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Beginners often have the most trouble reading Court Cards, especially if several of them appear in one spread. In general, Court Cards represent personal characteristics of individuals, attitudes, and levels of maturity or development that influence us—from within or without. Sometimes they represent actions: like traveling or revolutionizing (Knights), communications delivered (Pages), power and control applied (Kings and Queens), mothering (Queens) and fathering (Kings), teaching (Kings and Queens) or learning (Pages). More often they are personalities.
Old books have you select a card to “stand in” for the querent based on age, sex, marital status and hair color. Most of the time a significator is not really necessary in a spread; you can leave it out if you choose. If a Court Card significator is essential, then I tend to select first by the suit-to-element correspondence with the person’s sun sign (Fire, Water, Earth or Air) and then their sex and level of maturity. None of which are absolute! Another method is to have the querent look through the Court Cards and pick one for themselves. This will often tell you quite a bit about the querent and about how best to communicate with him or her. Feel free to throw out that hair color nonsense as it won’t work for more than half the people on the planet.
Who Are They?
• In mundane readings Court Cards are often straightforwardly someone recognizable.
• I find they always represent an aspect of oneself – one that you may or may not be projecting onto others. In deeper, more psychological readings, they are your personas: you can probably recognize their voices as contrary opinions in your head.
Reversed Court Cards
• Reversed Court Cards are not evil people; their characteristics can be weakened or excessive. Reversals can represent refusing to act like that Court Card. You might reject the tendencies usually shown by the card. A King might say: “I refuse to take charge.” A reversed King of Swords may be unable to make a decision or could make ruthless ones; a reversed Queen of Pentacles may ignore the needs of others and spend lavishly.
• Think of reversed Court Cards as being in a situation where their natural characteristics are not valued or respected; therefore they tend to “act out.” A Knight of Pentacles longs to be outdoors using his hands, so when working in a windowless office with florescent lights, he may be an unhappy, stubborn co-worker making everyone else as miserable as he is.
• Depending on how you read reversals, one other possibility is that a reversed Court Card represents your inner, hidden self versus your more public self.
In a Reading
• Pay close attention to the position meaning, and/or the direction the Court Card is facing. What are they looking at or pointing to? A Knight of Wands in the past, who looks even more into the “past” direction could be someone who has already moved out of your life. A Queen of Swords in a future position who looks to the future could be showing you the way. Notice what other cards are in the same suit suggesting that their energies are directly at play.
• I’ve noticed fairly often that a King can be most like a person’s mother and a Queen like the father, so don’t get too fixated on gender roles matching sex.
• I find that Court Cards almost always have strong opinions about what the querent should do, and the querent, if asked, will know exactly what these opinions are! So ask the querent what each Court Card thinks about the situation in question. Or, go further: have multiple Court Cards argue with each other. That reversed Page in your past will have very different opinions about what you should do than does the Knight who represents your “hopes and fears.”
• If you use Elemental Dignities then you will probably find that Court Cards in the same suit tend to support each other. Two Courts in Yang suits (Wands and Swords) will egg each other on, while the Yin suits (Cups and Pentacles) will counsel patience. Cups versus Wands, and Swords versus Pentacles, are so contrary that their opinions tend to cancel each other out.
Differences in Decks
Deck creators have taken significant liberties with the Court Cards, changing their titles from the traditional King, Queen, Knight and Page to express a whole range of social groupings or “influencers” in our lives. They may even become animals, supernatural beings, gifts or places. Therefore get a feeling for the Court Cards in the deck you are using. Describe the picture and the suggested characteristics in detail. If these qualities function better in your readings than the classic meanings, then use them.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
Based on concepts developed by psychotherapist Carl Jung, the MBTI posits sixteen personality types that have been understandably equated with the sixteen Court Cards. Most people agree on suit correspondences for Jung’s basic functions: Wands=Intuition, Cups=Feeling, Swords=Thinking, Pentacles=Sensation. However, the system becomes confusing when equating Introvert with just the Queens and Pages, and Extrovert with just the Kings and Knights. Is the Queen of Wands really an introvert? And is the King of Cups always an extrovert? I’ve found studying the MBTI system to be quite helpful in giving voice to Court Card personalities as long as I don’t make them absolutes! I find insurmountable problems when trying to equate these two systems, even though I learned a lot by trying to do so.
