Friday, January 15, 2016

exercises for decoding court cards

Court cards are notoriously difficult to interpret because there are just so many possibilities. They can be interpreted in many different ways which is why they can be tricky to understand when they appear in a reading. They may represent actual people, personalities, and roles. I've also seen them appear as places and as types of relationships. (I've discussed this in terms of face cards -- the courts of playing cards -- in this blog post.) One thing to understand about court cards is that one image cannot depict the multi-faceted aspects of them. Deck creators must simply choose one aspect to portray. However, as the reader, it's your job to remember that each card is a symbolic representation and look past the surface to get a fuller interpretation.

The above image shows the Pages from Tarot for Lost Souls, a personal tarot deck I made last year. There are several symbols encoded in these cards. First, the Page is a messenger so in the modern world they would communicate by phone which is why they all have phones. These courts are usually lacking maturity or experience so I made them children/teenagers. The fact that they're children can also be associated with child-like wonder and enthusiasm too. I tried to depict their personality or type of news they're conveying (or receiving) through facial expressions.

Of course, a court card cannot depict a person as a whole. However, you should be able to apply what you see and know about court cards to understand them when they appear in a reading. For instance, if you're trying to figure out if you and your blind date will get along and you pull the Page of Wands and Page of Cups (above), it's clear there will be fun times. He's got jokes -- she laughs at them. What if the Page of Wands and Page of Coins appeared instead? He's got jokes -- she doesn't get them.

If you're having trouble understanding the courts when they appear in readings, here are a few exercises to help expand your viewpoint. The first thing to understand when doing these exercises is that there's no correct answer. Your perspective comes from your personal experiences and that's always the perspective you must take when you do readings, not the perspective of a book or another person. It doesn't matter how anyone else sees the court card but you. Also, the court card needs to be examined on a deck-by-deck basis. You'll find that your opinions and insights will change based on the deck you use.

Medieval Roles
Imagine these court categories (King, Queen, Knight and Page) in today's society. Who would be in the role of King, Queen, Knight and Page? Consider these relationships: Mother-Child; Manager-Assistant; Lawyer-Client; Hair Stylist-Client; Husband-Father In Law; Friend-Friend; Student-Teacher; Coach-Athlete.

What types of careers are best suited for each court card? The Urban Tarot by Robin Scott has already figured this out for you and delivers the court cards as career choices. This is a Thoth-inspired deck. Therefore, Princesses are Pages, Princes are Knights and Knights are Kings. Would you make the same choices? Why or why not?
The Urban Tarot by Robin Scott (The Fool's Dog app)

The Urban Tarot by Robin Scott (The Fool's Dog app)

The Urban Tarot by Robin Scott (The Fool's Dog app)

The Urban Tarot by Robin Scott (The Fool's Dog app)

MBTI Personality Type
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a questionnaire designed to indicate psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. Use the MBTI personality type overview to assign a court card to each of the 16 types. First, determine which suit you would assign to each type group. The four type groups are: Analysts, Diplomats, Sentinels, and Explorers. Which suit (Wands, Cups, Swords, Pentacles) corresponds to which category? Then assign each court card to a specific type within the group. After you've assigned a court card to each of the 16 types, take the free MBTI test to find out your personality type and see which court card represents you.

Celebrities & Book Characters
Assign celebrities and characters from novels to the court cards. Consider the age, physical description, occupation, and personality. There are plenty of celebrities to choose from. But, if you're into books, here's a link to SparkNotes. Find a book and look at the character list.  Assign a court card to each character in the book. Here's one to get you started: SparkNotes - the character list for Catcher in the Rye.

Suit Emblem Replacement
The suit emblem is important in understanding the roles, personality and actions of the court cards. The emblem is the icon or symbol that defines the suit. For instance, traditional suit emblems are Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles. Read The Role of Tarot Suit Emblems. Sometimes, it's difficult to see the emblem in a realistic fashion because the emblems are not used in our contemporary world. But what if the court character wasn't holding their suit emblem? What if they were holding a completely different object? How would that change your perspective of them?

This exercise requires a bit of imagination. Get out your court cards from one suit. Notice how the character is interacting with the suit emblem. Now, imagine that instead of the suit emblem that the character is holding a baby. Yes, that's right, an infant. How does that alter your perception? What kind of personality or qualities do you attribute to the court card now? For instance, imagine each Queen is holding a baby instead of her emblem.

Which Queen is looking at the baby?
Which Queen is not paying attention to the baby?
Which Queen looks like she's unsure of what to do with the baby?
Which Queen cradles the baby in her lap?
Which Queen appears most nurturing?
Which Queen would you want to babysit?

Now, let's change the emblem to a gun and look at the Knights.

Which Knight is looking for a reason to use the gun?
Which Knight seems apprehensive about using it?
Which Knight is armed and ready to shoot?
Which Knight is aggressive and possibly dangerous?
Which Knight should be in law enforcement?

Who Am I? Reading
This is a reading to help you see the different faces of the court cards and how they all represent different aspects of you. Perform a reading using the court cards only.

Focus on the question, “Who am I?” Shuffle the court cards only and select four of them, one for each of the following statements:

(a) This is the face I show to the world.
(b) This is the real me.
(c) This is the part of me I keep hidden (represents your shadow side or the things you don’t like about yourself or are afraid to express).
(d) This is who I’d like to become.

You can also use this spread for a more defined reading. For example: Who am I at work? or Who am I in this relationship? Interpret your reading by considering the court cards as different aspects of yourself. Consider how the cards reflect personality, roles and overall character.

Hopefully, this has given you some food for thought to help round out your concepts of the roles, actions, and personalities of court cards.

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