|THE STRUCTURE OF A TAROT DECK
Before you begin to seriously read the cards you should understand the different types of cards you are going to encounter in this deck. As you already know, it consists of the conventional 78 cards. These can be divided into two groups: the 22 Major Arcana ("arcanum" = secret) and the 56 Minor Arcana.
1) The Major Arcana are easily recognised by the fact that they carry Roman numerals in front of their name (e.g. "XVII • The Star"), except for the Fool, who is numbered “0”. They all represent archetypes of the human psyche. In interpreting them, they are treated more or less the same as the Minor Arcana, but they describe more important, more global, and more profound experiences and situations than the Minor Arcana do.
>> view the Major Arcana
2) The Minor Arcana describe relatively common, everyday, but just as typically human experiences and situations. In my deck, they are identified by an Arabic numeral (e.g. "9") or, in the case of the Aces and the Court Cards, their title of nobility (e.g. "Ace" or "King") over the symbol for the suit.
The Minor Arcana are divided into four suits or symbols: cups, pentacles, rods and swords. Each of the four suits consists of 14 cards (Ace, the cards 2-10 and four Court Cards) and describes a specific subset of human experience.
>> more about the four suits / view the Minor Arcana
2.b) The Court Cards: There is some conflict about the right interpretations of both the Aces and the Court Cards. The following approach is the one I generally use because I've found it to be the most productive.
The Aces can be seen as chances that lie within us or in our environment.
The Pages I usually read as invitations to cultivate certain attitudes or to inwardly prepare for certain ways of feeling, being, thinking or doing.
The Knights can be seen as certain spirits or moods.
The Queens I hardly ever interpret as actual (female) persons but as the values, the habits, the philosophy of life or typical moods (in other words: the inner life) of a person, regardless of whether the person is female or male.
The Kings I likewise don't usually read to be actual (male) persons but the typical way of acting, the job, the lifestyle (or, in other words: the outer life) of a person, regardless of whether the person is male or female.