the court cards

Since I have been randomly selecting cards since I started this blog, I always go back to check the ones I've written. Today, I selected Two of Swords, but since I already posted about it, I pulled another card. It is incredibly powerful to pull the Two of Swords for me, though, because this week in my newsletter, I am writing about dreamwork, and some tools to help you begin receiving and interpreting messages in your dreams. May be a multi-week series...who knows? But the pull today made me wish I had started from the beginning, then worked my way through the deck. But alas, this seemed more intuitive. (Too much information from my head, eh?) Today's card, the King of Cups surprised me, because it is the first King I have discussed. There is a massive dearth of Court Cards on this blog.  So, I feel like I need to go into a bit of an explanation of the Court Cards before I even start talking about the energy of the King of Cups. So, I have decided to post this piece about the Court Cards, then go into the King of Cups in another post tomorrow as the Tarot of the Week. Hope everyone is cool with that. In this post, I use the word Reader to represent the Tarot Reader, and Seeker, the one seeking answers through Tarot. If you are reading for yourself, then you are both.

The Minor Arcana of the Tarot is set up similarly to a deck of cards--numbered cards one through ten, which correspond traditionally with aspects of numerology in their archetypal meanings. Then what are called the court cards come into play--the page, the knight, the queen and the king. These sixteen court cards come to represent personality types and the people in and around your life. Court Cards are the "Royal" cards of the Minor Arcana suits (Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles) and hold the energy of their elemental correspondence--fire, water, air and earth respectively. So, the Court Cards are the human representations of their suit. When we talk about personality archetypes, most of us identify those kind of things by psychological tests, like Myers-Briggs, for example. And I would be surprised if there wasn't someone out there who didn't already correspond the Court Cards to the Myers-Briggs personality types. Certainly, the Major Arcana has come to represent Archetypes as well, but these Court Cards, like all things in the Minor Arcana, are more about the conditions and circumstances of daily life, so you may have a soul path of the Strength card, but be projecting Queen of Cups.

So, one of the roles of the court cards is to help readers identify people in the life of the Seeker. These people that affect our life, and whose lives we affect. They are all around our lives--our co-workers, neighbors, family, bosses, friends. The court cards are often these markers in your reading, helping the Reader validate the present situation. People are often looking for tarot readers or psychics to help validate what they are saying is true for them. So, if I say to someone, there is a dark-haired man in your life, he is mature, stable, financially secure, this helps the person know that the cards are accurate. Court cards are great tools for that, because they can be so literal in that way.  These Court Cards represent the attributes of each suit. Each have both negative and positive qualities. Traditionally, these suits also had physical markers as well. They are ethnocentric and have fallen out of favor by most Tarot readers, but I find them interesting nonetheless. I created this little cheat chart for you, if you are curious about that physical attribute thing.

courtcard attributes.jpg

The other way Court Cards function in a reading is to address a personality the Seeker embodies. And they can help you identify the energy you are bringing to the situation. At work, for example, a Capricorn woman at work may embody the Queen of Wands--dynamic, charismatic, creative, independent; while at home, she may embody her true nature--the Queen of Pentacles energy. We often do that in aspects of our life--shapeshift for survival or to thrivival, so to speak. That shapeshifting is not meant as a criticism; it is what all humans do to grow--adapt to their situation. 

So, in readings, the Court Cards either represent someone in the life, or coming into the life, of the Seeker. OR they represent some aspect of the Seeker. Talking about the latter first, Spirit will bring this aspect of the Seeker to the surface if it is important to 1. validate that personality trait for the Seeker, or 2. to point out a way in which they are acting out and not being true to their nature, or 3. help guide the Seeker to bring a certain energy into the situation at hand. You also may pull two or more of a type of Court Card in a reading. When that happens, reflect on the attributes of the Court card rather than the exact suit of the Court Card. For example, if a woman going for a new job pulls three Knights in a reading, I might tell her that she is being courageous, action-oriented, really "putting herself out there" to get the job, and it will come to fruition. Or if she pulled three Pages, I might ask her if she feels frightened or like a neophyte or apprentice, rather than embodying the King energy of owning her own space. 

So, how do you know if it is another person, or the Seeker? It is the question I get most often with Court Cards. This is where your psychic abilities are very important. Always. Every. Time. I pull a Court Card in either the Approaching or the Outcome position (Future positions), I pull a clarifying card, because in this position, it often means someone else is influencing the situation. Not always, but often. So, I pull a clarifying card by shuffling and saying, "Is this card about the Seeker or someone else? Please give me a clear card." Cards that validate it is about the Seeker tend to resonate with the question, or have a one in it, a solitary figure or someone resonate as the person. You will come to understand your own spiritual validation language. 


Let's talk about the specific cards. The Pages tend to represent someone young, like the Seeker's children or niece/nephews, or for a teacher, her students (of any age). The energy can be immature, so can often embody the negative aspects of the suit. It also means it can represent someone old who is simply immature. So using Wands here, the opposite side of the dynamic, creative, charismatic person is that they can be quick to anger, be passionate to the point of being off-putting, use their sexuality as a means of manipulation. Or it can be the young energy of that suit, meaning a new beginning, starting a new job and still apprenticing. And even more traditional, the pages were the messengers of the Tarot, so they can come when the Seeker has gotten or will get a message regarding the suit in their life, so if they pulled the Page of Wands, they may hear news of a creative project. You can look at the cards around the Page to get a deeper sense of whether this message is positive or negative. I pulled this card the day before hearing my poems had been selected in a new anthology coming out this Spring. So, as you can tell, it can be very subjective how to interpret a court card. You must tap into your intuitive feelings about the Seeker's question.

The Knights have the power of the suit. In the same way that the Ace of the most powerful card of the Minor Arcana suit. Aces hold all the potential, they match the universal energy behind the Seeker with their will. It is like aligning Divine and personal will. The Knights have the most dynamic, powerful energy of the Court Cards. That energy is one of movement and action. The knight, after all, isn't sitting on a throne, or lounging about the castle, his duty in the kingdom is one of protector, warrior, and messenger. He is in defense of the kingdom, or riding off to battle, or off to rescue the princess. He does the hard work of the suit and embodies bravery. So, the knight energy carries with it extremes of each suit from its best attributes to its worse. Only the Reader and Seeker can really figure out whether this extreme can be positive or negative in your life. Often, when you read about knights, there are pair of words to describe the knight energy--reckless/fearless. They are pairs of words that have the energy, but different outcomes. When representing people, they tend to represent men or women between the ages of 18-35. This energy is incredibly dynamic and courageous. It moves. It challenges the status quo of the Seeker's own thoughts, or the status quo of society. And it defends.

The Queen energy tends to represent women over the age of 18, but more likely over 35. Her energy is one of feminine stability, self-knowledge, goddess energy. There is a nurturing element of the Queen that is lacking in the King, so men or women can pull this card when special care to nurture and love is needed in the situation. Often, women get this card about themselves when they have come to embody their power. They are living honestly with themselves. The King energy tends to represent men over the age of 35. This energy is VERY stable. One of achievement, a settled, calm, precise energy. Planning is involved here too, and some high regard. Women will pull this card when they are becoming the boss in their company. Or are independently raising their family. As I said, these court cards can come to represent aspects of our own self, even if we are women and pull male cards. All people have both male and female aspects of their self, and tap into those aspects at different times of their lives. 

I hope this incredibly long post was helpful to you. Please share your experience of the Court cards, and how you use them in your readings, or if you have any questions, I'd be happy to answer in the comments of this post.