How many suits in a tarot deck?

How Many Suits In A Tarot Deck?

Do you often find yourself pondering the question, "How many suits in a tarot deck?" If this rings true, you have come to the right place to have your curiosity satisfied. We often accept tarot as the mystical tool presented to us without truly understanding its structure. This article aims to shed light on the intricate anatomy of a regular tarot deck.

How many suits in a tarot deck?Image by Kayla Maurais. Source: Unsplash.


Understanding the Basics of Tarot Decks

Before diving into the specifics of tarot suits, it is important, to begin with, the basics. A traditional tarot deck comprises two major components – The Major Arcana and the Minor Arcana. While the Major Arcana focuses on substantial life changes and spiritual evolution, the Minor Arcana provides a detailed insight into our day-to-day activities and personal experiences.

The Historical Significance of Tarot Suits

Dating back to the 15th century, tarot decks were initially created for recreational gameplay in Europe. Over time, they evolved beyond their playful origins to become emblematic instruments renowned for their predictive and intuitive abilities.

Common Myths about Tarot Deck Composition

Common misconceptions suggest that all tarot decks contain similar imagery and symbolism. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, tarot card decks are as diverse as languages themselves with differing design sensibilities and symbolic impressions.

Anatomy of a Regular Tarot Deck

Detailed Overview of a Traditional Tarot Deck

A standard deck features 78 cards split up as 22 Major Arcana cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards. Amongst these 56 cards lie the answer to the question – "How many suits in a tarot deck?" We hereby unveil that there are four distinctive suits in a Minor Arcana.

The Four Suits in the Minor Arcana

The four suits include Cups, Swords, Wands, and Pentacles. Each suit focuses on a particular elemental force – Water (Cups), Air (Swords), Fire (Wands), and Earth (Pentacles).

Defining the Major Arcana’s Role

As previously mentioned, the Major Arcana cards concentrate on our spiritual development, personal growth, and significant life events. These 22 unique cards embody distinct universal archetypes or concepts applicable to mankind.

Understanding Different Types of tarot decks and their suits composition.

Traditional vs Non-traditional Decks: What’s the difference?

While traditional decks adhere to the structure mentioned above, non-traditional versions might exhibit a varying amount of cards and can feature unique suit names or completely abstain from using suits at all.

Variation in Suit Names Over Different Decks

Some decks, like the popular Thoth tarot, prefer alternate nomenclature for the suits. They swap traditional names for Wands with ‘Staves’, Swords with ‘Swords’, Cups with ‘Cups’, and Pentacles for ‘Disks’.

Evolving Designs and Symbolism across Various Decks

Different versions of deck designs reflect varying symbolic resonances. For instance, while a traditional Rider-Waite deck channels Christian symbolism, a Thoth deck might encompass more abstract, esoteric symbology.

Importance and Symbolism of each Suit in a Deck

The Cups – Emotional World, Relationships, Feelings

Cups actively correspond to emotions, feelings, relationships, and your inner sentimental world.

The Swords – Thoughts, Words and Actions

Swords represent our communicative abilities including thoughts, words, and actions extending an outward effect on our world.

The Wands – Personal Growth, Spirituality

Wands illuminate the transformational facet of tarot including personal growth and spirituality, igniting inspiration about our goals and values.

The Pentacles – Physical Aspects, Work Environment, Health

Lastly, the Pentacles echo matters of physical concerns, finances, health, and our work environment.


Perhaps you have other questions apart from "How many suits in a tarot deck?" Here are some that others frequently ask:

What is the Usual Number of Cards in a Tarot Deck’s Suit?

Each suit in a standard tarot deck incorporates fourteen cards, including ten numbered cards (one to ten) and four court cards (King, Queen, Knight, and Page).

How does One Interpret Different Suits’ Meanings?

Each suit channels a different element and refers to various aspects of daily life. As expressed earlier, Cups deal with emotions, Swords with thoughts and expression, Wands with personal growth, and Pentacles deal with worldly matters.

Are there any Modern Variations to Traditional Tarot Suits?

Indeed, many modern deck versions utilize unique symbology or entirely new suits to represent similar concepts. It’s always recommended to refer to the guidebook accompanying your deck to duly understand its unique manner of interpretation.


The nebulous world of tarot is alive with variety and symbolism. A traditional tarot deck features four suits in its Minor Arcana – Cups, Swords, Wands, and Pentacles. However, variations exist among different decks in terms of design sensibilities and suit nomenclature. Each suit carries its own symbolic weight and can provide invaluable insights into different areas of life. Keep exploring tarot’s enriching universe and let these mystical cards guide you on your personal journey. And on your quest if you ever again come across the question – "How many suits in a tarot deck?" – you’ll now be equipped with a precise answer.

Leave a comment