But what do you MEAN?!

Published by Alison Cross on

The Queen of Swords from
Marie White’s Mary-El Tarot
Published by Schiffer

I once did a Tarot reading for a newly-engaged lady and in her Celtic Cross spread, there were NINE court cards.


Once I had dragged myself up off the floor and wiped the tears from my panic-stricken eyes, I set about giving the reading, my voice thin and reedy with stress.

‘Are you finding a LOT of people trying to tell you how to organise the wedding?’ I asked gingerly.

She nodded.

…and so, dear Reader, we come to the first meaning of a Court Card when it pops up in a reading – the energies of people who are somehow involved in the scenario in question.

It wasn’t too long into the reading until we had ascertained the other two traditional meanings of the Court Cards

a) the energies of the sitter herself and
b) the energies of the court card around the situation generally.

The majority of the Court Cards that arose were Wands and Swords and I asked whether the input from a lot of people was getting on her nerves – albeit well-intentioned. 

Yes, she replied.  Especially from the groom’s mother.

She pointed to the Queen of Swords (I was using the Rider Waite Smith for this reading). ‘What is it about that card that makes you think she represents your future mother-in-law’?’

The bride-to-be shrugged, reluctant to say anything.

‘I promise not to tell Evan,’ I said seriously, holding my hand up in an approximation of a court room oath.  And then she was off like a hare out of the traps…..there was almost no sin that this poor woman was not guilty of….from wanting her grandchildren at the wedding, to disputing the flower choices, the vegetarian menu choices and butting in on just who was sitting at what table.

The thing is, I *knew* her future mother-in-law and although she was quite a powerful woman, she was not the shrewish manipulator that the bride was painting her out to be.  Indeed, the future mother-in-law had been upset and hurt by the bride’s reluctance to even sit still and listen to any ideas that she had for her son’s Big Day.

….and that brings me to the final point that I wanted to make about the Court Cards when they tip up in a reading.  The Court may just be a projection of how the querent sees someone’s energies, not how they actually ARE.

When I pointed out the positive qualities of the Queen of Swords – her social adeptness, her dislike of spin and bullshit, her unflinching honesty – the bride reluctantly agreed that they WERE qualities that could prove useful when planning a wedding.

We talked about this and the bride accepted that HER attitude to her family’s well-meaning input was spoiling the whole big run up to the day.  And, tadaaaah! – the wedding was a great success!

So, to recap, in a reading, Court cards can mean one or more of three things:

The energies of the sitter
The energies of someone involved in the sitter’s scenario
The energies generally around the scenario

But perhapsthre is also a fourth interpretation….. the sitter projecting her own thoughts and fears onto other people and turning them into the Court Card.

What do you think yourself? I’d love to know if you have alternative ways to interpret the Courts.

Alison Cross

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


Mojo · 13th June 2012 at 7:49 pm

Helllloooo Ali, Hope you had good hol!!!
Could you tell me a little about the picture of this Queen of Swords…I don't understand the eye on the wing of the raven(?), is it cos she can see through the waffle, like an all seeing eye? Are the thorny branches the stuff she cuts through?
Love the blog though, really interesting especially about how querent may see people, not how they actually are.
Mojo xx

    alisoncross · 14th June 2012 at 7:06 am

    Hols were great, thank you Mojo! Am now suffering Roller-Coaster Withdrawal Symptoms!! Marie's Courts are fabulous and deserve more than just a mention, so I'll work up some blog posts about them.

    The deck itself is designed to be an amalgamation of the best of the RWS, the Thoth and the Marseilles types. And it takes quite a lot of study to be able to use it fully (I'm not able to use it fully yet, but I'm working on it!)

    Ali x

Ania · 13th June 2012 at 4:55 am

I've had one or two readings where the courts have been in the majority and my usual reaction is " You HAVE got a lot of people in your life!" on one occasion they turned out to be the different personalities of the querent. Yes, she was schizophrenic.

    alisoncross · 14th June 2012 at 7:02 am

    Maybe the bride was feeling a bit schizo because of the wedding plans – hadn't thought of that lol! Did she tell you she was a schizophrenic or did you find out later?

alisoncross · 12th June 2012 at 7:34 pm

Totally agree, Chloe – I love your holistic approach!!

Ali x

Inner Whispers · 12th June 2012 at 7:13 pm

Oh man, facing nine Courts in a Celtic Cross is enough to make any reader's knees shake! Excellent explanation, Ali. The only think I'd add is that I think the cards, especially Court cards, can represent all of those things! So, the Queen of Swords could be her MIL, her own energy, and the energies around the scenario, all at once. Perhaps different facets of the card for each of those, but still. For instance, if the MIL really were being QoS-y, then it might require your sitter to dig in and find her own QoS energy (maybe the more positive side, or the cut-the-bullshit tell-it-like-it-is side), and that the situation might be very like that overall. I guess it makes it even more complicated to read the Courts, but maybe a bit more holistic?

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