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The Court Cards – Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings
* Remember to Protect, Cleanse and Ground Before and After Using Your Tarot Cards, Especially When Reading For Others
The Court Cards, also known as the People Cards, Face Cards or Royalty are the Families of the Tarot, the personalities that reflect the qualities of their Suit and Rank. The Court Cards used as a guidance or self-development tool, show us certain ways of being in the world so that we can use, or avoid those styles when appropriate.
A King is mature and masculine. He is the Archetypal Father Figure of his Suit. He is a doer whose focus is outward on the events of life. He demonstrates authority, order, control, discipline and mastery in the areas associated with his Suit. A King’s style is to lead, be strong, assertive and direct. He is concerned with results and practical, how-to matters. He has the responsibility to protect and defend his realm and all those who reside within. A King is the Masculine Counterpart to a Queen. A King balances the Feminine Force of a Queen. A King has the capacity to separate his head from his heart.
A Queen is mature and feminine. She is the Archetypal Mother Figure of her Suit. She embodies the qualities of her Suit, rather than acting them out. Her focus is inward, and her style, relaxed and natural. This does not say a Queen is weak or powerless. On the contrary, a Queen holds immense power, but wields it in a more subtle manner. A Queen is concerned with results just like the King, but can switch off and relax in the enjoyment of just being in the world. A Queen is also responsible for protecting and defending those in her realm, but not in the same manner as a King. Her manner of protection is through nurturing, sensing and natural maternal instincts. She is associated with feelings, relationships and self-expression. A Queen is the Feminine Counterpart of The King. A Queen tempers the strong powerful Masculine Force of The King to provide balance and perspective. A Queen can find it difficult to separate her heart from her head.
A Knight is an immature young adult. Not yet, a Queen or King. Immature does not necessarily mean the Knight is silly or superficial, but rather he is still evolving, searching and seeking to find his place in the world. He is the Archetypal Son or Daughter (modern tarot deems the Knight to be gender-less) of The Queen and King in his Suit. He may find it challenging to express himself in a balanced manner. He can swing from one extreme to another, as he tries to relate successfully to his world. His presence always draws attention to how balanced a situation is. A Knight is prone to excess, but he is also eager and sincere, and these qualities redeem him in our eyes. We admire his spirit and energy. He lives in a world of action. He embodies the qualities of The King of his Suit but in an immature manner. A Knight has much to learn and experience before he can become a King.
A Page is a playful child, adolescent, or young adult (approx. up to 22 years of age) of either sex. He or She is The Archetypal young Son or Daughter of The King and Queen of his Suit. He is young, innocent and sometimes naive. He acts out the qualities of his Suit with pleasure and abandon. His approach may not be deep, but it is easy, loose and spontaneous. He is a symbol of adventure and possibility. He holds lofty ideas about his future, his mind and imagination constantly on the go. He makes plans for his future in a world styled to his beliefs. He has yet to understand the world may not be as cooperative as he thinks it to be. As he grows from childhood to young adulthood, he must apply himself to assimilating knowledge via the spoken and written word. He will go through formal education and expand his mind through learning. His mind may also flit from one ambition to another as he is exposed to varying subjects of study or aspects of life. Some Pages may not be able to settle on what or who they want to be when they grow up, as the very process of maturing can affect their thought process and attitudes. The world is still the Page’s oyster, and he can be anything he so chooses once he finds direction and focus for his active mind. He holds the potential of his Suit and has yet to be moulded or strongly influenced by either King or Queen. A Page needs careful handling if he is to avoid adopting any negative traits of The King or Queen. A Page is highly sensitive to the World around him but does not understand the workings of it as yet. A Page is eager to experience life and is interested in all. The King and Queen must supervise his exuberance, and control his desire to run before he can walk.
Court Card Ranks
Each of the Court Cards represents a particular Rank within the family represented by their Suit and will display the characteristics, personalities and traits of that Suit accordingly. When we use the Court Cards to represent or interpret people they generally refer to the following:
- Pages refer to Children, both male and female, from birth up to the age of 22 years. A Page can also be a young adult woman.
- Knights refer to Males or Females 22-30 years old. Knights used to represent only males, as females led very different lives and had not the freedom to develop their potential. Nor did they have the physical freedom to travel and roam as their male counterparts did. That of course has changed in the world of gender equality. So, do not restrict your interpretation of Knights to males only. If the personality description fits, go with it.
- Queens refer to Mature Women, Mothers or Grandmothers. Males can also display queenly qualities.
- Kings refer to Mature Men, Fathers or Grandfathers. Females can also display Kingly qualities
The above allocations can be very limiting if they are only pigeon-holed in this manner. As we proceed through these Cards and become more familiar with them, you will begin to understand that it doesn’t really matter if the person being suggested by a particular Court Card neither matches the age or gender being displayed, as long as their energy and meaning fits the bill. Examples of this is a Page representing an older person who is doing something, or acting in a way, that makes them feel young, or a Knight representing an older man who is acting in an immature manner, or a King representing a woman who is accessing her masculine side.
