Courts are funny Tarot cards which are in a class of their own. However, they are also classed as Minors BUT somewhat halfway to Majors. The fact they cannot fit nicely in a neat little box makes them very confusing.
One thing which 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”?
In general, Tarot Courts are the ‘people’ of the Tarot and mostly represent people in your life. However, they don’t always symbolize people and can be a multitude of things. I go into detail on how to read court cards in my Tarot Techniques course, but here I am going to share with you the top 10 ways which Tarot Courts can be read, and different things they can represent.
One of the most common things for a Court to symbolize, is the seeker i.e. the person who is 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 now-a-days ask self-development questions. Typically, if you’re performing a spread on a personal development issue, all of 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 laying all of the action and responsibility in the seeker’s hands: they alone are responsible for the actions they take.
By contrast, in predictive readings, you are 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 is normal in these situations for Courts to be evenly split for who they symbolize. For example, half of the Courts could be the seeker but the other half could be their partner/lover/cat or whoever they are getting readings 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 will be performing a reading on a situation which 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 a say in the matter.
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 a 4 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 which you’re reading/talking about. A Knight of Swords could mean that the Tarot cards advise they move quick in a situation before an opportunity evaporates. Or a Knight of Pentacles could be advising that they move slowly, take their time etc.
Tarot Courts can represent someone’s positive attributes. For example, a Queen of Cups would be the card of an individual who is 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 is going to help them in some way. Or the seeker could be the one who puts the needs of others first and their considerate nature could pay off at a later date.
Just as a Tarot Court card symbolize someone’s positive attributes, they can also represent their negative attributes. The Queen of Cups is caring but she 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 is the green eyed monster and needs to tone it down a bit.
It is rather uncommon, but there are Tarot readers who take Court cards to represent time. In general, they might read the Swords to symbolize wintertime. If it is the case that Swords are metaphoric for winter, then each Court would show a particular time frame. For example, a Page of Swords would be early winter, Knight of Swords would represent early-mid winter, the Queen of Swords would symbolize 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 she wants to know about a guy she has met, Sam. We do a reading and three of the spread positions are:
1. How she seen him in the past: 6 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 is some sort of regression when it comes to that person’s maturity. In Rhonda’s mind, she is currently seeing Sam as the King of Wands; responsible and mature with his shit together.
However, in the future she finds out that he is really not how she imagined; Sam is selfish, does things spur of the moment, likes to hang out with his friends etc. And the Page in the future reflects Rhonda finding out about these personality traits which she so kindly overlooked previously because A. she was wearing her rose tinted glasses and B. Because Sam is a charmer.
Regression of Courts can reflect a lack of maturity and 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 female, Melissa. The age didn’t used to bother him but he has noticed one or two things he isn’t so keen on. She 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 seen him in the past: Page of Cups
2. How she sees him in the present: 7 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 she is evolving for the long-term (7 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 am 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 have said 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, 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 is 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!
Remember, if you are trying to interpret Courts, you should trust your intuition and do what feels right for you at the time. But I will say that it is also good to know some card meanings!
If you would like to improve your Tarot skills, get crazy detail and give memorable readings which keep your clients coming back for more, Tarot Techniques - the ultimate online Tarot course - is only open for enrolment for the next couple of days, so check that out now
Cards used in this post are The Wooden Tarot by A.L. Swartz.