Comparative Tarot | The Prince of Cups

Published by Alison Cross on

The first time I encountered the comparative method of looking at cards was via Valerie Sim’s deck, the Comparative Tarot.  The cards in this cleverly designed deck have not one image, but four different images of the same card.   It was one of the first decks that I bought and I still regard it fondly.

Not familiar with the Comparative Method? Here’s the skinny:  You don’t just interpret ONE card, you interpret the others on the card too – each one adding depth and colour to the over all ‘character’. 

So I thought we’d try it here with The Prince of Cups – just comparing three images – but you can do it with as many cards as takes your fancy.  Or you can fit onto your table top.  Or bedroom floor.

I chose the Prince/Knight of Cups from the outrageously stunning Mary El deck by Marie White; the Prince of Cups from the Transformational Tarot by Arnell Ando and the Knight of Chalices from the Breugal Tarot by Guido Zibordi Marchesi.

First of all, although one of these is a Prince, he DOES fill the Knight’s role in the deck.  He’s not a Thoth Knight

click on image to enlarge.  I think.

Arnell’s Prince (left hand card above) perfectly captures that romantic, self-absorbed feeling that comes with the Prince of Cups. It shows the youth Narcissus gazing ito his own reflection by the pool.  Poor old Narcissus was so wrapped up in himself that he drowned trying to embrace his own reflection.  I’ve had boyfriends like that.

In the LWB Arnell explains that he represents the Artistic Idealist; someone who uses ‘creativity as a means to self-expression, but whose moods don’t always reflect his actions.’

The Knight of the Mary El (central image) is also introspective, protectively clasping a grail that overflows with blood and from whose depths a lotus flower rises and blossoms.  This is the Grail Knight.  Marie White, creator of the Mary-El says: ‘Searching for matters of the heart; love, meaning in life. Compassion, experience and maturity is the key.’  If you don’t know the story of Percival, the Grail Knight here’s a 10 second summary:  In his naivity, Percival, a knight who is searching for the Holy Grail fails to recognise it the first time he encounters it and so he is compelled to set off on his quest again – older, wiser – and finds it.  And heals the Fisher King. The end.

Our final Knight is the Breugal Knight (right hand image).  His horse steps confidently to the right of the card, but he is not looking in the same direction as his horse.  In fact, he looks as though he has a blindfold on.  Even with the blindfold, he is looking towards a distant village that lies beneath a fork of lightning.  He doesn’t hold a grail, but a tankard filled with flowers.

Neither hand holds the horse’s reins. Either side of the horse we see a camp fire, crossed arrows and – bizzarely – an eye running to the left on a pair of little legs!

We also have an eye in the armour of our Mary El Knight – in the centre of her chest.  And the Knight of the Transformational Tarot is gazing at his own reflection.  Sight is an important symbol of this card – one sees only himself, one sees only her Grail, one sees….nothing (with his eyes!)

I think that the Breugal LWB perfectly encapsulates what’s going on here: ‘Where there is love, the eye follows’. 

Using this Comparative Tarot method then, I would say that this Knight DOES have focus – but he doesn’t always focus it on what he SHOULD be focussed on, as far as the outside world is concerned.  As a result, he can seem dreamy and self-absorbed to other people and can display a level of cold-heartedness to that which is outwith his field of vision.

For me he’s the guy who will spend weeks finely crafting you a love song, but never remembers to put the bins out at night.  Someone who will whisk you away for a romantic candle lit meal, but forget to organise his cash….or put fuel in the car πŸ™‚

What do YOU think of the Knight of Cups or the Comparative method?

Alison Cross

The Tarot's Court Cards are my specialist area.Β  They talk to me. Not LITERALLY though ....


alisoncross · 21st May 2012 at 9:37 am

Sharon – it's a great way to help learn new cards and useful if you are doing a single card reading too – you use the Comparative method *inside your head lol* and draw on the same cards from various decks πŸ˜‰

Ali x

Sharon · 20th May 2012 at 1:19 pm

There should've been a 'hangs head in shame' comment in there but the internets removed it :/

Sharon · 20th May 2012 at 1:18 pm

In all my time as a Tarot reader I've never used this technique What a great idea! I'm working with the Wands courts so I think I'll be using this method in the near future to explore them πŸ™‚

alisoncross · 19th May 2012 at 1:41 pm

Four VERY mini decks lol! So, you were a deck snipper before it became trendy then, Ruth, well done!

Ruth · 19th May 2012 at 10:47 am

Great idea, Ali! And great comparative analyses too! I had Comparative deck, loved it , studied it – and then cut it into four mini decks! πŸ˜›

Tarot By Arwen · 18th May 2012 at 8:05 pm

This is one of my favorite things to do. I haven't done one in a while but I used to do it on my blog. I love the connections you point out! Well done. As usual.

    alisoncross · 19th May 2012 at 8:56 am

    I don't do it nearly enough – take it out from your Tarot wardrobe and give it a dust down and an outing!

    And thanks πŸ˜€

    Ali x

Bonkers · 18th May 2012 at 7:49 pm

comparative readings like this can indeed be interesting. really should do one myself one of these days :]

    alisoncross · 19th May 2012 at 8:54 am

    It's a very simple technique, but extremely useful – I'd love to read your results over there on Bonkers Tarot ;-D

Mojo · 18th May 2012 at 5:39 pm

Hi Ali, What a great idea, I will certainly give this one a go!!
Right, I really get where you are going with this,but I see the symbols of eyes and lightening as third eye, intuitive connections,looking deeper than the surface (could this apply to the prince of cups in the first card perhaps?) Loving Arnell's prince!!

    alisoncross · 18th May 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Absolutely – I'm totally fine with that. I love your idea of Arnell Ando's Prince looking 'deeper than the surface'.

    Ali x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *