Like one’s family and our genes, suits tint a card with meaning. They tingle in our intuition, sometimes with merely a background colour, many links to our lives, feelings and the nature around us.
To start, for me it’s key to recognise correspondences so in my mind, before I even start reading a Minor Arcana card’s meaning within a spread, I get an idea where it’s coming from, a feeling, an area of the person, even an attitude.
The suits tarots deal with are those of the Spanish playing cards, as opposed to those of the typical french cards. Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles, those are the cards I grew up playing with as a child, but they acquire a vast dimension by just discovering these links. For instance, to me, corresponding the suits to elements, gives me plenty information already about the feel they bring.
Wands (a.k.a. Clubs, Staves) have the personality of Fire, they’re considered Masculine and link to the South. They represent Action, power, energy and movement. Transformation. Things going on. Wands have the enthralling brilliance of fire, enticing, not letting you look away. There’s passion and desire, something very personal, that is rooted deep within. These cards expect, almost demand, a firm hand.
Cups ( or Chalices, bowls or even cauldrons) are, on the other hand, the spawn of Water. Deeply Feminine and West-bound, embody Emotion, feelings and the bonds we forge, starting with the one with ourselves. Creation. Intuition is key for unravelling the mysteries that Cups love to keep. Love relationships seem to be a typical query, so you might pay particular heed to these ones.
Swords (also Knives or Daggers), are like Wind in their essence. Sharp in every sense of the word, they are Masculine and their direction is East. Logical and determinant, they are liberating in their blunt openness and usually tell tales of struggles and tribulations with little tact. I find them hard to read sometimes because of that, but it is up to us to soften their harshness to the Querent’s susceptibility without bending their truth.
Pentacles (or Coins or Gold) come from the Earth. Their Stability and pure Giving essence is completely Feminine and in a North direction. They focus on the Material, being finances or health or possessions of any sort. Nurturing and strong, they conjure another aspect of us, which tends to be a bit left aside by some people who turn too much into spirituality. Another typical query, keep your eyes open for pentacles when reading about career, work or money matters.
One thing I tried doing, and it help orientate me at times, was this spread I call ‘Four Points’ but I dunno if it has any proper name, of is someone else invented it before. There are two approaches to it, first you may separate each suit from the rest (I usually do this as part of a cleansing ritual for my decks) and placing each suit in the appropriate position of its direction, cut anywhere to reveal one card of each. Start reading at East, like the sun, which is Swords; it will show something that is in your mind at the moment… usually a problematic situation or any worry. Then move to Wands, which will determine what sort of action is advisable (or not advisable) to take in that state of mind. Afterwards, read Cups, which will determine an emotion or feeling you’d do well to focus on to help this situation; and finally, Pentacles will show a concrete possible resolution.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to separate your deck, you can just face the cards towards you and find the first swords, then continue on the part of the deck you have not seen yet for a Wands, then a Cups and same for Pentacles. Position them as shown in the picture, following their cardinal point correspondences.
For today, my spread was quite direct.
East: Queen of Swords – My attitude today, particularly towards my boyfriend, had been a bit cold and too blunt maybe. I’ve been thinking that he didn’t deserve to be treated so harshly, because I know he’s not been in his best moments.
South: Ace of Wands – In this case, i think it tells me to have confidence in opening up and trying to inspire him to fire up and make himself better. I need to be that first sparkle for him today.
West: Three of Cups – This cards asks me to focus on that sense of teamwork and belonging I share with him. He does this for me, so it’s fair I try and do that for him too. We work together and we share the good and the bad.
North: Five of Pentacles – A possible result of my actions or after the end of this situation, might be of him leaving his job, because that’s what is really upsetting him at this moment. Having left my job as well, I know it could mean potential financial hardships for us, but I trust that like in my Dreamscapes deck, this is just a feeling and there will always be a solution near by.
What also help me when reading these cards, is having a deck which has them with representative images, like a basic Rider-Waite or my Dreamscapes. Other decks which just have a number of swords or coins, make it harder for me to remember the actual meaning behind the card. This will probably help you if you’re a beginner like myself.
Blessings and Light in this Tyr’s Day!