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What is the order of tarot suits? A.E. Waite answers.

order of tarot suits

Many readers have asked about the order of tarot suits. The answer isn’t a simple one. Putting the tarot suits in order is a subject of debate, because there’s no universal agreement on which follows which.

While the order of the cards from Ace to King is well defined, and the order of the Major Arcana is also well established — the order of the suits themselves is open to some interpretation. Does the Minor Arcana start with Cups? Or does it start with Wands?

How to put the tarot suits in order

There are multiple arguments which have been made over the years for putting different suits first based on things like zodiac order, the order of the primary elements, the order of associated compass directions and other systems.

All of these are sound arguments. But which is best?

The answer to “What’s the correct order of the tarot suits” is really: There is no order.

Or at least, there’s no universal agreement.


The tarot suits in order: Who to listen to?

The best answer I’ve found on the subject of tarot suit order comes from A.E. Waite (Ed: He’s the co-creator of the  famous Rider Waite tarot deck) himself.

In Waite’s seminal book “A Pictorial Key to The Tarot“, which was published at the same time as the now world-famous deck, he lists the order of suits as follows:

  1. Wands
  2. Cups
  3. Swords
  4. Pentacles

As I contemplate Waite’s sequence, there is a good underlying logic to it.

  • The Wands are the burst of creative energy and initial manifestation.
  • The Cups are raw, primal emotion and feeling, which in turn are followed by …
  • Swords and their logic and rational thought.
  • Finally there is career and flourishing represented by the Suit of Pentacles.

When we consider the actual meanings of the tarot suits, the order of the suits makes more sense.  Career is unlikely to precede emotion. Likewise, creative energy seems unlikely to follow logic.

There may not be a right answer for the sequence of the tarot suits, but Waite’s answer certainly seems to make the most sense to me.

What do you think?

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