The Minor Arcana cards form the bulk of any tarot deck. While the Major Arcana consists of just 22 cards, the remaining 56 belong to the Minors. Unlike the Major Arcana, these cards are divided in terms of common suit, with fourteen cards falling into four different groupings. In fact, they are similar to the suits found in ordinary playing cards.
The four suits of the Minor Arcana are known as the Wands, Pentacles, Swords and Cups. Each one is associated with a region of human emotion, element, social class and ordinary playing card suit. The Wands are associated with the areas of creativity and will. Their element is fire, social class is the peasantry and their playing card parallel is the clubs. Pentacles govern possessions and the material body - it is associated with earth, merchants and the diamonds suit in ordinary playing cards.
The Cups govern the areas of human emotions and love. It is also associated with water, the clergy and the suit of hearts. The final suit in the Minor Arcana, the Swords, governs the area of reason. It is associated with nobility and the military, air and the suit of spades. The numbering of the suits starts with the Ace and ends with the King. However, it has been found that with different decks, the 'court' cards may vary in order. In terms of numbering, the cards represent a specific kind of evolution. Numbers 1 to 5 generally deal with evolution and realities of a concise nature. The numbers 6 to 10 deal more with distortion and confusion.
Of course, a superficial understanding of the card's meanings isn't enough to successfully read tarot. You need to understand the deeper meaning of each suit of cards as well. For example, the Wands don't just cover creativity and will - they are also involved in different kinds of energy and glory. Their appearance in any spread generally signifies energy that can be used in a good or bad way. The Cups are known to govern happiness, fertility and beauty. It also deals with one's instincts and the subconscious as opposed to reason.
Conversely, the Swords are seen to represent reason. But apart from that, they also govern aggression, force, courage and misfortune. Just as the Wands signify good or bad energy in a spread, the Swords signify good or bad action. The Pentacles represents money and material gain. In fact, if you inspect the cards you will notice that it shows people either working hard or enjoying the fruit of their work.
Compared to the Major Arcana, the Minor Arcana is thought to be less important since it doesn't really deal with major or powerful issues. Instead, they are mostly concerned with small things, often issues that occur on an everyday basis. However, these cards can also be strong manipulators as well- some readers have been known to use them in a spread as a tool for fear, manipulation and mind control. Always remember that tarot should be done in a beneficial, non-harmful way. It's your job to be responsible and truthful when doing tarot reading.