Tarot Court Cards
A entire book devoted to the court cards! The author looks at these cards as archetypal patterns of relationships, using the Qabalah as a tool.
By Kate Warwick-Smith
Book - Published by Destiny Books
Review by Bonnie Cehovet
The Tarot Court Cards: Archetypal Patterns of Relationship in the Minor Arcana
One of the most difficult areas of Tarot has to do with the sixteen court cards - the King, Queen, Knight and Page of each respective suit. How do we place them when using numerological dignities? Are they specific people in our lives, or are they parts of our inner selves? When more than one court card appears in a reading, can they be interpreted differently - one court card a person in the Seeker's life, another court card an inner aspect of the Seeker? What about the systems that use no Knights, or the systems that switch the King and the Knight?
I have never before seen an entire book devoted to the court cards, although most books do devote quite hefty sections to their interpretation. I was attracted to this book partially because of the theme (it never hurts to study how another person interprets the Tarot), and partially because of the cover - which pictures the King and Queen of Pentacles in lovely, vibrant colors. Who would not want to know these people!
Before I go on, I must state the theme of this book. If you are not interested in the theme, then you may want to spend your reading time elsewhere. Kate Warwick-Smith is a counseling professional. Although she began studying and writing about the Tarot court cards before she entered the counseling profession, the basis of this book is in looking at the court cards as archetypal patterns of relationship. Using the Kabbalah, she gifts each of the court cards with specific roles - supporters, detractors, resources and challenges in the Seeker's inner and outer life. Through understanding these roles, the Seeker is enabled to focus their efforts in their own lives.
Warwick-Smith does a credible job of presenting the background and early history of Tarot in general (although I do not agree with her) and the use of the court cards as the Royal Family in particular, with emphasis placed on family as the basic unit of our lives for community and group relationships. In discussing the court cards, she presents the following as the four traditional ways in which the court cards have been interpreted:
* As an environmental influence
* As a person (other than the Querant) identified by personality type, physique, sex, occupation or age
* As relating to Spirituality: the Qabala, astrology, I Ching and other spiritual traditions
* As the Querant's inner potential and talents, capacities, psychological state
From there she moves on to discussing the relation between the Qabala and the suits/court cards. I love to have all of my ducks in a row, and am very drawn to authors who make best use of charts and graphs. Warwick-Smith has used a template of "Tell them what you are going to tell them, Tell Them, Tell them what you just told them". The latter is often done through the use of charts and graphs - well done, to the point, concise and packed with information! The chart for the four suits and the Qabala has the suits across the top, and the following information for each suit under it: direction, season, element, body part, Jungian function, Alchemical stage, astrology sign, Qabalistic world and characteristics/realms of influence. Quite fascinating!
Warwick-Smith goes on with a brief introduction of each court card, moving into the core of the book:
* Understanding the roles others play in our lives: supporters * Recognizing unsupportive behavior in others: detractors * Discovering our inner strengths: resources * Recognizing limiting behavior in ourselves: challenges
A chart is provided for each of the four roles (supporter, detractor, resource and challenge) for each of the court cards. These are well done charts that show how these people appear in our lives. This is good, usable information. The next two charts were made to be filled in and used by the Querant/Seeker, and are used to identify the supports and detractors in the Querant/Seeker's life. I personally found this troubling for two reasons - I feel that any one person can fill either role in our lives at different times (life is not a static thing); the Querant/Seeker may feel that their work is done when they have arbitrarily placed "ID's" on the people in their life. They will always see these people in this manner, and close off avenues for growth and healing in these relationships and in other areas of their life.
Warwick-Smith devotes a chapter to each of the suits and their court cards. She discusses the supporter, detractor, resource and challenge within each card, as well as questions the Querant/Seeker may want to ask themselves about this person and questions that the reader may want to pose to the Querant/Seeker. She then has each of the cards speak for themselves - tell a small story about who they are.
The last few chapters of the book deal with performing a reading and implementing the tools presented within the book. A one card spread, several three card support spreads, a Tree of Life spread and an Astrological Spread give excellent tools for support and growth.
My favorite spread was one that dealt with the Shadow side of the court cards. It is a four card spread that deals with working through shadow issues and bringing about a healing.
Last, but not least, was a small section on the court cards and meditation - techniques for "stepping into" the cards. Oh ... one more thing! There is a "tear out" chart on the court cards, and the four roles that each card may represent in a reading!
This is a well researched, lucidly written book. While a reader may not wish to implement the process presented here in their readings, this book is an excellent resource in that it presents another part of the picture regarding the court cards. Take from it what you will - this is a book worth investing in.
Bonnie Cehovet is Certified Tarot Grand Master, a professional Tarot reader with over ten years experience, a Reiki Master/Teacher and a writer. Bonnie has served in various capacities with the American Tarot Association, is co-founder of the World Tarot Network, and Vice President (as well as Director of Certification) for the American Board For Tarot Certification. She has had articles appear in the 2004 and 2005 Llewellyn Tarot Reader.