The description of their energy, personality and characteristics is what matters, so it is important to really get to know these people in order to describe them with confidence to the Querant when they appear in a reading. We will be looking more closely at the above allocation of the Court Cards in this lesson.
The Court Cards often cause Readers a lot of confusion. This is because when they appear in a Reading it is up to the Reader to determine if they represent:
- The querant
- A person involved with the querant
- A situation around the querant
- Advice to be taken on board
- An atmosphere
- Sun Sign (Zodiac)
For instance the Page of Pentacles may represent a young serious child, study, commitment to a relationship/job/career/situation, an Earth Sign (Taurus/Virgo/Capricorn), being grounded, news about material matters and even setting goals. You can see how easy it is to become bewildered by it all
Approaches to Interpreting Court Cards
Court Cards – Cast of Characters
The Court Cards show us the influential people in the Querant’s life. If Cups are strongly represented, it would suggest that it is someone involved with the Querant on a relationship or emotional basis. If Wands, then the connection may be career or travel related. If Swords, they can represent people the Querant is in conflict or communication with, and when Pentacles dominate, the Court Cards can suggest business, financial or work relationships.
It is generally accepted that Upright Court Cards are positive people surrounding the Querant, whereas reversed Court Cards are people in conflict with the Querant or working against them. The Court Cards also represent the Querant, and how their personality, behaviour and attitude is either helping or hurting the situation. It also shows the Querant’s strengths, abilities and talents, which can sometimes be hidden or denied by the Querant. When reversed they may draw attention to aspects of their personality that may be holding them back or sabotaging their success. The Court Cards can reveal very intimate, revealing and insightful information about our self and those we interact with on a daily basis. The presence of Court Cards in a Reading can tell us how people are really feeling and thinking. They also tell us how they are acting and what is motivating them. The information revealed by The Court Cards may not be in accordance with what the Querant is telling you. The Querant’s version of events may be very different to what the Court Cards are implying, so the Cards surrounding them must be closely observed for any inconsistencies and for hints to the truth of the matter.
Court Cards – The Archetypal Families
The Court Card personalities are modeled on the Archetypal Types associated with each Element. As the Court Cards represent the Families of the Four Suits of The Minor Arcana, they can therefore refer to families in general, and relationship issues within the family.
Upright Court Cards in a Family or General Reading show the various normal personalities influencing the Querant’s life as a direct result of their upbringing. Regardless of the issues the Querant may have with family members, there is little chance of them being serious, and can easily be overcome with communication, tolerance and understanding. These are families which may have conflicting personalities but will always be there for each other, as their foundations are solid, and their feelings neither tainted nor dysfunctional.
Reversed Queens can suggest mother issues and Reversed Kings may suggest father issues. They may also be questioning your own role as a mother or father. The Court Cards can highlight the strengths and weaknesses found in many families, and reveal the underlying cause of power struggles, jealousy and sibling rivalry. A Family Reading can assist in finding the correct antidote to restoring family harmony and balance.
Reversed Queens or Kings in a Family Reading or Family Position in a spread can suggest an absent or unavailable parent. Throw a Reversed Page or Knight into the mix and we see the dysfunctional family in full fling. Each Suit displays the individual nature of such issues. The Wands Reversed highlight the overbearing, ruthless and demanding parent. The Cups Reversed bring emotional coldness or smothering along with serious issues such as alcoholism, drug abuse, prostitution and sexual abuse. The Swords Reversed bring the full force of the severity of their Suit with verbal abuse, physical/psychological abuse, cruelty and harsh regimes and punishments. The Pentacle Kings and Queens Reversed bring career before family, with workaholic parents, overly materialistic, and overly demanding of their offspring with study/exams, status, family tradition and duty. They can also suggest lazy parents who neglect their children.
The Reversed Queens and Kings are generally conditioned from their own painful childhood or experiences, and as a result, become dysfunctional adults and parents, bringing their own unresolved issues into their relationships and family.
The Reversed Pages and Knights often bring delinquency, recklessness, clashes with the law, depression and mental unbalance.
All the above combine to create the ‘Troubled Family’ and may very well be known to the local police or social services.
Court Cards – Relationship Revelations
Time and time again I come across incompatibility in relationships while doing readings for others and these situations are represented by the Court Cards. Couples struggling to hold onto a relationship that is either never going to work, or is already dead in the water, are highlighted in Tarot Readings by opposing Elements and Reversed Court Cards. Court Cards representing the Querant and their partner throw a spotlight on the potential for success or disaster in a relationship, depending on the Elemental involvement, and whether Courts are Upright or Reversed. An Upright Court trying to maintain or start a relationship with a Reversed Court of the Same or Compatible Suit, will find it difficult enough to make things work. Much understanding, communication and compromise will be required in order for it to succeed. When Court Cards representing the people involved in a relationship appear as Opposing or Incompatible Elements and are also Reversed, you will find a turbulent couple with all sorts of dilemmas. These couples would have to work very hard indeed to make their relationship work and survive.
