Tarot is a rich tapestry of interwoven themes. From numerology to elements, suits to modalities, there’s no end to studying the tarot because there is always deeper meaning when you take a look.
Today I’d like to discuss the astrology of the minor arcana specifically. These are cards 2–10 in each suit: pentacles, wands, cups, and swords. We’re not counting the aces or court cards for now, to keep things simple, but there is still a treasure trove to cover and practice with just in cards 2–10.
First, let’s go over the basic structure (you may know some of this information already but bear with me) and then we’ll go into detail on how astrology touches each and every card.
Astrology in tarot, the basics for beginners
Wands correspond to FIRE signs: Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius.
Cups correspond to WATER signs: Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces.
Swords correspond to AIR signs: Libra, Aquarius, and Gemini.
Pentacles correspond to EARTH signs: Capricorn, Taurus, and Virgo.
You may have already known this if you read my How to Study the Minor Arcana post.
Here’s the next step.
Astrology modalities and tarot
Each element (fire, earth, air, and water) has 3 signs. But, an Aries is very different from a Sagittarius and Leo, though they have the same element of fire within them.
The thing that makes different is a called a modality or quality. There are 3 modalities.
These signs, Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn BEGIN their respective seasons. Aries begins spring; Cancer, summer; Libra, fall; and Capricorn, winter. They’re the first sign of each season. This gives them the special quality of being go-getter starters. They’re great with leadership.
In tarot, the cardinal modality rules the numbers 2, 3, and 4.
These signs, Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius are in the MIDDLE of their respective seasons. Taurus, spring; Leo, summer; Scorpio, fall; and Aquarius, winter. They’re the middle sign of each season. They’re great for keeping things going at a steady pace, something like a workhorse.
In tarot, the fixed modality rules the middle numbers, 5, 6, and 7.
These signs, Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces are at the END of their respective seasons. Gemini, spring; Virgo, summer; Sagittarius, fall; and Pisces, winter. They’re the last sign of each season. They’re great for behind-the-scenes work that requires improvisation and communication, because they don’t like staying still.
In tarot, the mutable modality rules the last numbers, 8, 9, and 10.
Here’s the last step which involves the planets.
Role of astrological planets in tarot
The inner planets (Sun, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn) play a role in the minor arcana. Starting from Aries, the order goes Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, Saturn, and Jupiter, then it repeats around the wheel.
Planets are the very base of astrology. Signs, like Leo and Aquarius, are abstract so there’s not much realism depicted in them. When a planet is under a sign, such as Moon in Libra, then things get clearer. Here is a list of the planets’ keywords as relevant to tarot.
Each planet is associated with one number card at a time, so Mars in Aries is the 2 of Wands. Sun in Aries is the 3 of Wands, and Venus in Aries is 4 of Wands.
Now let’s look at each card with this new knowledge.
How to read astrology in tarot
Take a look at the charts together, and let’s start with the Wands.
Wands 2, 3, and 4 are ruled by Cardinal Fire (Aries).
The Two of Wands in tarot usually describes choice, prosperity, and opportunity. This card falls under Cardinal Fire and represents Mars in Aries. So this card is very fiery and very ready to get started on something new.
The Four of Wands: small celebration, thrill, togetherness. Traditionally the card of marriage and small, local-based celebrations (like house parties) you can see Venus in Aries here as a balanced, and calmer fire.
Wands 5, 6, and 7 are ruled by Fixed Fire (Leo).
The Five of Wands: tension, competition, and new Business. Far from being shy, Leo is ready to take on this restrictive challenge. Saturn in Leo doesn’t have an easy time at all, but this card is one of action and activity, not defeat.
The Six of Wands: recognition, celebration, and victory. This card just feels great to get because it’s pretty much a parade. Jupiter in Leo has a great time soaking in the admiration and pride they get from this card.
The Seven of Wands: under siege, defiance, challenge. Mars in Leo here is about the warring of inner and outer worlds. This card comes up for example when people close to you are against you on a matter.
Wands 8, 9, and 10 are ruled by Mutable Fire (Sagittarius).
The Eight of Wands: swift movement, busy activity, change. This card represents Mercury in Sagittarius so its energy is ever-changing and dynamic.
The Ten of Wands: overworking. The old, “forgot why I’m doing this in the first place” card. When you’re burdened, this card comes up. As the Saturn in Sagittarius card, it represents restriction of joy, exploration, and movement.
Pentacles 2, 3, and 4 are ruled by Cardinal Earth (Capricorn).
