After we dabbled in the deeper meanings of the Major Arcana, I would like us to focus now on the tarot’s court members, those royal characters that round up the suits of the Minor Arcana. They are infamously difficult to interpret, especially if you are a novice at reading tarot. Also, these characters are part of the Minor Arcana, because this Arcana deals with mundane and everyday aspects of our lives and their energies (while the Major Arcana deals with fated, predestined and deux-ex-machina kind of events in life).
After some time spent on feeling through their energies, I find that the court cards are also the most fun apparitions in a spread, especially in love readings. Tradition has it that they represent real people that might appear in your life, but they could also speak of traits that are energetically looming around you and you just need some tarot awareness to reach out and grab those traits and integrate them into your full, loving and wholesome Self. Overall, these cards show action, or the potential for action that appears in your life, and they mark events and the human energies that infiltrate such events.
For some reason, writing about the knights is difficult. I think it’s because it’s the pool of men of my generation, whom I am mostly interacting with and occasionaly dating. So there is this sense that I lack an objective perspective and need to detach a bit more – like a pointilist painting, you need to see the Knights from afar to truly understand what they mean 🙂 But precisely that is the effect: when a Knight enters your life or your tarot reading, it leaves things a bit blurred. Whether due to their charming aura or the things they promise, they always leave the person who got the reading and the tarot reader a little bit ‘school-girl/boy’ giddy.
In a nutshell, The Knight of Swords usually means an incoming brutal message of truth or a piece of surprising news; the Knight of Wands is everyone’s favourite Casanova, announcing the beggining of a passionate adventure in your life; the Knight of Cups is a sign of an upcoming pleasurable invitation or a new romantic opportunity; while the Knight of Pentacles, although reliable and stable is a sign of things progressing very slowly, through hard-work and effort.
These are the casual interpretations, but let’s take each Knight one by one and see more deeply what these charming men are all about. Below is a summary I created from the booklets of my tarot deck collection, to which I added a personal twist:
The Knight of Swords
Meaning & Interpretation:
- Represents the signs of Gemini/Libra/Aquarius in their prime (usually from the 20s up until the 40s of a person’s life).
- The knight of the learned response, he who acts much too quickly based on subconscious programming and because of this, he often ends up creating conflict and strife where there was previously peace. He is starting a journey into greater self-awareness, by tickling his Shadow Self out into the light, rushing in to confront it. When this card appears it is a clear sign that the situation at hand requires a broader perspective, and that if you are dealing with an argumentative person only reason and measured tones would help.
- This card ushers in dynamic thinking, forward movement and an unexpected breakthrough when it appears in a relationship spread (consider the power of this card in combination with the Chariot!). In an erotic spread, I always see this Knight as a symbol of passionate sexting.
- He is impetuous, as he heroically rushes into the unknown – could also indicate a lack of tact, a sore loser or a dispute over a romantic partner.
- When this card appears next to more negative cards such as The Tower or the Devil, it denotes a rash man who is dangerously aggressive. He may harm others through carelessness and reckless haste.
- Despite the fact that air energy is mental and governed by reason, Air signs usually repress their strong feelings because most of the time they are not capable of logically understanding them – these then come out in ugly ways, and in the form of Shadow parts of the self. The Knight of Swords is a harbinger of this repressed and intense energy, unleashed.
- This knight has yet to reach the emotional control of the Queen of Swords, but he is able to coach and guide the Page of Swords, who shares a mutual sense of mistrust and suspiciousness with our resident knight. At his best, this guy is a rational co-worker/friend/lover/father, who is able to communicate his ideas clearly and sincerely and can take up any debate with ease and fairness – he’s also good at apps/online surfing/gadgets and technology.
- The Good Tarot offers the following affirmation to pair with the Knight/Messenger of Swords: If I am swift and move quickly, ensuring my actions are for the highest good, positive outcomes are assured.
The Knight of Cups
Meaning & Interpretation:
- Represent the signs of Cancer/Scorpio/Pisces in their prime (usually from the 20s up until the 40s of a person’s life).
- The knight of the heightened emotional response, the man who sees the best in others because he loves who he is and is comfortable with himself. This is the nurturer, the counsellor, the care-giver, the stay-at-home dad who changes the nappies when you are out jogging, healing or resting (he might throw in a foot massage too, at the end of the day).
- In some interpretations, this knight represents an intermediary, a messenger of good news. He usually stand for attraction and a proposal, a call to completely surrender to your emotions and let them tenderly wash over you. This guy is the sensitive poet or artist, the introverted tatto artist, the calm fisherman, the lsitening drinking budy and the idealistic best-man at his best friend’s wedding.
- Our knight is a pursuer of romance, but he might be afraid of true and deep commitment (he isn’t the King yet). However this card in combination with other tarot influences such as the Death card, speaks of emotional transformation. This Knight is on an emotional journey that changes not only his looks and his body through the ravages of time, but also his soul. Nonetheless, he is the one who obeys the comands of the heart and does not hesitate to pursue a moral goal.
- This knight is training his Page of Cups to take charge of romantic opportunities and come out of his shell, by showing him that shyness only blocks the heart’s way to experience happiness; he is also not as moody as the psychic and intuitive Queen of Cups, but also less emotionally prepared to deal with grief and loss as she is.
