Four elements which are Earth, Air, Fire and Water were the basis of our universe during the era of ancient philosophy, astrology and medicine. Throughout the history of the Tarot, each suit evolved to represent one of the classic elements.
Tarot suits, the corresponding elements and the symbolism and characteristics of each one:
Wands — Element: Fire
Wands represent the element of Fire, suggesting a powerful but unsure energy. In a reading, Wands can relate to a variety of moving personalities: creative thinkers, artists, visionaries, psychics and mystics. These personalities may inspire others, but before their revelations become part of reality, they need nurturing and support. Routine and frustration can equally overwhelm the passion of fire.
Prevalence of wands in a Tarot spread indicates optimism or creativity and links regularly to travel, new undertakings, agreements and negotiations. Wand court cards in a Tarot spread often define a person who is extroverted and energetic, someone filled with exuberance and a bit of drama.
Pentacles — Element: Earth
Pentacles denote the element Earth, the concrete, physical world. It speaks of the realm of our senses. As a firm foundation (“Terra Firma”) for solid ideas, Pentacles indicate a degree of common sense, where hard work is behind every brilliant perception.
Earth represents physicality, when related to both sexuality and the desire for material comforts. Pentacles signify wealth, material things and commercial or financial matters.
In a Tarot spread with Pentacle court cards, they identify a sensible person, someone who is able to work hard to obtain material comforts that money can buy. Look for individuals like managers, bankers, accountants or farmers.
Swords — Element: Air
Swords symbolize the element of Air, with intelligent, cerebral activity, as well as thought and lucid points of view. This suit represents the world of science and organized thinking. A preponderance of Swords refers to a state of mind opposed to any concrete event. The reading could indicate passions for knowledge, learning and observation.
The individuals specified by Swords are intellectuals, people with the ability to analyze and organize information. However, they are unable to express inner feelings and emotions. They are highly educated individuals that seem distant, aloof and cold.
People of Swords possess strong emotions, but have a hard time communicating those feelings. These are scientists, researchers, doctors and military leaders.
Cups — Element: Water
Cups represent Water, which speak about the fluidity of emotions and feelings. Water is the nurturer of life and development. It is the key component of our physical bodies as well as our inner passions. The prevalence of Cups in a Tarot reading talks of sensitivity, relationships and personal exchanges. It also refers to a bond with animals and all of nature.
Readings where Cups court cards appear indicate a person that is highly emotional. For people ruled by Water, relationships and a healthy social life are vital. They are kind, generous, softhearted and they truly care about the welfare of others. They are psychiatrists, counselors and social workers.