The Two of Pentacles: juggling, disorganized, scattered. Jupiter in Capricorn may be overwhelming. Capricorn is about hard work and structure. What happens when you multiply that concentration and effort by two?
The Three of Pentacles: mastery, networking, investment. Here Mars helps Capricorn seize the opportunity to get what it needs to move ahead in the corporate world, which is recognition.
Pentacles 5, 6, and 7 are ruled by Fixed Earth (Taurus).
The Five of Pentacles: setback, rocky times , financial loss. Rather at a loss for what to do with themselves, and with their mouth shut, Mercury in Taurus is stuck in a bad situation. Will they learn to communicate their needs?
The Six of Pentacles: generosity, charity, accepting help. The Moon in Taurus represents material things that are hidden. When giving charity, we know not to give so much that we put ourselves at a disadvantage. So although this is a card of charity, there are definitely some calculations in the background.
The Seven of Pentacles: vision, waiting, time will tell. Saturn in Taurus asks, “Was my work enough?” Perhaps, perhaps not, but it’s a solid (fixed) time of waiting that feels closed off from clear hope.
Pentacles 8, 9, and 10 are ruled by Mutable Earth (Virgo).
The Nine of Pentacles: comfort, solitary happiness, luxury. It’s a beautiful sight to see—Venus in Virgo! Careful, kind, loving of small animals, this card represents a time when you achieve a personal paradise through diligence work.
The Ten of Pentacles: fortune, family, big money. Mercury in Virgo is a natural match. Mercury loves being in Virgo. This mutable earth sign gives Mercury the freedom—and ground—to grow into something fruitful.
Swords 2, 3, and 4 are ruled by Cardinal Air (Libra).
The Three of Swords: heartbreak, war, pain. What could this heartbreak be but Saturn in Libra? Saturn, the planet of restrictions and hard knocks, and Libra, the one who thrives on relationships?
Swords 5, 6, and 7 are ruled by Fixed Air (Aquarius).
The Five of Swords: hubris, pride, defeat. Representing new and sometimes foolish beginnings, this is the Venus in Aquarius card. Showing off and rebellion are clear in this placement, as they are in this card. Venus doesn’t like being in close-minded Aquarius, so there’s an factor of detriment.
The Six of Swords: journey, companion, peace. Mercury is the planet that brings forward motion to Aquarius. This card represents freedom which is something that Aquarius loves and will work more-or-less with Mercury (traditionally ruled by Gemini) to achieve.
The Seven of Swords: theft, hidden, deception. This infamous card is The Moon in Aquarius card, also known as the “unsustainable deception” card. In this placement, Aquarius is detached and likes to shock people just because. They consider themselves “above” emotion which is of course not entirely right nor beneficial—unsustainable indeed.
Swords 8, 9, and 10 are ruled by Mutable Air (Gemini).
The Eight of Swords: isolation, pain, trapped. Gemini is overwhelmed here, being under Jupiter which multiplies its mercurial, anxious energy. However, Gemini also has all its positive attributes multiplied here, so it can get itself unstuck with a change in perspective.
Cups 2, 3, and 4 are ruled by Cardinal Water (Cancer).
The Two of Cups: compatibility, partnership, meeting. Venus in Cancer. Is there anything sweeter when it comes to emotional expression? The balance and relationship aspect of Venus is strong here.
The Three of Cups: abundance, commitment, togetherness. Mercury in Cancer—communication is with people close to the home. It’s prosperous times all-around with this openness of emotion.
Cups 5, 6, and 7 are ruled by Fixed Water (Scorpio).
The Five of Cups: loss, regret, crash. Emotions are felt so strongly, it feels like an internal war. That’s what Mars in Scorpio brings. The depths of despair feel as deep as a well.
The Seven of Cups: illusion, choice paralysis, fantasy. Venus in Scorpio always wants more. In astrology and tarot, this can lead to some tricky situations. This card comes up when you’re not closing doors and instead opening new ones.
Cups 8, 9, and 10 are ruled by Mutable Water (Pisces).
The Eight of Cups: moving on, journey, abandonment. Saturn in Pisces. It’s not a match made in heaven. When Pisces feels out of control, like it will when it’s under Saturn, it chooses to just decline the challenge.
The Nine of Cups: satisfaction, accomplishment, indulgence. This card can come up when you feel great satisfaction in providing for your friends or family. Jupiter expands the compassionate, generous qualities of Pisces.
The Ten of Cups: peace, joy, family. Although Mars and Pisces do not typically get along, the combination leaves a door open yearning for more, more, and more. A great trait for the “happy family” card.
Hope you enjoyed this post! Leave a comment with what you got out of it: any insights or realizations?