Examples of the above may be an Upright Queen of Cups with a Reversed King of Cups – She will need to call on her nurturing, sensitive, loving and understanding nature in order to deal with his moods, coolness and possible problems such as alcohol or philandering. Partner her now with a Reversed King of Swords and his very clinical and often harsh nature, or stinging words, will destroy her loving spirit and natural warmth. Reverse her too and we have a potential disaster – her depression, sorrowfulness and possible damaged upbringing meeting his potential indifference, uncaring and even violent nature, could lead to the poor depressed Queen drowning her sorrows in alcohol or drugs. In this weakened state she may also allow herself to be controlled and bullied by her Reversed King. The Queen of Cups either Upright or Reversed needs to feel loved, and will desperately seek it either in a positive or negative manner. She is looking to the wrong man if she thinks the Reversed King of Swords is going to soften or warm to her.
Often clients will come enquiring as to the potential success of a new or blossoming relationship. At the time of the Reading they may have just met, dated a few times or are in the throes of the mad texting stage. This is a very exciting time in a relationship, when the world is full of possibilities and our imagination can take flight with all sorts of romantic notions. It is wonderful when the relevant Court Cards appear confirming these lovely dreams, and we can suggest the potential Happy Ever After Outcome as desired by the Querant. However, when we see a Knight of Wands, Cups or Swords either Upright and especially Reversed we must look at the nature of this relationship very closely and regard it with some suspicion at the very least. If the Court Card is representing just their age, gender or sun sign, then all may be well and good. If not, then we may be looking at a lop-sided relationship. A Knight of Wands may just be out for a good time, and has no romantic inclination whatsoever. If he is Reversed, then you are probably fooling yourself if you think he is going to commit long-term, and more than likely has a string of similar situations behind him. If that is what you are looking for, you will have a great time with this guy, but if you think you have found your ‘soul mate’, you are likely barking up the wrong tree. Similarly with a Knight of Cups he can appear so romantic, and overwhelm you with love letters, slushy texts and proclaim his undying love for you, only to become distant and cool a week later. He has a tendency to fall in love easily, but has a problem sustaining it as there are many other distractions to lure him away. He is immature in his nature, and can enjoy the role of seducer far more than being in a long-term and committed relationship. When it comes to the Knight of Swords he may exit your life as quickly as he entered it leaving you confused and bewildered.
You can see how invaluable Court Cards are in Relationship Readings. We can see where each side is coming from, and from our knowledge of the Elements, hazard a guess as to how the relationship will ultimately evolve.
Court Cards – Role Playing and Personas
After completing the first part of this course we should now have a knowledge of the characteristics of the Four Elements represented in the Minor Arcana. As we travelled from Ace to Ten in each Suit, we watched the characters in each of their Soap Opera Journeys being driven, influenced and often controlled by their Governing Element. These characters were often nameless faces to us, unknown actors so to speak, but now that we have arrived at the Court Cards, we are taken on-set to meet them up close and personal. Actors tend to have very strong personalities, and the Court Card people are no different. Actors can take on the character or persona of another depending on what their current role requires, but when off-set, revert or regress back to their natural self, be it good or bad. The Court Cards are also granted this ability, and so too are we. We must ask our self the question “is the persona we display at work the same as the one shown at home or in our relationships?”
The Court Cards can show us the myriad of personas we project depending on the situation or atmosphere surrounding us at any particular time. This is a very common, and perfectly acceptable trait in all of us, as we regularly need to display different sides of our personality in order to survive, even if we have to pretend or force them. Sometimes we need to be assertive (Wands/Fire) to get what we want or even to be heard when we are naturally quiet and gentle (Cups/Water). If we need to get something done or pass those exams, we need to display a more thorough, determined, committed and methodical side to us (Pentacles/Earth). Making a hard and difficult decision, when we naturally dither or leave it up to others, requires us to weigh up the pros and cons with a clear and logical mind (Swords/Air). Because of this, the Court Cards in each Suit are not only influenced by their Governing Element, they also embody the traits of another. ****All the Pages are influenced by Air regardless of their Suit, the Knights are all influenced by Fire, the Queens by Water and the Kings by Earth. The exceptions to these are the Page of Swords, The Knight of Wands, The Queen of Cups and the King of Pentacles. These are the four ‘Pure Types’ of the Court Cards and are only influenced by their own Element. Therefore we have the potential for extreme personality traits, too much of one Element as it doubles up. We will be looking in greater depth at the nature of Dual Elemental influences later in this Lesson when we study the individual Cards.
**** Depending on the system of tarot you follow, you might find these connections or influences vary. There are no hard and set rules where these associations are concerned except that all schools of belief attribute Queens to be influenced by the Element of Water. I do not offer a definitive approach for these associations. I present you with the system I was taught. I have studied other approaches but have always come back to this one. You as the student are advised to do your own research and settle with an approach you are comfortable with. Some tarot systems will be quite dogmatic about which is right and which is wrong so you will have to make up your own mind in this regard. When studying tarot, you should always explore several systems as it will expand your knowledge and facilitate a multi-dimensional approach when interpreting cards and spreads. As an example of this, there are tarot systems that connect all Kings to Air or Fire. Some have Kings and Knights both linked to Fire, while others will have Knights associated with Air. Whichever one you use, be sure to stay consistent with it as it will have an affect on how you interpret Court Cards, not in a dramatic way, but an affect nonetheless. However, remember – Kings will always be archetypal Kings regardless! The same applies to all the other Court Card Ranks.
