Like traditional playing cards the small cards in the Tarot number Ace through to 10. There are 4 suits representing the 4 Elements of the Western Occult Tradition; Fire, Water, Air, Earth.
In the Tarot the elements are represented as Wands (Clubs), Cups (Hearts), Swords (Spades) and Disks (Diamonds). Each symbol – such as the 4 elements – in turn contains more detailed symbolic meanings, such as active/passive, heat/cool and other mysteries.
The process from 1 (Ace) through to 10 represent set stages of development from beginning (Ace) through to completion/end (10). (The Major Arcana/Trumps express this on a macrocosmic level, starting with the Fool (0) through to the Universe/World (22).)
The Ancients viewed the world as divisible into parts represented by numerical values which in turn had mystical meanings drawn from astrology, alchemy, Qabalah and other spiritual traditions. The Tarot is based on these complex numerical and mystical relationships – every symbol on a traditional deck of Tarot cards is there for a reason! This symbolic philosophy is at the heart of Tarot interpretation and is an effective shorthand for making sense of the infinite.
The 4 suits represent the main spheres of life:
Wands: The World of Growth & Beginnings, Action (Fire) Cups: The Emotional World, the Heart, Love, Empathy (Water) Swords: The Mental World, Reasoning, Clarity & Argument (Air) Disks or Pentacles: The Material World, the Body, Comfort, the Senses (Earth)
When a ‘small card’ comes up we are seeing ‘small’ part of the matter. Do not overlook the small cards, they can reveal the key to solving the situation.
The small cards show the called the ‘microcosmic world’ – our personal world. The macrocosmic world (macro – great, cosmos – world) is the greater story of humanity or your place in the greater sphere of things.
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