- The Good Tarot offers the following affirmation to pair with the Knight of Cups: I can have what I desire. There is no need for jealousy, anger, resentment, or fear when I am love and love flows into me powerfully.
The Knight of Coins/Pentacles
Meaning & Interpretation:
- Represents Taurus/Virgo/Capricorn in their prime (usually from the 20s up until the 40s of a person’s life).
- The knight of stamina, resourcefulness and determination. He proceeds with integrity and grit. Nothing, not even a landslide or an earthquake can stop this man to reach his goal. He takes each bruise in his stride, brushing aside each setback and knock-off, and he gets back on the horse, plodding on towards his destination. He is inertia incarnate in the lowest form, and a paragon of hard-work in the highest vibration.
- This card shows an assured gain, a lucrative opportunity, or a good ocassion to build something stable. In a low vibration, our knight can be egocentric and unconcerned about the feelings of others as long as he can achieve his own interests. He is training the Page of Pentacles to understand the efforts involved in getting a job done, in completing a project, but he is not as kind or nurturing as the richly established Queen of Pentacles.
- Some tarot decks see this man as the one who fights against injustice and protects the weak, always working on behalf of the oppressed and the wounded. His life is one of slowly patroling and always completing the tasks, but can turn towards the unerringly monotonous. His narow-mindedness is however superseeded by his laborious organization. This is the lover who helps you fill in your tax form, the administrative employee who finds your birth certificate on time, the public persona who starts his/her own charity or fund-raising campaign.
- The Good Tarot offers the following affirmation to pair with the Knight of Coins: I am dedicated and determined, knowing my efforts will pay off.
The Knight of Wands
Meaning & Interpretation:
- Represents the signs of Taurus/Virgo/Capricorn in their prime (usually from the 20s up until the 40s of a person’s life).
- This knight usually gets a bad rep in the You Tube tarot community since he is seen as the ‘player’ romantic type, a guy with purely sexual intentions who swoops in and out of your life as he pleases, only to get bust a nut and leave you hanging. But the original meaning of this beautiful Knight is taming the wild fire within, and using that force to overcome spiritual blockages and any creative or sexual limitations. Our Knight is the embodiment of Jung’s Hero Archetype, and he is a fierce, bold and passionate badass. In everyday life, this guy is the loud-mouth swimming coach or any sports coach for that matter, the rebellious race-car driver or motorcycle fiend, the wildlife protector, the caravan traveller and the technological nomad.
- As a Knight he is bound by a code of honour, so I would be tempted to refrain from reducing our Knight to the status of a ‘player’, since Players in life might be best represented by the Ace of Fire in combination with the 7 of Swords. While our Knight might not have reached the wisdom of the King of Wands yet, or the soulful energy of the Queen of Wands, he is nonetheless on the path to success, and he is most likely to suceed at his endeavours because of the sheer force of his confidence, physiciality and utter belief that he is the right guy for any undertaking (the tougher, the better even).
- This knight is an adventurer capable of channeling and efficiently moving his enery and his instincts. He is training the Page of Wands on matters regarding courage, sexuality and creativity, by instilling confidence in the young one through the power of his personal example; he is however not as spiritually evolved as the witchy and enthralling Queen of Wands.
- The Good Tarot offers the following affirmation to pair with the Knight of Wands: Surrounded by Spirit, illuminated by the wisdom that rises up within me, I set forth on a path to innovate.
Alternative Tarot Interpretations
Together with the Mary-El Tarot (pictured below), the Dreams of Gaia Tarot (pictured above) ofers the most in-depth and unique interpretation of Knight-energy that you may find. I love the darkly mystical undertones of these two decks as well, almost as if they hold space for both light and dark to co-exist in tarot. Personally, this dual vibe makes me feel like I can provide readings which are rich in meaning when I’m using them.
The Voyager Tarot considers the court cards to be symbols of dominion, although I tend to see them more as action cards. In his tarot vision, James Wanless adapted the old take on these royal characters to modern times and represented the Pages as the Children, The Kings as the Sages, the Queens as the Women and the Knights as the Men (but to be fair, you can switch the meaning of these cards as you’d like since they are numberless).
However, the most interesting interpretation is the one offered by the Mystical Dream Tarot that somehow – for reasons that remain obscured – considers knights as spirits. Spirits are entities that can take any form (human, animal, mythic and abstract) and they serve to guide and assist spiritual practitioners to deliver messages. So if we understand the knights as the spiritual links or relationship bridges between the enthusiastic inexperience of the Pages and the ripe knowledge of the Queens and Kings, then this interpretation would make a lot of sense.
In the Muse Tarot, the Knights are a group of bashful horses (and the Knight of Swords is even an unicorn!). Their interpretations come with tiny haikus as well, such as the one of the Knight of Emotions:
Excitement kicks, and like a prince
A show. Display. Affection
Emotion drips, a charming rinse
Now go. Display. Intention
These are just some of creative adaptations of the original Rider-Waite court cards, and I described them here with the intention to inspire you. I hope this post helped you see your own tarot practice in a new light. Keep in mind this is only my perspective which was acquired from studying the tarot since 2012, but feel free to share your opinions in the comments section below.
With universal love,
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