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Read the Court Cards

Get to know the court cards the same way you get to know people at a party. Size them up based on body language, clothes, hair, and facial expression, then start up a conversation to find out what they do for a living, if they’re married, have children, their hobbies, favorite music, etc.

Let’s get acquainted with our sixteen new friends by observing them closely and asking questions. Have a notebook handy with a page dedicated to each court card. Make lists of personality traits as they pop into your head. This will be the raw material you’ll use to write up a personality profile for each court figure.

Line up all sixteen court cards in a grid with the King, Queen, Knight, and Page of each suit in a horizontal row. Put each suit below the other, so the four cards of each rank are in vertical columns.

Getting Acquainted

Pretend you’ve just walked into a party or conference and you’re scanning the room to get a feel for who’s there. Let your eyes roam over the grid of court cards, stopping briefly at each card in no particular order. Quickly take in body language, clothing, and direction they’re looking. Notice how each figure holds its suit symbol. Try standing or sitting in the position of some of the cards. How does it feel? Does it change your mood?  In your notebook jot down anything that comes to you. Don’t try to censor or judge. Just collect everything – you’ll refine it later.

Make Snap Judgments

Make a list of personal qualities and assign them to court cards. Which court figure is intense and passionate, a fanatic about his pet causes, or a gregarious party animal? Who is the sensitive poet, the team player, the natural leader, a bully, workaholic, slacker, or heavy drinker?

Compare Cards of Same Rank

What do all the cards in one vertical row of the grid have in common, and what does that say about the nature of that rank? How can you distinguish among them so they become individuals?

  • Do they all seem to be at the same stage of life (adolescence, maturity?)
  • Do they all have the same posture or attitude? Are some more passive or active than others? Is one standing while the others are sitting?
  • Compare headgear. Who has the biggest crown, the flashiest hat, or the most sensible head covering?
  • Compare facial hair and shoes.
  • Compare the Knights’ horses. Which one is the slowest or the fastest? Are they all looking forward? Which has the fanciest gear?
  • Look at how the figures hold their suit symbol. Are they clutching it close, looking at it, ignoring it, holding it up like a trophy, or offering it for sale or as a gift?  Which court figure seems the most proud of his symbol? The most identified with it? Is anyone using the suit symbol as a weapon or tool, or trying to give it away?

Suits as Households

Each suit constitutes a household unit or a kingdom. Where would each suit live – in a castle or cottage? In a military fort, or an organic farm? What environment would they prefer – rural, big city, university town, barren desert, or suburb?

Make up a story about the family. Does the Page go to school? Does the Queen spend her spare time working in her garden, visiting friends, or helping with the family business? Does the King spend his time in a den, office or barracks? Is the Knight an adult child, an employee, or the Queen’s lover?

Adding Layers with Rank and Suit Keywords

You made a list of keywords for each suit when you studied the pip cards. Brainstorm a list of keywords for each rank using your notes from the previous exercises and put them on four index cards. Here are some ideas:

King: Leader, ruler, law-giver, master, authority

Queen: Mother, nurturer, mentor, manager, friend

Knight: Traveler, young adult, warrior, hero, questor, risk taker

Page:  Child, servant, trainee, student, beginner, amateur

Exercise: Mix and match index cards to combine keywords for suit and rank. For instance, if Coins are money, then the Page of Coins might be a student of finance, or a rich person’s servant.

Congratulations!! If you’ve done these exercises, you’ve developed a personal relationship with each court figure and now have sixteen companions who will guide you in interpreting your readings.

On the next page we’ll look at the trump cards.

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