Court Cards

You have probably noticed that people tend to fall into types. Their traits cluster together in familiar ways. We sometimes give these clusters names, such as "loner," "dreamer" or "life of the party." Psychologists have devised elaborate systems that categorize types of people. The popular Myers-Briggs is one such system.

The tarot has its own system of personalities represented by the 16 court cards - the King, Queen, Knight and Page of each suit. In lesson 3, you learned about the four suits and court card ranks. These are the keys to understanding the court cards because the personality of each one is a combination of its suit and rank.

[picture of King of Wands]


The King of Wands is creative, inspiring, forceful, charismatic and bold. These are typical positive traits of the Wands suit. They are prime examples of its dynamic fire energy, but they also reflect the character of a King. Kings are active and outgoing. They want to impact the world through the force of their personality.

[picture of Queen of Wands]


The Queen of Wands is attractive, wholehearted, energetic, cheerful and self-Assured. These are also Wands qualities. This Queen is upbeat and lively, but she does not wield her personality as a force directed outward. Queens express their suits from the inside, setting a tone without imposing it.

[picture of Knight of Pentacles]


Knights are extremists; they express their suit qualities to the maximum. Such excessive feelings and behavior can be either positive or negative depending on the circumstances.

For example, the Knight of Pentacles has an excess of caution - a trait typical of the steady, conservative Pentacles nature. This Knight prefers to check and double-check everything. He always proceeds slowly before committing himself - the kind of person you would ask to fold your parachute or guide you through a mine field.

[picture of Knight of Wands] On the other hand, you could also say the Knight of Pentacles is unadventurous. He will never double his money in two months through a risky investment or propose a surprise trip to Paris on a whim. Such daring moves are not in his nature. You would have to check with the Knight of Wands for that!

The keywords for the Knights are positive and negative word pairs (cautious/unadventurous). In readings, you must consider both views when interpreting a Knight. Does he represent a beneficial or harmful approach? The other factors in the reading (and your own honesty!) will help you decide.


Each page shows a happy child holding the token of his suit. He is fascinated by his plaything. The Pages inspire us to enjoy their interests with them. The Page of Swords can represent the thrill of intellectual discovery or other mental challenges.

[picture of Page of Cups] Pages also encourage you to "Go for it!" Children do not hesitate when they want something. They just reach out and grab. If you want what the Page is offering, don't be afraid. Seize the day!

If the Page of Cups is your card of the day, and a fellow student smiles at you, take this opportunity for friendship. Strike up a conversation, or suggest getting a cup of coffee after class. This Page encourages you to bring some love and sharing into your life.

In many tarot systems, the court cards represent people of a certain age and type. For example, the Queen of Swords is often a divorced woman. To me, this way of looking at court cards is too limiting. Traits are not limited to certain groups. The King's approach may be more typically masculine, but his style is also available to women. Children are more often playful, but that doesn't mean that a Page must always represent a child.

A court card in a reading is showing you how a certain approach to life is (or could be) impacting your situation. There are several possibilities.

First, a court card shows you a side of you that is being expressed or seeking expression. It may be a side you value, or one you neglect. It may be an approach you recognize, or one you deny. How you view it depends on your question, the other cards and the situation.

[picture of King of Swords]Let's say you are trying to decide whether or not to enter into a business partnership. If you draw the King of Swords, you could interpret him as a way to act in this situation - to be fair and ethical, to review everything carefully and to articulate your needs. If you are already taking this approach, the King of Swords affirms your position, but, if you are lying or hiding something, this card asks you to reconsider.

A court card can also represent another person. If you look at a court card and say to yourself, "I know who that is!" then it probably does represent that person. It may also indicate someone of whom you are not yet aware.

[picture of Knight of Cups] Let's say you have met someone who is very romantic. You spend long hours together and connect on a deep level. In a reading, the Knight of Cups could represent this new lover, but, since he is a Knight, you should look at this relationship closely.

What are you hoping to experience with your lover? You may be enjoying the romance, but are you also looking for dependability and commitment? The Knight of Cups is a signal to you that this relationship may be lopsided: abundant in intimate sharing, but deficient in other ways.

[picture of Queen of Pentacles] Finally, a court card can reflect the general atmosphere. Sometimes, an environment seems to take on a personality of its own - one that matches a court card type.

Let's say you consulted the tarot to find out about the group house you just joined and drew the Queen of Pentacles. You wonder if you will get along with your future housemates. This card could be telling you that the atmosphere will be nurturing. Your housemates will be warm and generous with a sensible approach to problems.

On the other hand, you may meet someone in the house who is similar to the Queen of Pentacles, or you may be like her yourself in this situation. Such is the subtle play of the tarot!

The court cards have a human dimension that the other cards do not, so they can give you clear messages about who you are and what you want. The trick is to understand yourself and the situation so you can accept the messages when they come.

Exercises for Lesson 14

Lesson 15

[ Home ] [ Course ] [ Cards ] [ Store ] [ Order ]

Copyright © 1995-2002 by Joan Bunning