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THE Tarot pack is composed of 78 cards or plates; 22 of them bear symbolical names (the Juggler, Sun, Moon, Hanged Man, etc.), and they should be separated from the 56 others, which are divided into four great series: Sceptres, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles.

These four series each contain 14 cards (King, Queen, Knight, Knave, Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10), corresponding with the four series of common playing cards (clubs, hearts, spades, diamonds), but called Sceptres, Cups, Swords, Pentacles. These are the Minor Arcana.

The 22 symbolical cards are the Major Arcana or Great Arcana.

1. MINOR ARCANA, formed of four sequences of 14 cards each, or 56 cards in all.

2. MAJOR ARCANA, formed of 22 cards.

These are the two great divisions which must first be remembered.

We have already said that the minor arcana were divided into four sequences: Sceptres, Cups, Swords, Pentacles. Each of these series represents one of the four great principles, as follows--

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The Sceptres 


Enterprise and Glory.

The Cups 


Love and Happiness.

The Swords 


Hatred and Misfortune.

The Pentacles 


Money and Interest.


ENTERPRISE, LOVE, HATRED, FORTUNE, are the four great principles which must be remembered.

If you now take one of these packets of 14 cards, you will see that it is formed of four figures, and of 10 other cards, which bear numbers formed by the symbols.

We will first look at the 4 figures--

The King 



The Queen 



The Knight 


A Young Man.

The Knave 


A Child.


The Man represents the creator, the one who undertakes the enterprises; the woman characterizes love; the young man, conflict, struggle, rivalry, hatred; the child symbolizes the absolute neuter, the second He, which varies according to circumstances, money, which addresses itself to all, and applies itself to all, universal transition. Man, Woman, Young Man, Child, are therefore the same symbols applied to the family as the four great principles applied to humanity, and to know them in one case is to know them in the other.

To sum up all this, we may say that the first element represents the positive, the second the negative, the third the opposition between the two; finally, the last the absolute neuter; and these elements are symbolized by the four figures of each of the minor arcana.

But even as the cards are divided into two colours, red and black, so humanity is divided into dark and fair.

The eight figures of the Sceptres and Swords therefore

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represent dark people, the eight figures of the Cups and Pentacles, fair people.

The figures of the Sceptres and Cups are good; of the Swords and Pentacles, bad.

We shall presently repeat this in connection with each colour, and will now recapitulate the meanings of the four figures of the Sceptres.

King of Sceptres. Dark man; good; a friend.
Queen of Sceptres: Dark woman; good.
Knight of Sceptres: Dark young man; good.
Knave of Sceptres: Dark child or messenger; good.

Besides our four figures we have to consider the 10 cards bearing numbers. How can we discover the meaning of these 10 cards, and above all how can we recall it?

We have nothing new to learn, but need only apply all that we already know. We divide our 10 cards into four packets: three packets of 3 cards each, and one packet formed of a single card, the 10th. When this is done we say--

The first packet of 3 cards, formed of the ace, 2, and 3, will have the same meaning as the Man, enterprise, commencement, the creation of some undertaking (enterprise, love, hatred, or money).

The second packet, composed of the 4, 5, and 6, represents Woman, and all the ideas of negation, of reflection, associated with her; that is to say, the opposite of man, antagonism, opposition in any matter.

The third packet signifies the equilibrium which results from the action of the two opposites upon each other, represented by the Young Man.

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Lastly, the Child, the absolute neuter, will be represented by the 10th card.

Each of the 3 cards in these packets have the same meaning.

The first card of these 3 packets will indicate the commencement; the second, opposition, antagonism; the third, equilibrium, which gives us the following general sequence in our 10 cards.



1. Commencement

of Commencement.

2. Opposition

3. Equilibrium

4. Commencement

of Opposition.

5. Opposition

6. Equilibrium

7. Commencement

of Equilibrium.

8. Opposition

9. Equilibrium

10. Undetermined: The card which follows will explain it.


Thus the three words, Commencement, Opposition, Equilibrium, the synonyms of Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis, or of Brahma, Siva, Vishnu, etc., suffice for the explanation of all the minor arcana of the Tarot. We need only add the words love, hatred, enterprise or fortune to each of the series, and we can define the meaning of every card without wearying the memory. This we will now do.

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Creation. Enterprise. Agriculture.

KING. The King of Sceptres symbolizes a dark man, a friend. He generally represents a married man, the father of a family.

QUEEN. A dark woman, a friend. Represents a serious woman, a very good counsellor, often the mother of a family.

KNIGHT. A dark young man, a friend.

