A tarot deck has 78 cards. The cards are divided into sections, which makes learning them easier because the section a card is in shapes its meaning.
The sections are:
Major Arcana (22 cards)
Minor Arcana (40 cards)
Court Cards (16 cards)
This article focuses on the Court Cards.
The Court Cards are technically part of the Minor Arcana because they are found in each of the four suits of the Minor Arcana.
In each of the suits (Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles) there are four cards that are like the royalty cards in a playing deck. A playing deck has a Jack, Queen, and King. In a tarot deck, the Court Cards are: Page, Knight, Queen, and King.
These cards usually represent people, although sometimes the Pages represent messages and the Knights can represent fast moving events.
Some readers say the Court Cards always (or often) represent aspects of the querent (person getting the reading) while some say they always (or often) represent other people.
Many readers use the rank and the suit to decide the personality of the person represented. Often the suits are associated with sun signs. Most modern readers do not focus on literal gender but rather on feminine or masculine qualities that are present in all people regardless of gender.
Wands: fiery, passionate, charismatic people; Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius
Cups: emotional, compassionate, creative people; Pisces, Scorpio, and Cancer
Swords: intelligent, witty, logical people; Libra, Aquarius, and Gemini
Pentacles: practical, down-to-earth people; Capricorn, Virgo, and Taurus
Pages: young, immature, or inexperienced people who are curious, sometimes students or those just beginning to learn something new and sometimes lacking in confidence
Knights: having some experience and lots of enthusiasm, knights are very focused on their goals, sometimes unaware of other things going on around them
Queens: are experienced and mature, nurturing, and giving. Their influence is focused on one-to-one relationships
Kings: are experienced and mature. Their influence is focused on community or groups
Because the Court Cards usually show a character either standing, riding a horse, or sitting on a throne, some readers find them the most difficult to read. However, using the rank and suit is very helpful. The images often include subtle clues as well. For example, the Queen of Wands is often shown with a black cat, representing her intuitive abilities. The Queen of Cups is shown gazing at a very elaborate cup, indicating her focus on emotions and relationships. The Page of Cups has a cup with a little fish jumping, a sign of a new, creative idea and curiosity. By looking at the speed of the Knightâ€™s horse, you get an understanding of that Knightâ€™s personality.
To learn more about Court Cards, check out Mary K. Greerâ€™s Understanding the Tarot Court.