Understanding Tarot: The Sixes of the Minor Arcana

minor arcana sixes
Cards Pictured are from the Rider Waite 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 at – @ClaireChilversTarot

Making Progress with the Sixes

Progression is the key element for the sixes within the Minor Arcana and, let’s face it, anything would seem as progress from the difficult situations that were portrayed in the previous number five cards.  

The sixes are also the beginning of the second part of these tarot journeys and the similarity between the Minor and Major Arcana is worth noting here.

Within the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana there is a “turning point” at number ten, The Wheel of Fortune; this is where everything is turned upside down but also a time when we are reminded that life has a way of taking us by surprise and throwing in unexpected changes.

Consequently, the higher numbered cards within the Major Arcana (cards 11-21) and the Minor Arcana cards (6-10) have an air of maturity about their messages. There is an understanding that in the latter parts of these journeys we are all too aware that life has its ups and downs and these cards have a richer, yet subtle, level within them which will be understood by those who have had an experience of both. 

Six of Swords

With the Six of Swords we see two characters (which seem to be a mother and child); they are sitting on a boat that is gently drifting away from the turbulent waters seen in the foreground to the calmer waters ahead. 

The last experience we witnessed here was the Five of Swords, which was a mentally exhausting place to be. The event seems to have taken its toll on the two characters as they sit hunched over hiding their faces from the world. 

The six swords are shown standing tall and dominating the space within the boat. As swords represent our thoughts and mind-set this would indicate that there is a lot on the minds of the people who sit by these swords.

Although this card indicates that there has been some progression away from the stress and upset of the last card, the incident is still very much with them and, whether it is helpful or not, these swords will need to stay with them for the time being (whether they like it or not) for the swords are stabbed into the wooden boat, so if they were taken away and cast into the water then the boat would have six holes in it and sink.

This card is reminding us that recovery for our mental state can be a slow process. The swords represent the mental baggage that travels with us –these swords are so close to the two travellers that they can hardly move or see anything else and this can represent any situation that will not stop being replayed in our heads over and over again as we try to move on. 

However, it is often overlooked that there are more than two people in this picture. There is a third person, silently steering them out of danger. It is not clear whether he is doing this for payment, love, or kindness, but, whatever his reasons he is providing much-needed assistance.

In our own lives, we have all been helped in this way in our darkest times. It could be the kindness from the help of a stranger when we have found ourselves lost or in danger, or perhaps the quiet attentiveness of a counsellor who has assisted recovery from a difficult mental issue and, of course, this could be the loving friend or reliable relative who is always there to provide support when we need it the most.

Knowing that human nature has the capacity to show small acts of kindness (in comparison to the hurt caused previously on this journey), can be the catalyst that gets us safely through the turbulence and to a calmer state of mind.

Eventually, these weary characters will reach dry land and the swords that are causing such anxiety will have lost their power and become insignificant, but for now, allowing someone to steer them in the right direction is a welcome relief.

The Six of Cups

The Six of Cups shows a beautiful scene with all six cups filled with flowers, one of which is being offered by a young boy to a little girl.

The flowers are white and pure; a symbol of the innocence of the children who reside here. This card is a progression but, ironically, represents childhood and happy memories of the past. Consequently, the Six of Cups gives a confusing message that in order to progress we sometimes have to look back and make peace with what has already happened.

The previous card, the Five of Cups, represented the painful emotions of grief, loneliness, and abandonment. The antidote to these can be remembering happier times and recalling cherished memories.

The past can often be a nicer place to visit than the present; so much so that there is always the danger of being stuck there. This card is idyllic, and we have all been in equally perfect situations looking back when times were more pleasant.

The temptation to live in the past is one that we have all faced at one time or another. With this card is the warning not to wallow here for too long, as with remembering the past can come regret, guilt, and unhappiness at what no longer exists which can then be too painful to address and overcome. 

However, it does not necessarily follow that the past is the only place where happy memories exist. With this card is the added message that these wonderful, simple, happy pleasures are always possible throughout our lives.

It is true that some people have not had the happiest of childhoods and do not resonate with this serene setting. The progression being offered could be allowing oneself to feel this is possible in one’s own journey or by creating a perfect family setting of your own despite the lack of one in your own memories.

Whichever way this card resonates with you, it gives the message to us all that our emotions are as fluid as the water that can be contained within the cups.

At this stage, we are aware that our feelings ebb and flow and some are more enjoyable to experience than others. We can flow from joy to boredom, from grief to blissful nostalgia. We are no longer naïve enough to think that only happy emotions should be experienced, but by experiencing them all, it will help the progression to the ultimate goal of understanding and controlling one’s emotions.