Want more information on the Court Cards? Order my book (written with Tom Little): Understanding the Tarot Court. And please submit an amazon review.
I am very proud to present the most complete version yet of material I’ve been developing for nearly fifty years on Carl Jung’s theories of the psyche and personal development as applied to reading Tarot. I’ve taught related workshops at the Jung Institute of San Francisco and at several Tarot conferences. This two-part course will be an expanded exploration of Jung’s concepts with the 2nd part being entirely new, to demonstrate exactly how to use these concepts in readings for one’s self and others. I’ll focus on the Rider-Waite-Smith deck as one example of how perfectly the Tarot depicts archetypal images from the collective unconscious. To register, visit globalspiritualstudies.com.
Class one: Symbolism in the RWS Deck
Jung wrote about Tarot on several occasions, seeing it as depicting archetypes of transformation like those he found in myths, dreams and alchemy. He described its divinatory abilities as similar to the I-Ching and astrology, and late in life established a group who attempted to integrate insights about a person based on multiple divination systems including Tarot.
In this informational class Mary:
- presents some of Jung’s own ideas about Tarot
- shows how his map of the psyche is reflected in the cards
- demonstrates how the “Fool’s Journey” parallels Jung’s all-important “individuation process.”
Class two: Methods and Spreads
In this workshop, Mary demonstrates how Jung’s psycho-therapeutic approach applies to actual readings and “inner work.”
- Learn how to apply Jung’s technique of “active imagination” to Tarot.
- Explore a couple of spreads that serve as mirrors of the psyche and show challenges and breakthroughs in the individuation process.
- Bring a Tarot deck as you’ll also draw cards for at least one Jungian spread for yourself.
- Discover how a Jungian approach can deepen your personal insights into the cards.
- Learn how to assist another with their inner work.
Mary also discusses the pitfalls and the boundaries required when a Tarot reader utilizes this material.
This course is open to all levels of Tarot experience, although some knowledge of the cards is suggested.
I’ll be teaching a basic Tarot class for the four Wedesdays nights in Nevada City CA – with a free intro on September 30th. Information here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1897546913804642/
Lawman – “Tarot” – Season 4, Episode 13.
Joe Wyatt: Might even make a man think there was something to all those cards. But don’t you pay any attention to them, Lily. They only tell you what you want them to tell you.
Thanks to Paul Nagy I’m adding the Have Gun—Will Travel episode, “Everyman” from 1961 (Season 4, Ep 27) that starts with a Tarot reading featuring “The Drowned Sailor, the Phoenician” (the card is never shown, but according to A.E. Waite, it’s the true name of the Hanged Man). Could “Everyman” refer to the Fool?
Name that deck!
Learn more about an up-coming fictional documentary film about a mysterious deck of Tarot cards that reveals ancient alchemical secrets at this weekend’s Readers Studio at the New York LaGuardia Airport Marriott in New York. The art and video are by Andrea Aste, an Italian artist and film-maker.
The Book of Shadows: The Lost Code of the Tarot
Visit the studio in the video below of artist Leigh J. McCloskey who created a modern Tarot deck like no other – Tarot ReVISIONed. If anyone has seen and created a multi-dimension universe, it is McCloskey. I visited Leigh McCloskey at his studio several years ago and it is beyond imagining. His art is at one with the books, the walls, the floor, the ceiling – like walking into an alternate realm of existence.
Watch a video presentation in which you can learn about his Tarot vision:
And don’t miss Leigh McCloskey, Chris Hopkins, Marcus Katz, Tali Goodwin, Melissae Lucia, Michael Robinson, David Shoemaker, Antero Alli, and me at the Tarosophy Tarot Convention in Sacramento CA on February 21-22. Information here.
