Friday, September 23, 2011

Working With Court Cards

*This is a very technical post, for those really into Tarot discussion particularly, if you're into lighter stuff, please disregard*

The court cards in Tarot, are on a symbolic level unto themselves. Where the majors, such as Temperance, Wheel Of Fortune, Death Etc. seem to talk about lessons, experiences and archetypes we can relate to, the minors (Ace through 10) are the circumstances that both trigger as well as are circumstantially affected by our learning. I often also see the Aces as a class unto themselves, but that's another long winded post. So what to make of these characters that show up? On one level they are the people that are part of the learning that is going on, at the same time they can be aspects of ourselves that are evoked in these situations. I also find they are useful as an indication of awareness.

 The very nature of these being called "court" cards suggests a rank. We think of Kings being "higher up" than Queens or Knights and Pages. In Tarot however, I don't find this to be the case. All of the cards are necessary and it is in how they articulate that we see significance.

I often refer to court cards as "modalities". Like gears on a stick-shift they can be an indication of how we are operating. If it sounds confusing that a card can mean both an external element as well as something within ourselves, we are reminded of one of the seven hermetic laws; "as within, so without". This is also what I refer to as "congruence". One of the things that a reading can do is show where patterns and associations occur in our life experience. What is useful in one area can often be pertinent in another.

When we encounter challenging people for instance, we can ask ourselves where these people push buttons in our own character. The people who come up in a reading are often an indication of lessons and experiences in ourselves. It is often important to note that the relevance of these people to our life experience is not the entirety of the person i.e., a king of swords reversed to one person might well not be reversed to another or may be described in an entirely different way or with a different symbol altogether. The law of attraction also plays into this. People who register in our consciousness are drawn into our lives in terms of lessons and experiences we are going through. There is a cause and effect.


Court cards as modalities are also not just about people, but rather a kind of atmosphere where our consciousness is being taken into account. A predominance is not just a bunch of symbols coming up, but also the feeling that the symbol is predominating. Bear in mind the relationship of elements within elements. Kings are the fire of an element. I see fire as the essence of constructiveness and doing. A predominance of Kings would suggest an atmosphere of authority perhaps, a time of strong accountability and having to be responsible in that vein. Queens (the water of an element) would suggest an atmosphere of support, nurture and growth inducing. The conscious sense of guiding growth. Knights, (the air of an element) would be discourse and sharing, the conscious questing for answers. To me they also symbolise a kind of sibling like association, fraternal or sororal, and a kind of team work or team building. Pages are the earth aspect of an element so they would suggest a kind of continuation. A lineage and apprenticeship of experience. Pages can suggest new learning, the relationship of mentors to those of lesser experience.

So Court cards can put us on notice of where it is important to shift gears. When I look at a fully self  actualized person (and in this sense I think of Ellen Degeneres), I see someone who knows when to be in authority, when to nurture, when to be in team work and when to be childlike and teachable. None of these states are superior to one another. Each has it's part to play. This is also why I think ascribing a single court card to a person, although very useful in some senses, is a lot like merely looking at one's sun sign in astrology. I am for instance, an Aries, but I have an Aquarius moon and my rising sign is different. Where we are at in terms of our elements could be described as a person being King of cups in one aspect and Page of pentacles in another.

I find it interesting too, that environment and situations can sometimes be individualized. A business for instance that is just beginning, could be symbolized by a page. A support group by a queen. An old guard form of government by a king. Some books on Tarot suggest pages can represent messages or the bearers of news.
If some of this seems frustrating, it may be from the standpoint of those that have to form hard and fast rules of what the cards have to mean. Reading them is not simply studying meanings but how they interact. What they say to you. I often find the readings where they say more than one thing to be interesting and where that more than one thing points in a certain direction, all the more affirming.

I also don't always hold with the gender rules of court cards or the age rules or the physical descriptions. Not all dark haired men are good with money, not all fair haired women are competitive. One has to look at the patterns and trends and know when an aspect is speaking up and when it is quiet. I believe it is by working with these patterns and associations you start to see inflections and thats when the cards really start to ell you things. Of course it isn't so much the cards as your own intuitive process that gets triggered by this.

*If you managed to get through all this and you aren't gnashing your teeth, you probably deserve a cookie or something good. I value the thoughts and insights of others. These are just some of my own associations.