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.
The Kings represent social authority, the traditional institutions on which out society is built (chruches, hospitals, police sections, universities etc.). They are the fathers, grandfathers and forefathers. This is the energy of each specific suit at its fullest completion.
Their placement in the tarot deck is significant: The Kings lost the spunk of youth that the Pages had and they cooled-off the sexual energy and charisma that the Knights embodied; they are stable now and weathered by life’s experiences. So they are as mature as the Queens but instead of creating environments where things and people can flourish, they bring calculated risks and strategic action into these beautiful environments to sustain them and protect them. The Kings and Queens are on the some level in terms of their energy and maturity.
In my own tarot practice, I see them as the energy of protection. The King of Swords protects through intellect, the King of Wands protects through passion and enthusiasm, the King of Coins/Pentacles protects in material and tangible ways, while the King of Cups protects by providing emotional security.
Let’s take each King one by one and see more deeply what these mature 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 King of Swords
Meaning & Interpretations:
- This King represents completed Libra/Aquarius/Gemini energy (usually post-second Saturn return and the 60s or the 70s of a person’s life)
- One who plans and strategizes thoroughly before acting. Brings a brilliant mind to any situation, he banishes chaos and exposes cheaters and liars. As a profession, this might mean a politician, a journalist, an airplane pilot, a university professor.
- An active and determined person, experienced, controlled, commanding, a professional man, an intellectual authority, a highly analytical person, superior mental power and abilities to understand the truth, a therapist.
- Using one’s willpower to an end, controlling leadership, determination, discipline, lawmaker, logical, an engineer, a planner.
- An idealist, a brilliant thinker, one who unifies emotions, reason and action into a grand master plan, a master communicator. This energy is so mentally strong that no spells function, so our King is a spell diffuser, a protector.
- I see this king as the energy of Archangel Michael, the one who uses his holy sword to help cut and remove all the energetic chords attached to you, and that have been draining your energy.
- According to the Santa Muerte Tarot, this is the king of dominion, security and justice, but his extreme reliance on the cool air of thinking can make him cruel and severe. Remember to exert empathy and pair judgement with kindness, when this card shows up. In its highest vibration, this energy is very similar to the Gevurah emanation of the Sephiroth, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.
- The Good Tarot offers the following affirmation to pair with the King of Swords: “I work the universal laws of truth with clear intention.”
The King of Cups
Meaning & Interpretations:
- This King represents completed Scorpio/Cancer/Pisces energy (usually post-second Saturn return and the 60s or the 70s of a person’s life)
- One who controls emotions. Knows how to use relationships in order to get things done. This is the King of faithful emotion and true love, this man exhibits an intense depth of feeling; he is highly psychic and perceptive.
- A learned, possibly religious person, responsible and creative, a scientist or researcher, a considerate person, who feels a lot but keeps it hidden until the right moment appears, kind and reliable, liberal. An artist or art curator/historian, a musican, a romance writer, a storyteller, an actor, a chef, a doctor. Artistic, creative leadership, free thinker, nonjudgemental peacemaker, mediator.
- I see this energy as the energy of Archangel Raziel, the Secret Keeper, the one who Guards over the Book of Life, and who is capable of trasmuting negative emotions like fear into positive intent.
- According to the Santa Muerte Tarot, this is the king of steadiness, calm and benevolence, but he could easily become corrupt, caught up in illusions or develop a wondering eye. In its highest vibration, this energy is very similar to the Chesed emanation of the Sephiroth, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.
- The Good Tarot offers the following affirmation to pair with the King of Cups: “I honor and respect all beings, including myself, and see the commonalities we share and the Spirit that is in all of us.”
The King of Coins/Pentacles
Meaning & Interpretations:
- This King represents completed Taurus/Virgo/Capricorn energy (usually post-second Saturn return and the 60s or the 70s of a person’s life)
- One who brings practical solutions and personal power to any situation. A masculine energy which pushes through any barriers to achieve success.
