The Court cards throw many tarot readers for a loop, so today I’m going to share with you one pretty straightforward and easy way you can improve your understanding of the Tarot court cards. Court cards can be thought of as representing specific people, specific personality traits, or specific approaches to life. Just like real-life people, each court card has its own quirks and characteristics – for example, some court cards are outgoing, some are reserved. Some process information analytically, some intuitively. As you may already know, tarot decks were originally used like any other deck of playing cards, although nowadays they’re almost exclusively used for divinatory purposes. One of the most visible remnants of their recreational applications are the court cards, or the King, Queen, Knight, and Page, which appear four times each in a regular tarot deck, once for every suit.

Each one is thought to touch a different area of our regular lives: The suit of cups rules our relationships; the suit of Pentacles (also known as the suit of coins) rules financial and practical matters; the suit of swords rules conflicts and truth; and the suit of wands rules creativity. Now that we’ve given some consideration to what the court cards are, let’s dive into a framework for understanding and interpreting them. This framework is based off a simple premise: each court card has a rank – in most decks, the ranks are Page, Knight, Queen and King; and each court card has a suit – usually Cups, Pentacles, Wands and Swords. Each rank has its own set of characteristics, as does each suit.

Page: They can represent children, teens, young adults and people with a young outlook. These personality types are still in a stage of development. They are coming to terms with their place in the world and their interactions with other people. The page is the “youngest” of the court cards. Has an explorative, playful relationship with the suit’s energies. May still have a lot to learn about the suit, but on the other hand, often interacts with the suit in fresh and unbiased ways. Pages always have their ears perked up, listening for oracles of the universe. They hear messages no one else in the Royal family can, and they deliver these messages to us through our Tarot readings. Pages have a playful spirit about them. Reminiscent of simplicity, and almost childlike qualities, the Page holds no threat or harm. These archetypes give loving service, with generosity equal to our willingness to interact with their presence.

Knight: the “teenager.” Prone to shift erratically within the suit’s energy – sometimes showcasing that energy in proactive ways, the next moment in unbalanced ways. They are still searching and have not quite defined their life-path. They are bold, intense and sometimes impulsive. They have not yet learned to restrain their extreme suit-driven tendencies. Knights will often appear in readings when the seeker is about to encounter them in real life.  The Knight has an unusual but extremely clever range of movement on the chessboard. The knight chess piece (as Knights in tarot) is strategically moved to the centre of the board – where all the action is. Its usefulness is dimmed when on the outside because it’s unusual mobility is limited. Knights are about forwarding motion, high spirit, drive, determination and almost wreckless demand for compliance. Knights need their environment to bow to their will. They aren’t quite mature enough to know not everything crumples to the application of force. Pulling a knight in your Tarot reading can represent a specific person in your life. This will be a younger male (living or physically deceased) or even a boyish female…but to be sure, the male principle is strong in this person. This person will be a driving force in your life.

Queen:  Queens are also introspective but they are also very interested in other people. Depending upon their suit, they are nurturing, seductive, campaigning and practical. Queens are passive – not in a doormat sense, but in an allowing way. They understand that the world is made up of pleasing and displeasing things, and all are part of the whole. The queen embodies the traits of her suit and radiates that energy from the inside out. She leads by example, through her intentions and beliefs. Tarot meaning of Queens is similar to King meanings. Queens is just as commanding, authoritative and strikingly intense in their ruling authority as Kings. Pulling a queen in your Tarot reading can represent a specific person in your life. This will be an adult female (living or physically deceased) who has a major influence in your life. As queens are known to do, she may be manipulative and cunning in her methods of dealing with you.

King: Kings are considered to be the most mature of the Court Cards. They have travelled through life successfully and are now at the pinnacle of experience and understanding. As people, Kings have full control over the feelings, emotions, thoughts and actions that form part of his personality. As such, they are stable and solid and are highly capable of directing the flow of their energy to achieve their visions and goals. They like to manage, direct and stabilize the energy associated with their Suit. He leads through action and by setting external guidelines. It simply means that this personality type is masculine, mature, active – in the sense that he prefers doing something to doing nothing, and expressive. 

While each court card is dominated by the qualities of his or her suit, each royal rank is also assigned an element. Kings are fire, Queens are water, Knights are air and Pages are earth. This helps to make the courts very three dimensional. For example, the King of Cups is a combination of fire and water, with water, like the suit, being dominant. This means that the King of Cups is predominantly feeling with the secondary King-like characteristic of action.