I’m always looking for connections between cards in the Thoth Tarot. Lady Frieda Harris has left us lots of clues to guide us to relationships between them, and it seems like there must be some kind of pattern among and between the Court Cards. So what’s the best way to look at the Thoth Court Cards to see if there is any kind of pattern encoded into their direction, for example? Is there a message from all the Queens? Or is there a detectable development within Water? There is a lot to look into with the Court Cards, so I’m going to post my thoughts here and see how far we get!
I first looked at the roles, i.e. Knights, Queens, etc. I laid out the cards as they are on the Tree of Life, which means the Knights are in Sephira 2 and the Queens are in Sephira 3, so we’d better keep to the programme if we’re looking for orderly hints from Lady Frieda (even though I always tend to look to the Queens first!). First, we have:
- All the Knights are on horseback (3 are moving, 1 is standing – potential movement within)
- All the Queens are seated and still/posed
- All the Princes are seated in a chariot and moving
- All the Princesses are standing (3 are moving, 1 is standing – sparking movement without)
There’s a parallel between the movement of the Knights and the Princesses – at the start and finish of the Tree – and an opposition between the Queens and Princes. Does this mean the Knights and Princesses get along really well? And the Queens and Princes don’t? Let’s look at their faces next to see if that holds up.
- Knights: no faces visible
- Queens: 2 faces clearly visible, 2 not visible
- Princes: all faces visible
- Princesses: 2 faces visible, 2 not visible
This time the Queens and Princesses are alike, and the opposition is between the Knights and Princes. It’s mother-daughter, father-son imagery, which we didn’t have in the grouping above.
I’m not sure we have anything solid to work with yet, so let’s move on to which direction everyone is looking, which implies intention. For the Knights, I look at which way the horses are moving or looking because they are the means by which the Knights are getting around. For the Knights themselves, I’m relying on the direction of their faces, as above. I’m looking at the cards going in the order Fire, Water, Air, Earth:
- Knights: Horse moving NW, horse moving NE, horse moving SW, horse looking SE
- Queens: Facing forward, facing forward, facing forward, facing back
- Princes: all facing forward
- Princesses: facing back, facing forward, facing back, facing forward
The Knights are quite neat here, everyone looking to a different corner. But there really isn’t a solid correspondence between any two positions in this arrangement, that I can see (can you?). So how about we look at the Court Cards by suit:
- Fire: Knight and Princess are looking/moving NW; Queen and Prince are facing forward
- Water: Knight facing NE; all the others facing forward
- Air: Knight and Princess facing away; Queen and Prince facing forward
- Earth: Knight and Queen facing away; Prince and Princess facing forward
The only thing in common here are the Queens and Princes facing forward in Wands and Air. OK, so do these arrangements tell us anything that we can include when we interpret the cards in a Tarot reading? Let me try one last thing.
Let’s look at the pattern of vision, I guess you could call it, within each suit, when you lay them out in a Tree-of-Life pattern. By that I mean how is the energy flowing between the Court Cards of each suit, when we lay them out as they relate to each other on the Tree of Life?
- Fire: The Queen’s sceptre and the Knight’s movement are aimed at each other. The fiery sun of the Prince and the heatwave-y Sun of the Princess also face each other.
- Water: I find this suit difficult to analyse without going into the meaning of the cards, which I suppose makes sense, it being Cups! The Knight is on a quest and what he finds allows the Queen to retreat into a more spiritual place. The Prince emerges from that wavy state. He and the Princess are both focused downward.
- Air: The Queen, Knight, and Prince are all focused downward. The Princess is moving upward to meet them.
- Earth: The Queen and the Knight are facing away from each other. The Prince and the Princess are focused downward, and toward us.
In Fire, we are in the top of the Four Worlds (Atziluth), closest to Divinity, which makes it a kind of energy we don’t touch. It doesn’t reach us. It moves down the Tree of course into Briah (Water), but in relation to us at the bottom in Malkuth, we don’t see it.
In Water (Briah) and in Earth (Assiah), the Second and Fourth Worlds, the Prince and Princess are both facing downward, looking at us. The energy is moving through, which makes particular sense with the Princess of Disks. She is the last of the Court Cards and represents that final step between the Creator and Creation. She is touching the earth with her diamond sceptre to make the connection.
In Swords (Yetzirah), the Word of Air that comes between Water and Earth, perhaps the Princess is looking back and upwards because Air needs to carry through to Earth before it can become anything solid. In fact, the Qabalistic way of looking at the Worlds says that Fire + Water + Air = Earth, i.e. Earth is something different from the first three Elements. It’s a composite. The Princess of Air is rounding up the last stages of her suit and clearing the way for something new to be created in the next suit, which will begin with the Ace of Disks.
So, does any of this help us interpret the Court Cards in a reading? I would say that it does, but on a small, kind of local level. If I drew the Prince of Wands, then I can look at his position in the context of the Knight, Queen, and Princess, and add a little something to an interpretation.
What do you think? Do you see an overarching relationship between all the Court Cards? Or between the suits, or positions? Have I missed something really obvious?!