WANT TO LEARN LENORMAND? I will be available daily at a special forum from November 17 to December 8 for all who sign up for my five-session course (available online or via DVD). I will go through the materials with you, answer questions, and generally be available to help with your readings. There will also be a FREE live Q-and-A session via Skype on 4 December (space limited!).
Register NOW. This is a chance to share your homework assignments and to practice readings, as well as explore topics beyond the scope of the lessons. I encourage you to use this winter holiday season (I know, I know – summer for a few of you) to explore a new divination tool or, if you’ve already begun, improve your understanding of the Lenormand system.
I favor a traditional approach with emphasis on the Grand Tableau – viewing short spreads as “training wheels” to get you familiar with all the elements of the “big picture.” Also, my approach to learning the individual cards is entirely different than you’ll find elsewhere as we focus on topics and all the cards related to each.
PLEASE SHARE this opportunity with friends and Lenormand groups.
Try out this video sample from the course:
Taught by Mary K. Greer
Curious about what everyone finds so intriguing in the 36 card Lenormand deck? Join me in this five-week online course from 1 October to 5 November (no class on Oct. 22). On-line make-up sessions and getting the course in DVD form for later study are also available.
Right from the first week you’ll be working with the traditional Grand Tableau (“Big Picture”) that uses all the cards. You’ll explore the 36 cards via subject groups that help you understand the cards and fix their meanings in your mind. You’ll discover the secret of interpreting Lenormand through pairs and combinations, the kinds of questions that work best, and how to use the playing card inserts. Mary will help de-mystify the Tableau by discussing its basic components and breaking it down into easy-to-understand shorter layouts. Lenormand is an international language whose vocabulary is understood everywhere that the Petit Lenormand deck is found. We’ll be focusing on learning that standard language. Yet, your intuition will be given a huge boost as you start reading these cards immediately! Click here for more information. Join me for a fun-filled course.
Facebook Support Group (optional) will be available to the live class members for review of “homework.”. An optional certificate of “Competency in Lenormand Level One” is available by taking and passing a test at the end of the course.
- A brief overview of the origins and history of the Lenormand deck, including recent discoveries by Mary K. Greer
- Approaching the cards by subject groups—the first subject group
- The importance of interpretative nouns and adjectives and their use in card combinations
- An introduction to the Grand Tableau and establishing the theme of the reading
- Interpreting the four corners by working with pairs
- Starting your Lenormand Notebook
Join me as I present the most exciting work I’ve done in Tarot in the past few years. Tomorrow’s class will cover the suit of Cups and Wands – the Grail and the Lance. You’ll never see the Minors in the same way again. Bring your cards!
Class begins at 9pm EST and 6 pm PST. Or you can pre-order the recording. Sign up for it HERE.
Those interested in the Masonic influences on the Minor Arcana will definitely want to attend next week’s class, Part 2. Please pass on the information to anyone you know who might be interested.
Join me for a two-part webinar with Global Spiritual Studies
Live: January 24 and 31, 2013 or available to view later or purchase as a DVD – info here.
Who actually designed the Rider-Waite Tarot cards? Did A. E. Waite unfairly take too much credit for the deck illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith? In this two-part webinar we’ll examine the evidence. It seems pretty clear that Waite had something very specific in mind for the Major Arcana, so are the Minors exclusively Smith’s?
It turns out there may have been a specific purpose behind the illustrations to the Minor cards. We’ll closely explore a couple of stories that show an uncanny resemblance to Smith’s Minor Arcana and determine where the Minor Arcana images and meanings came from. But mostly we’ll see how the stories behind the Waite-Smith Minor Arcana can inform your own readings and card interpretations.
Join me for a bit of historical detective work as we seek to make the cards richer and deeper. This pictorial journey through the cards and peek into the lives of Waite and Smith will increase your own appreciation of the deck and enhance your work as a tarot reader.