Understanding Tarot: The Aces of the Minor Arcana

minor arcana aces tarot
Tarot card art from the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot Deck

The Understanding Tarot series is written by Claire Chilvers. If you would like to read more of Claire’s articles or book a tarot reading, please visit www.clairechilvers.com or follow her on social media – @ClaireChilversTarot

Holding Aces – A New Adventure

In this series of articles, I will be writing about the forty numbered cards within the Minor Arcana.

For those of you not familiar with this term, within a standard Tarot deck, there are seventy-eight cards. Twenty-two of them form the Major Arcana (which were explained in my previous Understanding Tarot series), and the Minor Arcana account for the other fifty-six.

The Minor Arcana are split further into four suits, numbered from Ace to Ten, and usually followed by the Court cards- the Page, Knight, Queen, and King.

Consequently, with so many cards and a variety of different messages, the Minor Arcana can seem a little overwhelming!

The Tarot can be difficult to grasp and I have seen even the most intuitive person become stifled as they look at a Tarot card and hurriedly reach for the booklet that has accompanied their pack and start flicking through to find the ‘meaning’.

This is especially so with the Minor Arcana because our logical brains are telling us that the ‘minor’ cards are not as rich in detail as the Major Arcana. But this is not the case.

I often explain to my clients that I view the Major Arcana cards as messages from the Universe about situations, themes, or dilemmas which are presenting in our life, and the Minor Arcana are our human interaction with these situations, themes, or dilemmas and how we are dealing with the bigger picture of our life story.

The suits are associated with our own human nature-

  • Swords are linked to our mind and thoughts
  • Cups to our feelings and emotions
  • Wands can represent our creativity or actions
  • Pentacles can be the material rewards for our efforts or the struggles we face in our day-to-day life as we work towards our goals

As with the Major Arcana, it can be helpful to treat the Minor Arcana like a story.

Remember, the answers we seek are within us and the cards are trying to help by giving visual clues to guide us to these answers. Stories stick in our minds and often have a moral or message to share.

This article will be concentrating on the story of the Four Aces. My next article will be about the twos and so on, until we reach the tens (the court cards are a whole other story!).

I have chosen this method because I feel the numerology links within the Tarot are a great guide to see where you are on a particular cycle.

Imagine they are levels on a video game; the Tarot’s version of Jumanji. The Aces appear out of the sky at the start of our adventure- as a gift from the Universe – and give us the suit that we will be working with (or our special power we must focus on).

We then have to advance through the levels from one to ten before we complete the adventure.

Before we start, have a look at the four Aces in the picture shown. Which suit resonates with you right now? Is there an Ace that seems to be jumping out at you? Keep this thought with you as you read on and find out a little more.

The Ace you choose, (or receive in a reading), gives a clue as to the new beginning which is formulating and the next lesson that you will be working on in your own life.

The Ace of Swords

The Ace of Swords could manifest something as simple as an exciting new idea, or a sudden feeling that you need to change the way you think about an issue, person or situation.

The sword appearing out of nowhere could bring an urge to cut ties or bring closure to an issue that has been clouding your mind and judgment for too long.

There are also hints that this new way of thinking will bring success as the sword is accompanied by a crown. But, we can also see this sword is double-edged which, as the saying suggests, can show a negative aspect too.

Staying with our video adventure game theme for a moment, it would seem that each suit comes with its own terrain to battle through – an indication of what we are to expect along the way.

The Sword’s backdrop is a harsh one; inhospitable, unforgiving mountains with the cold, blue air piercing through the rocky peaks and troughs. You would need to prepare yourself mentally for a journey of this kind. This is why the Swords are often seen as challenging and not always met with positivity when they appear.

But we must remember, their promise is mental clarity and a clear, free mind to elevate you to a higher consciousness – who wouldn’t want that?

Along this path, with every new thought process, there is an old thought process that needs to abandoned, forgotten, or changed, and with it a sense to move on from people, places, or lifestyle choices.

Deciding to think differently can be a huge relief, breakthrough, or moment of self-awareness, however, not everyone in our lives sees this as a positive, (especially if they are inclined to use or control your mind for their own benefit, sprinkling it with self-doubt or negativity for selfish reasons).

Powerful new thinking can lead to conflict, both internally and with others. The mental stress can be overwhelming as we try and carve out a new way of life that serves us better.

Whilst following this Swords’ journey the benefits must not be forgotten as the mind will be processing a great deal along the way.

The Ace of Cups

In contrast, the Ace of Cups bursts into our lives and immediately has our emotions flowing. There are five streams of water pouring out of the cup, which relate to our five senses. As the water pours, it is dispersing into an even bigger pool of water and levels out, as water always does – eventually.

The dove flying into the cup is showing us our potential gift if we accept the offering of this suit; peace, balance, and harmony for all of our senses and emotions.

The Aces are the purest form of the suit and when the Ace of Cups appears, it is often to acknowledge a huge shift in our emotions, which can lead to a ripple effect as emotions morph from one to another.

Emotional experiences such as an outpouring of grief, when tears flow so often it feels like we are drowning in them, can take over our lives. Or, alternatively, the bursting feeling of love, joy, and happiness that is experienced when we fall in love or see a new baby who has entered into our lives either as a child or grand-child, can be so overwhelming we forget everyone and everything else around us.

