The suits of traditional tarot card decks are analogous to the classical elements, and this is how they are represented in The Tarot of Creativity:
Wands = FIRE
Swords = AIR
Cups = WATER
Pentacles = EARTH
In classical thought, the four elements earth, water, air, and fire frequently occur; sometimes including a fifth element or quintessence (after “quint” meaning “fifth”) called aether in ancient Greece and akasha in India. The concept of the five elements formed a basis of analysis in both Hinduism and Buddhism. In Hinduism, particularly in an esoteric context, the four states-of-matter describe matter, and a fifth element describes that which was beyond the material world. Similar lists existed in ancient China and Japan. In Buddhism the four great elements, to which two others are sometimes added, are not viewed as substances, but as categories of sensory experience.
The ancient Greek belief in five basic elements, these being earth, water, air, fire, and aether, dates from pre-Socratic times and persisted throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, deeply influencing European thought and culture. These five elements are sometimes associated with the five platonic solids.
Aristotle added a fifth element, aether, as the quintessence, reasoning that whereas fire, earth, air, and water were earthly and corruptible, since no changes had been perceived in the heavenly regions, the stars cannot be made out of any of the four elements but must be made of a different, unchangeable, heavenly substance.
In the TOC deck, the suits show the creative process from inspiration (Wands/FIRE) to thought (Swords/AIR) through emotions (Cups/WATER), and then finally entering the material plane (Pentacles/EARTH).
Together, they show the path of creative manifestation:
FIRE (Wands) —> AIR (Swords) —> WATER (Cups) —> EARTH (Pentacles)
This order is not the same one that most tarot scholars follow. My system comes from the insight I had when I wrote my first book, Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity. I was following the genesis of emotions and their role in creating the physical reality.
~ Excerpt from The Tarot Key: Unlock the Secrets of Your Soul by Aliyah Marr
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