- An experienced and succesful teacher/author, a person of character and intelligence, a man with business acumen who makes wise investments, a loyal, traditional and reliable partner (can be stern at times). A man with the Midas touch in terms of acquiring money and valuable possessions. A philanthropist, conscious manifestor. Although skilled in the ways of business and trade, he might be too focused on material gain over spiritual enlightenment.
- This King is a natural born leader because his fire burns through all obstacles; he has an uncanny belief in his own power, which brings him closest to his own Divinity than all the other kings. He ushers you into your spiritual journey with faith.
- I see this king as the energy of Archangel Jophiel, the angel of wisdom, joy and prosperity. Through his good will and kind heart, this angel manages to spring abundance wherever it moves, and so does our King of Coins like to operate.
- According to the Santa Muerte Tarot, this is the king of materialism, good earning and certainty, but he can be too attached to what is in front of him and he runs the risk of being too pesimistic. In the highest vibration, this energy is very similar to the Malkuth emanation of the Sephiroth, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.
- The Good Tarot offers the following affirmation to pair with the King of Coins: “I manifest all that I desire, consciously aware of the need to stay focused and grounded in the everyday work required.”
The King of Wands
Meaning & Interpretations:
- This King represents completed Sagittarius/Leo/Aries energy (usually post-second Saturn return and the 60s or the 70s of a person’s life)
- One who dominates any situation through the force of leadership. Needs to keep control of anger and impulsiveness.
- An honest and consciencious person, mature, wise and devoted, physically dominant, friendly, sympathetic and educated, a charming gentleman, the lifeblood of any social group, a spiritual influencer.
- The king of wands leads his children on exciting adventures in life, to help them gain perspective, knowledge and grow strength. His fatherly guidance sets a good example to follow, for his optimism and generosity makes his children feel that the world is a place that deserves to be enjoyed and explored.
- I see this king as the embodiment of Archangel Uriel, the one who guards the Holy Flame that purifies all negative intentions. The king’s coat is clad in salamanders, and these feisty little fellows stand for the transformation that happens when you undergo trials by fire.
- According to the Santa Muerte Tarot, this is the king of honesty, rectitude and ambition, but when angry or full of spite, this man can lack scrupules and be intolerant and untrustworthy. In its highest vibration, this energy is very similar to the Keter emanation of the Sephiroth, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life.
- The Good Tarot offers the following affirmation to pair with the King of Wands: “My mastery benefits others as I teach them, directly at times, and indirectly at others, modeling what they might aspire to.”
Alternative Tarot Interpretations
Various tarot decks have unique interpretations of the way they understand the energy of these tarot kings. In the Mystical Dream Tarot the Kings take the form of the Lords: the Lord of Swords is an enlightened ruler, the Lord of Cups is the master of esoteric secrets, the Lord of Wands becomes the God Ganesh – the opener of ways, and finally the Lord of Coins/Pentacles is the one who reveres tradition, the keeper of the Blue Flame of Spirit.
The Mary-El Tarot sees the kings as the those who have complete control over their elements, they represent the Kingdom, the land, the foundation and its strength. The King of Wands becomes the Sumerian Sun God, Shamash/Utu, while the King of Cups is represented by Poseidon, the God of the Oceans. The King of Swords takes on the role of the Charioteer, the weathered and hardened soldier who drives the Chariot in the Major Arcana, while the King of Pentacles/Coins becomes the God Atum, a sel-pleasuring and indulgent ruler over the prosperity of the Earth (in some versions he could also be seen as Cernunnos the, Spirit of Wilderness, Fertility and Nature).
The Voyager Tarot presents the energy of the Kings as that of wise old men or sages (at least this is how I choose to see it, since the court cards are not numbered). So the King of Cups is replaced by the Sage of Cups or the Regenerator, the King of Wands is now the Sage of Wands or the Seer, the King of Coins/Pentacles is the Sage of Worlds or the Master, and finally the King of Swords is the Sage of Crystals or the Knower (check out the image of Albert Einstein in the collage 🙂
The Muse Tarot considers the Kings as the epitome of creative inspiration, the Muses: we have the King of Cups as the Muse of Emotions, the King of Wands as the Muse of Inspiration, the King of Pentacles/Coins as the Muse of Materials and the King of Swords as the Muse of Voices.
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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