What are court cards? Courts are funny Tarot cards that are in a class of their own. They’re classed as Minors while still being somewhat halfway to Majors. The fact that they don’t fit nicely in a neat little box can make them very confusing.
One thing that makes Tarot Courts special is their ability to be read multiple ways. The possibility that you can interpret each Court differently, in different readings for different reasons, makes Court cards both amazing and terrifying at the same time.
Therefore, you’re probably wondering, “What are Tarot Court cards?” and “How do I read Tarot Court cards?”
What Are Court Cards?
In general, Tarot Courts are the ‘people’ of the Tarot and mostly represent people in your life. However, this isn’t always the case – they can also represent a multitude of other things. Here, I’m going to share with you the top ten ways in which Tarot Courts can be read and the different things they can represent.
One of the most common things for a Court to symbolize is the seeker, i.e. the person who’s getting the reading. If you’re reading for someone else, they are the seeker, but if you’re reading for yourself, you are your own seeker.
The reason why Courts often represent the person getting the reading is because many of the Tarot spreads out there nowadays ask self-development questions. Typically, if you’re performing a spread on a personal development issue, all the Courts will be aspects of your personality.
When you do self-development readings such as “What can I do to improve this situation?” instead of predictive readings such as “What will happen in this situation?”, you’re essentially putting all the action and responsibility in the seeker’s hands; they alone are responsible for the actions they take.
By contrast, in predictive readings, you’re opening your seeker up to outside help and influences. Which brings me to my next point:
Another common thing for Tarot readers to read on is their seeker’s relationships with other people. For example, their love lives, friendships, family quarrels, and readings about business associates all fall into this camp.
It’s normal in these situations for Courts to be evenly split in terms of who they symbolize. For example, half the Courts could be the seeker while the other half could be their partner/lover/cat/whoever they’re reading on. Tarot readings such as “Will my lover come back?” or “Will I get that promotion?” fall into this category.
An Outside Person
Sometimes, you’ll be performing a reading on a situation that will have an outside person’s input. For example, you might be doing a Tarot reading on a supposedly monogamous relationship, but infidelity is involved. In these cases, the Court cards can symbolize the seeker, their lover, and an outside person who has some say or involvement in the matter.
There will be times when a Tarot Court represents a situation; for example, it’s a frequent occurrence for the Knight of Wands to mark a move of house or the Page of Cups to predict the birth of a child.
I tend to only read Courts as situations if there are other cards to support this. In the Knight of Wands case, I would only read him as a move of home if there were other ‘new home’ cards (such as the Four of Wands) to back up this interpretation.
A Course of Action
Courts can offer advice for a course of action the seeker should take or personality traits they should take on in the situation you’re reading about. The Knight of Swords could mean that the Tarot cards advise they move quickly in a situation before an opportunity evaporates, while the Knight of Pentacles could be advising that they move slowly and take their time.
Court Cards Can Be Positive
Tarot Courts can represent someone’s positive attributes. For example, the Queen of Cups would be the card of an individual who’s super caring and empathetic. Her appearance in a Tarot reading could mean that the seeker is going to meet someone like the Queen of Cups who’s going to help them in some way. Alternatively, the seeker could be the one who puts the needs of others first, and their considerate nature could pay off at a later date.
Court Cards Can Be Negative
Just as a Tarot Court card can symbolize someone’s positive attributes, they can also represent their negative ones. The Queen of Cups is caring but can also have a jealous and possessive side to her. Perhaps when she appears as a negative in a Tarot reading, this warns of someone who is envious of the seeker, or the seeker could be the one who’s the green-eyed monster and needs to tone it down a bit.
While rather uncommon, there are Tarot readers who take Court cards to represent time. In general, they might read the Swords to symbolize winter. If it is the case that Swords are metaphoric for winter, each Court would show a particular time frame. For example, the Page of Swords would be early winter, the Knight of Swords early-mid winter, the Queen of Swords mid-late winter, and the King of Swords would be the card of late winter.
I often read Tarot Courts to reflect someone’s level of maturity. Obviously, reading them this way means that I can also read them one of the other ways. For example, I might take a Court to be the seeker’s lover and then read the ‘grade’ (King, Queen, Knight, or Page) to reveal their maturity.
For example, let’s say that we have a seeker, Rhonda. She comes to us for a reading and wants to know about a guy she’s met, Sam. We do a reading and three of the spread positions are:
1. How she saw him in the past: Six of Cups
2. How she sees him in the present: King of Wands
3. How she will see him in the future: Page of Wands
4. How he is: Page of Wands
I would read the above reading as a bad omen.
To have a lover (or anyone) appear as a King in the past or present but then a Page in the future usually means there’s some sort of regression when it comes to that person’s maturity. In Rhonda’s mind, she currently sees Sam as the King of Wands; responsible and mature with his shit together.
However, in the future, she discovers that he’s not really how she imagined; Sam is selfish, does things on the spur of the moment, likes to hang out with his friends most of the time, etc. The Page in the future reflects Rhonda finding out about these personality traits, which she previously overlooked because she was wearing her rose-tinted glasses and because Sam is a charmer.
Of course, just as a regression of Courts can reflect a lack of maturity, the opposite is also true.
Let’s say we have a guy called Jose who comes to us for a reading. Jose is dating a younger woman, Melissa. The age difference didn’t use to bother him, but he’s now noticed one or two things he isn’t so keen on. Melissa requires lots of attention, is needy, and is always on her iPhone.
For the same spread as Sam and Rhonda, Jose and Melissa got:
1. How she saw him in the past: Page of Cups
2. How she sees him in the present: Seven of Pentacles
3. How she will see him in the future: Queen of Cups
This spread would tell me that up until fairly recently, Melissa had displayed childish behavior (Page of Cups), but that she’s evolving for the long-term (Seven of Pentacles). In the future, she will be more mature and sensitive to other people’s needs (Queen of Cups). However, I can’t guarantee Jose that she’ll put down the iPhone any time soon!
I’m frequently asked, “What does it mean when a Court card appears in the outcome position of a Tarot reading?” And my answer is usually this: “That person is a gatekeeper.”
As I mentioned above, Courts appear because they represent someone who has some sort of influence on a situation. However, there will be many times when an individual holds the entire outcome of an issue in their hands. They are the gatekeeper who controls whether a relationship, job, or opportunity thrives or dies.
When these Courts pop up in outcome positions, this can serve as either a reminder or a warning that this person holds the key. Your seeker can do what they want and bob along, but ultimately, it’s this gatekeeper who will change the fate of a situation and can turn everything on its head. Therefore, your cards are giving you a gentle nudge to tell your seeker to keep this person happy because their future depends on it!
Closing Thoughts on What Are Court Cards
If you would like to learn how to read Court cards for everyone, including complete strangers, you should check out my Tarot course, The Tarot Course. The Tarot Course opens for enrollment only once per year so be sure to check out out here.
Finally, in the comment section below, I would like for you to share with me your thoughts regarding Court cards. For you, what do they often represent? How do you interpret them? I can’t wait to hear your thoughts!