Reversed Court Cards – Transient Personas
Obviously, when a Reversed Court Card appears in a Reading we must pay particular attention to it as its energy is bound to be hurting or adding to the issue. In many cases, the Reversed Court Card may just be a temporary situation, as we can all experience difficult times. In such instances the very presence of the Reversed Court Card supplies us with suggestions for an antidote. For example a Reversed Knight or King of Wands in a Reading for someone who wants to start a business are red flags, as they would suggest too much enthusiasm and action, with little planning or practicality. So who can provide the missing qualities? The King of Swords will supply all the careful planning that is necessary, and either the Knight or King of Pentacles will not only roll their sleeves up and do all the dirty work, but will also have business plans and projected figures sorted before even entertaining the idea of getting involved or investing. As discussed before in Part I of this Course, we need a healthy balance of all Four Elements in our personality in order to succeed in life. An idea (Swords) is useless and stays just as an idea unless we have the enthusiasm (Wands), the emotional connection (Cups) and the ability to manifest it (Pentacles).
We all have had times in our lives when we could be found guilty of behaving badly, acting inappropriately and not being our normal selves. We can look back and be shocked by things we did, and feel as if we had been possessed by another and were not in control of our actions at the time. This is when we temporarily step away from our Personal Upright Court and Reverse, or worse, morph into another Court Card and then Reverse. Sometimes situations lead us to such drastic personality changes, and sometimes there is no real explanation. Normally all is well, and any damage done can be put right, once we revert back to our true self, our Upright Court Card Personality. This is when the influences are only transient.
What is more confusing is the transient aspect of the Archetypal Reversed Court Personality temporarily Up-Righting itself. When this happens we can find the apparent reformed character who seems to be intent on cleaning up their act, or is at the very least, remorseful for their behaviour or actions. As a result, those surrounding this character drop their guard and become complacent, only to find the Reversed Character suddenly and rapidly re-surfaces when certain buttons are pressed. An example of this is the violent partner who manages to control his or her jealous and possessive behaviour for a period of months, only to lose total control over a minor incident or comment.
By communicating with, and involving the Querant throughout the Reading, the Tarot can bring to light all such personality issues and provide real and useful advice or guidance.
Reversed Court Cards – Fixed Personalities and a Note of Caution
We have a very different situation when the presence of a Reversed Court Card is seen as constant or ‘Fixed’. Here we find extreme or negative traits that are inherent in the character and personality make-up of the individual. We see programming and conditioning from childhood. The energy is not going to clear up any time too soon, and the presence of Major Arcana cards in the Reading should give some clues as to the nature of the personality and its root cause. A constantly Reversed Page of Swords or King of Cups is not going to be rallied round by a few drinks with friends or a weekend break in the sun. There is no point arguing with a Reversed King or Knight of Swords as you just won’t win and may even put yourself at risk of harm. A Reversed Queen of Cups suffering from anorexia or distorted body image will not hear when she is told she is pretty or slim. These Cards are representing people with moderate to severe problems which often require professional help. As a Reader you will get to know a Spread that will give you cause for worry. You will also feel intuitively that something is not quite right. These Spreads often appear for Relationship Spreads where entrapment, control, bullying or violence is involved, or when the Querant has come from a damaged background. Remember, you must also look to the surrounding Cards for verification of any concerns.
One negative Card in the middle of an otherwise positive spread will have its negative power or influence weakened by surrounding positive Cards. A red flag is when the Reversed Court Card is backed up by other problematic cards. Also look for an abundance of Stage Cards in a Spread with Reversed Court Cards. The Querant may be working hard to give an outward appearance that all is fine when the reality may be quite different. Therefore, careful communication is essential in such cases, and a soft approach is preferable, as the Querant may be reluctant or nervous about speaking of their issues. Tears often present at this stage as several nails are hit on the head and painful truths exposed.
Caution – I stress again that one must approach any such disclosures with caution as you may cause upset or distress quite easily. You may also be wrong, regardless of how wonderful a Reader you think you are! Small doses of information at a time is advisable in order for the Querant to digest what you are saying. If the Querant does not want to talk about it, remember it is their Reading and you must respect their wishes. Unless you are a professional and qualified counselor, you should think twice before giving advice. It may be a job for the professionals and suggestions can be given to the Querant to seek such help. Having a list of phone numbers such as Samaritans, Counselors or Rape Crisis Centres is useful if you feel the Querant is open to seeking professional help. It can certainly be suggested to them, but never forced.
