If The Suit Fits

The latest dilemma I seem to be facing in creating this deck, is the naming of the Minor Arcana suits. I’ve made a start on a few of the Minor Arcana cards and then it occurred to me that the “traditional” suit names don’t all *quite* work for me. Of course, traditions vary, depending on the tradition you happen to choose and its origins. Mind you, at least the plethora of fanciful modern alternatives has no appeal, since I can’t be doing with riffling through the LWB to look up which suit Chandeliers or Boulders or Dog Biscuits is supposed to be, so that narrows down the choices a tad.

Swords is a no-brainer for the…umm..Swords suit. I didn’t think twice about that one. I like swords and everyone knows where they stand with a sword. (Tip: I find that if you aren’t holding the blunt end, then out of range of the pointy end works best).

The other suits are a little more tricky.

Let’s take Cups for starters:

  • Cups – I don’t have a problem with Cups at all really, but thought I’d explore some alternatives.
  • Hearts – an obvious connection with emotions, albeit rather more associated with ordinary playing cards
  • Chalices – classy, but a bit Churchy sounding. And then, of course, Python has ruined any hope of seriousness when it comes to Grail associations.
  • Goblets – now, I like goblets (they are my preferred drinking vessel), but I don’t know if it works as a name on a Tarot deck. Perhaps too much a hybrid of goblins and giblets?
  • Roses – very obscure and unique to Swiss cards, but these have a certain appeal. In fact, despite being a late entry that I only dug out when looking at all the possibilities, this one might be edging into the lead.

So to Wands:

  • Wands – a bit Pagan/ Harry Potter for me. It’s a label I’m accustomed to, but the chap in the 10 card is not carrying an armful of magic sticks, is he?
  • Staves – a bit more like it. Perhaps a little archaic, although I do spend a lot of my time hanging out in the 15th century, so perhaps it’s bang on with the times. My Knight is carrying a lance, but “Lances” just sounds wrong and makes me think of boils and “Pointy Sticks” is too long.
  • Batons/Bastoni – well, I’m not French or Italian, so that would be an affectation
  • Clubs – again, more playing card related and a bit too brutal-sounding, to be honest. I’d probably be compelled to include a seal in there somewhere.
  • Rods – No, just no! Rods are for clearing drains and shoving up chimneys with a brush on the end (since we aren’t allowed to use small children for that any more)
  • Acorns – cute, but a little obscure unless you are familiar with German playing cards. I like the association with mighty things growing from them, but I’m not a fan of obscurely named suits, as previously mentioned

And last, and probably trickiest, we have Pentacles:

  • Pentacles – waaaay too New Age/Pagan and rather meaningless for me, since I’m not of that persuasion
  • Coins – that could work. Obvious associations here with the mundane business of making filthy lucre for security
  • Disks – change the record. Nope, really doesn’t work for me at all
  • Diamonds – of course, I like diamonds, but I prefer them set in platinum, not paper
  • Bells – another obscure German/Swiss card suit and one where I can’t readily see a connection with my deck.

For the sake of completeness, the alternatives to Swords would be:

  • Swords – yes, this is the one. No argument, OK!
  • Leaves – obscure, German and although you could probably have someone’s eye out with a particularly vicious pine needle, they lack the follow-through you get with a sword and are bugger all use against a shield.
  • Spades – much as I like to call a spade a shovel, these are just too…earthy. I’d have to be including grave-diggers and navvies.
  • Shields – obscure, Swiss and no fun at all, though an effective defence against the aforementioned pine needle and probably a sword too. You can’t even cut cheese with it.

So, what do you think? A poll for each suit is below – please vote for the one you think will best suit the deck.  I’ve included the Swords options just out of curiosity and indicated my preferences with a *, but of course if you don’t fancy any of the listed options, you can choose “Something else” and share your thoughts in the comments 😀

How should the Minor Arcana Suits be named? (Choose one for each suit)


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6 thoughts on “If The Suit Fits”

  1. I think you answered your own questions there?¿! I voted mostly for your way of thinking except for chalices, I think from what I’ve seen of your deck so far chalices suit (ahem) it better.

    1. The Holy Grail aspect has a certain appeal, it’s true (even if it’s just a Grail-shaped beacon) 🙂

  2. I really adore roses for the suit of cups but then I feel you would have to have a nature theme for the other suits. I have voted along the lines you favourited anyway as they are what I am used to.
    I also like Grail for cups, coconuts for pentacles (and Clopping along) wands for Tim (being a sorcerer and all) and long swords for swords because ’tis but a scratch.

    1. Not necessarily, I was thinking more of symbolic roses like the Tudor/York/Lancaster roses, though not much love lost there 🙂
      ….Oh, I’ve got a luverly bunch of coconuts…

  3. I like Coins and Swords for your deck and think the word Cups is a nice simple way to describe the Suit of Water. How about Spears as an alternative to wands? Then you’d have Cups, Spears, Coins and Swords… or are spears too pointy for the Suit of Fire? Ask the Bridgekeeper! 😀

    1. I could work with Spears, though perhaps two sharp, pointing suits is too much pointiness 😀

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