Tarot Tips: Five different ways to read a court card

Kings RWSAre you struggling to connect with the court cards? You’re not alone. They are some of the hardest tarot cards to interpret.

But once you start to click with them, you’ll see how layered their messages can be.

“What are the court cards supposed to be, anyway?” A student asked in a tarot workshop I ran earlier this year.

The truth is, they can be many things, just like any other card in the tarot.

Here are five different ways to look at a court card. I hope some of these inspire you to see the courts in a new way:

1. Read the court cards as people. Traditionally, this has been a standard interpretation for the courts, and it’s completely valid. We are constantly engaging in different relationships with our friends, partners, family, peers, colleagues, and more. The courts can come up to represent the types of energies, moods, and personalities that may be influencing us and interacting with us.

One thing I do stress, however, is that the courts are not necessarily tied to gender and appearance. Seeing a king in a reading doesn’t specifically mean it’s about a man, just as a queen might not be about a woman. Instead, look at the cards for the energies they bring.

If you are using a guidebook, make sure to question any physical attributes that may be assigned to the courts as well. Some older tarot texts describe the courts as representing people of certain ages, eye colour, hair colour, and more. These texts don’t always reflect the diversity and the reality of the world we live in.

2. Read the court cards as aspects of yourself. This is one of my favourite ways of looking at a court card. We all have different sides of who we are. We all go through different phases and chapters in our lives. The courts can come up in a reading to show you certain character traits that you have available to you at this time – strengths, weaknesses, and more. They can show you what it’s time to reclaim within yourself, or perhaps what you need to express differently at this time. 

3. Read the court cards as power you can step into. The court cards represent power and potential. The pages connect to fresh possibility. The knights connect to strength and determination. The queens and kings are power and authority. Each of the 16 court cards can encourage you to get in touch with your own potential, to reach for a new goal or to activate your self-expression at a deeper level. You can look at them as aspirational symbols that encourage us to keep reaching for longer-term goals and growth.

4. Read the court cards as energies and themes you are moving through. As part of the minor arcana, the courts all connect to the elements of their suits – earth, air, fire, and water. So the energies that those elements represent will still apply to the courts.

For example, the Queen of Cups might be indicating that you are entering into a time when you are attracting people who are emotionally open. Vulnerability and heart-centric decisions might be major themes. You could be more in touch with yourself, and more willing to listen to your own needs. 

5. Read the court cards as events. This can be the trickiest approach, because a lot of the courts seem inactive, often sitting on their thrones. While other tarot cards might offer up more detail or activity that can help to weave a story together, the court cards can stump us sometimes because they don’t seem to give us much to go on.

But if the courts can be people, power, potential, energies, and themes, then all of those things can lead to change. They will lead to new perspectives, which lead us to new decisions, opportunities, and horizons.

If you are doing a three-card spread, look at the other cards that come up around the court card you’ve pulled. Are things moving away from that court card, or towards it? What might the cards be telling you if you read them as a sequence? What might the culmination be?

Sometimes, it can help to read the courts as part of a whole, rather than break them down individually in a reading to see what might be manifesting for us.

If you’d like to learn more about working with tarot, you might like Going Beyond the Little White Book: A Contemporary Guide to Tarot: lizworth.com/shop. This book will give you all of my best tarot tips in one place.

Until next time,

Liz xo


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