Lammas Blog Hop | From my table to the community

Published by Alison Cross on

Welcome to the Lammas blog, where the theme set by our Wrangler, Arwen, is: “What can I share from my table to enrich my community?”  If you’re hopping forward, you’ve come from the lovely Ania Marczyk’s blog and if you are hopping backwards (you TOTAL rebel, you!) you’ve come from the equally lovely Joanne Sprott’s blog. And if your cat has randomly strolled across your computer keyboard and the Tarot Thrones blog has popped up on your screen…. well, just be grateful that I’m not a porn site πŸ˜€

So what can I share from my table to enrich the Tarot community?
Since Tarot Thrones is a blog all about the Court Cards of the Tarot, I got into a huddle with my 16 courtly colleagues to thrash out a few ideas.  Reader, it got very heated.  The Queens wanted me to teach something, the Kings wanted me to DO something, the Knights wanted me to be daring and bold and the Pages? Well, the Pages just went outside to play.
Then I had an idea.  I made my suggestion and the Kings and Queens murmured their agreement and happily headed off down the pub to give me peace and quiet to write.  So here’s my Lammas Blog Hop gift to you:
When you are buying a new Tarot deck, how do you choose it?  Do you have a few favourite cards that you inspect? Do you run your hands expertly over The Star’s fetlocks to see if she shapes up to your perfect Star? Do you inspect the teeth of The Devil to make sure he’s someone that you can work with or do you take The Lovers for a quick canter around the paddock?
Well, here’s a suggestion from ME to YOU:  Why not take a look at the Court Cards to see whether you can work with THEM?  After all, they tend to be the section of the Tarot that readers tend to frown  around – why not make sure that the Courts are guys that you are comfortable with?
Radical, eh?
So here are my Top 7 bits of advice for expertly checking out the Tarot Court in a new deck:

1  The most important thing in the Courts, for me, is symbolism – what is there for you to work with? Plenty of symbols will give you plenty of pegs on which to pin your ideas about the Court Card and lots of things to talk about in your reading.  Check also for consistency – do all the Knights have some kind of steed, for example.  If not – why not? Can you see why the Knight of Pentacles might be left to labour along on foot….or does it show a lack of thought about what the Courts represent?  Are all the Queens wearing shoes, except one? Why might the Queen of Cups go barefoot and the Queen of Swords wear shoes that are tightly laced? Does it make sense to you?
Tons of symbolism, nice setting, expressive character and suit colour-themed
2  The next most important thing is Setting – are the Courts active in some kind of scene?  For me this is important because it helps with the story-telling aspect of your reading.  What direction are they heading? What are they DOING?  What are they looking at/turning their back on?

It seems to me that people struggle with the courts because they seem to punch holes in the flow of your story-telling much more so than the Majors or Minors, so any setting that allows you to incorporate the Courts into your story is a Good Thing.

3  Character – this covers a lot of ground – if the characters are expressive, clearly delineating a personality type by their expression or pose, then this helps you work with them.  Someone bent over and tired-looking has easily got a completely different message from a sprightly young Page. 
4  Sex – is there an equal balance of male and female characters? Are they all women? All men? Are they animals/birds? Is that what you want?
5  Rank – how are the Courts ranked?  Straightforward Page (Princess)/Knight/Queen/King ares traditional and, for me, easier to work with than an entirely new combination like Lightbringer/Demon/Sprite and Soul where it’s not clear which rank trumps the others and how progress is made – you have got some additional learning to do.  And does that learning conflict or support what you already know about Ranks in your other decks?

A Princess to replace the Page, nice setting, symbolism, suit attributes 
6  Colour – this could form part of symbolism – do the suits have colours? Are those colours pulled through into the Courts? If they are, it might make it easier for you to incorporate suit traits into your story?  Do those colours represent the elemental associations that you’d expect?  If not, will that affect your use of elements in this deck?
7  Astrological information etc – some decks have information from other systems built in to their Courts which makes it a danged sight  easier to talk about, for example, astrological traits instead of having to memorise the associations!
The black-clad Ninja with his sneaky expression and his heuuuuge hidden sword
The other Courts have astrological associations clearly illustrated – result!
Of course, this isn’t a complete list, and they don’t ALL have to be present in every deck’s court, but these are just some of the main prompts that will help you find easy to work with Courts.  
Now, if you’ll excuse me,  I’m off to run my hands expertly over the haunches of the Knight of Wands ;-D

Alison Cross

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


Bonnie Fernandes · 9th August 2013 at 11:46 pm

I love this post! Very useful…not just for choosing a deck but for reading with it once you've got it. Thank you!!