Court Cards as “Take Action” Messengers
Court Cards can appear in a Spread as a calling to “act like me” when their energy is needed to resolve or help a situation. For example, if you are behaving morosely, sullen and moody, the presence of the Queen of Wands in a spread may call on you to have some fun to shake off the blues. If your nature is to behave cautious and wary all the time, her presence may be shouting at you “where is your sense of adventure?” or even “get a life”. Remember, the Question, and also the Position in the Spread the Court Card appears in are very important. You must ask yourself “in what way is this Card relevant to the question?” and also “why is this Card appearing in this position?” Tradition and history gave Pages the role of bringing news to Court, and so they often act as very specific messengers in a Reading. The nature of these messages will depend on their Suit. Obviously it is nice and convenient when Court Cards appear in appropriate positions such as “How do others perceive me” or “What type of partner is most suitable for me?”. Unfortunately this is not always the case and therefore a little detective work may be necessary to uncover its hidden meaning or message.
Court Cards and Careers
Court Cards can be useful when searching for career directions, as each Suit is associated with particular professions. They can highlight the Querant’s natural academic or creative abilities, which are often overlooked in favour of family expectations or peer pressure.
- The Wands are associated with – travel, entrepreneurship, creativity, sport and leadership.
- The Cups are associated with – counselling, nursing, healing, spiritual studies, fashion, drama, art, music and writing (fiction).
- The Swords are associated with – science, law, medicine, politics, business, journalism, architecture and writing (non-fiction).
- The Pentacles are associated with – Business, banking, accountancy, horticulture, sport, holistic therapies, environmental awareness, veterinary and animal welfare.
Power struggles and conflict in the workplace are often highlighted by the presence of Reversed Court Cards. Their presence in such a Reading can help you understand the nature of the struggle and what drives it, therefore giving you the necessary tools or advice to overcome the difficulty or situation.
Court Cards – The General Atmosphere
On a lighter note the Court Cards can simply suggest an atmosphere surrounding the Querant. A Wands Court Card could highlight travel, holidays or a general sense of adventure, motivation and enthusiasm. A Cups Court Card can highlight a highly emotional atmosphere or sense of happiness and fulfillment. A Swords Court Card can suggest an atmosphere of tension, legalities, communication or brainstorming. A Pentacles Card can represent earthiness, being grounded, financial stability or physical health.
Court Cards and Astrology
The very nature of Court Cards and their strong connection to certain Elements make them very useful in determining the presence of various Sun Signs (Zodiac) in Readings. The Court Cards on their own can suggest a general Zodiac Group such as Wands representing a Fire sign(Aries/Leo/Sagittarius), Cups representing a Water sign(Pisces/Cancer/Scorpio), Swords representing an Air sign (Aquarius/Gemini/Libra) and Pentacles representing an Earth sign (Taurus/Virgo/Capricorn).
When Court Cards appear with particular combination of Cards from either or both the Minor and Major Arcana, we can become more specific in our interpretation. These combinations will be covered in Part III of this course when we learn the astrological associations of the Major Arcana and how they connect with the Court Cards. These combinations will also be referred to from time to time in both Lessons of this Course.
Astrology Supplements are provided in Part II of Truly Teach Me Tarot. These supplements contain Profiles of both the Group Zodiac/Elemental Astrology Signs and individual Sun Signs, so that deeper interpretation can be made when Court Cards appear in a Reading. Therefore knowledge of the Elements coupled with basic Astrology, will greatly enhance your Reading abilities and strengthen your understanding of the Tarot.
In Lesson 1 we will be studying the Four Pages of The Court Cards. Because all The Pages are influenced by Air, supplements will be provided for The Air Signs – Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. These profiles will be covered for their relevance to Tarot and not as an in-depth study of Astrology. The onus will be on the student to embark on any further studies if desired. The information provided in the supplements and this course, is more than sufficient for in-depth interpretation, but there may be some students who have a deep interest in adding to their knowledge of Astrology. If so, there are some wonderful online courses available.
So there you have it! How do you know which method of interpretation to use? There are several methods to help determine which may be, but mostly it is up to the Reader. Here are a few suggestions:
- Go with your initial reaction or gut feeling
- Do the surrounding Cards give any clues?
- If a Page, ask the querant if they have any children? If so, describe the Page you are looking at and see if it makes any sense to her or him.
- Add another Card to open up its meaning. If another Court Card then a person is confirmed.
- Look for other Cards that in combination with the Court Card suggest a particular Zodiac Sign.
- The Spread Position may determine whether it is a person or situation. For instance if a Court Card turns up in the position of how do I appear to other people? The Court Card can indicate a role you are taking on, or your personality as seen by others. If the position is for external influences, then a Court Card would indicate another person or perhaps a profession. If the position is what steps do I need to take to reach my goal? Then the Court Card would indicate that you need to adopt or embrace the meaning or energy of the personality depicted in the Card.
Generally the Four Kings refer to men, the Four Queens to women, the Knights to young men/women and the Pages can be a child, adolescent or young adult of either sex. This is not cut and dry and a woman may be represented by a King or vice versa if the energies fit the bill. Remember that today many women compete in a man’s world, so a strong business woman may very easily be represented by a King. However, her masculine energy would need to be very prominent in order for this to occur.
