Skip to Main Content

The Tarot Court Cards

Archetypal Patterns of Relationship in the Minor Arcana

Published by Destiny Books
Distributed by Simon & Schuster



Buy from Other Retailers

About The Book

A detailed interpretive guide to the 16 “face” cards of the tarot that reveals their core identities and special purpose in a person's life.

* The first tarot book to focus exclusively on the court cards.

* Shows how the “face” cards can clearly and accurately reveal the specific nature of the support-based relationships in one's life.

* Includes tarot spreads and potent techniques for contacting these powerful archetypes through meditation and pathworking.

The Tarot Court Cards
gives fresh meaning to the 16 “face” cards of the tarot--the King, Queen, Knight, and Page. In contrast to the idiosyncratic and confusing interpretations that are presented in many tarot books, Kate Warwick-Smith shows how these cards embody archetypal patterns of relationship that offer greater enlightenment than ever before.

Using the Kabbalah, she reveals the core identities of the Minor Arcana's court cards and their special purposes as supporters, detractors, inner resources, and challenges in our inner and outer life. She shows how the court cards can be used to identify your true tribe or clan--the specific people who support you in unique ways, such as your mentor, champion, protector, or healer. She also shows how the court cards can help you identify your inner resources and challenges--insight, discipline, passion, or greed--that enhance or hinder your efforts in the world. Using both new and traditional interpretations, the book also presents new tarot spreads and potent methods for contacting these powerful archetypes through meditation and pathworking. Both seasoned tarot readers and newcomers will find this book helps them achieve practical and insightful results.


Court Cards Cast a Shadow

We live with challenging aspects of others and ourselves every day. For example, maybe we tend to be critical, or perhaps victimized, or we live with someone who is stubborn or deceitful. Alternatively, at work we may be faced with a boss who competes with or ridicules us. This chapter offers a starting point for changing difficult behavior and relationship patterns.

The Shadow Side of Court Cards
People in our life whom we might call “the bane of our existence” usually tend to throw us off balance or make us feel uncomfortable. Their influence varies, but typically detractors can make us feel worthless, powerless, used, vulnerable, angry, depleted, defensive, overly responsible, indecisive, or incompetent.
Detractors can also draw from us instinctive responses or “knee-jerk” reactions that can be related to the court card challenges. For example, we have just discovered that our lover is cheating on us (Betrayer). We might drown our sorrows (Self-Destruction), go on a shopping spree (Greed), plan revenge (Anger), feel powerless (Depression), or turn green (Jealousy). You can probably predict what combination of reactions you would have. In court card terms we have responded to a detractor with our own challenging behavior.
One way of averting this scenario is to recognize our inner experience (feelings and thoughts) before proceeding with the knee-jerk reaction--that is, make the unconscious process conscious. We have the opportunity to make choices about our response that will in the end strengthen us rather than bring us down. Also, if we are able to circumvent our instinctive urge, the other person has a greater chance of acknowledging his or her part in the problem, the situation does not escalate, and we avoid wallowing around in our own negative patterns.

Dispelling the Shadow
There are times, however, when our best efforts cannot accomplish this Herculean task of perception, self-knowledge, and self-discipline. We have indulged our passions and have fallen into the abyss of shadow. Now we must find a way to regain balance. Here is how the court cards can help.
Each shadow side of a court card can be worked with or counterbalanced by the harmonizing influence of another court card. For example, if I recognize that I am being intolerant and critical of others (challenge of the Queen of Swords), I identify supporters or resources that might help transform my feelings, thoughts, or impulses. Then, through seeking out the appropriate support or meditating on the harmonizing court card, I might find a way out of my “Cruella” persona.
Whichever court cards we choose to harmonize a shadow are unique to us and may change from situation to situation. In other words, if I am feeling trapped (Queen of Cups: Victim) and stuck in my feelings of helplessness, to get myself out I might try bringing in the energy of the Adviser (King of Swords) to gain intellectual understanding of the situation and to develop options. Someone else might seek out a Healer to bring in new physical energy to help ease the sense of depletion.

Shadow Spread
You can also use the court cards as an oracle to point you in the direction of healing. The following spread is intended to offer resources for working with a given shadow. The resources may be people in your life or within yourself.

Separate the court cards from the rest of the deck. Select the court card that best represents the detractor or challenge that you are faced with. Place it faceup before you.
Shuffle the remaining court cards and select three cards. Place them below the card you have already chosen.

1. Notice which suits have been drawn. Does one suit dominate? This may give a good indication of what can help in the situation: spirit, love, knowledge, or power.
2. Next, notice the different levels of royalty. This may also shed some light. If you have lots of pages, perhaps you are needing to learn something new. Or if you have drawn several kings, you may need to exercise maturity and leadership. Queens look within, knights take action.
3. Finally, look at the specific support roles. Try to see how the energy they represent may help in your situation. Also take note of specific people they might be in your life. Perhaps these individuals have something to offer you in this situation.
4. Make sure to record your reading

About The Author

Kate Warwick-Smith is a counseling professional and has studied the Western Mystery Tradition for over 20 years. She lives in Sonoma, California, with her husband and two children.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Destiny Books (May 5, 2003)
  • Length: 208 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780892810925

Browse Related Books

Raves and Reviews

"This book is an entertaining and thorough look at a neglected aspect of the tarot cards--the effect and relationship of the 'people,' or court cards, on divinatory readings. The author has created a unique system whereby the court cards can be 'read' to reveal individuals in our lives and the roles that they play."

– deTraci Regula, author of The Mysteries of Isis

"Practicioners and students of tarot will find integrative perspectives, fresh lucid significances, and practical applications in this resource guide."

– Joi Eden, New Age Retailer, November-December 2003, Vol.17 No.7

"I feel that this author offers a fresh, distinctly unique approach to working with the tarot Courts."

– Diana McMahon-Collis, Tarot Association of The Brtish Isles, Autumn 2003

“By looking at court cards from so many different perspectives, the author helps tarot readers everywhere better understand one of the more difficult parts of the deck.”

– Rachel Pollack, author of Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Book of Tarot

“Never before has a comprehensive study of the origin, meaning, and significance of the sixteen court cards been written. The Tarot Court Cards offers historical and mystical insights into the evolution of the court cards and their diverse meaning and uses. A treasure of a book.”

– Isha Lerner, Author of Inner Child Cards

“A comprehensive and practical resource guide that offers valuable insight into our personal relationships. No other book addresses the sixteen royalty cards so thoroughly.”

– Angeles Arrien, PH.D., Author of The Tarot Handbook

"This refreshingly straightforeward book is easy and quick to read, but intelligent and thoughtful."

– Nellie Levine, TBP Review, June 2004

"With clean, clear, thoughtful writing, interesting history, at-a-glance tables, and plenty of stimulating how-to, this book expertly handles the Tarot deck's aristocracy."

– Stephanie Mills, ForeWord Magazine, Jan.-Feb., 2005

Resources and Downloads

High Resolution Images