Pepi Valderrama · 4th August 2013 at 6:29 pm

Very very useful πŸ™‚ Specially if you're up to design a deck <3 Thank you!

    Alison Cross · 6th August 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Glad to be of service – my table to yours, Pepi πŸ˜€

    Ali x

Inner Whispers · 4th August 2013 at 9:08 am

Hilarious, Ali, you go fondle that Knight of Wands πŸ˜‰
As for the advice, it's very good. I have a couple of decks that I hardly ever read with because each rank of Court cards is identical, with just colour changes or different suit emblems. I.e. all the Queens are in the same setting, have the same face and crown, just different colour dresses; or, all the Pages are the same in face and posture, except one holds a Cup and one holds a Sword. Bloomin' pathetic, says I!

    Alison Cross · 6th August 2013 at 3:00 pm

    It's disappointing when one section of the deck feels badly thought through, it changes how you feel about it – regardless on how beautiful the other sections are, I think. *whispers* tell me what deck it is πŸ˜€

    Inner Whispers · 7th August 2013 at 4:03 pm

    *whispers* One is the Witches Tarot by Ellen Cannon Read and Michael Reed. The other was a self-published deck I haven't even used yet for that very reason, whose name escapes me… maybe I should go dig it out, some of the other cards were great, but seeing those courts just made my heart sink!

    Inner Whispers · 10th August 2013 at 6:37 am

    This encouraged me to dig out the other culprit in this, Lisa Chow's Oracle Tarot. And it obliged by giving me a Queen as my very first draw. I still think these are pretty unhelpful Courts:

Olivia Destrades · 3rd August 2013 at 2:10 am

I love this! My favorite court cards are from DruidCraft, no doubt. They're so subtly expressive!

    Alison Cross · 6th August 2013 at 2:59 pm

    Ah the DruidCraft is another deck that gets used to death on this blog – top notch court cards for that deck!!

Tarot By Arwen · 2nd August 2013 at 11:10 pm

I'm still giggling over random porn site popups. πŸ˜€ You are such a funny woman.

This is an EXCELLENT way to see about connecting to a deck. Thanks much, Alison. You have given me some great tools here. Particularly about the way they are named. I have a fabulous deck that I have to always stop and re-visit which court is which. Breaks my stride!

    Alison Cross · 6th August 2013 at 2:58 pm

    Thanks for appreciating the humour πŸ˜€

    I hope the tools are useful, Arwen – I'd love to know what deck it is that makes you break-stride?

    Ali x

Alison Cross · 2nd August 2013 at 6:32 pm

Thank you, Joanna – share to your heart's content!

Ali x

Joanna Ong · 2nd August 2013 at 9:18 am

Ali, I love your post. It's helped me gained more knowledge about eye-balling the court cards better. I need to share this with my proteges. Good job luv!

Cassandra · 2nd August 2013 at 12:29 am

Great post. One of the first decks I bought (after the rider waite) was based on the court cards. You bring up many a good point.

    Alison Cross · 2nd August 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Thanks Cassandra – which deck was it taht you bought, I'd luff it if you shared, it might be a set of courts that I'm not familiar with πŸ˜€

    Ali x

Louise Underhill · 1st August 2013 at 9:13 pm

What a great post Alison! I hardly ever look at the Courts before buying a deck, I shall endeavour to do so from now πŸ™‚

    Alison Cross · 2nd August 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Huzzah! With lots of deck images on artist's websites now, it should be much easier to decide what decks are best!

    Ali x

Anonymous · 1st August 2013 at 8:53 pm

Great post as I like to call the Courts "Your Royal Court" or "My Royal Court" as a concrete Court of Counsel of the Higher Self in the (card)flesh… and your great points of ways to get to know the Courts really express a matchmaker quality for deck resonate.

Plus, I would be remiss if I didn't compliment Kat Black for her Golden Tarot's Page of Swords having that thoroughly defeated AND whatEV kind of look… Every time I see that card it induces laughter and play in me as I'm totally surprised she got him to sit long enough for a portrait, and that's what a sitting Page would look like, bored past tears. πŸ˜‰

Thanks for the of your Tarot Thrones! ~ Jordan

    Alison Cross · 2nd August 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Thanks Jordan! He's a great Page of Swords, isn't he? I think she must have rewarded his patience with some kind of promise of scandalous gossip!

