Despite having practiced Tarot for years now and having a decent grasp on the cards, I still sometimes hesitate and get confused when Tarot court cards pop up.
For a while, I thought that I was missing something from my practice, but after talking to fellow Tarot card readers, I found out that court cards were actually difficult for many!
This is probably because court cards can have so many different meanings, and be read in so many different ways!
Because of the range of ways we can interpret these cards, they can really throw you off when conducting a reading. So, I thought I would write an article about Tarot court cards and how we can interpret them!
What Are Court Cards In Tarot?
There are sixteen court cards in a traditional Tarot deck. These are divided into each of the suits, with each suit having a King, a Queen, a Knight, and a Page.
It can be helpful to view these cards as a family. The Queen is the mother, the King is the father, the Knight is the teenager and the Page is the child.
However, don’t let the traditional gender and age characteristics throw you off! I believe that we all have masculine and feminine qualities within us, and can feel both young and old. So, a King popping up in your reading doesn’t necessarily refer to an older man.
The Importance of Suits
The general understanding of the rank of the cards needs to be understood in regard to the general meaning of each suit. We can add the energy of the rank with the corresponding meaning of its suit.
- The Suit of Cups governs our emotions and provides guidance on love, relationships, and feelings. It is linked to the element of water.
- The Suit of Pentacles is represented by the element of earth and reflects money, prosperity and work-life.
- The Suit of Swords reflects decision-making, logic, and intellect. It is represented by the element of air.
- Finally, the Suit of Wands governs instinct, passion, and creativity. It is linked to the element of fire.
The Four Tarot Court Card Ranks
Let’s dive deeper into the four court card ranks, and by applying what we know about the suits to each card, we can get a general understanding of what each court card represents.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the Kings! The Kings reflect maturity and action. Traditionally, they can be understood as being the leader and know how to take charge when necessary. Remember, the gendered terms of the traditional cards can be applied to everyone, no matter what gender. We all have this leadership quality within us!
Let’s apply the Kings to the different suits.
- The King of Cups – represents emotional maturity and the ability to be diplomatic and thoughtful in situations.
- The King of Pentacles – represents enterprise and abundance. With this card, it is time to act to ensure prosperity!
- The King of Swords – signifies logic, structure, and the ability to plan ahead.
- The King of Wands – reflects bravery and innovation.
The Queens of the deck are similarly mature but have a greater sense of protection and care. They have the ability to connect with those in need and support others.
When we know these qualities of the Queens, we can apply them to the different suits and their elements.
- The Queen of Cups – represents love, kindness, and care.
- The Queen of Pentacles – signifies security, balance, and a social consciousness.
- The Queen of Swords – represents hope, clarity, and support. With this card, we can rationally see the love and positivity that is around us.
- The Queen of Wands – reflects passion and sensuality.
The Knights are the teenagers of the court cards, and this means that they are pretty passionate, but also a little bit erratic! They will often appear when action is needed, but the future is unknown.
Let’s apply the Knights to the different suits!
- The Knight of Cups – this is often seen as one of the most romantic cards of the Tarot deck, as it represents passion and the need to follow your heart.
- The Knight of Pentacles – represents determination, hard work, and improvement.
- The Knight of Swords – reflects bravery, confrontation, and accomplishment.
- The Knight of Wands – reflects adventure and the need to shake things up a bit!
Finally, let’s take a look at the Pages of the deck. These cards have youthful energy, full of curiosity and excitement. They are seeing the world through child-like eyes, experimenting with life, and discovering what is around them.
They also are linked to messages, so might mean that news is coming your way!
Let’s apply what we know about the suits to the Pages.
- The Page of Cups – represents idealism and the need to connect with your inner child. It may also predict love news.
- The Page of Pentacles – signifies focus, progress, and loyalty. It may appear to predict news in regard to money or work.
- The Page of Swords – represents new ideas, confidence, and fairness.
- The Page of Wands – reflects enthusiasm, good news, hope, and ambition.
