Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Court Is In Session

There are three major divisions in the standard Tarot deck- the first is Major Arcana cards, those that are numbered, but not assigned to a suit. There are also the number cards, which are assigned to one of four suits, and numbered Ace through 10. Then there are the Court cards- King, Queen, Knight and Page, in each of the four suits. The suits are relative to four areas of life, as well as the four elements, and four different categories of people. The Pentacles, Coins, or Stones suit is assigned to merchants and laborers, the suit of Wands, Batons or Staves to nobility or aristocracy, the suit of Swords to intellectuals, thinkers and fighters, and the suit of Cups or Chalices to the priesthood, healers and spiritualists. The Court cards are able to be interpreted in one of several ways, and relate to their respective suits. Do they represent people of a certain disposition, of certain physical characteristics, born under a particular zodiac sign, or in a particular stage of life? Or are they merely indications of a dominant set of traits that situations bring out in them? The answer to both is yes, and it depends on how you interpret the cards, and how you use them.
A term you might run into in reading is the significator. This is the card that represents the person being read. You can choose a significator out of the deck, which in many cases is based on gender or element, or zodiac sign. The zodiac sign is connected to one of the four elements; the element is related to a suit of the Tarot, and the age and gender of the person point the way to a significator. And the hip bone's connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone's connected to the leg bone, and so on.Older guys are usually represented by Kings, younger men by Knights, adult women by Queens, and younger women by Pages. This is one method to it. Another is that each Zodiac sign (there are 12 Zodiac signs, and 16 Court cards in the Tarot- some of them double up) is assigned a Court card, also depending on what element that particular Zodiac sign falls under.
Of course, none of this is set in stone- it's actually somewhat variable. My own Zodiac sign of Libra, for example, puts me squarely under the Queen of Swords. However, I could also use the King of Swords, a strong Air sign, as Libra falls under the element of Air. And if you really want to get confusing, I could also fall under the King of Cups, as my Sun sign in the Zodiac is Libra, however all the other planets in my chart are under Scorpio, a Water sign. 
Confused yet? Well, the point is, find a method that works for you, and use that method. Keep in mind the key to understanding the Court cards- that they represent characteristics of the person. These characteristics can change as circumstances change, and as people mature. The most common change is from child to adult, which would move you from Page to Knight to King or Queen. Some people assign children and young women to the Page card, however again, it depends on the type of person. I've had adults come up as Pages in a reading as they are facing changing circumstances in life- sometimes a change of career, a change of marital status, or just a new chapter in life. But the point is, different cards represent different people. An easy way to approach it is with the elements- Kings represent Fire, Queens represent Water, the Knights Air, and the Pages Earth. These combined with the elements of the suits represent the characteristics of each person.
Here are some of the general characteristics of each Court card- I used the suit of Swords here, from various decks and depictions, simply for the sake of brevity and because it also happens to be the suit most closely related to myself. 
First up is the King. I couldn't pass this one up, as it's actually a pretty good representation as well as being kind of an in joke. The King represents a mature man, in intelligence if not in years. Their element is Fire, indicating action and determination. The King is a person who has a clear intent of what they wish to do and how to do it. They are smart, organized, and on the negative side, perhaps even a little cold-hearted and calculating to a fault. They may tend to put either their own desires or own ends ahead of the consideration of other peoples' feelings and needs, and can be manipulative and cruel. The defining feature of a King is willpower and determination.

Next up are the Queens- here we have Water as their element. Less results-focused than the King, they tend to value relationships and happiness- not everything is a goal with them, sometimes the journey is important too. Like Kings, they are mature and have life experience. They differ from Kings in that they are more cooperative; that is, they are concerned more with support and helping others. They are more concerned with cooperation as a means to achieve goals rather than the more calculating aspects of the Kings. Notice that these are not gender-specific qualities; the fact that the cards are marked Kings and Queens does not mean that they necessarily connote men or women. 
Next are the Knights, whose element is Air. They are much more idealistic, perhaps lacking the experience and wisdom of the Kings and Queens. They tend to see things in black and white, or good and evil. They are idealistic people, and as such are highly energetic and intelligent and fiercely devoted to their ideals and understanding. However, like Air, they are transitioning, in motion. Idealism is certainly a commendable characteristic, and it does not necessarily fade with the Knight becoming older and more mature. Actually the Knight is not foolish as much as he or she is inexperienced. As time goes on, this idealism can change, become more realistic. This is the negative side of the Knight's persona, that he or she has their own view of the way things are, and doesn't let reality intrude on the perfection of their vision. This can lead them to extremism, and though it is a necessary stage in human psychological development, it can be a dangerous force if one never grows out of it. 
Finally, the Pages. They are the youngest of the Court cards, and are often said to represent kids, or the least mature people we meet. Again, not that being immature is a bad thing- we all started somewhere. The Pages correspond to Earth, the primal source from which new things spring. I kind of like this depiction of the Page as an untested but eager person, ready to learn and ready to grow. Often the Page cards show a young person holding the symbol of their suit, in kind of a "What can I do with this?" pose. And this is the essence of the Pages- that they are students, able to learn and develop. What they lack in experience and understanding they make up for in eagerness and enthusiasm. To sum up the Pages, they are enthusiastic and dedicated. From this point, the Page will move forwards, developing to the more autonomously-thinking Knight, and then onwards to a King or Queen.
Another interpretation of the Pages are messengers, that is, they represent bringing on change or a message of change. Being related to Earth, the Pages represent potential, as the ground has the potential to bring plants out of seeds. The same thing applies here- the messages these Pages bring are not just advertising circulars, they mean drastic change and upheaval, and with this, the potential for a new beginning.
So ultimately there are several ways to interpret the Court cards- ultimately, it's a two way street- the cards respond to different people in different ways, and it's really just a question of learning how best to interpret the cards as they show the same message to you. 

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