    Ali x

Sharon · 1st August 2013 at 7:54 pm

I love this post! This is fabulous and as others have already said it would be just as useful to tarot deck creators as well as tarot readers. Would you mind awfully if I used it as a guide to creating courts for the tarot deck I'm designing?

    Alison Cross · 2nd August 2013 at 6:02 pm

    I'd be very flattered if you did, Sharon πŸ™‚ As I said to Moti above, always here if you want to show me your courtly babies πŸ˜€

Moti Black · 1st August 2013 at 7:40 pm

Great post, and very useful for people thinking of how to design the court cards for a deck πŸ˜‰

    Alison Cross · 2nd August 2013 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks Moti! I'm always available if anyone has any courts they wanted to discuss *looks meaningfully at Moti* Yanno, if you were just PERHAPS thinking about GETTING ON WITH YOUR OWN DECK πŸ˜€ Get. On. With. It.

    Ali x

Ania · 1st August 2013 at 7:39 pm

LOL A lot of fun can be had with giving the Courts a back story and the imagery is key πŸ™‚

    Alison Cross · 2nd August 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Yes, creating a life for them can be a good idea – but I think one would need to be careful that it didn't come to limit one's thoughts about the characters in question. Imagery is EVERYTHING. I've seen some really super decks, sabotaged by hard-to-read Courts πŸ™‚

Anonymous · 1st August 2013 at 6:17 pm

I'm loving shoe theory… You can tell a lot from shoes… or lack of… πŸ˜‰ x

    Alison Cross · 2nd August 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Shoes tell THE story – especially men's shoes. I avoided some horrible boyfriend moments thanks to shoes. Although I ended up marrying a man that wore desert boots. And he still would if they were more readily available πŸ˜€

    Karen · 3rd August 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Ha!! You and me both! My husband used to wear desert boots… he often bemoans that you can't get them any more and will say to me… can't you go and buy me some? I say to him – sweety… see the back of my car? That says Toyota… not TARDIS! πŸ˜€

Vivianne · 1st August 2013 at 5:51 pm

Brilliant post – wish I was in the pub with them though πŸ™‚

    Alison Cross · 2nd August 2013 at 5:58 pm

    Fanks – I am typing this reply on Friday evening. You've already gone to the pub, haven't you *blinks around at empty room*

Alison · 1st August 2013 at 5:48 pm

Great idea! I've learned to work quite well with most of the Wildwood courts (thanks to you and the Kaizen!), although I still think the Greenwood's are more apt… Strangely (or not) the court cards that still work best for me are in the first deck I ever owned (Sharman-Caselli) – but I didn't look at the courts before I chose it. Very random (or not).

    Alison Cross · 2nd August 2013 at 5:57 pm

    Alison – you were very fortunate with your Sharman-Caselli. My first deck was the Haindl and it was a real struggle using a book geared up for RWS along with the Haindl deck – I hopped onto an RWS bus and basically stuck with it πŸ˜€

Anonymous · 1st August 2013 at 5:31 pm

Technical issue first: Getting a question mark on the last Ninja image (although Ninjas are known for their hidden-ness), and I know you said you were having trouble with images earlier.

Great writing, though, as always! I shall definitely take your advice, since sometimes deck creators get so far off the mark that we have much work to do.

The Wildwood's animal courts are a case in point. I've figured out how I want to deal with them, but they were the most off-putting part of the deck at first.

And my lovely antique-looking Femmes Erotique have very confusing names for the courts. Since the theme of the deck dictated all women and the creators were restricted to old photos already taken (I have the same challenge with the NASA pics I'm dealing with for my deck), it was logical to change the courts' names, but they don't indicate rank very well.

I think I'll stick with more traditional decks when reading for others, and make sure I like the court people when I look to buy a deck! Thanks!

    Alison Cross · 1st August 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Are you putting a border on your cards – or even just your courts, Joanne? There might be a way to delineate the ranks using a border or a corner icon?

    The Daniloff image is displaying ok for me, but I'll see whether it's a problem for other people visiting the blog – I might need to take him outside and give him a bit of a hose-down and bring him back in to see whether he shows up any better πŸ˜€

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