Designing the minor arcana cards : drawing each suit, from Five to Eight
alpha_rats - 2021-03-13
I've started designing a tarot card deck last year, and I'm currently still drawing it's minor arcana! 36 out of 77 cards are now complete. Here is an update with the cards from five to eight from each suit (you can see first four in this blog post).
For each suit, the cards from five to eight have a similar conceptual framing :
And here is an outline of the general meaning of the four suits themselves, if you are not familiar with it :
|Suit of Disks||Suit of Wands||Suit of Swords||Suit of Cups|
|Material, Potential||Projects, Action||Intellect, Motivation||Affect, Emotions|
General meaning : Spring, earth, material realm, finances, potential.
This card shows a situation of loss and hardship, through which we have no choice but to wait for the storms to pass. When the situation calms down, we will be able to assess the losses and the best course of action. The candle visible in the image represents our hope. When reversed, this card indicates a slow path of recovery after adversity.
This card is inspired by the tale of the fisherman and the golden fish, and represents luck and gratification. In the original tale, a fisherman has his wishes granted after freeing a caught talking fish back to the sea. Generosity, giving, receiving and sharing are embedded in it's meaning. It is a warning against greed and a sign that we should seize the opportunities we encounter, while not abusing the ressources offered to us.
After the six of coins presenting us with unexpected gratification, the seven of coins symbolises reward after sustained efforts and labour. Perseverance, care and patience allow us to grow the tree presented in the illustration and gather it's fruits. It's a card of commitment, and when reversed, over-commitment for too little of a reward.
The eight of coins is at the downstream of gratification and perseverance : by following through opportunities and committing to our goals, we can grow our skills and inner qualities to achieve a form of balance in our craft and life path. The imagery of the card is inspired by the craft of stone masonry, where we can see the project take form from the sketch to the final work, and mastery through constant repetition and refinement.
General meaning : Summer, air, mental realm, ideas, concepts.
A conflict took place and things still didn't get the time to settle down : the birds in the back of the picture still resent the one who got hold of all the swords at their expense. With this card, we are uncertain of how the situation will unfold, and the context is emotionally charged. Opposing interests are at play, as well as emotional hurt.
This card can be put in parallel with the two of swords, which was showing a standstill. It shows us embarking on a boat towards a new journey. It represents a necessary, but uneasy transition that we have to undertake. When reversed, it can signify a refusal or resistance to engage with an imminent or needed change.
Once again, a character is shown acting in their self-interest. The rat is shown stealing an egg while being unwatched. Their deed might go unnoticed, or they might not get caught, but the consequences of it will still be present. The eggs got stolen from the bird, and the rat steals the egg from us. This card represents self-interest, ressourcefulness, manipulation and disregard for rules.
In this card, conflicting dynamics are at play, preventing further action. It can signify confusion, conflicting interests, self-sabotage or self-isolation. We can see some swords pointing outwards from the animal, and some pointing towards it : the sources of interference can be internal or external to the reader, or a combination of both. After the three preceding cards presenting the reader with a sense of individual agency and self-interest, the eight of swords breaks this individualist dynamic and brings us back to a stop.
General meaning : winter, water, emotional realm, relationships, intuition.
Disappointment, frustration and regret all come together in this card where we see a character dwelling on what seems to be missing. While facing some fishes cut in half, the siren is ignoring the live fishes jumping from the water behind their back. Their current negative circumstances overpower any reading of the past or the future as anything else than an extension of a painful present.
This card shows two figures snuggling inside a safe and comfortable children fort. It is a card of nostalgia and safety, but also of illusion. The starry sky we see hanging above the tent is only a drapery, but the fantasy is powerful enough to bring children toys to life and create restaurative power. It's a card of imagination, innocence and ignorance. If reversed, it can signify an idealisation of the past or escapism.
Our character faces an array of mirrors relecting back at us our dreams and wishes : the possibilities are dazzling, deorienting, and possibibly frightening. The Seven of Cups is a card of potentialities, choices, and wishful thinking. None of the images presented to us are anything else but smoke and mirrors, but they have the power to set us in motion and guide our path. It can also be a sign that we need to stop contemplating our options and settle for a choice - or on the contrary, beware of taking a decision too fast.
As we reach the eight of cups, we realise that one of the choices we have is to refuse everything. We can see a figure walking away in the night, after throwing into the river all the eight cups they were holding before. Wether this choice is a wise choice or an impulsive one is not clear, and we have no way to know how things will go down from this point on. This card can also represent a deep-seated feeling of abandon, despair or disinterest.
General meaning : autumn, fire, projects, action, motivation, professional sphere.
Three horned animals fighting over a cliff. One of them seems to dominate the fight, but the mountain is steep and a reversal of the situation could happend anytime. The sun seems to be setting up or down : we are at a transitional time.
The fight happening earlier is now resolved, and the winning animal is now standing on the top of the mountain, it's horns mirroring the sun. This card represents the zenith, and behind the apparent glory, things can only go downwards from here as there is no more path upwards to climb. The biggest challenge will be to maintain this newly gained equilibrium.
The animal is trying to mainting it's position at the top of the mountain, while being challenged from all sides. This card is extremely dynamic, showing whirlwinds of clouds in the background as we are trying to adapt to the challenges we are facing. Mainaining this position forever will be a lot of hard work : we can keep fighting the fight, or go looking for a different mountain to die on.
In the eight of wands, we can grasp the main idea behind this suit following the succession of the preceding cards : constant evolution, motion, transformation and adaptation necessary to overcome the situations we are facing. This card is a combination of lucifer's rainbow and total darkness, with a prism of light whirling against a dark background. This constant re-invention is a never-ending wheel we have to tap into to stay afloat.
That is all for now ✨
Stay in touch for more updates on the following cards! It's exiting to see the deck grow, so here is an overview of the different suits to see it all come together :