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Understanding the Tarot Court (Special Topics in Tarot Series) Paperback – April 8, 2004

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Understanding the Tarot Court (Special Topics in Tarot Series) + The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals (Special Topics in Tarot Series) + Mary K. Greer's 21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card
Price for all three: $38.12

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Product Details

  • Series: Special Topics in Tarot Series (Book 5)
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Publications (April 8, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738702862
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738702865
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,995 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mary Greer is an author and teacher specializing in methods of self-exploration and transformation.  A Grandmaster of the American Tarot Association, she is a member of numerous Tarot organizations, and is featured at Tarot conferences and symposia in the United States and abroad.  

Mary also has a wide following in the women's and pagan communities for her work in women's spirituality and magic.  A Priestess-Hierophant in the Fellowship of Isis, she is the founder of the Iseum of Isis Aurea.

Mary has studied and practiced Tarot and astrology for over 34 years.  Her teaching experience includes eleven years at New College of California, as well as at many workshops, conferences, and classes.  She is the founder and director of the learning center T.A.R.O.T. (Tools and Rites of Transformation).

Her books include Tarot for Your Self: A Workbook for Personal Transformation (1984); Tarot Constellations: Patterns of Personal Destiny (1987); Tarot Mirrors: Reflections of Personal Meaning (1988); The Essence of Magic: Tarot, Ritual, and Aromatherapy (1993); Women of the Golden Dawn: Rebels and Priestesses (1995); and Aromatherapy: Healing for the Body and Soul (1998), with Kathi Keville.

Tom Tadfor Little is a health physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory.  He holds a PhD in astronomy from New Mexico State University and has previously worked as a university professor and a technical
writer.  He is a Wiccan priest and teacher, and dean of the School of Magickal Arts at Ardantane (<http://www.ardantane.org>). He has used the tarot as his primary spiritual tool for a number of years, and has a strong interest in tarot history and antique decks.  He has contributed to the
internet tarot community, and has created extensive online resources for tarot enthusiasts, including The Hermitage (a tarot history site, (<http://www.crosswinds.net/~hermit/>) and Tarot at Telperion Productions
(<http://www.telp.com/tarot/>).  He co-authored and edited the TarotL Tarot History Information sheet.  Tom lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with his 8-year-old daughter Anne-Marie.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Many Faces of the Tarot Court The Tarot court cards represent four sets of royal couples with their retinues, each in their own domain, which, in playing cards, was marked by a heraldic device (which eventually became the suit emblem). In playing-card terminology, the court cards are also called royalty or face cards and, in seventeenth-century England, they were known as "coat cards" because of the elaborate coats or robes in which the figures were depicted. Some modern Tarot authors call them people cards in an effort to democratize them. In France and Italy, they are called figura or "figure" cards. Thus, the Tarot court are figures representing four different ranks of power and influence, in four different suits, elements, or domains. Since their heads or faces are usually prominent, and may be in profile or straight forward, the way they literally face can play an important part in interpretation. There are many different ways to interpret the court cards. Determining which perspective is applicable in any given situation is part of the art of reading the cards.Most of this book is devoted to illuminating these different perspectives. Frequently more than one perspective will offer insights in the same reading, so it's good to get into the habit of scanning the possibilities. In a reading, a court card may mean: A person in the your life, identified by his or her physical attributes,his or her profession, or the role he or she plays in the situation being examined (the Queen of Swords may represent a diplomatic, objective woman who acts as counselor or mediator, for example) An aspect of your personality, style or attitude, or a role you are playing(the Knight ofWands may express your impetuous, impulsive side) A relationship between the querent and another person (the Page ofPentacles is financially dependent on the king and so may represent dependency in a relationship) A spiritual influence at work in your life (the Knight of Cups maybe a surge of emotional energy, producing excitement and romantic advances) An event or situation (the Page of Swords may be a message or pieceof news about an important legal or business matter) These interpretations of the court cards will be discussed in detail in subsequent chapters of this book. Other interpretations are possible as well. In fact, the possibilities are vast because the court cards have been interpreted in many different ways throughout the centuries. This book emphasizes interpretations that center on the idea of persona, whether one's own or that of another.

Suit and Rank It is important to get to know the basic court figures and the terms we will be using for them in this book. The minor arcana cards are divided into four suits that usually correspond to the four elements. The court cards are divided into four ranks, originally indicating a relative position in society. The result is a 4 x 4 matrix of sixteen cards. However, the names, correspondences, and characteristics of suit and rank vary greatly from deck to deck. In some decks, especially pagan-oriented ones, wands (or batons) are associated with the element of air, while swords are fire. In the Brotherhood of Light Egyptian Tarot, coins (pentacles) are air, wands are earth, and swords are fire. There are even a few rare decks where cups are air, and swords are water. This book will use the most common system, in which wands are fire and swords air, as its default, without intending for it to be seen as the only or best system. Feel free to use whatever elemental system you prefer.

