Court Cards: Learn them Once and for All!

The Court Cards tend to be trickier to read than any of the other Tarot cards. When I first began reading Tarot, I would find myself thinking “*&%$!” when more than one of them would show up in a reading. This article and video will give you 3 different ways to view a Court Card and an assortment of fun things you can try with your Court Cards to get a better understanding of what they mean and represent in a Tarot reading.

I recommend having a good understanding of each Suit (Cups-water, Wands-fire, Swords-air and Pentacles-earth) before trying these techniques. If you do not know the general characteristics of the suits, you will have a hard time learning the Court Cards.


1) What does it mean?!

You may be wondering if a court card represents a person in your life, you or a personality trait? The answer is yes, yes and yes! A Court Card usually indicates the person being read for, where they are on their life path and the specific personality traits that can either help or hinder them. But sometimes a Court Card can represent a person in the querent’s life who is having a powerful effect on things.

How do you know which interpretation to go with? Use your intuition here or simply interpret this card all three ways – you don’t have to stick to just one interpretation.

2) Group your Court Cards by Suit

Go through your Tarot deck and take out all the Court Cards. Now group them according to their suit “families”, so all the Wands Courts would be together, all the Cups together, etc…

Each grouping represents a dysfunctional family – the King and Queen being the parents and the Page and Knight the children. They are dysfunctional simply because they are unbalanced, being too earthy (pentacles) or too Swordsy, Cupsy or Wandsy. Really look at each family and get a sense of how they may interact with each other if they were real people.

Each member of the Court Card family is the human embodiment of that particular suit. The King is the mature, masculine expression of his suit, the Queen is the mature, feminine expression, the Knight is the young, masculine expression and the Page is the young feminine expression (even if the Page is pictured as a young boy).

3) Group your Court Cards by name

Now, group all the Pages together, all the Knights together, etc, until you have four groups of four. Imagine that all the Pages are at a party together – how would they interact? What would they do and say? Imagine all the Kings at a business meeting – what would unfold? Who would show up drunk? (hint: King of Cups)

Spend some time comparing and contrasting the Court Cards. Look up the meanings in your book if you need to. This exercise lets you get a real sense of the differences between similar court cards.

Okay, now lets really bust things out by mixing your Court Cards up and imagining how they all interact with each other – how would the Queen of Cups regard the Page of Pentacles? What would the King of Swords say to the Knight of Cups if he met him in a dark alley? Which Court Cards would be most likely to have a steamy affair? Probably Queen of Wands and Knight of Swords.

page of cups tarot card
Page of Cups from the Robin Wood Tarot

Here are some more fun questions to ask:
Who would be the total downer at a party?
Who would be most likely to pull a “dine and dash”?
When it comes to love, who would most likely be swayed by a pretty face?
Who checks their car door several times to make sure its locked?
Which two Court Cards would bicker endlessly?
Who is the sexiest Court Card of the bunch?
Who would most likely be a musician or artist?
Which Queen is more likely to be pregnant?
Why would the Knight of Pentacles get along well with the King of Cups?
Why would the Page of Cups get on the Queen of Swords nerves?
How would the King of Swords ask the Queen of Cups out on a date?
If the Knight of Cups went on a date with the Queen of Pentacles, what would unfold?

I am sure you can come up with some interesting questions of your own….

4) See each Court Card as a part of yourself

Now go through all the court cards (this may take a while) and see each Court Card as a reflection of yourself. See how you are like the Queen of Swords. Can you relate in any way to the Page of Pentacles? Some Courts may represent a phase you went through in your youth and some may represent personality traits you wish you had. The idea behind this is to forge a personal association and bond with each court card so that when they come up in a reading, they will have true meaning for you.

Notice which Court Cards draw a negative reaction from you. These may represent a disowned part of yourself – a characteristic you haven’t quite accepted yet. I often feel disappointed when I get the Queen of Swords because she reminds me of the part of myself that can be cold and distant.

After doing all these different Tarot exercises, you should have a more personal understanding of the Court Cards, so next time they show up in a reading you will think bring it on! rather than oh, shit!

Here is a Tarot reading demonstration of me doing a reading that has two Court Cards in it:

For further study, I highly recommend Tarot for Yourself by Mary K. Greer, which was the book that changed how I understood the Court Cards and was the inspiration for some of the exercises in this article.

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12 thoughts on “Court Cards: Learn them Once and for All!”

