Understanding The Court Cards

This is the first, introductory post in a series of articles where I am going to talk about the Court Cards in the Tarot card deck.

Court Cards are often perceived as very difficult to understand. Especially when you are learning the Tarot, understanding the meaning and essence of a Court Card can prove to be very difficult.

I can tell from personal experience that getting to know what a Court Card stands for in a reading, or understanding the meaning of the different Court Cards in a spread is often quite difficult to interpret.

However, over a period of time, the very same Court Cards become friends and allies in a reading. J

So, lets begin!

Court Cards represent people and their personalities.

If you go by this statement, then you will find it pretty easy to connect with any Court Card in your readings.

Finding The Court Cards In A Tarot Card Deck

In every suit of the Minor Arcana, we find 4 Court Cards, namely, the Page, the Knight, the Queen and the King. Thus, in a standard Tarot card deck, we find a total of 16 Court Cards.

Court Cards – What’s In The Name?

Page of WandsSometimes, different decks have a different naming system for these Court Cards. For example, in the DruidCraft Tarot Deck, these cards are called the Princess, the Prince, the Queen and the King.

Princess of Wands

Many people reason that with 3 males and 1 female, the traditional Court Card group is a little lopsided. Probably, that is why some decks choose to have a more balanced approach with the genders by distributing them equally.

Court Cards and Gender

However, in my personal experience with the cards, I have found that the cards are not often gender specific. I have seen Queens come up for men, Kings come up for women, Pages come up for older people and so forth. So, to me, the gender of the Court Card doesn’t always reflect the gender of the client.

Court Cards and Personality Traits

Court Cards, however, do reflect the personality traits of people. They tell us how the person thinks, feels and acts – and where their basic motivational energies originate. They also inform us about the level of maturity of the personality.

The Myers-Briggs Personality Trait Indicator

Somewhere around the 1940s, Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother, Katherine Briggs, started to develop the model of these tests, based around the theories and ideas of Carl Jung. These tests are now a very well respected method of gaining a deeper understanding the personality of a person, and learning more about the motivational factors behind that personality.

According to the Myers-Briggs Personality Trait Indicator tests, there are a total of 16 different Personality Types. Isn’t it an interesting coincidence that there are also a total of 16 Court Cards in a Tarot card deck?

(Of course, at this point the voice in my head tells me that there are no coincidences.) J

Court Cards In A Reading

So, in a reading, Court Cards usually stand for either the client or the people in the client’s life. Based on the Court Card drawn, we can know the personality of the person.

Meanwhile, the cards surrounding these Court Cards will talk more about the situation. This way, we can interpret how the person in that situation is going to behave.

Welcome To The Court of Tarot

court of a kingCourt Cards owe their origins to the traditional Courts that surrounded royalty over the ages. Hence, we also see a distinct hierarchy within these four Court Cards as well.

In a traditional court, Kings and Queens used to be surrounded by a variety of Courtiers. Serving the King and Queen were the different Knights. And the Pages used to serve these Knights.

Thus, looking at the hierarchy, we can deduce:

  • Pages served the Knights, and were usually apprentices –i.e.- Knights-in-Training.
  • Knights served the Queen, and were her champions.
  • The Queen was, of course, loyal to and ‘served’ the King.
  • The King was the overlord of the entire Kingdom.

The Court Cards and Maturity

This hierarchy has also been used to devise a yardstick for determining the incremental increase in the maturity level of a person. For instance:

  • The Page is often described as a young, immature person, who is a student or starting out in life. He is also often referred to as a child.
  • The Knight is described as a more action-oriented person, who is slightly more mature than a Page. He could be someone in his 20s, for example. He is more of a go-getter.
  • The Queen is often described as a mature person, who is in touch with the feminine side of her psyche. So a Queen can often be a motherly person, or someone who has a caring, nurturing side to their personality.
  • The King is considered to be the most mature among the lot. He is considered to have mastered the element that he rules, and has full control over the feelings, emotions, thoughts and actions that are a part of his personality.

King of SwordsBased on this concept, we can therefore say something like: a Knight is more mature than a Page, but the King is even more mature than the both of them.

Maturity Matters

In a reading, if a person comes up as a Page, this doesn’t mean that he is a childish, immature person. It just shows that in the given surrounding situation, this person is going to act on his very basic, elemental energies.Queen of Cups

But if someone comes up as, say a Queen, then we know that a certain amount of maturity, combined with feminine wisdom and intuition is bound to play a role in the different actions that this person will take in that situation.

