What do you call your court cards?

collective-tarot-court-cards

Most of us are familiar with the Page, Knight, King and Queen cards in tarot

This ‘royal family’ makes up what is traditionally known as the ‘court’ – and they are often seen as the trickiest cards to learn. They are the characters in tarot, often representing ourselves or the people in our lives.

Many decks have re-named the four characters of each suit alternative ways, which provides different or additional insights into how you might interpret them. Where ‘knight’ might not offer too many clues to a tarot newbie, ‘apprentice’ might help you to understand how they approach or use the qualities of their suit.

In some cases, for example in The Collective Tarot, this also releases the cards from the binary-gendered interpretations we often use without thinking. Tarot writers habitually refer to a queen as ‘she’ and a king as ‘he’, but where the cards are instead named ‘artist’ and ‘mentor’, it becomes easier to leave gendered language behind and focus on the qualities and energies of the person. Hurrah!

Here are a few alternatives to the regular royal family that I’m aware of. (Add your own in the comments!)

The Collective Tarot

Page: Seeker  // Knight: Apprentice // Queen: Artist // King: Mentor

The Shining Tribe Tarot – Rachel Pollack

Page: Place // Knight: Knower // Queen: Gift // King: Speaker

Thea’s Tarot – Ruth West

Page: Child // Knight: Amazon // Queen: Daughter // King: Mother

theas-tarot-face-cards

The Motherpeace Tarot – Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble

Page: Daughter // Knight: Son // Queen: Shaman // King: Priestess

The Wild Unknown Tarot – Kim Krans

Page: Daughter // Knight: Son // Queen: Mother // King: Father

wild-unknown-court-cards

The Thoth Tarot – Alistair Crowley

Page: Princess // Knight: Prince // Queen: Queen // King: Knight

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11 comments

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Beth. I recently bought the Animal Wisdom Tarot. That uses Seer, Seeker, Nurturer and Guardian. As well as renaming the Majors and suits.

    • Beth says:

      Thanks for sharing this Elizabeth! Nurturer and Guardian are interesting interpretations of Queen/King, I like how they convey some of the key elements of those two court cards without gendering them.

  2. I like the World Spirit Tarot court names Seer, Seeker, Sibyl, Sage. I really want to get a copy of the new re-print. A nice, diverse and inclusive deck painstakingly created with lino cut printing. 🙂

      • I believe so, also, the creator does not view them in terms of hierarchy but more so as stages of development or skill. There are so many amazing indie decks out right now and I am horribly broke. It’s sad because sometimes I will miss out if the creator only does one or two runs. So glad the creator took matters into her own hands with this deck and re-printed it herself.

        • Beth says:

          Gosh I hear you on that one! Trying so hard not to become a deck collector but…
          Yeah, it’s really nice to move away from the feeling of hierarchy in traditional decks. I mean, the queen/king/page/knight doesn’t actually have to be a hierarchy in itself, but using those names really seems to suggest one. In those decks I like to put the queen ‘above’ the king because it feels like using your suit for self-development is even more challenging than using it to benefit others.

  3. Jess says:

    My favorite court cards are in the Collective Tarot, I actually don’ t mind seeing these cards come up in a reading when I use this deck haha! They really put the title into perspective for me.

    • Beth says:

      Right? The Collective courts are my faves too…and they really help me to understand the courts in other decks, too.

  4. Bianca says:

    That’s curious! The names in the Collective Tarot are particularly interesting, especially because I’ve always thought the Page to be the “apprentice” (someone mentioned the Page as the undergrad student of the deck – unfortunately I cannot remember who). Do you have any idea about why they chose the Knight instead?

    By the way, I’ve also been wondering if you have ever seen any decks changing the order of the court cards. Normally it’s Page, Knight, Queen and King, but for example in Jodorowsky’s “The Way of Tarot” the order is Page, Queen, King and Knight. I don’t know if he’s the only one who has done that.

  5. nikkiana says:

    I recently got Le Tarot des Femmes Erotiques deck which is a very feminine focused deck (all the cards are vintage photos of naked ladies) the court cards are Novice (Page), Lady (Knight), Chatelaine (Queen), and Queen (King).

  6. Caroline says:

    Hello little red Tarot,

    Great site!!!

    I use tarot often – just to reconfirm I am heading in the right direction.

    However, I change card deck depending on which images feel right on the day.

    One of my decks are in Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts & Spades. There are not two cards. It goes 10, jack then queen.

    My question is: Is the Jack card the Page / Daughter or the Knight / Son card????

    I hope its ok to ask.
    Thank you
    Caroline

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