The Court Cards map the 16 primary personality types – intuitive, feeling, thinking and sensing. Each King, Queen, Knight and Page shows a different aspect of these 4 personality styles, extraverted, introverted, judging or perceiving. The Court Cards show phases of emotional and psychological development of the personalities of your reading – or your own process of development.
There are also traditional meanings, the King or Queen of Cups shows the love interest(s!), the Knight of Swords an enemy, the Page of Coins can show a longed for baby, the Page of Wands an active child. Interpretation depends on context and your instinct. Court Cards also show how you approach a problem or a particular ‘side’ of your personality on display. You can also read them more simply – who are they in the situation? Is this lover, friend or your own bad habits? What kind of person do you need to be to resolve your situation?
Bridging the Major Arcana and the smaller number cards there are 4 Royal Courts, follow the links for detailed meaning of each card.
The Fiery Court
Wands / Rods / Batons / Clubs
King of Wands – Queen of Wands – Knight of Wands – Page of Wands
The Watery Court
Cups / Chalices / Hearts
King of Cups – Queen of Cups- Knight of Cups – Page of Cups
The Airy Court
Swords / Pikes / Spades
King of Swords – Queen of Swords – Knight of Swords – Page of Swords
The Flowering Court
Pentacles / Discs / Coins / Diamonds
King of Pentacles – Queen of Pentacles – Knight of Pentacles – Page of Pentacles
Some ideas for working with the Court Cards
The Court Cards are part of the Minor Arcana or Small Cards. They are related to the ‘ordinary world’ of our experiences, usually showing the people involved in our question. They reflect fragments of the higher principles we see in the Major Arcana too (you might like to have a go at matching up the court cards with the personalities of the Trumps). With the Tarot, everything is interlinked. Nothing stands alone, the symbols are just different expressions and tones of core ideas. Everything is nested in everything else.
Create a character and concept Who does the Queen of Disks remind you of? Perhaps she is the maternal and capable figure who always gives common sense advice when you are at a crossroads. The King of Swords is an autocratic boss or paternal figure. The Page of Cups is a starry eyed, free spirit, lead by her heart. The Queen of Wands is the beautiful, glamorous, life of the party. Identify your nearest and dearest in the personalities of the Court Cards and work outwards from there.
The Court Cards also represent a process of change from the spark of an impulse to it’s fulfilment and renewal.
King: First action, expression of power & confidence (he is a King after all, he has authority over his element!) He is capable, rules all. He can represent news, especially 3 Kings. If many Kings appear in your reading you can be certain authorities in the situation are taking charge and decisions are being made.
Queen: Developing and steady she holds her own (she is a Queen, she sits with confidence in her element. She is majestic and stately, she has no need to rush). Many Queens shows the support of many women, especially powerful friends who can assist you. They also show the assistance of women who care about, protect and provide for their own.
Knight: He is ready to act, to DO something, to kick things off. He is a warrior, he wants to live out the charge of his element, he doesn’t want to wait or sit still. Now is the time to leap forward! The knights represent the principle of instability necessary to keep life moving. 3 Knights show much conflict.
Page: The Page is an apprentice, she is young, still learning but her ideals are pure. She doesn’t have the authority yet to take charge like the King or sit in confidence of the Queen. She is not ready to fight but the purest idea of her element is with her. She hasn’t had her values and energy changed or modified by life’s experience.
Fire, Water, Air and Earth – fourfold
In the Tarot concepts are framed through four elemental categories:
Fire – Beginning, Initiating, Authoritative
Water – Sustaining, developing, reflecting, diffusion
Air – Movement, division, communication, action/agitation, volatility
Earth – fulfilment, solidity, tangible, ‘real’, growing
Each of the personalities King, Queen, Knight and Page also represent one of the 4 elements (4 in 4).
Kings show confidence, activity and initiative and are FIERY
Queens show sensitivity, feeling, instinct and intuitive and are WATERY
Knight shows activity, critical thought, conflict and change – AIRY
Pages show beginnings, learning, discovery, and messages – EARTHY
Thus each character in the Court represents the idea of the suit (Wands: will, Cups: heart etc) and an elemental principle too (Fire: action, Water: development)
King of Wands = Fire of Fire / Lightening Strike
Queen of Wands = Water of Fire/ Sustaining Fire
Knight of Wands = Air of Fire/ Leaping Flame
Page of Wands = Earth of Fire/ Rainbow or Radiance
If we add some more keywords we start to get the idea:
King of Wands = First burst of Fire, energetic & inspired action
Queen of Wands = Sustained Fire, cultivating and holding inspiration & creativity
Knight of Wands = Movement of Fire, taking charge, acting out and seizing opportunity
Page of Wands = Fulfillment of Fire, the opportunity to start anew, expressing yourself simply & completely,
The King of Wands shows the initiating energy of fire, (think of the flame leaping up from a match or a lightning strike; sudden and spontaneous)
The Queen of Wands, sustaining and reflecting energy of Fire, (steady burn, warmth of the sun, a generous and steady open fire: we can experience the energy & pleasure of fire)
The Knight of Wands – a conflagration, like a bonfire, leaping up, consuming all, or a wildfire, ripping through the landscape. Fire on the move. We see the action of fire, for good & ill.
The Page of Wands – the flame of an oil lamp, grass made warm by the sunlight, the passive & steady experience of heat & warmth. We can experience fire without being burned the ‘Earth’ that the page represents holds the energy of fire. This is fire in it’s complete and simplest form. The purest idea of the element.
Ok…. we’re getting a little abstract but you probably have a good idea of what these cards mean when they arrive in your reading. What type of role are you playing? Who are the other personalities involved? By changing my approach in this situation how can I master my fate?
Remember, there’s no hard and fast definitions, you have to make your tarot your own. Work with it until you fit it into your own framework of meaning. Interpretations are a good guide but you won’t remember it until you file it in your own thinking system. It’s not meant to be logical; tarot symbols exist in the a-rational realm much like our dreams and imagination. Everything reflects, make the links between the cards. Build a story, then tell it.
Ready to begin a tarot apprenticeship with Asha? In-person or online training available for those seekers ready to work deeply with the tradition and the stories behind the images. Asha teaches workshops on tarot and will consider travelling to train groups beyond the Sydney/South Coast area if you would like her to teach in your area.