The Court Card Elements

Since each of the four Suits of the Minor Arcana are associated with an element, it is but natural that the Court Cards from each suit are also linked with the element of that suit. For instance, Cups are linked with the element of Water, and so the Cups Court Cards will be linked with that element as well.

However, these four elements (Fire, Air, Water, and Earth) are also linked with each stage of maturity.

  • Pages – Air
  • Knights – Fire
  • Queens – Water
  • Kings – Earth

There is a very simple reasoning for this.

  • As an element, Air energies are prone to gusts of thoughts that come and go. Pages fit in very nicely with this description.
  • Fire is an action-oriented element. Passion and zeal are its key factors, which tie in well with the description of a Knight.
  • Water is the symbol of feelings and intuition – the key personality traits of the Queen.
  • Earth is stable, mature and practical – the perfect description of the King.

Here is a quick table that brings this together:

Tarot Court Elements

Elemental Associations of Tarot Court Cards

Suit

Page

Knight

Queen

King

Wands

Air of FireFire of FireWater of FireEarth of Fire

Swords

Air of AirFire of AirWater of AirEarth of Air

Cups

Air of WaterFire of WaterWater of WaterEarth of Water

Pentacles

Air of EarthFire of EarthWater of EarthEarth of Earth

From this table we can see how the Suit elements and their energies tie in with the elemental energies of the particular Court Card.

Multiple Court Cards – Not A Disorder By Any Means

Normally, in a reading, you can see a couple of Court Cards come up. However, once in a while, I am often faced with a reading that has many Court Cards popping up. When this used to happen (especially when I started out), I used to get pretty confused.

When Court Cards Talk About The Client

As I have said before, the Court Cards depict people and their personalities. So when you see a few Court Cards here and there in a spread, you can sense how your client is going to behave in a particular situation.

When Court Cards Talk About People In The Client’s Life

Knight of PentaclesHowever, the Court Cards can also depict people in the client’s life that have a certain amount of influence over the situation. Thus, if you sense that a particular card doesn’t talk about the client at all, then don’t worry! You can describe the personality traits of that card to the client and ask him if that describes a friend or a family member or a co-worker. Usually, you’ll find the client nodding and saying, “Yeah! That is my friend…” or something similar. J

Many Court Cards For One Person

Sometimes you will encounter a situation where you have several Court Cards popping up just to describe your client. Yup! You heard right!Knight of Swords

Many different Court Cards will sometimes represent just this one person. You can then see how your client is going to behave in these different situations.

Here’s an example that will make it clearer: In a particular situation at his work, this guy will be a Knight of Swords and take care of all the different issues. But at home, around his wife, he transforms into a Page of Cups, wanting her love and attention all the time. J Around his parents, he is a King of Wands and is the son who cares for them. Around his buddies and friends, he is a Knight of Wands and parties all night.

Which Court Card Are You?

I do believe that all of us do have a variety of different personalities that come to the fore in different situations. But this doesn’t mean that we are all suffering from MPD.

Quite the contrary.

This just shows that we deal with different situations using the different aspects of our core personality, and prefer to have that aspect take over while we are in that particular situation.

So how do we derive which Court Card forms your core personality?

There are 2 ways to go about this:

Astrology and Personality

Since each of the Court Cards is associated with a maturity level and an Element, we can combine this to derive your personal Court Card.

For example, if you are someone in the age range of 20 to 30 (which is a Knight), and your Sun Sign is Sagittarius (which is a Fire sign and thus is linked with Wands), you just might be a Knight of Wands.

You can totally go nuts with this system, actually. If you throw in your Moon Sign into the equation, then more likely, you will find yourself associated with 2 different Court Cards.

If you are just starting out, this system can serve as a good starting point.

Experience

However, I feel that you should spend some time with the cards, get to know them better. If you do readings for yourself, then it gets even better. Over a period of time, you will instinctively know which Court Card you connect with. You can also observe which Court Card comes up to represent you most often. You might find yourself connecting with one or even three different Court Cards – which is just fine!

Understanding the Tarot Court Cards

With all this information as the basic starting point, we are now going to embark on an interesting journey – the Journey of Understanding the Tarot Court Cards.

In the next parts of this series of articles, I am going to talk about each individual Court Card and go into more detail about the personality traits of that card.

Please join me in this interesting journey, and get to know more about how these Court Cards reflect the different shades of personalities that are all around us – both in a reading, and in real life.

Your Take…

What is your experience of the different Court Cards? Do you also interpret the Court Cards in a similar fashion? Or do you have some other basic interpretation for them? Are you comfortable with having a few Court Cards in a reading? Which Court Card do you associate yourself with?

Do share your thoughts in the comments section below.