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Numbering Sequence in the Minor Arcana

The number cards, minor arcana, represent a cycle. Ace through ten follows the progression of a particular area of life from inception to completion. It is important when reading to recognize where in the cycle a card is located (the beginning, middle or end of a cycle) in order to fully grasp the overall meaning. A four for example is often associated with relative stability, but it is not a final resting point since it falls early in the cycle. It is a temporary reprieve and there is more to do. This nuance will influence how the card is interpreted within the larger context of the reading.

There are also cycles within the overall cycle of the suit. There is a pattern of moving from stability to change again and again until completion. This keeps the cycle moving while allowing for integration of each successive shift. Generally odd numbers represent a change or growth stage and even numbers represent a point of integration, rest and temporary stability. Even at completion, the tens, there is a sense of ending one cycle in order to start again with the Page, who is thought to deliver the next ace.

The following is a rundown of each suit's progression from ace through ten. Each card has many nuances and this is not meant to be an exhaustive interpretation of each card. Rather it is intended to illustrate how each suite represents the unfolding of an area of life.


The aces represent the pure potential of the suit which has not yet become actual. How exactly it will unfold is unknown. There are infinite possibilities. What is known with the aces is that something completely new regarding the area governed by the suit is about to open up. Think newness, beginnings, possibility and potential when an ace appears in a reading. For the philosophically inclined, I sometimes think of them in terms of Platonic forms.

Swords: a new idea, clarification, belief

Wands: a new inspiration or insight

Cups: a new relationship or increased emotion

Pentacles: a new job, resource, money, opportunity


The twos are the first point at which the element enters the manifest world. This is a stage of integrating and finding balance with the new new manifestation. Once the new potential has become actualized, there is a period of working out how this new element fits in with the existent reality. Learning how to balance this and what role it will play is represented at this stage of the cycle. It is associated with balance, choices, discernment and duality.

Swords: a decision, evaluating and weighing various ideas and beliefs

Wands: working out a plan of action, the details of how to proceed

Cups: how to relate to a new other, discovering similarities and differences from the self

Pentacles: balancing resources while maintaining current resources and opportunities


Threes are growth and development. This is the stage of working out how the two entities above interact to generate a third new entity which is itself distinct from the individual elements that make it up. Development, growth, building.

Swords: need to release any ideas that are incompatible with the emerging understanding

Wands: launching the plan into action, releasing it and seeing what happens

Cups: the formation of community/group dynamics formed by the union of distinct individuals

Pentacles: using the new resources to build something, construction


New found stability after the initial period of growth. Integration and stabilization of the third new entity. It is the strengthening of the new foundation in order to support further growth. Integration, rest, conservation, regrouping

Swords: rest and integration after having released incompatible ideas, recalibrating beliefs

Wands: satisfied with plans, initial plans are successful and are progressing as intended

Cups: group begins to bring less joy, divine discontent, sensing there is something more

Pentacles: need to conserve resources or becoming overly attached to the outcome


Struggle and challenges to push through from the previous stage of temporary stability. After evaluating initial progress there is the need to continue forward. At this stage new challenges and details need to be worked out and the plan refined. Strife, striving, refining, releasing, reorganizing.

Swords: reorganizing beliefs after releasing some that don't work, determining which to keep

Wands: problem solving obstacles and refining details of initial general plan

Cups: grief of releasing attachments in order to more fully embrace what is being offered

Pentacles: resources have been depleted and must be replenished in order to move on


Recognition of achievement of having overcome the challenges and clearing of the previous stage. Pausing take stock by looking back while also beginning to look forward to what the next steps will be. This is a stage of pause, re-evaluation, acknowledging progress and readying oneself for continuation.

Swords: having determined one's authentic beliefs and moving forward based on them

Wands: details and challenges have been worked out successfully

Cups: sense of longing for past satisfaction of initial group dynamic, integration of history

Pentacles: resources are replenished through generosity and sharing


More complex challenges emerge as the complexity of the endeavor itself evolves and commitment to it becomes stronger. Time and energy invested is significant by this stage and there is a drive to not sacrifice the already sunken costs. Challenges, improvising, sustaining, maintaining

Swords: attempt to meet challenges with new beliefs, working it out on the fly

Wands: fighting to keep the plan alive in the face of greater opposition and complexity

Cups: the need to choose and exercise discernment beyond what feels good in the moment

Pentacles: tending and growing resource by maintaining a proper nurturing environment


Leaving behind what needs to be discarded. The need to make a firm decision and act on it. Acting based on previous commitment to growth. Recommitment, sustained effort.

Swords: questioning validity of beliefs vs others opinions, self doubt

Wands: the need to take quick and decisive action

Cups: leaving behind what no longer works or is fulfilling

Pentacles: perfecting skill in developing resources through practice and commitment


Guarding, protecting and enjoying what has been achieved. Efforts have come to full fruition. This is the apex of the journey. There is a sense of both attachment and appreciation for what has been accomplished. The journey is not yet over, but it is winding down.

Swords: overwhelm with thoughts

Wands: guarding what you have

Cups: satisfaction with what you have

Pentacles: gratitude and enjoyment of what you have


Completion of the cycle. There is an inkling that a new cycle will begin, but the current endeavors haven't yet been released. Completion, wrapping things up, sense of impending need to move on.

Swords: exhaustion with intellectual struggle or figuring it out

Wands: burden of maintaining or completing project, inspiration waning but still work to do

Cups: stable but stagnate emotional connections

Pentacles: legacy, resources to share and leave behind

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