I love exploring the power and wisdom of the tarot’s court cards!
To begin understanding their complexity and potential guidance, let’s break down each element and its corresponding suit…
Fire (Wands): Energy, Ambition, Passion
Air (Swords): Thought, Mental Activity
Water (Cups): Emotion, Feelings
Earth (Pentacles, Disks, Coins): The Material World (including career, or any other physical surroundings)
It helps one to recall that “We can’t know anything outside our mind. Everything we see is contained within our mind. Thus, I am not in the world. The world is in me.” (— Haemin Sunim [@haeminsunim] March 8, 2017)
Thus, 3 out of the 4 elements are found originating within ourselves, and the material world is the recipient of whatever way we act out in response to these inner elements.
The Court Cards, then, display the unique ways in which these elements interact with each other. And, in order to really understand these elemental interactions, we need only examine their counterparts we see in Nature.
Page (or Princess): Earth
Knight (or Prince): Air
King (or sometimes called the Knight in decks that call the Knight the Prince): Fire
You can then rather easily organize in your mind the nature of each card by filling in the blanks, thusly:
“The _____ (Court Character) of _____ (Suit), is the _____ (Character’s Elemental Nature) surrounded by, or in the World of ______ (the Suit’s Element).”
So, let’s take the Queen of Wands, for example.
We can describe her elemental nature as “Water in the World of Fire.”
Immediately, that tells us that she is one of the least stable characters in the courts! How does one balance fire and water? Or, perhaps it is a lesson to allow our Water (Emotions) to temper and cool our raging Fire (ambitions), depending on its placement in a given spread.
Another one: Knight of Pentacles
He represents the element of Air (thought) in the Kingdom of Earth (material reality). Often this card is a reminder that our thoughts do not change the Earth around us; only our actions do — in the same manner that a blowing wind will only change the face of the Earth slowly. Earth is in no hurry to change, though it will, slowly….
The Knights in general, being the force of Windy Thought, are messengers of a sort. They carry out the will of their King. But each Kingdom reacts to their messengers differently, according to their nature.
Now, what of spreads that display the interactions of two or more Court Cards? Here, things get interesting, and much more specific to your personal situation!
Here is a snippet from a recent Sabbat spread I did for myself, for Ostara.
Notice the Queen of Fire at the top, and the Knight of Water at the bottom.
The Knight represents my subconsciousness’ recommendation for “how to grow toward maturity,” or how best to ascend toward Beltane. The Queen represents my Tool for the Journey.
The lesson here, with these two cards alone, is to recognize when my Thoughts are moving my Emotions — and, boy, they tend to that a lot! This is one area I can work on and mature in. A helpful aid in this journey is to allow my Emotional waters to cool and temper my oft-raging Fires of Ambition.
In other words, I can use my Thoughts (better controlled) to give my Emotions more direction. To help me with this growth, I can turn to cooling Emotions (presumably guided by my maturing Thoughts) to help cool my ambitious, headstrong nature.
Hope this was of some help to you in your inner explorations! Enjoy contemplating the four elements and their interactions with each other in our lives.