The Court cards, also called the Royal cards or face cards, refer to the court dignities in the Tarot deck. Traditionally, these are the Page, Knight, King and Queen.
- How Many Court Cards Are There in Tarot?
- What do The Court Cards Represent?
- Court Card Elements and Zodiac Signs
- How Do You Read The Tarot Court Cards?
- Tarot Court Cards Personality Traits
How Many Court Cards Are There in Tarot?
There are four court cards in each Tarot suit in Tarot. As there are four suits in a Tarot deck, this means there are 16 court cards in total.
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What do The Court Cards Represent?
Court Card Ranks
Traditionally, the four court cards represent four ranks of aristocratic hierarchy in court life in the Middle Ages.
In ascending order of status, the court cards are:
A young man or woman, of low position or apprentice, who aspires to be the Knight one day. All Pages show a young person standing on their feet.
See: Page of Wands | Page of Swords | Page of Pentacles | Page of Cups
All Knights are mounted on a horse.
See: Knight of Wands | Knight of Swords | Knight of Pentacles | Knight of Cups
The Queens are crowned and sit on a throne, generally their feet are hidden under robes, or one foot peeps out.
See: Queen of Wands | Queen of Swords | Queen of Pentacles | Queen of Cups
The Kings are also crowned and seated on a throne, their feet are showing.
See: King of Wands | King of Swords | King of Pentacles | King of Cups
Court Card Names in Different Decks
The Court figures go by a number of names in different Tarot decks. The classic ranks are found in traditional decks such as the Rider-Waite deck and Marseille Tarot.
Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot is a more confusing, his figures, starting with the lowest rank are: Princess, Prince, Queen and Knight (there is no King).
Rider Waite Court Cards vs Thoth Tarot
|Rider Waite||Thoth Tarot|
Court Card Elements and Zodiac Signs
Like the Suits, the court cards are each associated with an element: Fire, Water, Air and Earth and an astrological zodiac sign.
|Court Card||Tarot Suit||Element||Zodiac sign|
|Cups court cards||Cups||Water||Pisces, Cancer, Scorpio|
|Wands court cards||Wands||Fire||Aries, Leo, Sagittarius|
|Pentacles court cards||Pentacles||Earth||Capricorn, Taurus, Virgo|
|Swords court cards||Swords||Air||Aquarius, Gemini, Libra|
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley have created a 4×4 matrix here. By combining the court rank, suit, astrology and elements, this gives 16 combinations which derive an abundance of possible meanings and personality traits for the court cards.
How Do You Read The Tarot Court Cards?
Court Cards Can Be Confusing
The Court cards in general either represent you – and some aspect of your personality. Or, they can represent another person who is influencing your life at the time. The reason Court cards can be confusing, is that the reader is often left wondering, does this card represent me, or someone I know?
In practice, there is no straight forward answer to this question – after some practice you simply begin to instinctively ‘feel’ which it is. If you are careful in framing your questions exactly, before drawing cards, this can help to narrow down the possibilities.
Pages highlight the need to study or learn and invite you to ask, what:
– Do I need to know or learn?
– Skills do I need to make this happen?
– Information will solve this problem?
Knights highlight the need for action and invite you to ask:
– What’s my next move?
– What can I do to radically change my situation?
– What choices do I have?
– How can I expand or get more out of my present situation?
Queens highlight the need to understand and invite you ask:
– How can I nurture this?
– How can I look at this differently?
– Is there a deeper meaning here?
Kings highlight the need to expand and invite you to ask, how can I:
– Show leadership?
– Manage this situation?
– Act here more bravely?
Traditionally, when a Court card refers to you, the querent, it can represent:
- Personality trait or temperament in yourself
- An attitude, point of view or outlook
- Qualities or personal traits to avoid or nurture
- Roles you are playing
Tarot Court Cards Personality Traits
When a court card pops up, naturally the next question is, what can you tell me about the person? You can use the following as a guide to aid your fortune telling:
Wands Personality Traits
King of Wands: Male, over the age of 30. His star sign is either Aries, Leo or Sagittarius. Warm and thoughtful, he has travelled a lot and is worldly wise. He has blue or hazel eyes and brown hair. He is a business man that makes a great advisor.
Queen of Wands: Female, over the age of 30. Her star sign is either Aries, Leo or Sagittarius. Enthusiastic and friendly, she is involved in business. She enjoys animals and children and is likely to have fair hair with blue or hazel eyes.
Knight of Wands: Younger man between the age of 18 and 30. His star sign is either Aries, Leo or Sagittarius. A robust man with a ruddy complexion. He is sudden and impatient in all he does, in fact we might call him a little hyper.
Page of Wands: Child, male or female under the age of 18. Their star sign is either Aries, Leo or Sagittarius. A hard-working child but who is easily bored. If it does not represent a child, it also means the arrival of news by phone, email or conversation.
Pentacles Personality Traits
King of Pentacles: Male, over the age of 30. His star sign is either Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn. Dark hair or complexion, he is a practical realist. He is a business man, farmer, accountant or banker. He is usually married or open to marriage and has accrued some wealth. Despite this he is unpretentious.
Queen of Pentacles: Female, over the age of 30. Her star sign is either Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn. A large, motherly figure with strong health and cheerful personality. She has a good head for business, but is happy to be found doing charity work. She is kind and caring but requires financial stability to be happy.
Knight of Pentacles: Younger man between the age of 18 and 30. His star sign is either Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn. Dark hair and eyes, this man accepts responsibility and hard work. He is trustworthy and steadfast.
Page of Pentacles: Child, male or female under the age of 18, or student. Their star sign is either Taurus, Virgo or Capricorn. A student who is hard working. If not a person it can bring good news about money.
Cups Personality Traits
King of Cups: Male, over the age of 30. His star sign is either Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces. A mature man who has usually achieved something in life. He has a quiet power and calm exterior. He is interested in the arts, music or jobs related to the sea, nature or fishing.
Queen of Cups: Female, over the age of 30. Her star sign is either Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces. A very attractive woman, with expressive eyes and her hair coloring is generally fair. She is nurturing and makes a wonderful wife and mother. She is concerned for the welfare of others and may be attracted to nursing, art, writing or social work.
Knight of Cups: Younger man between the age of 18 and 30. His star sign is either Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces. Usually well travelled, this man is a faithful lover or friend.
Page of Cups: Child, male or female under the age of 18, or student. Their star sign is either Cancer, Scorpio or Pisces. Represents a pale child with blue eyes. Alternatively, it can represent a message of a joyful nature, like the birth of a child.
Swords Personality Traits
King of Swords: Male, over the age of 30. His star sign is either Gemini, Libra or Aquarius. Possibly a lawyer, doctor or legal advisor, this is an intelligent man in a position of authority. He is wise and dislikes showing emotion. He is logical and calm.
Queen of Swords: Female, over the age of 30. Her star sign is either Gemini, Libra or Aquarius. May be divorced or widowed. Independent, she is rational, intelligent and should never be underestimated. She is a good public speaker and organizer. She may also have seen many hardships.
Knight of Swords: Younger man between the age of 18 and 30. His star sign is either Gemini, Libra or Aquarius. Tall man with lots of charm and wit. He is confident and eloquent and is likely to breeze in and out of your life. He brings speed and action to events.
Page of Swords: Child, male or female under the age of 18, or student. Their star sign is either Gemini, Libra or Aquarius. Dark haired young person with piercing eyes. Alternatively, it can represent delays in news, or bad news.
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Karina, author of Tarot in 5 Minutes.
Tarot Court Cards in a cartomantic deck