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One way to get familiar with the Court Cards is to personalize them. This exercise based on "Tarot for Yourself" may help you to remember the Court Cards.

 

We each show several faces to the world each day. We are mothers, fathers, co-workers, bosses, subordinates, siblings, children, friends, students and teachers. We are viewed differently in each of these roles. Divide a sheet of paper in half. On one side write down the roles you play each day. On the other side, write the court card which you feel corresponds to this role.

 

Do the same thing for other people you know, friends and relatives. For example, I see my favorite aunt as the Queen of Swords. My current boss is a Knight of Wands, though my previous boss was the King of Cups (he was also the Emperor!). My husband is usually the King of Wands. My mother is usually the Queen of Cups.

Some decks have different systems for their court cards. Two I know of have key word systems and one uses the court cards to modify other cards in the spread. "The Witches Tarot" by Ellen Cannon Reed uses court cards as modifiers. When you get a court card in a spread you deal another card on top of it which will be modified by the Court Card. Her reasoning is based on the Cabala. In Reed's system:

  • Kings represent the creative urge, (choosing the seeds to plant)

  • Queens represent taking the first step, (planting the seeds)

  • Princes represent the results of our planning taking shape, (plants sprout and grow) 

  • Princesses represent the final form, (harvesting what we have sown)

 

For example "Queen of Cups is dealt, followed by the Two of Wands. The Two of Wands represents ideas taking on energy..., the Queen means the energy is at the concept stage - not yet taking on form, but on it's way to formation." ("The Witches Tarot", pg 149). Reed's system is quite different from any other, but makes sense Cabalistically and certainly tames the messy problem of interpreting Court Cards.

Court Cards (e.g. Pages, Knights, Queens, Kings) represent one of the greatest challenges to new readers. I think this is because they force us to rely on our intuition, and we are usually afraid of being wrong. I have found though, that when I went against my intuition in an effort to "play it safe", I was usually wrong and my intuitive answer was the correct one.

 

Court cards obviously represent personalities, but whose? They can be read as aspects of the querent, or as other people in the querents life. One thing that helps is to ask the querent. As readers we sometimes think we have to know all the answers and feel shy about asking the querent for help, but the reading is about the querent. Who knows better what is going on in that person's life than they do? Should you come upon a Court Card in a reading and feel stumped, describe the personality traits associated with the card and ask the querent, "Do you know anyone like this?" If the answer is no, then it would be safe to assume that these are qualities the querent has manifested or needs to manifest in this situation.

When laying down a spread, it is useful to take a few moments to look at the spread as a whole, before reading individual cards. Is there a preponderance of one suit? Are there several Major Arcana, or several Court Cards? These are indications that you should keep in mind when doing the reading. They are often clues as to what is going on. For example, lets say the question concerns ones love life. You throw the spread and see there are lots of pentacles, but not a cup insight. What does this mean? It could mean that material security is a key issue in the relationship right then. It could also mean that the person should be focusing on financial matters right now, rather than the relationship. Perhaps worrying about the relationship has led to them doing poorly at work, or to spending more than they can afford to keep the other person happy. Perhaps they are telling you that the issue is love, but the thing that is really worrying them is money.  Tarot sometimes tells us what we need to know vice what we want to know. You might want to ask questions to explore these issues during the reading.

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