No matter how long they’ve been reading, many times I’ve heard, “I still get stuck on the court cards.” And it’s no wonder, because there are a lot of mixed messages regarding what they stand for and how they could be or should be interpreted.
They’re neither major or minor arcana, but they’re related to minor, however yet almost sorta-kinda-not-really their own mechanism. We’re advised things like, “The Queen of Swords indicates a widow” and “The Cups are blondes, while the Swords and Pentacles are brunettes” and “only the queens are female” or “no, wait only the pages and queens can be female,” and so forth. So, we’re left with questions like, “You mean, anyone who isn’t white is a Pentacle?” and “What if my blonde querant is a widow?”
The best way to approach the Courts is to step back and look at their role in the big picture:
– Major Arcana signifies the universal, life’s inevitabilities.
– Minor Arcana illustrates the details of those concepts and what they directly affect.
– Court Cards indicate who’s involved in those details, which may or may not signify specific characters.
So, with that, it really helps if you just take all the specifications out of the equation, such as rules of appearance, age, even gender, and focus only on their roles and the archetype personalities that they symbolize, then your psyche or supporting tools can fill in the blanks. Example: Instead of looking at the Page of Cups and seeing a possible young blonde male or female, see someone with an emotional openness or immaturity, uncontrollable libido, pure of heart, an incurable romantic, innocence or someone who may have a tendency to share too much. Then, from locking onto those traits, you can lay down a few more cards or allow your ESP to pick up the rest of the details regarding who this player in the show may be.
The reason why you’d want to start generally and narrow it down is because there are times, especially for Empaths and those with ESP not involving sight, when a Page will come up for a mature adult or a Queen can come up for a male and vice versa. People dye their hair, get cosmetic surgery, can be geniuses and advanced or stinted for their age, and so forth. Looks change. Also, roles change. No one person remains one significator at all times because we put on different hats in different situations. With all these variables, relying on the constant or present vibration emanating from that character will best lead us to the true identity.
And sometimes the best way to remember the archetype personalities and roles of the Court cards is to picture them in action.
Once upon a time, there were four little kingdoms.
The Kingdom of Pentacles in the north, surrounded by Earth, who value brains over brawn. The home of great business-people and diplomats.
The romantic Kingdom of Cups off the coast near the Water where the splashing of the waves inspires their emotions and raise psyches…or vice-versa.
Then, we have the Spartan-like Nation of Swords, where discipline, structure, and order rule. Always handy to have a member of this kingdom on your side in a fight or on a jury.
And of course, the fiery Kingdom of Wands, where the arts and passions and adventures are ignited. It’s hard not to be fond of the wand!
Now, all these kingdoms, even though they may not totally understand each other, are basically peaceful, for the most part. And one day the four Pages – the Page of Cups, Wands, Swords, and Pentacles — were out skipping stones, writing poetry, setting ants on fire, and writing up a new business proposal when they spot something big and colorful in the sky, heading towards their homes…a dragon!
Page of Wands: “Ooh, COOOL!!!”
Page of Swords: “Oh shit, this isn’t good. I need to go and alert the king!”
Page of Pentacles: “Hmmm…interesting. But, yes, excuse me, as I need to go and alert the king, as well.”
And off they go to their perspective castles with the Page of Swords in the lead and the Page of Pentacles following at a steady pace right behind him. The Page of Wands bolts after them, running at full speed until he gets distracted and sees a really cool looking stick that looks like a snake standing on its head and a rock that reminded him of the wart right by his Aunt Betty’s left nostril before he remembers what he was supposed to be doing, and finally the Page of Cups, who drifts lazily behind them as he daydreams of being the hero who saves his home.
After a time, all the Pages arrive at their home castles to give their reports to their Kings with their Queens who stand beside them.
At the castle of Swords…
Page of Swords: “Sir, your majesty, a dragon has been spotted flying off the northeast quadrant of the kingdom.”
King of Swords: “Are you absolutely sure this is what you saw and there is no possibility of your senses being altered in any way?”
Page of Swords: “Sir, no sir. I’m too young to drink and it was also witnessed by the other three Pages of whom which I was in company with at the time.”
King of Swords: “Did the beast look hostile?”
Page of Swords: “Too early to say, your majesty.”
Queen of Swords: “Send in the captain of the Knights. Now.”
Page of Swords: “Yes, my Queen,” and leaves immediately.
King of Swords to the Queen: “I do wish you wouldn’t speak out of turn, dearest.”
Queen to King: “I always speak in turn, darling. MY turn.”
The King turns to retort, sees the expression on his wife’s determined face and wisely decides to keep quiet.
In the Palace of Pentacles…
Page of Pentacles: “Your majesty, it is imperative that I bring to your attention a possible urgent matter at hand. A dragon has been sighted and appears to be heading in our direction.”
King of Pentacles: “Hmm…did you fill out all the forms and put an entry in the log regarding your sighting with the clerk before coming to see me?”
Page of Pentacles: “Of course, your majesty.”
King of Pentacles: “Hmmm…that’s as well. I’ll be sure to look over those reports in detail before I gather my council to decide the next course of action.”
The Queen here interjects, addressing the King: “Darling, you may also wish to take medicinal and food supply inventories into account before determining whether or not it would be beneficial to take the beast down. Our armies can certainly use better weapons from its teeth, plus there’s great healing properties in dragons blood, and if this monster is large enough, I’m sure we can craft and sell dragon scale shields to the Sword Kingdom which would allow us to make enough profit to open up those new food shelters we so desperately need.”
King of Pentacles: Hmmm…which, in turn, would increase employment opportunities across the board, thereby greater income for the government. Excellent suggestions, my queen, though I’m sure my council would’ve determined those factors, as well.” Addressing the Page, “Please send in board members immediately. We need to act quickly.” Addressing the Queen, “I am very pleased by your company.”
