TAROT TIP: Dealing with Court Cards

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Court Cards: infamous among Tarot practitioners for their slippery refusal to be interpreted with ease. Four Court “ranks” across four Suits yields up 16 distinct personalities to understand and keep track of. That’s a pretty large cast of characters, and without handy “cosmic job descriptions” such as “The Empress” or “The Hermit” to help us along, they can start to feel pretty inaccessible.

The new Epic Tarot deck offers one possible approach to getting a better handle on the Court Cards, though. It’s a fantasy-themed deck, and instead of depicting people as the Court Card characters, it employs mythical creatures. In some of the message board conversations that followed its release, multiple users bemoaned the fact that they couldn’t tell one Dragon from another…each Phoenix looked the same…the Unicorns, the Griffins, they were indistinguishable from each other…

A representative of the deck’s publisher responded, saying that this wasn’t surprising…because we aren’t meant to be able to distinguish them. Because they’re not different. The Page/Princess level doesn’t showcase four different Unicorns – rather, it offers the same Unicorn experiencing four different environments. There’s really only one Page/Princess, is the idea…and it’s the context of the Suit that determines how the Page/Princess gets to manifest her energies. The same holds true for the other Court ranks.

Taken on the whole, this approach asks us to think not of 16 different Court Card characters, but of only 4…four Ranks that can each be expressed in four distinct manners. Your Queen, say, is always a Queen, exhibiting Queenly attributes. She can do this, though, in the context of Wands/Fire, or Cups/Water, or Swords/Air, or Pentacles/Disks/Earth. Think about how your best friend is always who she is, but she manifests a bit differently at a weekend party than she does at the office. The constant inherent traits are what make your friend, your friend…while the context she’s in during a given moment determines which parts of her come to the forefront. The Epic Tarot suggests viewing Court Cards in this fashion…

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3 thoughts on “TAROT TIP: Dealing with Court Cards

  1. That’s a very interesting approach that I would like to test out! The Court Cards always give me some sort of grief (especially in the Tarot of Delphi since the Hero isn’t always so Kingly, the Artisan isn’t always so Knightly, and the Devotee isn’t always so Pagely…) The Epic Tarot looks like an interesting deck! Another one for the list 🙂

    1. I hope this technique is helpful for you, Katzi. I won’t say that I’ve pitched out all previous takes I’d had about the Court Cards, but this really did add a whole new layer of thought to my understanding of them. And the Epic Tarot is giving me some pretty excellent readings so far! I have the Universal Fantasy Tarot by the same artist, but while I love the artwork in that one, it’s tougher to read for me. This one seems more user-friendly. Worth at least looking into!

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