In most cases when a Court Card† appears in a reading, the card will represent the querent or an important person in the querent’s life. But every once in a while you’ll come across a Court Card that doesn’t seem to make sense within the context of the reading, and your gut tells you that the card is not meant to represent a specific someone.
So how to interpret a court card when it’s not a person?
It can be tricky. I don’t have a canned set of meanings that I use for face cards when they don’t represent people, but I do have general guidelines that I follow with reliable results. First, it helps to have a good understanding of the suit meanings, because the suit will set the mood or the theme for the Court Card. Here is a list of the common meanings I use for the suits, but please keep in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive. Feel free to add to these meanings, or subtract from them, or switch them around based on your own intuitive feeling for each suit.
negativity, problems, responsibilities, obligations, law enforcement, challenges, obstacles, mysteries, decisions, Karmic debts, obsessions, addictions, resentment, anger, setbacks, confinement, anxiety, failure, fear, illness and loss.
emotions, love, romance, happiness, comfort, compassion, sharing, family matters, relationships, intimacy, rest, relaxation, amusement, fun, laziness, pleasure, peace, calm, creativity, soul connections, religion, and healing.
good luck, growth, goals, conversations, verbal communication, paperwork, learning, action, physical activity, sports, exercise, work, construction, clubs and organizations, business, friendships and social interactions.
energy, electricity, power, science, technology, language, written communication, higher education, independence, restlessness, nerves, optimism, intellect, imagination, design, plans, spirituality, psychic energy, money, possessions, rewards, success, and legal judgments.
I combine the suit meanings with the archetypal meanings that I associate with the Court Cards by rank.
The Jacks represent children and young people. Therefore the Jack can denote something small or the start of something new. In the days before the invention of the telephone, young boys were employed as messengers, so the Jacks can be the messengers for their suits. Jacks can also represent thoughts, so there is the idea of movement connected with these cards.
The Queens represent women, feminine things, and the divine feminine principle. Queens represent motherhood and love, and they are nurturing, creative, receptive and introspective. The Queens denote growth and personal power. They bring emotions and intuition and healing to their respective suits.
The Kings are grown men, and are the highest ranking court card. They denote mastery, authority, control and leadership. The Kings are protective and commanding, but they can be demanding, possessive, and even agressive and overbearing depending on their suit and surrounding cards.
With the above meanings in hand, and with a healthy dose of logic and a good pinch of intuition, it’s not too difficult to determine what a court card is trying to say when your gut tells you it isn’t meant to represent a person.
As an example, let’s combine the Jack with the Suit of Diamonds…
Jack of Diamonds
traditionally he is the letter carrier. He can represent a small sum of money, the start of a financial venture, a written message, a message about finances, a financial statement, a check, a receipt, money transfer, a message from your spirit guides, a place for higher learning, etc.
How about the Queen with the Suit of Spades…
Queen of Spades
traditionally, she is the widow. She can represent loneliness, separation, an ending, sterility, miscarriage, female health issues, blocked emotions, loss of personal power, blocked creativity, etc.
Now we’ll look at the King with the suit of Clubs…
King of Clubs
traditionally, he is a man of business. He can represent success in business, moving up the social ladder, attaining one’s goals, mastering a physical skill or ability, taking ownership of a project, an exclusive men’s club or organization, etc.
Your own intuition and the surrounding cards will help add color and flavor to your interpretation of the Court Card.
The real trick is in knowing when a Court Card is meant to represent a person, and when it is not. If you fall into the habit of interpreting all of your face cards as qualities and characteristics rather than as people, you’ll miss out on the important roles other people play in the querent’s life. This would create a blind spot in your readings which could be a serious detriment to your querent’s understanding of the true factors influencing his or her life experiences.