The standard tarot deck such as the rider-waite consists of 78 cards. These cards are divided into 2 basic subsets, the Minor Arcana, which consists of four suits that loosely correspond to the four suits of modern-day playing cards called Wands, Swords, Cups, and Pentacles. Each suit is consists of 10 number cards (Ace through Ten) and four royalty cards (Page, Knight, Queen, & King), instead of the 3 normally found in playing cards, for a combined total of 56 cards.
The cards of the Minor Arcana generally concern themselves with the day-to-day business of life and represent the souls, endeavors, decisions, and events that fill our everyday experiences. These are the small details that add color and texture to the big picture of our lives.
The Major Arcana is a smaller subset, consisting of 22 picture cards. The 22 cards stand alone, if you lay them out in order from 0 to 22, they could be said to tell the story of the Fool’s journey through life. Each card of the Major Arcana represents an important archetype and can also represent individuals and guides that play significant roles in our lives.
The Major Arcana represents the collective consciousness aspects, while the Minor Arcana represents what makes each of us individually unqiue.