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the minor arcana


As F. Sickly recognized, in the research stages of the tarot, that preserving the integrity of the Major Arcana, there were a few rules he established for the minor suits as well. Perusing hundreds of decks, F. developed and noticed an automatic preference for decks that stuck to the traditional four suits, or merely renamed them to fit the particular deck's structure, as opposed to changing the suits up completely. As the Major Arcana’s integrity is important to maintain and pay homage to, so too with the minors. A big reason for this importance is that these suits are what endured most, past the tarot. In the ancient world, man developed a need for games, to pass time, relate to others, and even as a means of understanding life’s marvels and difficulties. Out of that came coins, and then dice. After that came the seventy-eight card tarot, consisting of one suit of twenty-two cards and four fourteen-card suits. This deck thrived, fulfilling many purposes for mankind, first as a vehicle for an entertaining game, tarocchi, then later as a tool of divination. These seventy-eight cards can be or seem unwieldy. So, this deck was truncated and edited into the standard poker deck. The Major Arcana went away and the Pages from the four minor suits disappeared. The names changed. The Swords changed to Spades, the Coins to Diamonds, the Wands or Rods or Staffs to Clubs, the Cups to Hearts, and then there – from this seventy-eight card deck – stands the popular fifty-two card deck, a descendant of the fifty-six Minor cards from the tarot. If that’s not enough to convince you of the massive importance of the Minor Arcana, there are two other things. For all you tarot readers out there, the most and least positive cards in the deck are not in the Major Arcana, but in the Minors. Even the Death or Devil or Hanged Man cards are nowhere near as dismal as the Three or Nine of Swords. Neither the Lovers nor the Sun are as positive as the Ace or Three of Cups. These Minor cards dive into the details and minutia of the themes established in the Major cards.


In an attempt to maintain the integrity of these cards, and to facilitate the structure of the style F. Sickly used in drawing the Sickly deck – as these Minor suits’ names migrated in the creation of the poker deck, and in many other tarot decks – F. changed the names of the suits and kept the meanings and themes. The Swords (probably most logically) changed to Arms, the Coins to Tesseracts, the Wands to Legs, Cups to Skulls. 

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