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THE MINOR ARCANA (Latin for 'Lesser Secrets') are also called suit cards and are similar to normal playing cards. There are 56 minors: 4 suits of Ace to 10 and 4 court cards (unlike the normal 3 of Jack, Queen, King). The tarot court cards are usually known as Page, Knight, Queen and King.
The suit names are Wands (aka Staves, Rods), Cups (aka Chalices), Swords and Coins or Pentacles. These can be equated to normal playing card suits:
Wands = Clubs; Cups = Hearts; Swords = Spades ('spada' is Italian for sword); Pentacles = Diamonds.
Traditionally, suits showed pips, but most modern decks now depict scenes relating to everyday pursuits, situations, hopes and wishes. Wands are mainly about energy, Cups about emotions, Swords about the mind and Pentacles about physical matters. The suits correspond to elements as well. See SUIT CORRESPONDENCES for a few such connections.
GETTING TO KNOW THE MINOR ARCANA:
The best way to get to know the cards - unsurprisingly - is to lay them out in front of you.* You will need a clean, clear space - and probably some decent time to yourself.
* The Tarot Addicts 'Viewing the Minor Arcana' pages also show the cards.