**** As discussed earlier, all Court Cards are influenced by a second Element other than their own. Depending on the system of tarot you follow, you might find these connections or influences vary. There are no hard and set rules where these associations are concerned except that all schools of belief attribute Queens to be influenced by the Element of Water. I do not offer a definitive approach for these associations. I present you with the system I was taught. I have studied other approaches but have always come back to this one. You as the student are advised to do your own research and settle with an approach you are comfortable with. Some tarot systems will be quite dogmatic about which is right and which is wrong so you will have to make up your own mind in this regard. When studying tarot, you should always explore several systems as it will expand your knowledge and facilitate a multi-dimensional approach when interpreting cards and spreads. As an example of this, there are tarot systems that connect all Kings to Air or Fire. Some have Kings and Knights both linked to Fire, while others will have Knights associated with Air. Whichever one you use, be sure to stay consistent with it as it will have an affect on how you interpret Court Cards, not in a dramatic way, but an affect nonetheless. However, remember – Kings will always be archetypal Kings regardless! The same applies to all the other Court Card Ranks.
Suit Page Knight Queen King
Wands Air of Fire Fire of Fire Water of Fire Earth of Earth
Cups Air of Water Fire of Water Water of Water Earth of Water
Swords Air of Air Fire of Air Water of Air Earth of Air
Pentacles Air of Earth Fire of Earth Water of Earth Earth of Earth
This is simplified by understanding how the visiting Element effects or influences the particular Court Card’s Suit Element, and therefore how the personality is likely to be formed or expressed. Look at it in this manner.
The Pages are influenced by the Element of Air. Air governs the mentality, thoughts and attitudes. Therefore:
The Page of Wands – Airy part of Fire – He is thinking about what he is going to do, where he is going to go and what action he is going to take.
The Page of Cups – Airy part of Water – He is thinking about his feelings, emotions, romance and love.
The Page of Swords – Airy part of Air – He is thinking about everything. Totally up in his head, thinking about what he is going to say and thinking of what he plans to do. This excess of Air can result in this Page being ungrounded, unrealistic and never realising any of his dreams.
The Page of Pentacles – Airy part of Earth – He is thinking about his long-term goals, his financial plans, his commitments, his course of study and making plans for them.
The Knights are influenced by the Element of Fire. Fire governs action, Inspiration, enthusiasm, creativity, movement and travel. Therefore:
The Knight of Wands – Fiery part of Fire – He is in constant motion, needs constant challenges and distractions, is fired up and ready to be off. The excess of the energy of the Fire Element can result in recklessness, and too much haste with little thought. Frustration and impatience can be found as Fire does not like to be contained.
The Knight of Cups – Fiery part of Water – He is acting on, or doing something about his feelings or emotions. He is expressing how he feels about something or somebody.
The Knight of Swords – Fiery part of Air – He is acting on his thoughts and plans. The combination of Fire and Air can be very volatile. The combination of speed of thought or word, with fiery action, can have unwelcome or disastrous results, depending on the situation.
The Knight of Pentacles – Fiery part of Earth – He is doing something to be productive, practical and to taking steps to realise his dream.
The Queens are influenced by the Element of Water which governs the emotions, feelings, spirituality and creativity. Therefore:
The Queen of Wands – Watery part of Fire – Takes her feelings into consideration before she does anything. She tempers her fiery and feisty spirit with the calming and soothing influence of Water. Water can put out Fire though, so she needs to keep a check of her feelings.
The Queen of Cups – Watery part of Water – Is immersed in her emotions and feelings. She is touched by the plight of others, is psychic and very creative. The Water Element in such excess can cause the Queen to be overly emotional and hyper-sensitive. An excess of Water can also drown her in depression.
The Queen of Swords – Watery part of Air – Takes her feelings into account when making plans. She also considers the feelings of other and how her plans will affect them. An excess of either of these Elements in this combination can cause depression or mental anguish, as water can drown her if she cannot access Air (use logic to balance her emotions). Likewise, Air in excess can dry up any Water resulting in a hostile, barren and infertile environment (becomes emotionally cold and bitter).
The Queen of Pentacles – Watery part of Earth – Helps her to feel good about herself and also to appreciate all she has created and achieved.
The Kings are influenced by the Element of Earth – Earth governs, the material world, practicality, groundedness, productivity, the physical, nature and the animal kingdom. Therefore:
The King of Wands – Earthy part of Fire – Makes the Fire Element finish what it starts. Uses the enthusiasm and drive of Fire to create something that is tangible and of use (Earth). Demands a result for all the effort put in. An excess of the Earth Element will slow the King down and dampen his enthusiasm and energy, leaving him stubborn and rigid.
The King of Cups – Earthy part of Water – Earth encourages self-discipline of the emotions and feelings in order to be productive. An excess of the Earth Element will smother this King’s emotions.
