Structure Of The Tarot

The Tarot is a pack of cards; well we can say that they are ancestors of modern playing cards. The tarot pack consists of 78 cards. These 78 cards are subdivided into two groups.

1 The major Arcana: consisting of 22 cards.
2 The miner Arcana: consisting of 56 cards.


The major arcana deal with the archetypal forces of the collective unconsciousness.

The unconscious is the part of your mind that contains feelings & ideas that you do not know about or cannot control. These are the pure powers of nature, representing the macrocosm, the universal structure. According to the findings of the psychologists Jung the unconscious mind may be dividing into distinct areas, the personal unconsciousness and the much greater unconsciousness. (Consciousness is your mind and your thoughts. The conscious memories or thought are ones that you are aware of while. The subconscious is the part of your mind that can influence you or affect your behavior with out being aware of it.)

The personal unconsciousness is the repository of one’s day to the experiences. Whether remembered or forgotten, all our emotions & feelings are held here. The collective consciousness, however, is not particular to any single individual, but is shared in common by the whole mankind. It contains the memories of our ancestors, a record of the collective experiences of humanity. This includes concepts, ideas & ways of thinking and reacting to the world. It is common to all people, independent of historical or cultural tradition, and is known by some as the wisdom of ages, by others as race memories.

Jung considered that contacting the collective unconsciousness played an important part in one’s self development. In his therapies he examined the imagery of dreams. Beneath the surface gloss, which related to the dreamer’s personal unconsciousness (depicted by the minor arcane), he found that the deeper levels could be uncovered. These related to the collective unconsciousness. By contact with the collective unconsciousness the dreamer has access to the knowledge acquired by mankind over the millennia.

The collective unconsciousness uses a language of images known as archetypes. The archetypes appear in personified or symbolic picture form. They are cross cultural and may be recognized in all mythologies, fairy tales & religious traditions. Archetypes are the basic forces of the universe, and represent typical fundamental experiences. As the basic building blocks of experience they are of necessity limited in number, but when combined, the


The 56 miner arcana’s are further divided in to four groups of different suits: pentacles, cups, swords, and wands. Each suit consists of 14 cards, out of which 10 are numbered & the remaining four are the court cards: Page, knight, queen & king. In some decks Page is replaced by Princess, and Knight is replaced by Prince. The four suits also coincide with the suits of the playing cards.

The miner arcana cards are the “lesser mysteries” of life. This is the realm of personal experience, that of the personal unconsciousness. They tell us more about our day to day events. Below is a table in which I have summarized the attributes of the suits. Attributions impart unique qualities which are the basis of all interpretations.

Suits Element Gender Life Experiences Zodiac signs Qualities of the suit
Wands Fire Masculine Career Leo: Aries, Energy
(Clubs)       Sagittarius enthusiasm
Cups Water Feminine Emotions Pisces, Cancer Emotions
(Hearts)       & Scorpio Love
Swords Air Masculine Intellectual Gemini, Libra, Intellect,
(Spades)     activity Aquarius ideas.
Coins Earth Feminine Material Taurus, Virgo physical
Pentacles being     aspects Capricorn, well
(Diamonds) materiality.          

Wands (fire) are opposite to Cups (water)
Swords (air) are opposite to Coins (earth).


The 16 court cards are linked to the elements in two ways. Firstly by the association of the suit & secondly by rank the king represents fire, queen represents water, prince represents air & princess earth. When considered in their suits the following pattern emerges:

Suits Kings (male over 35 yrs) Queen (female over 35 yrs) Prince (under 35 yrs) Princess under 35 yrs)
Fire (Wands) Fire of Fire Fire of Water Fire of Air Fire of Earth
Water (Cups) Water of Fire Water of Water Water of Air Water of Earth
Air (Swords) Air of Fire Air of Water Air of Air Air of Earth
Earth Earth of Fire Earth of Water Earth of Air Earth of Earth

The 16 different combinations represent 16 distinct personality types. For example the king of wands is regarded as fire of fire. This means that the associations of that element are at their strongest & most powerful.

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