Many new readers—and even a good many experienced readers—have problems dealing with the court cards. The two most widely read books about Tarot, A. E. Waite’s “The Pictorial Key To The Tarot” and Eden Gray’s “A Complete Guide To The Tarot” use them to physically describe people in the client’s life (or you if you’re reading for yourself).
The biggest problem with that approach is: Yeah, they physically describe a person, but they don’t say anything about what the person is doing. So, we have the problem of describing someone, but have no idea of what to say next… “A woman in your life with light complexion, brown eyes, and blond hair….. D-u-h-h-h-h …” It’s pretty obvious that this approach has a built-in problem.
I’m going to try to give you some ideas on how you can deal with these cards, by expanding on Gray’s and Waite’s ideas, and then see if we can come up with some ideas to expand on their methods. If you like any of these suggestions, pick the ones most comfortable for you. That’s always the most important thing. Remember this—find what feels best for you. The most successful way of reading Tarot is to do it your way. When you feel comfortable, you will become a great Tarot reader. Now:
So, let’s see… First, a quick reminder to remember the suits and the elements:
Pentacles—Earth—Money, Finances, Material things.
Cups—Water—Emotional matters, Love, and all kinds of Relationships.
Swords—Air—Attitudes, Thoughts, and Ideas.
Wands—Fire—Relating to: Creativity, Imagination, and intuition.
(And you can shuffle these around in any way you like. You’re the reader!)
Many Tarot readers — especially new readers — solve this court card problem by just ignoring it, using the denial technique of just removing the Court Cards from the deck! Or—only using them as significator cards. My thought on that method is: removing cards, any cards, puts limits on your reading. But, to be honest, I’ve had times, years ago, when I often did that, myself.
In the systems of Eden Gray and A. E. Waite, the client is signified by the Court card which most closely resembles the description of the card according to the way A. E. Waite or Eden Gray described them in their books.
This is the way they described the cards: (not necessarily in this order.)
First, the complexion. Pentacles: dark skinned people. Cups represented medium dark skin. Swords were for those who had medium light complexion, and the Wands stood were for light skinned people.
Then they dealt with their hair color… Those in the Pentacles Court have black hair. Cups represented brown hair, Those with sandy blond or light brown hair were Swords, and the Wands Court had really blond hair.
Finally, they dealt with the eyes. Really dark brown eyed people were Pentacles; brown (but not dark brown) were signified by Cups; Swords for hazel eyes, and blue eyes were signified by Wands.
But, what they didn’t say was what should we do. So what do we do with bleach-blond hair, blue eyes and dark complexion — what suit represents them?
Personally, I don’t use the court to describe people’s physical appearance. There are too many variables to deal with. But the court cards do come in handy for representing people in the client’s life and what part they may play in the probable future. So, here are a few suggestions (remember, these are suggestions, not rules) on some ways to utilize the court cards, either as significators or people in a reading:
Pages are young people, of either sex, under the age of twenty-one.
Males over 21 through 35 or so are Knights.
Queens represent any woman over the age of twenty-one.
Kings are mature men—over thirty-five—and often powerful men in the client’s life.
Some Tarot decks (Golden Dawn decks come to mind) have different court card definitions — for example King, Queen, Prince and Princess. In this case:
Young to middle-aged women are signified by the Princess,
The Prince represents a young to middle-aged man
The Queens and Kings are mature men and women.
Now, what do these people do? Some more suggestions…
Pages tend to be curious, they question things, often inappropriate questions. Does this bring somebody to your mind? There are lots of Pages out there.
Knights butt in, without being asked, and go off half-cocked on a crusade to “help” you!
Queens are loving and supportive women, or even loving and supportive mature men.
Logical, mature men are usually Kings or, perhaps, strong logical mature women. They think things out before taking action.
They may do one of the following in a reading:
The Page of Pentacles may ask you unsuitable questions about money.
The Knight of Pentacles might actually butt in to your money-matters.
The Queen of Pentacles may be supportive when you are having money problems.
The King of Pentacles would think it over and then give you good advice in money matters.
To expand on this, just use the above examples simply by changing the elements as appropriate.
The Golden Dawn used a different system based on the Kaballah’s Tree of Life. They have the court cards assigned to spheres on the Tree which already held Pip Cards. This is done in several ways. Here is one suggestion:
Some have the court cards following the middle pillar of the Tree of Life. In this system, the Pages (or the Princesses) are assigned to the first sphere, The Crown, along with the Aces.
The Knights, (or Princes) are given to the sixth sphere, Beauty, along with the sixes.
The Queens are given the ninth sphere, Foundation, with the Nines. And–the King rests on the tenth sphere, Kingdom, along with the Tens.
In this method, the court cards represent people with the character traits of the number they are assigned to.
If we want to use reversals (upside down cards), we can do it this way. With an upright court card, it can represent a person in the client’s (or your) life who shares some of the character traits as the Number Card of the same suit as the Court Card. As an example—the Knight of Cups may be a man who is loving and giving, and the Knight of Pentacles might be a man who is good with financial matters. And so on…
Most often, when the court cards appear in a reading they refer to aspects of the client instead of someone else. They can represent either positive or negative traits contingent upon how they show up (reversed or upright).
A reversed Court Card may represent a characteristic that the client needs to work on. For example, an upside down (reversed) Queen of Swords can mean the client needs an attitude adjustment.
A reversed Knight of Wands might mean the client needs to take the time to work on creative things, or maybe, work on developing psychic abilities which are there but lying dormant.
When all is said and done: the very best way you can work with court cards, or any of the cards for that matter, is the one that feels most comfortable for you. You are the reader! And the Tarot cards always respond best when you do it your way.
About the Author
TarotMeister is a Certified TarotMaster who has been studying Tarot and all types of metaphysics for over thirty years. Visit his websites at: Http://www.tarotmeister.com, http://tarotmeister100.gotop100.com/, and http://www.metaphysicalclassictexts.com.