Court Cards as Scapegoats

It can probably be said with some confidence that a good many people, when finding themselves in difficulty, first cast about for some other person on whom to fix the blame. Human nature seems to crave a salve for the troubled conscience, and woe to anyone who is careless enough to look even marginally culpable. (“It certainly can’t be me, who else looks the most guilty?”) For this reason, when encountering court cards in a client reading, I almost invariably ask first whether the cards represent other interested parties who may have a presence in the situation or a stake in the outcome. Reversed court cards can add even more fuel to the fire by suggesting backstage maneuvering. If this strikes a nerve in any way, the rest of the reading often shapes itself around that fact.

If the querent is adamant that no such ne’er-do-well is at work in the situation, even behind the scenes, and there is little likelihood of one surfacing in the future, I immediately change gears and focus on personal behaviors or attitudes that the client should consider emphasizing or downplaying in dealing with the circumstances. For example, the Page of Wands reversed might suggest that it’s time to “grow up and get serious,” while the Page of Pentacles could be read as “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Aleister Crowley defined the psychological traits associated with the court cards as “moral characteristics” which can be as easily attributed to the client’s ideal approach to the problem as to the involvement of a friend or adversary. The lion’s share of my interpretations come from mining this mother-lode.

A third – and no doubt less likely – way in which the court cards might manifest is as impersonal forces at work in the matter. Crowley proposed that the courts can be characterized as natural phenomena, and weather is one of the most useful ways to look at it. Trying to hold an outdoor event on a day when the Queen of Cups comes up reversed might risk a wash-out; better to shoot for the Queen of Wands unless sunburn and heat stroke are major concerns. The Queen of Swords could advise “variably cloudy, unsettled and chilly,” while the Queen of Pentacles implies a dry day that is calm but possibly overcast. If atmospheric conditions aren’t an issue, the “alignment of the stars” with the querent’s objectives is an obvious place to look. Planning to begin an enterprise under the auspices of the Knight of Wands could get things started with a bang, but the effort could lose its momentum before too long. The Knight of Pentacles would be more reliable for the long haul, but can take an eternity to get out of the gate, while the Knight of Swords is full of imaginative notions but might just “take the money and run” if his schemes don’t pan out as envisioned. The Knight of Cups would be sensitive to his clientele but may not be a very astute businessman. Every court card has its strengths and weaknesses, and the trick in offering advice about environmental conditions of any kind is to address both eventualities and let the client connect the dots.

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