How do you read court cards?


The court cards, or the family of the tarot deck can be confusing to beginner tarot readers and more experienced alike. The page, knight, queen and king follow on from the the tens in their respective suits; wands, cups, swords and pentacles. But are they real people? Some cards don't even have humans on the court cards, so what then? Do not panic, let's have a look at the different ways of reading court cards.



Reading court cards as people

Predictive tarot readers (or 'fortune tellers') would read the court cards as describing an actual person. So a page of wands would be a child or young person with blonde or auburn hair, a knight of pentacles a young man of colour, and so on. However this approach is very dated and hardly any readers still choose to describe court cards in spreads as how people look. Sometimes, readers will attribute a zodiac sign to a court card, so swords are the air signs; Gemini, Libra and Aquarius, and cups are water signs; Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces.

Reading court cards as personalities

 A popular way of including court cards into a reading is using their personality traits. A page may be young and impulsive, curious and naive, a knight may be active, hot-headed, a bit chaotic but charming and studious (depending on their suit). Queens are generally said to be nurturing, receptive, introspective, compassionate and kings are knowledgeable, emotionally intelligent, in control and so on. It is also useful to be able to apply these traits when talking about the seeker's own temperament and views on a situation, do they feel in control with king energy or do they have imposter syndrome as a page?

Reading a court card as a significator

Sometimes readers will use court cards to signify the reader, using any of the above criteria

Reading court cards as energies

Those who are familiar with the Thoth system generally read court cards as energies and elements. So each suit has their own corresponding energy, wands, fire, cups water and each court card is a blend of those elements. For more information on the Thoth system you can read Understanding Aliester Crowley's Thoth Tarot by Lon Milo DuQuette (other good books are available).

Generally, it's a good idea to get a handle on the traditional meanings of the court cards from a little white book, and then you can dip in and out of other methods of understanding the court cards. It's especially useful to understand how court cards present as energies or personality traits as some modern tarot decks have animal court cards or just abstract designs! Once you get to grips with what the court cards signify for you you will be able to extrapolate this across any deck or system.

Please let me know in the comments if you'd like to hear more about how to read the tarot.

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