Minor Arcana Study Guide

Early on in our rhythm of Hermetic Conversation, what we developed was: to attempt to meet once a week. We would focus on one Arcanum per month, so approximately four meetings a month. Three of those meetings focused on conversation around the Arcanum. But the first meeting of each month, we would instead enact the entirety of the Grail Knight’s Practice (a eurythmy meditation approximately an hour long in its totality, at least so far). On April 3, 2018, we met for the first time since finishing with the Minor Arcana, with the intention of doing the Grail Knight’s Practice, since this was our first meeting of the month. In addition to the practice, we also had a more practical conversation, laying out our approach to the Minor Arcana. At this point in our work, even though at virtually every single conversation, it felt as though a concrete spiritual presence came through the Arcanum and guided our conversation (“where two or three are gathered together in my name”), nonetheless we so often approached each meeting with hesitancy and doubt. “Is it really going to happen again this time? Are we really doing this again? I’m so exhausted, and now we’re going to stay up late talking about a picture…maybe we should just cancel…”, etc. Feelings like this would permeate our souls prior to the meeting, and then we would be shocked and rejuvenated every time by what we would discover living in the Tarot, waiting to speak to us. But we our doubts and hesitations only became stronger as we approached the threshold of the Minor Arcana. It’s one thing to have soulful, rigorous, invigorating conversation about the imagery of the Major Arcana, which involve all manner of human and animal figures in strange and shocking environments. But the first ten Minor Arcana—the Ace through Ten of Coins—seemed, on first glance, to be the barest geometrical designs! What could we possibly talk about for a month at a time on each Arcanum??? And so this practical discussion was to try to set ourselves up for success. In the end, as you will see, the Suit of Coins was shockingly engaging, and we did not need to rely on every aspect of the structure laid out here. But for the sake of keeping the record, I present it as we created it on April 3, 2018:

Minor Arcana Study Guide:

In working with the Minor Arcana, we have adopted the use of the Pentagrammaton, rather than the Tetragrammaton which was used for the Major Arcana. Whereas the Tetragrammaton is fourfold—”Yod He Vau He”—the Pentagrammaton is fivefold—”Yod He Shin Vau He.”

For the Major Arcana, the first four Arcana are the key to the remainder of the Majors. They are at once the four letters of the Tetragrammaton, as well as the four archetypal qualities/experiences associated with these letters:


High Priestess—He—Gnosis

Empress—Vau—Sacred Magic


Now, for each of the four suits of the Minors, we will be looking at the following equivalent correspondence:






In this case, this first five cards of each suit play the same role as the first four cards of the Major Arcana. We will be searching in each suit for five archetypal qualities that are expressed by the divine letters Yod He Shin Vau He, just as the four divine letters express the four qualities of Mysticism, Gnosis, Sacred Magic, and Hermeticism in the Major Arcana.

We can see this as the expression of the Pentagrammaton in the four worlds:  the World of Action (Coins), the World of Formation (Swords), the World of Creation (Cups), and the World of Emanation (Batons). (See the attached image “Four Worlds,” which has four circles laid over the Sephiroth Tree. The bottom circle is the World of Action, proceeding up to the top circle which is the World of Emanation).

The movement through these four worlds is a movement from the base of the Sephiroth Tree to the pinnacle, from the Sephira Kingdom (Malkut) to the Sephira Eternity (Keter). We can see that this is the opposite direction taken by moving through the Major Arcana:  the 22 paths arrange themselves from above to below on the Sephiroth Tree, starting at Eternity and ending at Kingdom. (See attached “Adam Kadmon”). 

We can find our inspiration and guidance for discovering the five archetypal qualities of each suit by arranging the Minor Arcana side by side with the Major Arcana—only in reverse order, moving from The World to The Magician (in other words, moving back up the tree that was descended with the Majors).

This movement backwards, however, is not direct/linear. It is roundabout. We find our guidance here in the geometry of the Arcana themselves:  we can see directly which ones are associated together, through a very direct “comprehension by analogy.” (Good examples of this can be seen in the images). 

For the Suit of Coins:

First we pair the Minor Arcana moving forwards with the Major Arcana moving backwards:

Ace of Coins—The World (Yod)

Two of Coins—The Judgement (He)

Three of Coins—The Sun (Shin)

Four of Coins—The Moon (Vau)

Five of Coins—The Star (He)

Then we pair the Minor Arcana and Major Arcana, both moving forwards:

Six of Coins—The Moon (Vau)

Seven of Coins—The Sun (Shin)

Eight of Coins—The Judgement (He) 

Nine of Coins—The World (Yod)

Then we pair the Minor Arcana moving forwards and the Major Arcana moving backwards once again:

Ten of Coins—The Judgement (He)

Knave of Coins—The Sun (Shin)

Knight of Coins—The Moon (Vau)

Queen of Coins—The Star (He)

King of Coins—The Tower of Destruction (Yod)

