One of the major differences between reading tarot in the traditional way and the Egyptian “systematic” way of reading tarot is in the definition and interpretation of the Court Cards. In Egyptian Tarot, the Court Cards include the Kings, Queens, and Pages. In Egyptian Tarot, however, the Pages are called Youths. To sum up, in Egyptian Tarot the Court Cards comprise twelve cards basically representing males, females, and children. What are called Knights in many decks are called Horsemen in Egyptian tarot, and they are not considered Court Cards, which will be explained in the weeks to come.
The interpretation of the Court Cards in Egyptian Tarot is quite clear: each of the 12 Court Cards represents a personality-type corresponding to the signs of the zodiac. They can be interpreted as other people or, if no one else is involved with the question, as an aspect of the querent’s personality.
If you will recall from earlier blogs, reversals in the Major Arcana of Egyptian Tarot only means that the energy of the card is not fully expressed. Exceptions to that rule are The Martyr (The Hanged Man) and the Materialist/Spiritualist (The Fool), which are interpreted differently when they are reversed. Reversals in the Court Cards of Egyptian Tarot, however, are very important because they indicate the opposite sex. When the Kings appear reversed in a spread, they become female; when the Queens appear reversed in a spread, they become males; and when the Youths appear reversed in a spread, they become female – all of them retaining the same personality type, whether upright or reversed, male or female.
There are physical descriptions corresponding to each sign of the zodiac, however, this is not recommended for three reasons:
- These physical descriptions only apply to the Caucasian race
- It is rare when someone actually fits their physical description as given in astrology
- Physical descriptions are subjective
It is extremely important when interpreting a Court Card to describe a personality type and not proclaim that the person has a certain sun sign. For example, if the Youth of Scepters, ruled by Sagittarius, comes up in a spread, the card might be interpreted as a male, possibly foriegn, who enjoys being outside, is even tempered, makes a good friend, but may put his foot in his mouth from time to time. This description is prefrable to “the person in question is a Sagittarius” for two reasons:
- The querent may not know a Sagittarian and, therefore, may not recognize the person in question
- The person who is represented by the card may not be a Sagittarian, and most probably isn’t
There are similarities between the Kings of the deck, as they represent the first degree of emanation or the first four signs of the zodiac, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, and Cancer. Being the first, they are assigned to masculine energy, which is pioneering, aggressive, action-oriented and self-oriented. The second degree of emanation, Leo, Virgo, Libra and Scorpio, is represented by the Queens, or female energy, which is reactive, responsive, adaptable, and concerned about others. The third degree of emanation, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pieces, is represented by the Youths, a juvenile energy, or the product of action and reaction. These personalities are influenced by others, impressionable, and susceptible to peer pressure. These descriptions are not meant to be judgemental or sexist; they are just positive and negative energies, like electricity. In any event, all of them are subject to a sex change if they are reversed!
If you are using another deck, you may find some similarities between the way you are interpreting your Court Cards and the Egyptian system, but you are bound to see some differences. Join this blog next week, when we begin with the King of Scepters (Wands).
For more information and classes about The Brotherhood of Light Egyptian Tarot and further Hermetic studies, please visit us at http://www.light.org.