The Elements – Understanding Tarot Suits

A helpful key to understanding Tarot suits is to break them down to their most basic symbolic meaning. We can do this by associating each of the four Tarot suits with a key element.

The ancient Greeks were the first to document the four elements: Fire, Earth, Air and Water. These elements are the prime building blocks of everything in the Universe, on all levels (spiritual, material, etc).

These elements speak a basic language that describes the very core function and personality of a thing.

Conveniently, each of the four suits in the Tarot is linked to the energy of the four elements.

Below I’ve listed each suit and their corresponding element. By learning the language of each suite’s element, the personality of that suit become more clear. Further, the element simplifies our interpretation of our cards, making it easier for our intuition to flow through our readings.

Fire : Suit of Wands

The Tarot suit of wands corresponds with the element of fire. And, just as fire conveys heat, passion, ignition and consumption – so too does the suit of wands. Consider the enthusiasm this suit represents. Creative sparks, spiritual passion and social vitality are all key messages from this suit. When connecting the element of fire to the suit of wands, ask yourself “What lights my fire?” in relation to the wand cards pulled in a reading. What ignites your passion? What warms your heart? What consumes you? These are all great fire-related questions that clarify wand cards in a reading.

Earth : Suit of Pentacles

The earth element helps us in understanding Tarot suits of pentacles because it’s a grounding energy. This element and suit deal with matter. Material concepts such as the body, home, money and physical things all fall under this element/suit. Consider the tactile nature of the suit. Things you can feel, taste, touch and experience are all dancing in these cards. When connecting with the element of earth in the suit of pentacles, ask yourself “What is my material gain?” What can be bartered, purchased or obtained? What can be physically fixed or healed? What appeals to tactile senses? What appeals your sensuality? These are all earth-related questions that will assist in your interpretation of the pentacles in a reading.

Air : Suit of Swords

The air element corresponds to the suit of swords in the Tarot because it cuts right through the clutter and gets to the instigating through of reality. Just as swords can be at odds (conflicting) in the heat of battle, so too can our minds – and thoughts are the domain of the air element. Why? Because air holds the unseen (think about messages moving back and forth through the airways when we use our cellular phones or TV and radio signals). The swords point a sharp tip to our fears, worries and doubts (which are negative thoughts practiced habitually). The double-edged sword is akin to the dual nature of the mind. We always possess the potential to be “of two minds” about something. Every thought or opinion has an opposing thought. When connecting with the element of air in the suit of swords ask yourself about the double-edged nature of your thought. Also ask how you can cut through the mists of the mind to gain clarity in your thoughts.

Water : Suit of Cups

The water element corresponds to the suit of cups. Consider water – its depth, its vast mysteries, and particularly its ability to take on the shape in which it is held. Our emotions and intuitions are the same way. Our intuition runs far deeper than what is perceived. Our emotions run just as deep. Also, our emotions take on flavour and shape according to our environment – just like water. Also like water, our emotions can carve great canyons in the landscape of our lives. There is no denying our emotions, and there is not stopping the running will of water. When working with the suit of cups, consider these associations with the element of water. Ask yourself what emotions run deeply within you, and how does your intuition flow through your life when pulling cup cards in your readings.

I hope you have enjoyed these thoughts on understanding Tarot suits and their associations with the elements.

Written by Avia Venefica of

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