In this format, we move through the Divine Name in one direction (Ace through Five), then in the opposite direction (Five through Nine), then once again in the normal direction (Nine through Queen); when we arrive at the King, we have discovered the Yod of the next iteration of the Divine Name. This Arcanum links directly to the Ace of the next suit, in this case Swords:

Ace of Swords—The Tower of Destruction (Yod)

Two of Swords—The Devil (He)

Three of Swords—Temperance (Shin)

Four of Swords—Death (Vau)

Five of Swords—Hanged Man (He)

Six of Swords—Death (Vau)

Seven of Swords—Temperance (Shin)

Eight of Swords—The Devil (He)

Nine of Swords—The Tower of Destruction (Yod)

Ten of Swords—The Devil (He)

Knave of Swords—Temperance (Shin)

Knight of Swords—Death (Vau)

Queen of Swords—Hanged Man (He)

King of Swords—Force (Yod)

The Yod of the King of Swords (Force) is the Yod of the third iteration of the Divine Name, the Suit of Cups:

Ace of Cups—Force (Yod)

Two of Cups—Wheel of Fortune (He)

Three of Cups—Hermit (Shin)

Four of Cups—Justice (Vau)

Five of Cups—Chariot (He)

Six of Cups—Justice (Vau)

Seven of Cups—Hermit (Shin)

Eight of Cups—Wheel of Fortune (He)

Nine of Cups—Force (Yod)

Ten of Cups—Wheel of Fortune (He)

Knave of Cups—Hermit (Shin)

Knight of Cups—Justice (Vau)

Queen of Cups—Chariot (He)

King of Cups—Lover (Yod)

And finally, the Yod of the King of Cups (The Lover) is the new Yod, of the Suit of Batons:

Ace of Batons—Lover (Yod)

Two of Batons—Pope (He)

Three of Batons—Emperor (Shin)

Four of Batons—Empress (Vau)

Five of Batons—High Priestess (He)

Six of Batons—Empress (Vau)

Seven of Batons—Emperor (Shin)

Eight of Batons—Pope (He)

Nine of Batons—Lover (Yod)

Ten of Batons—Pope (He)

Knave of Batons—Emperor (Shin)

Knight of Batons—Empress (Vau)

Queen of Batons—High Priestess (He)

King of Batons—Magician (Yod)

And at the end, the King of Batons equates to the Magician, the Yod of the Major Arcana, returning us to the beginning of the 22 Paths.

This gives us the following “neighbors” or “cousins” of Arcana:

The World:  Ace and Nine of Coins

The Judgement:  Two, Eight and Ten of Coins

The Sun:  Three, Seven, and Knave of Coins

The Moon:  Four, Six and Knight of Coins

The Star:  Five and Queen of Coins

Tower of Destruction:  King of Coins, Ace and Nine of Swords

The Devil:  Two, Eight and Ten of Swords

Temperance:  Three, Seven, and Knave of of Swords

Death:  Four, Six and Knight of Swords

Hanged Man:  Five and Queen of Swords

Force:  King of Swords, Ace and Nine of Cups

Wheel of Fortune:  Two, Eight and Ten of Cups

The Hermit:  Three, Seven, and Knave of Cups

Justice:  Four, Six and Knight of Cups

Chariot:  Five and Queen of Cups

Lover:  King of Cups, Ace and Nine of Batons

Pope:  Two, Eight and Ten of Batons

Emperor:  Three, Seven and Knave of Batons

Empress:  Four, Six and Knight of Batons

High Priestess:  Five and Queen of Batons

Magician:  King of Batons (and Ace of Major Arcana=The Fool)

Notice that we have here treated The Fool as the “un-numbered” Arcanum of the Major Arcana (rather than number 21). In this sense, he acts as the “Ace” of the Majors, in that he contains all of the other Majors as possibilities within himself. He is a Resurrection Body that can take on any form as required. 

Now, the “neighbors” of Arcana above can be arranged in four Seals of Solomon, or Luminous Holy Trinities:

In the realm of Action/Coins we have a Holy Trinosophia of:  The World, The Moon, The Star pointing downward; and a Holy Trinity of:  The Judgement, The Sun, Tower of Destruction pointing upward.

In the realm of Formation/Swords we have a Holy Trinity of:  Tower of Destruction, Death, Hanged Man pointing downward; and a Holy Trinosophia of:  Devil, Temperance, Force pointing upward.

In the realm of Creation/Cups we have a Holy Trinosophia of:  Force, Justice, Chariot pointing downward; and a Holy Trinity of:  Wheel of Fortune, Hermit, Lover pointing upward (note that the Chariot is female here, and the Lover male).

In the realm of emanation/Batons we have a Holy Trinosophia of:  Lover, Empress, High Priestess pointing downward; and a Holy Trinity of:  Pope, Emperor, Magician pointing upward (note that here the Lover is female).