  1. I just came across your site which I find to be very helpful! Thank you! 🙂 I’d like to know your thoughts on the following. I realize that cards can be interpreted differently by each person. For example, I saw/heard your interpretation of King of Cups as different than I saw/heard on some other sites, which portray him as: “In a general, the King of Cups Tarot card represents kindness, compassion and wisdom. This Minor Arcana card can indicate that you will be finding the balance between your mind and your heart. You will learn to control your emotions and find the wisdom to accept that which you cannot change. You should be gaining a deeper level of emotional maturity when this card appears. You will become calmer, more sympathetic to others and tolerant. Like all the cups court cards, the King of Cups signifies emotion, creativity, artistic ability and intuition but in a more balanced form. As a person, the King of Cups is caring, affectionate and empathetic. He is a good listener, diplomatic and easy going. He is the type of older male who will give you sound advice and act as a calming influence in your life. He usually has light hair and has few if any enemies as he is well liked and gets along with the majority of people. He may lack the drive to pursue material wealth as he is more focused on the emotional side of life. He is very family orientated.”… But in Reversal form, they depicted him more as: “In a general, the King of Cups reversed can represent being overly emotional or too sensitive. It can signify a lack of emotional maturity. It can be a sign that you are lacking back bone or are allowing yourself to be too gullible or putting yourself in a position where others can take advantage of you. You have to be accountable for your own behaviour. It tells you that you need to take responsibility for your emotions and well-being. This Minor Arcana card can indicate that a lack of emotional balance may be causing you to become overwhelmed, anxious or depressed. This can also present itself as bitterness or unkind, uncaring or manipulative behaviour. As a person, the King of Cups reversed is manipulative, controlling and, in the extreme negative, abusive. He is someone who uses his ability to sense the emotional weaknesses of others as a weapon against them and will seek to take advantage of vulnerability in others to get his own way or simply for his own amusement. He can be vindictive and spiteful and is not be trusted. Alternatively, the King of Cups reversed can represent an older male who is so overly emotional and sensitive that he has lost the ability to function properly in the world. He may be moody, sulky, unbalanced and at risk of becoming dependent on the people around him. “

  2. I’m new to learning everything. I had bought several decks to see which one I seemed to get the ‘feel’ from images and symbols. I think the Rider-Waite deck is what I will start with.
    Anyway, I was doing a coloring book with the cards in it and learning it that way. I’ve only fully, to my knowledge alone, understood two cards. It just seems to difficult.

  3. Kate,
    I just had to tell you about an experience I had yesterday and it gave me a whole new understanding of the court cards. I was sitting quietly in an art gallery volunteering, thumbing through my cards when it dawned on me that the court cards were calling out to me to write their story. It has been the case that the more I feel I am listening to my cards I still struggle with the royals. I’ve read your advice and it has helped immensely.
    I didn’t have a notebook so I had to grab scratch paper for what I thought would be a quick automatic writing. I separated out each royal family and included the Aces.
    I was using the Crystal visions deck which seemed very chatty. Anyway, four pages later each set of Royals now have their own story. Complete with an Eddard Stark, quote in one. A gallery patron (older) saw me feverishly putting pen to paper and confirmed that how wonderful it was to see someone emersed in writing without a computer.
    I tried to find it somewhere on your blog but I thought you had mentioned to make up a story for the royals until yesterday I had never been so inundated with their voices. Thanks

    1. Hi Teresa,
      This is so good to hear! I’m glad I inspired you to write in depth about the Court Cards. Your right, I did suggest this, but I think you are thinking of my webinar on the Court Cards (the pdf had an exercise in it about writing a story for each court card….I think!). So maybe that’s what your remembering?
      I love writing with pen and paper too – there’s something more thoughtful and magical about it – it forces you to slow down.

  4. just starting on Tarot.. and going at a fast pace. 🙂
    i was keeping the court cards away for a later time, but after reading ur article i am going to grab the court cards right away and give them a shaking.. 🙂
    thanks dear..

  5. Hi Kate,I watched your programs and they opened up and brought more information to me.I saw it completely different.I went thru all 78 cards and put my impressions in my journal and repeating the process once more.Thank you for sharing different ideas and approaches.After going thru the deck once more,I will try this approach.I can hardly wait until the next memo.By the way what is the difference between tarot cards and oracle cards?

    Blessed Be.
    Hugs to you.
    Scott Lagos. 🙂

    1. Scott, thats so good to hear!!! I am delighted that you are using my tips and that its making a difference for you 🙂 The difference between oracle and Tarot is that Tarot cards follow a specific format – 78 cards, 4 suits, court cards, 22 major arcana, etc. Oracle cards are free form and can be anything – so any number of cards, any kind of image or words.

  6. Hello Kate! Thank you so much for these exercises and info on the court cards, cause I believe they are also very tricky at times. I do have a question for you that is completely off subject, but I’m gonna go ahead and ask anyway 😉 How do you feel about using the tarot electronically, i.e.: cell phones. I’ve got several (actually many lol) decks on my iPhone, and since not a physical deck, I was curious about the “energies”, and it picking up on vibrations. I’ve had readings right on, and readings which were “off” somewhat. Anyway, let me know what you think cause I’m curious to know. I find that it’s very convenient to email yourself (or others) the readings.

    1. Hi Ricky!
      How do I feel about electronic readings? – well, to be honest, I am a bit of a ludite when it comes to electronic gadgets – I don’t have a cell phone myself and its a miracle I ever learned how to use a laptop and start my own website! I have never done a reading using an ap – but from what I hear, its supposedly the same as using physical cards, as long as your intention is the same. I prefer physical cards, but I know others love using their phone aps to do readings, so I would suggest you do what works for you. I am totally biased here, but I feel like a phone ap reading would be missing some of the “magic” of a physical, card reading – but perhaps its convenience totally makes up for this?

  7. Thank you, Kate! Finally, someone else that felt/feels the same way I do about the Courts! I, too, get the “Oh, crap!” feeling when they show up, they are so perplexing and I always feel they can cover/represent so much that I feel overwhelmed and a bit intimidated by them. I will definitely be trying these techniques to help me overcome my issues with them and get to know them better! You’re awesome, Kate 🙂

  8. Denise Suttie

    What a fun way to get to know the court cards better! Thanks for sharing. I love working with my e workbook. You have great creative skills. Best wishes. Denise

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