And, when times are hard it is ok to call on happy memories or think of loved ones, as this is a helpful way of remembering that good times have been in our lives and will be again.

Six of Wands

For the Six of Wands, we witness a jubilant scene. This card brings a symbol of success and victory and the message that when change and uncertainty occurs in our life there can be some positive outcomes too.

The person in this picture wears a crown of laurel and has a second wreath attached to his wand which he confidently holds above him. His white horse wears a green cloak; green is related to the heart chakra and is the colour linked to transformation. It is certainly all change here and it seems the change has been for the better.

The horse and rider are other characters, but, this time they are choosing to hold their wands aloft in celebration, rather than beating each other with them as we saw in the last card. 

Thankfully, the bad feeling, chaos, and arguments have been resolved, and for the moment harmony is restored.

However, we are not able to see what is immediately ahead of the rider and he may well be moving straight into another battle. But, if he is, he is high above the heads of the people around him so hopefully, he can see any setbacks or issues before they arise.

The vantage point he now has is another message of progression within the sixes, it shows it is possible to rise above negativity and move on which is a fantastic achievement when we manage to do it. 

It would be easy to assume that this character was the ‘winner’ of the battle that we saw in the Five of Wands. However, this does not necessarily mean that he has beaten all his opponents.

Yes, winning an argument or being proved right can give a feeling of success and victory. But, deciding to walk away from the battle can be equally as empowering, or, simply finding a solution to the confusion and disorder and calming down a situation to a more cooperative state is also just as triumphant. 

There is an element of maturity in the Six of Wands that has been achieved by the changes that have occurred. The wands symbolise our creative talents and passions but, also, our energy. This could be another explanation for the horse’s appearance. Remember the successful, but perilous, journey the wands have had so far?

We are reminded here that we still have a way to go on this adventure and riding a horse may be a helpful way to conserve energy as we continue forwards. The progression here is the ability to see other options that may be helpful to us, or finding ways to make life a little easier which should prove beneficial for the remaining cards on this wand journey.

The Six of Pentacles

The Six of Pentacles is bringing a welcome piece of assistance and, as we can see by the grateful recipients on their knees receiving coins, it is a step in the right direction from the destitute and desperately bleak winter scene of the Five of Pentacles. 

The man in the centre of the picture is not only holding coins, but, in his left hand, he has a set of scales that look perfectly balanced.

Scales are also seen in the Major Arcana card of Justice and their symbol is fairness and impartiality for all. The scales suggest these qualities are present here and the men on the receiving end of the charity are neither judged nor pitied, for, in the turn of a coin, fates can be reversed and we can all find ourselves needing financial help or support.

The journey so far in the pentacles seemed to be going well, but, unexpectedly turned so quickly. We began the pentacles journey with a giant coin being dropped from the sky. Here again, the six coins are being dropped into hands, but at this point in the journey, their value is immeasurable. They are a lifeline, a salvation, and a chance to start again.

The progression within this card is understanding value. It is interesting that this picture shows four coins being dropped into the man’s hand. The last time we saw four pentacles they were held so tightly they were causing him to stagnate.

This is another example of the subtle maturity that is shown in these higher numbered cards for this time around the man is not likely to want to stagnate as that served no purpose, he may wish to use this money wisely to accumulate more and eventually become the one who is able to help others with his generosity. 

This card might feel uncomfortable for some as there are many people who would feel embarrassed or ashamed to accept help. However, we have seen previously in the Three of Pentacles that others can often facilitate a better situation for us. This scenario may seem a little more urgent than before, but, it is important to remember that it is not just the two on bent knees that are benefitting from this situation. 

The benefactor is now in a position to help others and this can be an uplifting and heartening experience. The six pentacles in this picture are in the air and over the heads of all three characters, suggesting that money always moves from one person to another and is never really the permanent property of anyone. 

The ideas contained within this card of sharing, caring, giving, and receiving from others is a moving message as we emerge from the difficult turning point within the pentacles.

Resonating with this card can signal to people that they are recovering or moving away from a very difficult time in their personal life, especially relating to financial matters.

The card gives the message that it is a time to get up, brush off the dust and begin again, but, it also offers the promise of a more wholesome approach to what is of value in life from now on.

The lessons that are learned at this point will be incredibly useful for the remaining part of the journey and with the sevens looming with their messages of challenging and enduring times, it will not be long before we need to put them to the test. 

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

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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