The King of Swords – Earthy part of Air – Demands mental self-discipline in order for plans and ideas to be realised. An excess of either of these Elements in this King will result in stubbornness or ruthlessness, and an unbending harsh disciplinarian.
The King of Pentacles – Earthy part of Earth – Self-disciplined and practical down to his very toes. Completes everything he starts. Needs to have something to show for all he does. The result of too much Earth will have his feet not just on the ground, but buried a few feet down. Overly cautious, rigid and stubborn, he can become closed to change or novelty. He could also slow down to such an extent, he may forget to move at all and become dated and staid.
The Four Pure types are:
Knight of Wands – Fiery part of Fire
Queen of Cups – Watery part of Water
Page of Swords – Airy part of Air
King of Pentacles – Earthy part of Earth
Those who are represented by the above Four Cards exemplify the qualities of their Element either in its pure form, or in excess.
The Court Cards in their individual Suits represent the Zodiac Signs associated with their Element.
Wands Court Cards – Fire Signs – Aries, Leo, Sagittarius
Cups Court Cards – Water Signs – Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Swords Court Cards – Air Signs – Gemini, Libra, Aquarius
Pentacles Court Cards – Earth Signs – Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn
Certain Court Card Personalities are directly linked with a particular sign when they appear with a combination of other Cards, from both The Minor and Major Arcana. For example, The Knight of Wands and Temperance would suggest a Sagittarian person, the Four of Pentacles, Heirophant and King of Pentacles represents Taurus. The Court Cards individually are more generic, and can represent any of the signs associated with their Governing Element.
The person suggested by the Court Card may not be of that particular Sign but may be displaying the characteristics and personality traits of it. Remember it is the description that is important rather than the actual Zodiac Sign.
The above qualities will be examined as we work our way through the 16 Court Cards.
One of the primary uses of a Court Card is as the Significator for the Querant. It serves as a representation of the Querant’s identity and character. By understanding and identifying with the nature of the chosen Card all Cards in the Spread can be examined as to how they will affect the personality or nature of the Significator, and how he or she is liable to act or react under certain circumstances. For example if you choose the Queen of Cups as your Significator, then you are essentially saying that you identify with her because you are emotional, nurturing, compassionate, kind, soft, gentle and understanding. Perhaps it is because you are creative and spiritual. If your Reading contains a lot of Wands or Swords cards then we are given extra clues as to what the Querant is up against, and how best to deal with it. The Wands with their energy and enthusiasm, coupled with the conflict and stress of the Swords are going to disturb the normally passive and quiet Queen of Cups for sure.
Some people have a habit of always picking the same Significator to represent them. As discussed earlier, we do have other sub-personalities which come to the front when required for the different situations we are exposed to in life. Always choosing the Queen of Cups just because we are most like her, does not give expression to our other personalities. Our Readings become repetitive. For example, we have to approach our boss to negotiate a pay rise. We certainly do not want to send in the Queen of Cups, as she may well be manipulated, and agree to anything just to keep the peace. One of our sub-personalities is the Queen of Swords even though she doesn’t get out to play that often. If we use her as our Significator for this Work-Related Reading, she will wield more power in this particular situation than the Queen of Cups. All other Cards in the Reading will have to defer back to her and we know that the Queen of Swords will stand her ground. She will not be intimidated should she have to face a boardroom full of superiors when pleading her case. By choosing the most suitable sub-personality for the Reading, the Querant can be empowered to deal with a difficult situation they first thought daunting. They are shown they do have the strength to succeed once they work on this aspect of their personality.
The Significator can also represent the intent or purpose of the Reading, or the subject of concern, rather than the person being read for. If the purpose of the reading is to secure a job then one might choose the 6 of Pentacles, Knight of Pentacles or Six of Wands as their Significator. These cards are positive Work-Related Cards and therefore represent the theme of the Reading as opposed to the personality of the Querant. If the subject of the Reading is about another person, then the Querant will pick a Significator that best suits their personality or the situation they are in. If the subject of the Reading is about how to come to terms with the death of a loved one, then the Querant may choose the Five of Cups as a Significator.
Any one of the 78 Cards can be used, but traditionally the Significator is one of the sixteen Court Cards.
When choosing your Significator the most traditional method used is by sex, age, physical description and or sun sign such as follows:
Wands: Fire signs. Blond to red hair. Blue or hazel eyes
Cups: Water signs. Blonde or light brown hair. Blue, brown or hazel eyes.
Swords: Air signs. Brown hair. Brown eyes.
Pentacles: Earth signs. Brunette or black hair. Blue, green or hazel eyes.
Queens: Mature or married woman.
Kings: Mature or married man
Knights: Young unmarried man/woman
Pages: Child, adolescent, young adult
The Significator can also be selected using a wider meaning than those above. Remember that choosing a Significator based on looks alone is very limiting. Also not all people you read for will be of the same nationality or race.
The Significator can be chosen intuitively. All sixteen Court Cards are laid out for the Querant to contemplate and then spontaneously choose the card with which they most identify with at the time. This has the benefit of alerting the Reader as to how the Querant perceives them self.
