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Court Cards

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Court Cards - Minor Arcana

(Tarot Course - Lesson 10)

Court cards, found above the numbers 1-10 in the Minor Arcana series, are represented by the titles of Page, Knight, Queen, and King. While they are often interpreted as representing individuals, believed to embody specific personality traits, they can also signify stages of development – novice (Page), mastery (Knight), achieving a rank (Queen), and reaching the pinnacle (King) – one must go through on a journey or a mission. Court cards are undoubtedly more significant and important than the numbered cards 1-10 and numerologically represent the new pages opened after the completion of a series.

The meanings of court cards are rooted in history and the traditional hierarchy system observed in palaces. Hierarchy and social stratification are undeniable aspects of these cards. The Page, Knight, Queen, and King cards can also symbolize these social classes. In fact, the Minor Arcana fundamentally involves a form of stratification, with each suit representing a class. For example, Wands represent peasants, while Pentacles represent the rich or aristocracy. According to this system, each card serves the card directly above it, with the King at the top being the only one not in a serving role.

Court cards often represent an individual in a reading. If many court cards appear in a reading, it suggests that these people have a significant influence on the person's life. These cards can sometimes reflect their personality traits, perspectives on events, thoughts, emotions, or actions. For example, the King of Pentacles represents a man who can successfully provide comfort both for himself and those around him in financial terms. He might be the boss of a company or the breadwinner of a household. Occasionally, masculine cards may represent women in real life, but these women should still embody the qualities of the masculine cards they represent. For instance, if the King of Pentacles represents a woman, she is financially strong, capable of supporting her family, and an authoritative figure. These cards provide clues about the individuals they represent.

Court cards are often associated with the 16 basic personality types determined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a psychological inventory developed by Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs in the 1940s. They classified human personalities into 16 categories based on the theories of Carl Jung. According to some tarot readers, each of these personality types corresponds to one of the court cards in the Minor Arcana. However, more traditional tarot books suggest considering physical characteristics when selecting these cards. For example, someone with masculine features, attractiveness, maturity, and brown hair might correspond to a specific court card. Most queens are female, and kings are male, but exceptions can occur, and a queen might represent a man, and a king might represent a woman while still embodying the qualities of the respective cards.

Understanding court cards is crucial, and to do so, one should classify the 16 basic personality types and grasp the differences between them. For those who want to truly understand these cards, my advice is to start by selecting the court card that represents themselves. To do this, they should find out which court card corresponds to them.

So, what do you do when these cards do not represent personality but rather serve as an answer to a work-related question, and you want to avoid viewing them as individuals? Here, understanding court cards thoroughly and comprehending that these cards do not always speak solely of individuals is crucial. In the series from 1 to 10, court cards appear above these numbers and, therefore, represent a mature stage of a process. Interpreting court cards for career-related questions can be challenging. Experienced tarot readers might not struggle with this, but beginners should spend some time getting to know court cards better.

One of the biggest mistakes tarot readers make is interpreting court cards as always representing individuals. In some career or financial questions, these cards might represent the people who influence one's career or financial situation. However, when interpreted as representing personalities, they can sometimes seem irrelevant in the reading. For example, in a financial question, a King card might represent a financially powerful man who can provide assistance, but assuming that court cards always represent individuals is incorrect. Sometimes, court cards can also represent events or situations.

Another significant aspect of court cards is their representation of the stages of development. Pages are young and inexperienced, often looking at the objects in their hands without knowing what to do with them. Knights are more educated and battle-tested, representing educated, career-oriented, and goal-driven individuals. Queens, on the other hand, are mature women, while Kings are elderly men. This reminds us of the stages of growth, development, maturation, and aging in nature. When interpreting these cards, kings always represent the pinnacle and maturity, signifying that they are already at the top and cannot go any higher. Pages, on the other hand, suggest that development and maturity are still ongoing. Court cards show us the maturation process, not just physical maturation but also the growth in events and situations.

Court cards also sometimes represent various stages of a hero's journey. For example, in career readings, a Page may represent a student, a Knight a graduate, a Queen an experienced professional, and a King someone at the peak of their career. Additionally, Pages are always new pages just opened and are the first cards encountered in court cards. This means they can also represent something new for us. Kings, on the other hand, signify the end of the journey, representing times when life lessons have been learned, and deep understanding has been achieved. When interpreting court cards, it's important to not only look at the images on the cards but also trust your intuition.

Some tarot readers argue that the gender representation in court cards, with 3 males and 1 female, perpetuates gender bias. Furthermore, the fact that men are represented in 75% of court cards, despite the world's nearly 50-50 gender ratio, is seen by many as an injustice and a sign of gender imbalance. Some believe this stems from the lack of equal rights for women in medieval Europe, and the influence of men is therefore more pronounced. However, in today's world, this is no longer the case, so putting too much emphasis on gender in court cards can be seen as outdated in tarot practice.

Some argue that court cards are, in fact, gender-neutral. For example, they may suggest that Page cards are genderless or can be interpreted as both Page and Princess. I am among those who believe that court cards should not be strictly interpreted based on gender. In my view, for instance, Wands represent people who are materialistic and money-driven. They count only tangible achievements and consider results, not causes. Cups represent individuals who often listen to their hearts, not their minds. My advice for those who want to truly understand these cards is to first select the court card that represents them personally. To do this, they should discover which court card corresponds to them.

Now, what should you do when court cards do not represent personalities but are presented by the tarot as answers to your questions, related to work, for instance? Here again, understanding court cards thoroughly becomes essential. When these cards appear reversed, they become even more challenging to interpret. However, by paying attention to certain key points, interpreters can minimize the difficulties. Court cards, when upright, usually indicate mature cards that have moved beyond the 1-10 numbered series. However, when reversed, this situation is reversed as well, often suggesting negative developments, decline, or the loss of a hard-earned status.

When we examine a court card closely, we can see that almost every court card wears a crown. But when the card is reversed, this crown falls off, and all kings, even if they don't want to, have to descend from their thrones. Therefore, especially when the King cards are reversed, they can be interpreted as indicating a loss of status, bankruptcy, or a fall from the top. Reversed King cards can sometimes represent losing to competition or losing one's position or title to someone else in career matters. In the realm of love, seeing the King of Cups reversed can suggest the possibility of one's partner being attracted to someone else. When interpreting these situations, it's essential to consider such possibilities.

Another crucial aspect of interpreting court cards in reverse is that these cards, when upright, are about climbing the ladder and increasing one's level. However, when reversed, this situation is reversed, and the person enters a process of losing status. The reversed King is the end of the road, and it's time to understand where the mistake was made and start over from scratch.

As Isabel Briggs Myers and her mother Katherine Briggs have stated, these cards represent 16 different personality traits, but when they appear reversed, only negative traits come to the forefront. When these cards describe personality traits, these traits are not used correctly, and they do not benefit the person. Instead of using their existing skills and abilities for positive purposes, the person may divert them to futile or even illegal activities, leaving their future in ruins. Therefore, the likelihood of a deterioration instead of maturation becomes higher.

Next - The Pages


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