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Discovering The Court Cards

For some reason, a lot of people don't seem to understand the court cards as deeply as the rest of the Tarot deck. Whether it is because we relate better to events and forces than to people, or whether it is because the court cards have so many levels of meaning to them, I can not say conclusively. But I do know that the court cards are a very important part of the Tarot, and learning to recognize and appreciate their presence in life is just as critical as seeing the influence of the other 62 cards.

The court cards are structured in such a way that almost anybody can be adequately represented by a single card. When you think about how many different ways people can act, depending on the situation they are involved in, it becomes easy to see that the court cards are not one-sided cardboard cutouts either. There are many sides to their respective personalities as well, and each will react differently to any given situation.

The "energy-mapping" exercises used for the suit cards are also useful when dealing with court cards. This time the exercise has three parts which all link together to provide a better understanding of the court cards and how they appear in your life.

Remember the list you made of all the events that happened in a day of your life, classified into the four suits? First you will repeat this exercise, but instead of categorizing events, you will categorize the people you interact with into one of Wands, Cups, Swords or Pentacles. Mark down a person only once, no matter how long you spend with them or how many times you interact during the day. Do not put a person in more than one category. If you're not sure whether they are a Swords or a Wands person, don't guess - find out by further interaction!

I am going to leave the definition of "interaction" up to you. You may think that casual conversation is interaction, or you may feel that to interact demands something more than this. It really doesn't matter as long as you pick a definition that works for you, and stick to it throughout these exercises. I will suggest that you only count people after talking to them and getting to know them, at least on the surface. Do not simply mark a man down as a Pentacles person because he has a lot of money - as his core he may be a Knight of Cups!

At the end of the day, count how many people of each suit type you've interacted with. The predominance or absence of suits can tell you a lot about yourself and your personal preferences. If you have a lot of Wands people in your life, it may mean that you are a Wands person yourself... or that you are trying to become more like one! Think about what kinds of people you like to be around and which kinds of people you try to avoid. Could these preferences be due, not to what kind of person they are, but what kind you are?

The next day, classify the people you interact with according to the type of court card they most resemble, i.e. Page, Knight, Queen, King (or whatever different names you prefer to use for them). Do not make these classifications based on age or even sex. It's perfectly fine for a nine-year old boy to be a Queen, or for an old man to be a Page. What matters is their personality - how they think, how they feel and how they act, or react, or refuse to act.

Compare your tally of card types with the one for suits you did the day before. Are there correlations? For example, did you interact with a lot of Queens and Cups people? What does this tell you about the underlying connection between these two groups? For those who work with elemental correspondences, this is a great way to find out for yourself which elements are tied to which cards.

Now that you have a good knowledge of what kinds of people there are in your life, make a list of all the people you know well, and write down what court card they resemble the most. You will probably find more than one person for some of the cards, and this is fine - what matters is that you get at least one person for each of the sixteen court cards. Take as much time as you need to make this list and "research" it as necessary by asking the people on the list what kind of card they would see themselves as.

Should you include yourself on this list? I think you should only do so if you already have another person for the court card that you have chosen to represent yourself. So if you see yourself as a Page of Pentacles, do not add your name to the list until you've found another Page of Pentacles in your circle of acquaintances. This way you are always guaranteed a second opinion if you need it.

Once you have this list, whenever you're stumped by a court card in a reading, think about who has the card next to their name on your list. What would they be feeling, and how would they react, if they were in the situation you are asking about? The great thing about this way of doing things is that, if you don't know how a certain person would act in a given situation, you can always go and ask them! Not only will you solve your client's problem but you'll get to know your friends or loved ones much better at the same time.

Copyright 2000 James Rioux