Minor Arcana Q&A


Q: What does it mean when a Tarot spread is all minor arcana cards?

A: Each Tarot reader is a little different in the way they use Arcana in a reading. Some don’t give it much weight at all, and focus as much on the cards position within the spread (the meaning of a cards place in the pattern of how the cards are placed on the table).

For those who aren’t so familiar with the Tarot deck, it is divided into two sections, the major and minor arcana. The minor arcana is in turn divided into four suites, like the modern playing deck. So in Tarot you have a total of five categories…the major arcana and the four minor arcana suites (cups, coins or pentacles, wands or batons,  and swords, depending on the particular deck). “Arcana” simply refers to old or obscure knowledge. You can see how it is similar to the word “arcane”.

When I do a reading, I consider the arcana under the “general pattern” of the spread as a whole, not with regard to each individual card. Arcana can be a small, overall clue, but not much more.

I read major arcana cars as symbolizing big, stage-of-life lessons, big decisions that need to made, or big changes that are in progress or on the horizon.  If a particular group of cards has more major than minor arcana, I read that as symbolizing a lot of learning energy, even stress. It can symbolize a time of learning, change, stress, or personal growth. Of course that is no surprise to someone who is looking for a reading to ease stress.

I think of minor arcana as being the day-to-day decisions and changes. I like to call them the “Granny Advice” cards…the little hints and helps to live a good life. If a reading is mostly minor arcana, then I read that as being in a calm, steady, no-drama sort of place in life. Or, if things are stressful now, this may symbolize closure in progress or on the horizon…that things have peaked and may be leveling off.

Arcana plays a small role in the overall message of a reading, but not an overly significant one. Think of the statistics  of it. Minor arcana cards outnumber the major ones by around 4 to 1, so the chances of any given reading having mostly minor arcana cards far outweigh the chances of any given reading being mostly major arcana. Minor arcana is the norm…readings with mostly major arcana are the flag waving attention-getters. Thatis how arcana plays a role in a reading to my way of thinking.


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