The Significator can be randomly selected from either the whole deck or just the Court Cards. This gives the Reader information about which side of the Querant’s personality is asking the question, or an additional hint as to what the question is really about.
The Significator can be chosen and then put back into the deck. If the Significator turns up as one of the Cards selected in the Reading, then the Querant should pay close attention to any information or advice the reading may yield.
A quick method for drawing a Court Card at random is to shuffle the whole deck, cut the deck, re-stack, and then turn over the cards one after another from the top down until the first Court Card appears. This is your Significator for the Reading.
NB: Not all readers use Significators – If you are doing a series of brief readings for friends or at a party, it is not possible to let each Querant pour through the deck until they find a Significator to represent them. It would take way too much time.
Further Work with Court Cards and Significators
An interesting and useful method of familiarising yourself with the various personalities in the Court Cards is to not only select a Significator to represent how you perceive yourself, but also as follows:
Choose a Court Card that you:
- Are most like.
- Are most un-like.
- Wish you were like
- Least you like
- Your public persona
- Your private persona
- Represent you as a child
- Represent you as an adolescent
- Represent you as a young adult
- Represent your partner
- Represent your children
- Represent your siblings
- Represent your parents
- Represent your friends/work colleagues etc
Remember that you may choose to Reverse the Court Card if you feel the negative aspects apply. Also if you feel that you are a mix of several Courts, which most of us are, then work with those. Are some of them Reversed? Can you identify your strengths/weaknesses?
Meditate on your findings. You may gain some interesting insights into the who, how, what and why that is responsible for making you, you. Using your knowledge of the Cards to date, you could also use this method to understand better the people you interact with on a daily basis, be they family, friends or work colleagues.
A good exercise is to choose a Court Card to represent you as a child, as an adolescent and as you are now. You do not have to stick with the same Suit throughout; in fact you may find that the Suits change as you get older. Don’t be afraid to Reverse any of your chosen cards if the description fits the bill. When you have chosen all your Cards, take a good look at how you have developed. If the Suits have changed as you grew and matured, why is that? Are some of the Cards Reversed? What happened in your life to cause this? Do you see repetitive patterns in your chosen Cards? Is this working to your benefit or against it? If you chose just the one Suit throughout, are you perhaps too one-dimensional? Are you out of balance? Do people find you over-whelming and rigid?
To help you answer these questions, go through the rest of the deck you have studied so far, the Minor Arcana and Court Cards. Select the appropriate Cards that best represent the situation. Now choose a spread and place your chosen cards in their relevant positions. You now have the story of your life to date; the important aspects, the incidents and influences that have shaped your personality and defined the person you have become. Are you pleased with the story or a bit taken aback by what your Reading revealed?
Further insight can be gained by selecting Cards for who you want to be in the future, what you have to do, or changes you need to make in life. Maybe you don’t have to make any, maybe you are happy with the person you are and that is fine. However, for many people they will aspire to develop their full potential and change undesirable aspects of their personality or life and this method is beneficial for mapping out where they have come from, where they are now, and where they want to go in the future. It also further develops your creative imagination and storytelling skills.
The Court Cards are indeed a specialised field of study in their own right and it is recommended that extra work and attention be given to the study of this area in order to read with confidence. You can greatly assist in getting familiar with the above by:
Identifying which one you most resemble
Maybe you don’t see yourself as just one personality but possibly two if not three. Are these personalities consistent or transient? If transient, ask yourself why? Link these personalities to the Elements you feel you identify with. See if they are in agreement. If you could hear them talk what would they say, what would they sound like? Remember there are many aspects at play in any person, which hopefully helps to balance the personality. However, we all know someone who has one Element in abundance at the expense of the others. You will need to play around with these personalities and see how they fit into your own life and environment, before attempting to fit them into a Querant’s life.
Making connections between the Court Cards with friends and family.
Examining your relationships to see how the Elements are influencing them.
By linking your work colleagues to a particular Court Card. Make the personalities in the Court Cards real. Bring them to life.
Remember that the Tarot delves deep into life, into personalities, and cause and effect situations. Train yourself to be observant. Indulge in some people watching to further your studies. Even twin up with a fellow course student after you have covered all the Court Cards. Go for a drink or a cup of coffee and be observant of those around you. Watch their behaviour, their talk, and actions and decide which Court personality they might be. You need also to determine which other Court personality they would be best suited to. This regular observation of people can greatly assist you in getting to know these individual Royal Families of The Tarot, how they behave, react and interact with each other.
Remember, traditional personalities represented by the Court Cards carry a set look with certain hair color, eyes etc. They all appear to be Caucasian which is very limiting. Their descriptions should not be taken too seriously, but only as a guideline. For instance, the Cups are generally represented as fair-haired with blue eyes, but what if the Querant is Asian or African?
Now let us go out on set to meet and profile the first of our Court Card Personalities, The Pages of the Tarot. Let us see what they are like, what they get up to, what they do in their spare time, their dreams, aspirations, goals, ambitions and love life.