A Shortcut to Reading Court Cards
No matter how much we learn about them, court cards continue to trip up most people who read tarot. Do they represent another person? An aspect of your own personality? Or just the mood or tone of the events at play? Court cards can mean any of these things, and it depends on the context of the question and the other cards in the reading to determine the full meaning. This may sound extra confusing, but remember that all cards in the major and minor arcana include a breadth of meaning. It’s just that court cards with the stately characters posed for their photo ops appear much more vague.
Quite some time ago in order to help myself with this conundrum, I developed a kind of cheat sheet for reading court cards that would help me bring my focus to the essence of what the card is trying to express. This system is certainly not exhaustive, but it provides a jumping off point towards putting the card in context and then working towards a complete understanding for a particular reading.
So for each of the suits, I whittled down their essences into a single word (You can easily swap these out for your word of choice to describe the suits):
Swords = Knowledge
Cups = Emotion
Wands = Passion
Pentacles = Abundance
Then, I whittled down each of the four court titles into a single word:
Page = Study
Knight = Pursuit
Queen = Embodiment
King = Mastery
And then I combine the two to come out with 16 phrases for all the court cards. So, the Queen of Cups is Embodiment of Emotion and the King of Cups is Mastery of Emotion. Both represent two mature but different approaches, where the Queen is focused on feeling her way through a situation in order to offer compassion, and the King is focused on controlling his emotions in order to offer leadership.
As another example, the Page of Swords is the Study of Knowledge, and the Knight of Swords is the Pursuit of Knowledge. Both represent stages of development towards mastery, but the Page takes a passive, exploratory approach, whereas the Knight takes an action-oriented, eager approach.
I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on how this works for you. Feel free to shoot me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org.