Traditional Court Card Names

by Barbara Moore

Many people think that the court cards of tarot are antiquated and no longer relevant to modern people. They may be right, but for some reason even when deck designers rename and re-imagine them, people usually revert back to the traditional names. For example, when using a deck with a court card called Seeker of Air, they will use the traditional card name in addition to or even instead of the name given by the creator, in this case, Knight of Swords.

For better or worse, we can’t seem to release these names from another time. If we can’t let them go, perhaps we’d do better to try to understand them more deeply.

In Tarot Court Cards for Beginners, Leeza Robertson gives exercises to help us build understanding.

For example, she urges us to explore Chivalry and the knightly code:

When one hears the word “chivalry,” images of knights on white horses riding in to save fair maidens tend to come to mind. Yet this simplistic romantic notion of chivalry is a bit off the mark in relation to what it meant to the knights of the medieval period. Chivalry was a much more complex ideology with many moving parts; rescuing fair maidens was never actually mentioned. In the Rules for a Knight, author Ethan Hawke introduces us to the code of conduct that forms this ideology. This list was handed down by one of his ancestors, who was an actual knight in the British royal court.

The twenty rules are as follows:

Solitude

Humility

Gratitude

Pride

Cooperation

Friendship

Forgiveness

Honesty

Courage

Grace

Patience

Justice

Generosity

Discipline

Dedication

Speech

Faith

Love

Death


Robertson then suggests:

Look at the list and pick one attribute to focus on for the day. You could do this for a week or even a month, if you wanted. For now, observe how making one of these your deliberate point of focus changes your day.

Let’s say you choose to focus on pride. Where does pride stop being ego-based and start being spirit-based? How do you show pride in yourself and those around you? What does pride even mean to you?


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