point is that all of these possible meanings present themselves in the reading, in context, as long as you understand the associations of the color and the underlying theme of the base card with that number. Then the position in the spread puts things into context.
A little practice with this method and your readings will become richer and smoother, your confidence will grow and so will your reputation.
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