Tarot Guide: Classical Elements and Tarot

The Minor Arcana is split into four Suites:

Wands: ruled by Element of Fire, energetic, passionate, desirous, active, masculine component of Yang of the Yin-Yang dynamic, sparking thought, manifesting, illuminating, emmanating

Cups: ruled by Element of Water, emotionally energetic, intuitive, dreamy, passive and mobile but also dense and forceful when gathered in waves, feminine, receptive component of Yin in Yin-Yang dynamic, the realm of the psychic perception

Swords: ruled by Element of Air, mental energy, logical, rational, communicative, double-edged, swift and fluid but also subtly forceful when mobilized as a gust. They are what Taoism calls “The 10,000 Things” (labeling, categorizing) and Plato’s concept of “carving” things into nature and hoping you carved “at the joints”.

Pentacles: ruled by Element of Earth, material, physical, domestic, fertile, financial, pragmatic, bodily, immobile, dense, and stubborn.

Aristotle on the Elements:

Earth: cold and dry

Water: cold and wet

Air: hot and wet

Fire: hot and dry

Ploclus on the Elements:

Fire Sharp Subtle Mobile
Air Blunt Subtle Mobile
Water Blunt Dense Mobile
Earth Blunt Dense Immobile

(from Wikipedia)


In this figure we see the classical depiction of Terra (Earth), Aqua (Water), aer (Air), and Ignis (Fire)

We can see in this figure that the Earth is the “Lowest Element” – but like all dynamic tension in the Tarot, as the lowest low it is thus connect to the highest high (aether, or Spirit, the pure air breathed by the Gods and thus what constitutes the space in which everything else is embedded). 

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