Suits / Elements

wands / fire The suit of wands is also known as batons, staves, rods, scepters, or clubs. Its element is fire, and it represents the desire for growth, and subsequently signifies: the inspiration that moves things, the desire that leads the way, the future- oriented aspiration that initiates action.Wands have a purpose behind every action, and find value primarily in the meaning of an experience while lacking appreciation for the form.Wands indicate the desire for self-growth and creativity. They want to expand awareness, as well as set everything on fire with their enthusiasm. When you get a wands card, you might want to ask yourself:What has fired your interest? Do you have a burning desire to do something? Are you feeling burned out? Are you seeing red? What is erupting within you? Wands generally signify: Projects Innovation Risk Energy Taking action Self-growth Spirit Inspiration Thesis Creativity Initiation Enthusiasm Desire Passion Perception Action Movement Optimismcups / water

The suit of cups is also known as chalices, vessels, bowls, containers, or hearts. Its element is water, and water takes the form of whatever it flows into. Therefore cups are amiable but, at the same time, diffused. Cups represent going with the flow and seeking to merge. They receive the impulse from the fiery wands and respond to it. They represent love, relationship, and imagination, and provide nurturance and a sense of connectedness. Cups can open you to your inner feelings and the connections you have with others. Choices at this level seem instinctual. When you...(Continues)

More About the Author

Mary K. Greer is an independent scholar, writer, teacher, and professional tarot consultant. She has an M.A. in English Literature from the University of Central Florida where she also first taught tarot in 1974. For eleven years, she was a teacher and administrator at New College of California in San Francisco, including teaching tarot as an interdisciplinary subject integrating art, literature, history, and psychology. She is the author of eleven books on tarot and on magic.

Mary's books have pioneered entirely new techniques for learning about and working with the cards, including being the first to present in-depth techniques for reading for oneself. In 2007, Mary received the International Tarot Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Tarot Studies. She also received the 2006 Mercury Award from the Mary Redman Foundation for "excellence in communication in the metaphysical field," and the 2006 Coalition of Visionary Resources (COVR) award for best divination book. She is also an ordained priestess in the Fellowship and Church of Isis.

Mary has lived in Japan, Germany, England and Mexico and in six states within the U.S., and continues to travel around the world teaching. She currently produces "Mary K. Greer's Tarot Blog" at http://marygreer.wordpress.com which focuses on tarot history and research, tarot in popular culture, and tips and techniques for reading the cards. Her blog posts are frequently translated into other languages and reposted on other sites.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
This book explained to me very easy and simple about the cards.
I have found this book to be a very valuable tool for learning and for gathering information to use as a reference for anyone who wishes to teach the Tarot.
If you struggle with the court cards, as I did, then you need to read this one!
Viking Queen 54

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 33 people found the following review helpful By another tarot reader on October 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Greer and Little offer the reader a rich portrait of the court cards, culled from wide study and years of practice. Clear basic definitions, comprehensive correspondences and original insights build a book that contains value for everyone, beginner and adept alike. The exercises lead you not just into a greater understanding of the cards, but also to a deeper knowledge of yourself. You will find your own face in these cards, and never see either the same way again. I highly recommend this book.
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56 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Jet on July 11, 2004
Format: Paperback
Most Tarot students will tell you that the court cards are their nemeses and that specialized lessons in this particular area of Tarot would be really helpful. This book isn't formula and it won't tell you just one way to look at the Tarot courts... Mary and Tom describe a multitude of different methods leaving you to choose what works best for you. They include exercises that will challenge how you feel about the court cards. I particularly enjoyed the comparison of the Rider and Thoth courts... something that's never been explained to my satisfaction before. Perhaps some readers don't have any trouble at all with the courts and don't need this book. The majority of us WILL benefit from examining the courts more closely and trying out different methods. This book is an excellent resource.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Richard Szponder on April 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
Many who have undertaken the study of Tarot have found the most challenging cards in the deck to be the Court cards, the kings, queens, knights and pages of the four suits of cups, wands, swords, and pentacles. Do they represent aspects of the seeker's personality? Or are they other people impacting the seeker's experiences and emotions? Still yet, do the Court cards represent the subtle shadow self of the individual? The exercises and explanations in Understanding The Tarot Court by Mary K. Greer and Tom Little attempt to answer these questions and more.

The book is intended not as an introductory lesson but for those advanced students of Tarot who already understand basic card meanings and symbolism who are looking for more progressive tutoring in specialized topics. Still, the book opens with a basic explanation of the suits and their generalized meanings. A valuable exercise demonstrates how to read a card by intuiting several keywords and determining one's own interpretation of the card. Greer and Little often remind their readers that while countless compendia of card interpretations exist, all provide slightly different explanations, and the authentic, effective Tarot card reader intuitively determines each card's unique meaning during a specific reading.

To better understand the Court cards, the Court is explained in both familial and societal settings. An intriguing aspect of the book is the incorporation of psychology and the mention of the Myers-Briggs (Personality) Type Indicator in determining the meanings of the cards. Jungian psychology and a discussion of archetypes add an entirely different dimension to the interpretations.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Viking Queen 54 on May 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a "got to have" book! Greer and Little offer exercises to assist in learning and memorization of the court cards. Written in a common sensical way and easy to understand. One of the books that held my attention from the introduction. If you struggle with the court cards, as I did, then you need to read this one!
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34 of 43 people found the following review helpful By GeekGrrl on May 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a great book by two fantastic Tarot scholars. Tom Little's past essays on the tarot and his unique approach is invaluable. He challenges your previous notions on how to use the Tarot and gets you thinking outside the box. Very worthwhile.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andarta on March 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
Having worked with the Tarot in its various forms for over forty years, and given away more badly written books than I can remember, THIS one was a very pleasant addition to my LFK (library for keeps). Ms. Greer once again presents an educational and insightful textbook that belongs in every Tarot library. Don't lend it, buy it for your friends.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lover of Books on August 24, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I personally need this type of book to help me with the Court Cards, I have this one and another one and find both invaluable..... Definitely the book for one who needs help with the Court Cards.
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By Amazon Customer on June 7, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Mary K Greer is a driving force in tarot. Her books always hit the mark. This book is no different. Court cards are some of the most intimidating cards in a tarot deck. She will give you sound advice while allowing your own voice to shine through. I buy all her books.
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