Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tarot Dignities, Part 3- The Court Cards

Finally, we come to the Court cards- the Pages, Knights, Queens and Kings- they are similar to the number cards in that they have a designated place as well as a suit assignment. They can also be assigned a number, based on their position in their Court. For purposes here, let's regard the Court cards as simply either a positive or negative (read: active or passive) element. As we know, each of the Courts is assigned to a specific element:
Kings- Fire
Queens-Water
Knights-Air
Pages-Earth

In this system, I'm using the Rider-Waite/Golden Dawn system of categorizing the Court cards- it's true that the Crowley-Thoth deck uses a different system of order, but keep in mind that the order of the elements in the Courts comes into play here. The elements appear in an order, and there's a reason for this. Going from "lowest" to "highest", first we have Earth- the prima materia from which things are formed. Above this we have Air, logical and structured, giving order and more importantly, design to the base material of Earth. Above this is the imbuing of this material with spirit and emotion, shown by Water, and finally, manifestation in accordance with will, shown in the Fire of the Kings. But again, for our purposes here we have two positive elements, Fire and Air, and one negative element, Water. The Pages, being related to Earth, can be either seen as negative or neutral. My own experience tells me that Earth is most often a neutral element in that it represents the raw  materials, neither creative nor destructive, as this depends on what ends you put them towards. However, Earth can also be seen as negative, in its passive sense, like Water. Should you wish to preserve symmetry in the Courts, you can also assign the Pages as a negative dignity. This will also depend to a large extent on what your own experience is in reading the deck.
When using the Court cards as dignities, we run into a couple tricky areas- first, we can view the cards in terms of their suits in terms of what areas of life this influence is coming from, and second, it is true that in many cases the cards do represent people or a given relationship to another person, most commonly the relationship of the querent to this person. I hate to keep falling back on this explanation, but again, it will depend on the experience of each reader whether or not they wish to include the Courts at all in the system of dignities. The Courts, representing people, do throw an additional monkey wrench in the works in terms of representing people, as well as having two different elements in each card- that of the Court position, and that of the suit element.
But for explanation purposes, we find the following assignments in terms of dignities in the Courts-
Kings- Positive (Fire)
Queens- Negative (Water)
Knights- Positive (Air)
Pages- Negative (Earth) (or Neutral, if you prefer)
In concluding an explanation of dignities, keep in mind that the meaning of each card taken as a whole is important. All the cards contain multiple levels of meaning, and understanding the meaning, both gross and fine, of the cards themselves is the key to understanding both dignities and the Tarot.


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