Why You Should Pay Attention To The Court Cards In Your Tarot Deck

As you may already know, tarot decks were originally used like any other deck of playing cards, although nowadays they’re almost exclusively used for divinatory purposes. One of the most visible remnants of their recreational applications are the court cards, or the King, Queen, Knight, and Page, which appear four times each in a regular tarot deck, once for every suit.

Since they represent different figures in a royal court, they’re usually illustrated with human figures, which may help newcomers to tarot interpret their meaning more easily, intuitive tarot reader and author Theresa Reed tells Refinery29. “The court cards represent the people who influence situations,” she explains, suggesting that, sometimes, these cards can very clearly represent people in your life such as your boss, relatives, or friends. Otherwise, Reed adds, these cards may also indicate “the energy that we may be projecting or needing at the time of the reading.” For instance, you might pull the Knight of Wands, which could reflect your desire for more confidence at the moment.

“Because [the court cards] are loaded with so many different possible interpretations, people are often confused by them,” Reed says. So, when in doubt, she recommends simply referring back to the question you started your tarot reading with — so, if you draw any court cards, you’ll have a clear context in which to ground them.

Although traditional tarot resources are full of gendered descriptions of the court cards (e.g., King cards represent masculinity while Queen cards represent femininity), Reed ignores them — or, perhaps more accurately, she reinterprets them so that they apply beyond any gender binary. “Perhaps I’m a Page when I’m studying a new subject. When I’m taking care of the cats, I’m in Queen mode. At work, I’m always King,” she says.

And, while each type of court card possesses a set of general influences, those vary slightly depending on the suit of the court card. The four suits of the tarot indicate subtle, day-to-day changes and feelings. Each one is thought to touch a different area of our regular lives: The suit of cups rules our relationships; the suit of pentacles (also known as the suit of coins) rules financial and practical matters; the suit of swords rules conflicts and truth; and the suit of wands rules creativity.

For example, the Queen of Cups differs from the Queen of Swords in that the former reflects love and caregiving instincts, while the latter is more closely associated with the desire to cultivate ideas and a clear vision for the future. They possess the Queenly desire to nurture and support what’s in their lives, but what exactly they’re showing such care for will vary with the suit.

Read on to learn more about the court cards and how they express themselves through each suit of the tarot.

The King

As the leader in a traditional monarchy, the King cards represent control and authority. Reed explains you might channel King-like energy when you have to step up and take charge during a meeting or when you demonstrate your expertise in a subject or activity.

In The Suits
Cups: sensitivity, diplomacy
Pentacles: financial stability, magnanimity
Swords: logic, maturity
Wands: bravery, leadership

Photographed by Yuki Mizuma. Courtesy of The Fountain Tarot.

The Queen

As we alluded to earlier, the Queen is the caregiver of the court. These cards can indicate the parts of your life that may need extra attention and support — or they may point toward someone in your life who’s offering you that kind of love, care, and protection.

In The Suits
Cups: empathy, love
Pentacles: security, thrift
Swords: intelligence, clarity
Wands: creativity, sensuality

Photographed by Yuki Mizuma. Courtesy of The Fountain Tarot.

The Knight

Reed says that, traditionally, Knight cards were always illustrated with images of young men. Contemporary readers can reinterpret that depiction as anyone who acts rashly and decisively. These cards indicate where (and what type of) action may need to be taken in your life.

In The Suits
Cups: romance, honor
Pentacles: reliability, decisiveness
Swords: confrontation, debate
Wands: adventure, impulsivity

Photographed by Yuki Mizuma. Courtesy of The Fountain Tarot.

The Page

As the youngest member of the court, the Page represents newness and promise across the board. Reed says drawing a Page card may suggest incoming news, messages, or internal realizations. She adds that, in some cases, Page cards can quite literally represent any young people or children in your life.

In The Suits
Cups: infatuation, innocence
Pentacles: focus, progress
Swords: invention, self-assuredness
Wands: enthusiasm, motivation

Photographed by Yuki Mizuma. Courtesy of The Fountain Tarot.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

Try This Simple Gratitude Ritual For The Upcoming Fall Equinox

Inside Handfasting, The Deeply Symbolic Wedding Ceremony Trend

What The Shofar Represents During Yom Kippur