The Four Suits
Now that you’ve had some time with the trumps, let’s look at the other four suits. The numbered cards may not have the large mythical characters like the trumps do, but each suit can be a fun opportunity to dive deep into an idea or theme.
The four main suits started out as simple playing cards, but over the years people have overlaid many famous quartets onto them, such as the four classical elements.
The twos from the Grand Etteilla deck link each suit to a classical element (Earth, Water, Air, and Fire).
Image source: Bibliothèque nationale de France (National library of France).
A few different associations with the suits are summarized here. You can find even more in Matthews, Greer, and Huson.
Also known as Wands, Staves
- French Suit: Diamonds (Etteilla) or Clubs
- Element: Earth (Etteilla) or Fire (Golden Dawn)
- Season: Spring
- Part of the Individual: Energy or creative impulse
- Part of Life: Work
- Temper: Choleric
- Cardinal Virtue: Fortitude
- French Suit: Hearts
- Element: Water
- Season: Summer
- Part of the Individual: Emotions
- Part of Life: Family and community
- Temper: Phlegmatic
- Cardinal Virtue: Temperance
- French Suit: Spades
- Element: Air
- Season: Winter
- Part of the Individual: Intellect
- Part of Life: Challenge or struggles
- Temper: Sanguine
- Cardinal Virtue: Justice
Also known as Pentacles, Disks
- French Suit: Clubs (Etteilla) or Diamonds
- Element: Fire (Etteilla) or Earth (Golden Dawn)
- Season: Autumn
- Part of the Individual: Body
- Part of Life: Finances and other resources
- Temper: Melancholic
- Cardinal Virtue: Prudence
Picking a quartet or two for the suits in your own deck can be valuable, both for planning within a single suit and for making sure that the four stand out from each other. For example, I’ve used them for color palettes, costumes, and scenes.
In my Anecdotes Tarot deck, I used elemental and seasonal associations to choose a color palette for each suit, and a costume style for the court cards.
Choosing Your Suits
In the activity below, you can start planning out your suits by dragging and dropping the associations that you connect with.
The “score” is based on whether you match up with the most popular interpretations, but judging from the plethora of conflicting pairings (cf. Matthews, 2018; Greer, 2007), there is no true right answer.
When you are finished, you can take a screenshot for reference.
Create Your Own Tarot
Start With Tradition ○ The Trumps ○ The Four Suits ○ The Numbers ○ Put It All Together