Whether feelings are good or bad they have the ability to teach us something new about the world and our place in it, and we are being urged to allow ourselves to feel them wholly.

The background for our Ace of Cups is, of course, water and with it, we have the promise of mastering all of our emotions. There is not much land in this chosen backdrop so there is nothing for it but to dive in and submerge yourself completely. This is not a journey that will be accomplished if you only dip your toe in the water!

The perils of being in water are obvious and there is no clue as to whether this water has a strong current that will help you along or fight against you with every stroke. Treading water is difficult – it is as difficult as trying to process emotions that are causing pain or anguish. Humans are not meant to live in water; our main involvement with water is usually successfully trying to move through it one way or the other.

This analogy will be very much the theme of the Cup’s adventure as those who have chosen it set sail and navigate through their deepest feelings and safely come out the other side.

The Ace of Wands

The Ace of Wands offers excitement and possibly the biggest adventure of them all. There are small green shoots already sprouting on this wand, symbolising there is growth and so much more on offer than this humble stick – after all, look at all the amazing things that could be made from wood; the possibilities are endless.

When the Ace of Wands appears in a reading, or if you have felt drawn to choosing it, it comes with the call to take action.

Be prepared to speed up the pace of life in many different ways. Wands can often symbolise movement or travel, not just in a physical sense but mentally or spiritually. The need to ‘do something’ can come in many forms. Creating something of value does not always need movement.

For instance, I felt drawn to the Ace of Wands when I began writing this article, and here I am typing my way through a whole new adventure for us all to take part in!

If you feel there is something creative within you that needs to be channelled, the Wands can be a source of inspiration as you move through their numbers. They are ambitious and can sense unlocked potential within all of us.

The backdrop for this card seems like an obstacle course that is not for the faint-hearted. In the foreground there is a small wooded area, then a stream to cross and a series of mountains to climb.

But, we can see the ultimate prize being the castle at the top. We know where we are going and what we want to achieve. Or do we? Presumably, the castle will be the end of the journey? But, beyond the castle, there are more mountains…and perhaps even more adventures? The journey doesn’t have to end, does it?

In fact, the endless landscape gives us a hint to the warning signs of the wands and their fiery nature – fire does not always stop where we want it to and can get a little out of control.

Ambition and creativity can stir us into action but also stop us from resting too. Without warning, we can feel exhausted and burned out and this is often our own doing.

For those of you who are picking up this particular challenge – you have been warned!

The Ace of Pentacles

Lastly, the Ace of Pentacles is our final suit. I do not think I have met anyone who has not liked this card, after all, who would not be happy to see a giant hand with a gold coin appearing from the sky?

But, in reality, money and material gains very rarely drop from the sky and are usually obtained through an awful lot of hard work.

The offering of an improvement in our circumstances is the suggestion of this card, but not without sacrifice. It can come from a new job, promotion or business venture which would, in turn, lead to changes in all other aspects of life – new friends or colleagues, learning new skills or taking exams, different working hours and maybe even relocating to a new part of the country or world.

An inheritance can also be symbolised by this card, but, this also is not an easy situation to deal with as it is often accompanied by sadness and loss and, for the immediate family involved, the stress of having to deal with probate or selling/distributing their deceased loved one’s possessions.

When this card appears it is worth bearing in mind that the Pentacles are linked to the earth signs and the practical, sensible, determined, hard-working characteristics that they portray.

Yes, there is abundance on offer but this journey is more of a marathon than a sprint. Consequently, the Pentacles journey can seem frustratingly slow and sometimes at a complete standstill. Patience and determination is the key to success here. This journey can sometimes take years, so be prepared.

The clues to the negative aspects alluded to in the Ace of Pentacles are given in the beautiful setting we have been offered at the start of this adventure. In my opinion, this is the prettiest of all the terrains on offer from the Aces. The garden is in full bloom; with rose bushes joined together to make a hedge this seems like a beautiful place to stay for a while.

In fact, with one large pentacle on offer and an idyllic setting it would be tempting not to go anywhere, wouldn’t it? Taking a peek through the archway into the distance we can see a glimpse of what is on offer. It seems like awfully
hard work to climb that mountain when life is so good here, don’t you agree?

If I am putting doubt in your mind with my questions, here lies the dilemma that will be faced time and time again on the pentacles journey. We all have that little voice in our head telling us not to bother, not to pursue our dreams, to be content with what we have.

Sometimes the hardest part of this particular journey is starting it.

Now you have been introduced to the Aces you can see their similarity is they all appear to offer amazing opportunities within a particular area of life.

The Swords and Cups often suggest changes internally, whereas the Wands and Pentacles can bring more obvious external changes for us. But they all offer the start of something new and remind us that they are part of a bigger divine plan.

As we move through the numbers from Ace to Ten we will see that there is much more to these journeys than we could ever possibly imagine at this early stage of the adventure – this is just level one.

Are you ready for the next level?

If you would like to read more of Claire’s articles or book a tarot reading, please visit her website-www.clairechilvers.com

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About the author

Claire Chilvers

Claire Chilvers is a writer and tarot reader and lives in Essex, UK. She offers tarot readings to clients in the UK and around the world via video calls (Skype usually), if you would like a reading please contact her at clairechilverstarot@yahoo.com. Claire also has a Youtube Channel where she shares daily readings- https://www.youtube.com/@dailytarotwithclaire