Queen of Pentacles: “And I find you worthy of my affections, as well, dear.”
Meanwhile, at the castle in the Kingdom of Cups…
Page of Cups: “Oh, your highness. Such incredible sighting. I’m so overwhelmed! You have no idea, you can’t begin to imagine…I just don’t know what to do! It was so…ENORMOUS and I felt so small and yet so much connected – “
King of Cups: “Page, please, my friend, calm down.” Steps down and walks along the red carpet to put his hand on the Page’s shoulder to comfort him. “Now, please, tell me. What has riled your senses so?”
Page of Cups, looking into his King’s eyes with tears welling up and his lips trembling, “Oh your Majesty…it …was a DRAGON!!”
King of Cups, gasping: “Are you serious?!
Page of Cups: “Yes!”
Queen of Cups, calling from the throne: “What’s going on down there? What are you two talking about?” Taking in a sudden shock of breath, “Oh my god, is there something wrong with my dress?! It’s a brand new dress, I’ve just had it made!”
King of Cups, turning to his wife, “No, of course not, my love! You see –“
King of Cups: “My love, you don’t understand, see –“
Queen of Cups, running down to her king: “WHAT WERE YOU SAYING ABOUT ME?!” and she falls into his arms, weeping. “Don’t I make you happy?”
King of Cups, holding his tender bride, “I was just saying that believe you are the most beautiful woman in the world and I cannot possibly live without you…and apparently there’s a dragon on its way to destroy us.”
Queen of Cups, in shock: “Oh my God, why didn’t you say so?!”
And in the Kingdom of Wands…
Page of Wands, storming in: “Your majesty! Your majesty! You’re not gonna believe this!”
King of Wands: “What is it, Page – ooh, check out that stick! Cool.”
Page of Wands: “Huh? Oh yea. Thanks. No no, your majesty, this is serious. I’ve come to inform you that there’s a DRAGON on its way here.”
King of Wands: “No way!
Page of Wands: “Yes way!”
King of Wands: “No way!
Page of Wands: “Yes way!”
King of Wands: “No way!
Page of Wands: “Yes way!”
King of Wands: “NO FRICKIN’ WAY!”
Page of Wands: “YES FRICKIN’ WAY!”
Queen of Wands, holding her hands up in victory: “Oh yea — Festival!! Oh, this is gonna be great! We’ll send the Knights out to kill it, then we’re gonna have the hugest bon fire ever and dragon roast! We’ll have games, contests, orgies – “
King of Wands: “Drinking and orgies over a roasted dragon. Yeah, now we’re talking!”
Queen of Wands: “And then we’ll have – “
Page of Wands: “Excuse me, your majesty, but what we won’t have is a whole lot of time if we don’t get to it before it gets to us and turns us all into weenie roasts.”
King of Wands: “Oh, good call there. Okay, fetch the Knight and let’s get this party started!”
So, all the Pages go to collect the Knights, who all got their orders to follow, find, and retrieve the dragon to their perspective homes. Along the journey, the four Knights meet up on the same path where eventually, they found their adversary – the great green dragon – lying in rest, slumbering under a rocky cliff surrounded by a thicket of trees.
Knight of Swords: “YEAH, KILL IT! YEAH!!!” and starts to charge off.
Knight of Wands, pulling Swords back: “Hold on there, Happy…”
Knight of Pentacles: “Yes, it would be extremely unwise to go charging in without assessing our situation and implementing a strategy first, which I’m sure you’ll all agree.”
Knight of Cups: *sigh* “Isn’t it beautiful?”
Knight of Wands, staring at him: “Yes. Yes, it is a beautiful dragon…you space cadet. Wanna kiss it before we kill it?”
Knight of Pentacles: “I don’t believe that would be very wise.”
Knight of Swords: “Really, you THINK SO, smartass?!”
Knight of Pentacles: “Sir….if you could please not shout and spittle in my face. Thank you.” Points to his cart, “You see, I have with me 12 virgins for the dragon’s pleasure. I’m sure we can negotiate a peaceful surrender if enticed –“
Knight of Wands: “Oh yeah, that’ll be a great plan.” Mocking, “Oh, do excuse me big, scary, fire-breathing monster, would you like a small sacrifice of virgins before we behead you? Our compliments, of course!” He turns to Pentacles, “You are a moron. It’s a Dragon, not a board meeting – “
Knight of Cups: “And a most beautiful dragon it is. I’ve just written a poem! Listen…’It lays serene and green beneath the cliffs…it’s breathing smoke makes my heart grow’…um…uh…”
Knight of Wands: “Stupid?”
Knight of Swords: “WE ALL NEED TO SHUT THE FUCK UP AND FIND A WAY TO –”
Knights Cups, Wands, and Pentacles: “Ssssshhhhh!”
Knight of Swords, whispering: “– Kill this thing! Now!”
Knight of Wands, whispering: “Okay, here’s a plan. How about Sir Pouts-a-lot over there woos and distracts his new dragon love with his bad poetry while Mr. Let’s-make-a-deal throws a lasso around one of its extremely large, sharp horns and tries to reason with it to go nicely with him, while you stick your sword up its ass and I take those virgins into the woods, change their status, and laugh at you?”
And as the Knight of Swords pounces and attacks the very amused Knight of Wands, the Knight of Pentacles attempts to step in between them to try to get them to see reason and come to a satisfactory understanding so they can commence completing their mission, as the Knight of Cups delivers a lovely bouquet of flowers that he had just picked and brings it to the great sleeping dragon. Just as the situation escalates to assorted loud name calling and clanking armor, the dragon opens her eyes, looks down at the four idiots and determines that they’re not worth snacking on after all and flies away back to her lair.