KNAVE. A dark child, a friend. Also represents a message from a near relation.

ACE OF SCEPTRES. Commencement of an Enterprise.

TWO. Opposition to the commencement of the Enterprise.

The Enterprise is commenced when an unexpected obstacle suddenly prevents its execution.

THREE. Realization of the commencement of the Enterprise.

The basis of the work is now definitely established, and the undertaking can be fearlessly continued.

FOUR. Obstacles to the Enterprise.

Nothing can be accomplished without obstacles. We therefore now find them appearing, and must prepare ourselves to overcome them.

FIVE. Opposition to the obstacles. Victory after surmounting them.

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Six. Realization of the opposition.

At last the obstacles succeed. Failure of the Enterprise in the midst of its execution.

SEVEN. Certain success to the Enterprise.

EIGHT. Opposition to its success. The Enterprise will only partially succeed.

NINE. Realization of success. Success is continued.

TEN. Uncertainty in the management of the Enterprise.


Preservation. Love. Instruction.

Knowing the meaning of one series, we know à priori the significations of the three others. We shall however give them in order to facilitate the work.

KING OF CUPS. A fair man, a friend. This card also represents a barrister, judge, or ecclesiastic. It symbolizes a Bachelor.

QUEEN OF CUPS. A fair woman, a friend. The woman loved. The Mistress.

KNIGHT OF CUPS. A young fair man, a friend. The young man loved. The Lover.

KNAVE OF CUPS. A fair child. A messenger. Birth.

ACE OF CUPS. Commencement of a love affair.

Two. Opposition to this commencement. Unimportant obstacles raised by one of the lovers.

THREE. Realization of this commencement. The love is mutual.

FOUR. Serious obstacles to the love. They arise from other persons, not from the lovers.

FIVE. Opposition to the obstacles. Victory over the obstacles after a struggle.

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Six. The obstacles triumph. Love destroyed in the midst of happiness. Widowhood.

SEVEN. Success assured to the lovers.

EIGHT. Partial failure of love. Love only partially succeeds.

NINE. Motherhood.

TEN. Uncertainty in the management of the love affair.


Transformation. Hatred. War.

KING OF SWORDS. A dark, bad man. He is a soldier, a powerful enemy, who must be distrusted.

QUEEN OF SWORDS. A dark wicked woman. The card also indicates her actions, gossip and calumnies.

KNIGHT. A young, dark man, an enemy. He is also a spy.

KNAVE. A child, an enemy. Bad news. Delay.

The figures generally indicate opposition raised outside the house.

ACE OF SWORDS. Commencement of enmity.

Two. Opposition to this commencement. The enmity does not last.

THREE. Realization of the enmity. Hatred.

FOUR. Opposition to the hatred. Success against the enemy.

FIVE. Opposition to this opposition. The enemy triumphs at the moment one fancies the victory is secured.

SIX. Equilibrium of the opposition. The enemy is rendered powerless at last.

SEVEN. Success assured to the enemy.

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EIGHT. Partial opposition to this success. The enemy only partially triumphs.

NINE. Certain duration of the hatred.

TEN. Uncertainty in the enmity.


Development. Money. Trade.

KING OF PENTACLES. A fair man, inimical or indifferent.

QUEEN OF PENTACLES. A fair woman, indifferent, or inimical.

KNIGHT. A young, fair man. A stranger. An arrival.

KNAVE. A fair child. A messenger. A letter.

The figures of the Pentacles are inverse to those of the Sceptres and Cups, and indicate all that comes from outside, from the country or abroad.

ACE OF PENTACLES. Commencement of fortune. Inheritance. Gifts. Economy, etc., etc.

Two. Opposition to this commencement. Difficulty in well establishing the first landmarks of good fortune.

THREE. Realization of this commencement of fortune. A small sum.

FOUR. Opposition of fortune. Loss of money.

FIVE. Opposition to this opposition. A success coming which will balance the low.

Six. Realization of the opposition. Ruin.

SEVEN. Success assured. A large fortune.

EIGHT. Partial success. Great loss of money at the moment apparently of definitely securing the fortune.

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NINE. Equilibrium of Equilibrium. A durable fortune.

TEN. Uncertainty in the fortune. Great success and great reverses.

As a whole, we see the same series always repeating themselves. It therefore requires little time to thoroughly learn the meaning of the minor arcana, even without much memory. We advise those readers who fear they may forget them, to simply write the meaning on the cards themselves. However, professional card readers are careful not to do this, for intuition often leads them to an interpretation which differs from the exact meaning of the card.

Next: Third Lesson. Major Arcana. Signification from the Divining Point of View