If you have ever studied the Tarot you will know only too well that it has a predisposition towards describing events, circumstances and outcomes. This bias also appears within most books on Tarot card meanings. Generally speaking the Major Arcana within a deck reveal important life-changing events whilst the Minor Arcana cards tend to refer to incidental experiences.
To many students the third aspect of the Tarot, namely the Court cards, tend to be overlooked for they describe people rather than predict upcoming events. And as we all know people and their motivations are rather more difficult to predict!
Due to the complexities of the human condition the Court cards, and it should be remembered that there are only sixteen of them, do not always seem to contribute much in the way of predictive value to a spread or reading. As a result the Court Cards have tended to be seen as a slight anachronism. Indeed I have known some Tarot card readers remove them completely from their favourite decks believing them to ‘get in the way’.
Reappraisal of an Old Tradition
In her book Tarot Court Cards for Beginners blogger and Tarot expert Leeza Robertson reassesses these ‘disposables’ and offers Tarot students a way by which to reengage with them.
The book opens with a brief look at the history of the Tarot; which may at first seem slightly irrelevant until you realise that the roots of the Tarot are deeply connected to the structure of regal society.
The very name ‘court’ is derived from the social structure of European noble families.
Herein lies the first problem with the structure of the Court Cards for, as all students will know, depending upon the type of deck you use the sexual polarity of the first level of courtesans can be either male, as in the Pages, or female, as in the Princesses.
Robertson tackles this conundrum by offering interpretation all meanings to both and as a result begins to extend the actual number of specific characteristics of the Court Cards from their standard sixteen.
Robertson explains the Court cards from a traditional standpoint and describes the typical characteristics of each card with reference to its elemental association.
From Pages/ Princesses through the Knights, Queens and Kings she paints a typical image of the qualities of each of the Court cads. For each one she describes its archetypal and spiritual qualities along with the typical message that it presents to the world — and to the Tarot student.
On occasions she also includes a Tarot card spread to be used to further understand and develop a closer relationship with the Court cards. This approach to learning about the cards is further developed in the final chapter of her book with the addition of six spreads — along with accompanying exercises, that have been designed to aid the reader in understanding the subtle but important interconnecting links between the various members of the Court card families.
As the author points out in her closing remarks: ‘But like most people, the members of the Tarot Court do not live in isolation; they do have to cohabitation with all the other residents of the Tarot empire’
Maybe it is for this reason that it can be so hard to understand what they are trying to tell us!
This publication is in Llewellyn’s ‘For Beginners’ series and so carries all the hallmarks of all of these well-crafted and carefully constructed books.
Tarot Court Cards for Beginners is also delightfully illustrated and this helps the narrative immeasurably so that in many cases the author can refer to the symbolic imagery on the various cards that she describes.
This publication is clearly not aimed at Tarot students with many years of Tarot study under their belt but for a beginner who might be trying to unravel the intricacies of the Court cards this book will be a real asset.
In many ways the Court card system is an anachronism and very much a vestige of its historical past. It needs rethinking and bringing into a more c
ontemporary framework but until that day Tarot Court Cards for Beginners offers students an opportunity to grasp one the most technically challenging areas of Tarot study.
Maybe it’s time to put those Court cards back into the deck!