The Role of Court Cards

by Barbara Moore

People ask me a lot about court cards, about how to interpret them in a reading. I’ve written about this before, on other people’s blogs, in my books, in articles. But just in case you don’t know my method, I’ll share a short version of “here’s how the court cards work” speech with you here.

I do think that the court cards represent people involved in the situation being read about.

I think that the role represented by the court card is the important information. Focusing on running down a list of personality traits or professions until we hit on someone we recognize is less helpful than figuring out what role the person plays and how to work with that person.

Knowing the role played lets you know how much influence you (or your querent) can have in the situation.

Knowing the suit lets you know how to approach the person for maximum influence. I don’t mean manipulation…I mean communicating effectively.

Oh, and gender in court cards (aside from perhaps outdated symbolic meaning) is meaningless. But you all know that, right?

Roles People Play

The roles played are determined largely by a card’s rank: Page, Knight, Queen, or King. The rank also determines the extent of influence the person has on the situation. For example, the ramifications of the actions of a Page will be very different from that of a King or even a Knight. Rank also indicates how easily you can enlist the support of or change the actions of a person represented by that court card. Again, you are likely to have an easier time talking a Page into doing something than a King.


Pages usually stand in for someone who either needs guidance or who can provide support that will play a role in the development of the situation.

Pages usually do not have powerful or far-reaching influence. It is unlikely that they, by a decision or action, can upset or radically alter your life. Instead, they are more likely to request your help or guidance. And although they are not commonly considered powerful, they can be a great support and help, if in no other way than bringing fresh perspectives and enthusiasm to the situation.


Committed to following whatever Holy Grail they are serving at the moment, the Knights rush about, incredibly focused and almost blind to everything else going on around them.  They are in the middle of pursuing a goal that may or may not have anything to do with you. However, during their pursuit of that goal, the Knights may wreak havoc that will affect your situation.

The best way to keep a Knight from running roughshod over everything is to get their attention focused on something productive. Knights can have a powerful affect on a situation. Whether they are working for or against your desired outcome (or just getting in the way!) depends on whether or not you can engage their attention.


Finding a Queen in a reading is like finding a Fairy Godmother. More than any of the other Court Cards, the Queens actually want to help you and have the wisdom, and sometimes the power, to do so. They often wield a quiet, behind-the-scenes influence that is nevertheless formidable.

Gaining her favor is not always easy, though. Queens may inexplicably take a liking to someone, solicitously offering help. Or they could just as easily take a dislike to someone, playing instead the role of an enemy. Part of the Queen’s allure and mystique is that she is like an iceberg: most of her power works below the surface.


Kings are people with authority that will affect the outcome of the situation.

They make decisions, delegate tasks, and have responsibility for others. Their actions have ramifications and consequences for others.

There are areas of our lives over which we have no or little control, areas where other people make the decisions. The Kings are the people whose decisions may very well directly affect your life. Jobs, scholarships, loans, or opportunities may be lost or gained. Laws may be enacted that determine whether or not you can live as you please. An insurance agent may approve or deny a medical treatment. It is likely that these decisions will be made without the King having a direct conversation with you. Gaining access to a King isn’t always easy, and once gained it must be used in the most effective way possible. Out of all the courts, the kings are the most difficult to influence.

What Motivates People

Most tarot readers have a good understanding of the suits. By applying what you know of the suits to the ranks, you can easily determine what motivates a specific court card.

Say you have the rare opportunity to try to engage a King’s influence. You know the King is looking at a larger picture and making decisions that involve a framework of processes. A personal appeal isn’t likely to work, go in with a plan that benefits the greater good rather than a personal appeal. The King of Pents would respond to a bottom-line/resource-focused appeal; the King of Swords, a logical plan is the best approach, and so on.

It’s All Part of a Bigger Picture

My ideas about court cards grew out of my philosophy about tarot readings, so while I think my court card theory makes pretty good sense on its own, it makes even more sense in the context of what I think tarot readings do and how to make the best use of a reading. And to get that, I’d need to write a book. Oh, wait, I did. 


Share this

Explore more

Popular posts