Leeza Robertson helps us to really understand the court cards of tarot. So many of us say that the ranks of Page, Knight, Queen, and King are not relevant to our experience and make no sense. Leeza helps by exploring what these positions meant in their own context. Once we understand what these positions were like, we can better understand the cards. In addition, she provides interpretations for what the cards mean in the following categories:
As a person
As an archetypal influence
As a spiritual influence
As a messenger
Here is how Leeza introduces us to the Pages:
In the world of tarot, the page can go by other names. It can be known as the child, the maiden, the daughter or the novice card, as it is the youngest more naive member of the family. In decks created from the Thoth school of tarot you will see this card come up as the princess. Yet no matter which name this card seems to have, it’s energy is very similar. It is the card that indicates youth, lack of real world understanding and indicates that there is still a lot of room for growth and expansion. In this chapter the focus will be on the two main tarot schools and their depictions of this elemental child, the page and the princesses.
History, Myth and Legend
The Page – Historically speaking a page in the royal court would have been male, as a page was a squire in training. Pages tended to range in age from 7 – 12 years old. They were taken on by royal or noble families to work and train to become knights. Being a knight was the ultimate goal for any young boy at the time of feudal rule. We see this representation of the page in the Llewellyn Traditional Tarot. All the Pages in this particular deck are young males actively learning the ways of the suit or kingdom they have been employed in.
As Tarot has evolved so too has the representation of the page. In modern day tarot, pages are not just male, they can also be female. Gender itself is not as important as the many different ways the story of the page can be told. And it can be told in some many fabulous and creative ways. Both the Journey into the Hidden Realm Tarot and the Gaian Tarot show us page cards that are not limited by gender and give a unique twist on the tale of the tarot page.
The page historically was a tedious and boring job. The page was given the lowest of tasks around a castle or noble house. Their duties where mundane and often times mind numbing. But these tasks allowed the page to learn very specific skills in a very refined and regimented way. They did the same thing over and over and over again. This active repetition entrenched habits and behaviors into them in a way that no amount of telling or reading alone could ever possibly accomplish. This is something all the pages share in common. Which makes them wonderful study buddies.
The four pages of the tarot court are learning the lessons of their individual elements and they are starting from scratch. They are practicing day in and day out some of the most basic, yet essential skills they will need to progress to the next level of their growth or training. The pages remind me of the zen saying ‘ Before enlightenment, chop wood carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood carry water’. No matter where we are in our lives we never stop needing the most basic of skills and at some point we will always find ourselves back at the beginning starting once again from scratch.
The pages may just be children, but they have so much to teach us and share with us. All we have to do is listen and pay attention.
The princess – Unlike the page, the princess was not sent to go live at the castle or house of nobility, she was born and raised there. She was educated and groomed from birth for a very specific purpose. She already has a place in royal society and doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone. But that does not make her lessons any less important then the pages. If anything she carries far more weight on her shoulders, especially if she is the only daughter that can be traded or married off to secure land, allies and better trade routes. Keep in mind that some princess were engaged before they could even walk. Alliances in the middle ages where crucial and matches would have been made long before the young princess had a chance to think about making any life decisions on her own.
To be honest the princesses of history had no say in their own lives. They were vessels to be bought and traded and very little more. Their lives were very rarely happy and they were bound by duty and honor. We don’t even have to look to far back in time to see how being a Princess can ruin your life. The life and death of princess Diana was a modern tragedy that shock the world and touched people who were not even part of the commonwealth governed by the British monarchy. But the sad truth is, what Diana experienced was far better then all the princesses who came before her.
In my humble opinion I think Disney has done a real number on the retelling of the princess story. Pick any Disney princess and you would think that being the daughter of the king or queen was the most magical thing that could ever happen to you. The truth is so far removed from the world of Disney it might just make you want to run away and rock in the corner for awhile. The reality is, princesses were usually doomed. Very few of them actually became queens and even less of them lived long lives. And god forbid if you came from a family that only seemed to produce girls. Being the last princess in a family of princesses pretty much meant you were handed off to whoever would have you.
The very popular book and TV show Game of Thrones, has done a much better job of showing court life than Disney every has. For throughout history a happy ending for a princess was not at all expected. Heck it wasn’t even expected she would survive past her wedding night. These poor scared young girls where married off to older, crazier, violent men. To be treated how their husbands saw fit. Often times this meant rape, beatings, being locked in ones room, starved and even offered to other members of court. Does being a real life princess sound fun to you? I think I would have preferred being a page!
To be fair, not all Princesses experienced a dismal experience. Some actually moved on to become powerful queens who challenged the status quo and become a part of the every growing female revolution. Elizabeth the first by rights should never have seen the throne. She was after all a princess from a second marriage and quite removed from regal succession. Let’s face it, she was lucky to have kept her head. But she did and become one of the most powerful female kings in history. Which means that despite the unknown future of the princess, she still needs to learn how to rule, how to maintain power and most of all how to lead. All important and necessary skills for navigating life in general.