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Understanding the Tarot Court (Special Topics in Tarot Series) Paperback – April 8, 2004
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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From the Publisher
Understand the Cards of the Tarot Court
Two esteemed Tarot scholars unmask the court cards with details not found in any other book. Discover your significator and your nemesis. Compare the differences among the cards in well-known decks. Match the court cards with the zodiac signs, the Myers-Briggs personality types, and the Jungian archetypes. Learn a variety of spreads that reveal childhood issues, career destiny, and a storytelling spread to spark the creative writing process.
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)
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With this book, I have gotten a better understanding of the Court cards and what they mean and how to apply them in readings. It is a very interesting book that is great for beginners and for someone who has been reading the Tarot for years. Not only is this a great book to have, the entire series of books in this collection really help put everything together.
This book is detailed and packed full of knowledge about the Court Cards that is valuable to any reader. The author does a great job of teaching how to apply the meanings of the court to a reading and what the cards could mean in a situation. This is a book that I would recommend to anyone interested in learning the court cards.
In the introduction Greer and Little write, “In using this book you will develop a personal relationship the court cards. By its conclusion, we hope you will have come to know and value the great diversity in human personality, and to view different needs and styles, within yourself and others, with compassion (Locations 118-22, Kindle edition). The authors accomplish this goal, but their treatment of some topics seems somewhat superficial.
They begin by talking about the court cards as representing people, which is what most of us learn when we first start working with the Tarot. They talk about selecting a Significator from the court cards, something they introduce in the Introduction. However, they do not review what your Nemesis card is and who to select it. From here they build our understanding of the court cards by looking at them in terms of family, society, internal (personality), relationships, and the cosmos. The chapter on the cosmos, looking at the Tarot in metaphysical terms, is in my opinion, one of the weakest in the book. It reads more as an introduction rather than taking the reader more deeply into the metaphysical aspects. I was particularly disappointed by the section on the numerical analysis of the cards.
I also felt that the sample Celtic Cross reading in Chapter 7, Pulling It All Together, was not helpful in exploring the role of the court cards in a reading.
My favorite chapter was Chapter 8, Build Your Own Court. “This chapter is for everyone who’s ever thought of making their own Tarot deck. (Locations 1695-98).
While Understanding the Tarot Court could have been a much better book, there is still enough good information to earn it a place on the Tarot reference shelf.