To understand the Minor Arcana, each suit must be explored individually, but first know that they all share a similar flow from 1 to 10. The principle energy behind these numbers are very relative to the corresponding energy of each Sephiroth on the Tree of Life, which you can learn more about in our Tree of Life series here. While each element has its own characteristics, the general principles of the numerology and the Sephiroth stay the same.
The Number Sequences
- The aces (number one) are the unmanifested essence of the element. They have no tangibility or creative power, other than the potential that there is something to come into being.
- The twos are the first and purest actual manifestation of that energy, they lack structure other than the most basic form that the energy can take, whether it’s emotional, spiritual, physical, or mental.
- The threes apply another dimension and structure to the energy, allowing the “what this cycle is going to look like” potential to come into being. This is the basis of purpose behind the creation.
- The fours apply yet another dimension and stability to the energy; Fire and Earth do very well with the stability, where Air and Water prefer to move and begin to enter into disarray.
- The fives apply a new chaotic motion to all of the stability which preceded it, and all of the elements go into a new, disorganized state.
- The sixes resolve the chaotic imbalance of five, balancing out the equation and finding perfect order and harmony. This equates on the Tree of Life as entering the Heart center (Tiphareth), and thus is the most perfect manifestation of any particular energy – aligned between its original intent (one and two), with the completion to where it’s going (nine and ten).
- The sevens are now entering into a crystallization of materialization towards their end goal, observing potentials within the polarities of how the creation may evolve. The sevens pose another challenge that must be resolved in order to move forward.
- The eight’s take the problem of the past and apply the counterbalance to it; instead of observing this one as “solving the problem” like five and six, the seven and eight are more like mirror sides of a math equation, and the equal sign is the space between these two cards.
- The nines heralds the final act of the cycle. The energy is directed into the singularity, and the results are about to be gathered.
- The tens act as transitional cards as they are actually two numbers – one and zero. They apply to both the beginning and the end, and relate backwards and forwards to the ace and the nine perfectly. They signify the completion, and the step into new beginnings.
The Suit of Wands (Fire)
This suit represents the spiritual will, and the cycles that we all go through pertaining to our spirituality in life; our creativity, our dreams, and our desires. This would relate to our personal aspirations, and the creative spark behind our every action; when our personal fire is aligned with our higher will, we begin to take deliberate action towards making our dreams come true.
In a higher, more cosmic sense – fire represents the creative energy that birthed the universe; the radiating explosive force of the big bang, the supernova of energy which led to the manifestation of the universe.
It also represents the great fire above and below us – the Sun and the molten core of the planet.
Among the Royal Arcana, the element of Fire is maintained by the Kings (also commonly known as the Knights in other decks), and embody the seed for all potential manifestations which emerge out from the Mind of God at the top of the Tree of Life. The King’s sacred geometric form is the Seed of Life.
The Suit of Cups (Water)
This suit represents our emotional bodies; the subtle feelings which run through us perpetually and often dictate or influence many of our actions to some degree. This is the inner sense of nurturing we give to things that we love, whether they are people, places, or material objects.
This suit would embody both the deepest depths of our emotions, and the light hearted feelings which we experience in our day to day lives.
In a more cosmic sense, water represents the fluid like vacuum of space which carries the seeds of fire (the light of creation), and nurtures them, supporting their spin and flow in natural movements so that they may evolve.
Together, the Fire and Water elements dance together to create the whole universe. The suit of Cups also encompasses the water on the planet from which all of life emerges, and the water in our bodies.
Among the Royal Arcana cards for this suit, the element of Water is governed by the Queens, whose sacred geometric form is the Tree of Life itself.
The Suit of Swords (Air)
This suit represents our mental bodies – our thoughts. All of the countless things we think about throughout our days which govern our lives and how we live them – each individual thought is represented by a Sword. Thoughts are particularly interesting, in that like air itself they have no motion unto themselves but move in relationship to everything that takes place around them!
In Hermeticism they have been described to form a powerful bridge in understanding how creation comes into being from the Mind of God – exactly the same way that our thoughts become speech. Sword = the Silent (or Supreme) word of God; the Holy Spirit of Christ.
Even The Child in the Major Arcana is linked to the element of Air, and for a very good reason. The word “Spirit” derives from the word breath, and this movement describes the breath of life – the thought – from which all things emerge from the Mind of God.
In the sense of the physical cosmos, the element of Air represents the oxygen and atmospheres of planets which serve as a protective boundary layer around the planets and allow life to happen at all! (hence why the princes sit upon Tiphareth). Air is that which contains the heat and light from the sun, and supports the Water on the planet to rise into the sky and become clouds. Oxygen is found both in the soil and in the sky, and so Air is seen to combine with other elements as a necessity for life.
Among the Royal Arcana cards, the element of Air is governed by the Princes, whose sacred form is the Flower of Life.
The Suit of Disks (Earth)
This suit represent our physical bodies and everything manifested in physical reality. Anything that can be experienced in the physical dimension, or is a physical creation – lands here.
This would be anything tangible you can see, touch, smell, taste, or hear, for even though sounds and sight are reflections of light and other waves, they are reflected or created by physical things. In Qabalah, this element is represented by the Sephiroth of Malkuth.
In regards to the cosmos, Earth represents all of the planets and other matter in the universe. The land on which we live from which our bodies were constructed, and to which will one day be returned to.
It’s important to recognize that all four elements are contained within each element, and so you might discover things like electricity which can appear physical are reflections and representations of the other elements manifesting within the third dimension. So just as Fire, Water, and Air all represent a much higher dimension of existence, so too do they have their place in the physical, and vice versa.
Among the Royal Arcana cards, the Disks are represented by the Princesses, whose sacred form is the Fruit of Life.
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and the elemental energies that form these special cards!