How To Interpret The Tarot Court Cards
So, now we know the different court cards and how we can apply their traits to their specific suits. But what does this actually mean when the court cards crop up in a Tarot reading? How do we actually interpret the cards in regard to our own lives?
There are a few different ways we can interpret the court cards, and we must listen to our own intuition and consider the situation we are in. Sometimes a court card will pop up, and we know that it reflects someone in our lives. However, other times we will need to think deeply into the energy of the card and how it reflects our current situation.
Let’s look at the different ways we can interpret court cards!
Court Cards as People
A traditional way of reading court cards is to apply them to specific people in our lives. Sometimes, this is pretty obvious when we are doing a reading!
Perhaps we are doing a general reading for ourselves and the Queen of Swords appears as a career card. We can then look at our work-life and see if there is anyone who carries the characteristics of the Queen of Swords. Perhaps you work with a really supportive person who is always giving us encouragement!
Because the card has appeared, you can understand that this person will be important to your career in the near future.
Let’s have another example. Perhaps the Knight of Pentacles appears in a love reading. Is there a hardworking and passionate person in your life that will be significant in regards to love soon? Can it reflect the person you are currently dating or a potential partner?
It is important to remember that the traditional gender and age portrayal of the cards does not necessarily signify the person that they represent. The Queen of Swords can represent a younger man, even though traditionally we would see it as representing an older, motherly woman!
Court Cards As Yourself
The court cards can also represent you in your life, or what you need to work on. We all have masculine and feminine energy within us, and can identify with the energy of all ages!
When court cards appear to signify ourselves, we can get confused about what the Tarot is telling us. For example, if the Page of Cups appears in a love reading, does it suggest that my idealism is an issue for potential relationships? Or, does it tell me that I need to be open to the excitement and take a fresh approach to love?
In order to understand how these cards represent ourselves, it is useful to meditate on the cards and even pick more out the deck to get a better picture. Perhaps the Page of Cups is telling us that we are not expressing this youthful side of us, and we need to let it out!
The Court Cards as an Influence
Sometimes, the court cards don’t represent a specific person, but rather an event, an influence, or a situation.
Remember the ways we defined each court card earlier on in the article? We can use these words to show the energy of the specific cards, and therefore understand what they are telling us.
Perhaps the King of Swords appears in an advice reading. Perhaps we can’t apply it to someone in our life, and we don’t really understand how it could represent us. But, as an influence, it can tell us that an accomplishment is on the horizon. It might be advising us to concentrate on our hard work and use our intellect to achieve our goals.
When the Knights appear in a Tarot reading, we can interpret them as signifying the need to act and make a change. Similarly, the Kings suggest that we need a bit more authority in certain aspects of our lives.
When the Queens appear, they may be telling us that we must connect with our feminine side of care and compassion. The Pages will often appear when we need to connect with our inner child and see things from a new perspective.
How To Know How to Interpret The Tarot Court Cards
You may be reading the different ways of interpreting the Tarot court cards and thinking: how do I know how to interpret the cards?!
For example, what if the King of Cups appears in a love position in a general reading? Does it represent a new person coming into your love life that has the characteristics of the King of Cups? Or does it suggest that you need to work on your emotional maturity?!
First and foremost, it is important to listen to your intuition. Meditate with the card and apply the different interpretations. Which one feels right?
Perhaps you want the King of Cups to mean a strong and emotionally intelligent person is coming into your life… But secretly you know that it represents something you need to work on.
Listen to what your gut is telling you!
You can also take more cards out of the deck in order to clarify the meaning of the cards. So, perhaps you pull out the Four of Swords to add to the King of Cups in the love position.
What does this tell you? As the Four of Swords reflects a quiet, meditative time, it may suggest that you need to take yourself away for a bit to work on your emotional side.
You may also wish to decide before reading what you want the Tarot court cards to represent. Do you want them to symbolize people, yourself, or influences?
Allow The Court Cards To guide You
I really hope that this article has helped you understand the court cards a little bit better. They are one of the most confusing aspects of the Tarot, but also one of the most interesting! There are so many amazing ways to interpret them, and they can teach us so much about ourselves and the people around us.
What will the court cards teach you?