King of Pentacles: The Provider / Miser

walk your soul’s path, offering your mastery to others

Kings exercise maturity and leadership in their element + Pentacles represent the material world and how we as spirits navigate it

from The Relative Tarot by Carrie Paris

The King of Pentacles has learned to truly walk the path of their soul’s work, and therefore able to help others. Their down-to-earth nature prefers a certain humanity and is responsive to others and their needs. There is a grounded wisdom to this king, and their material security may be financial, or it may be their trade or their family or something else far more meaningful to them than money or material possessions. Kind and pragmatic, they will mentor others in their field (“field” being a carefully chosen word, here; it may be literal!). Their grounded nature tends to be more practical and realistic, with an eye for what is necessary and the patience to see it through. The knight’s persistence has paid off and they enjoy success and respect, though a conservative nature may guard it cautiously.

In personality typing, the King of Pentacles fits neatly into the ESFJ description, which seeks stable lives rich in contact with friends and family, and are happiest when serving others. Their supportive and sensitive nature makes others feel good about themselves. Dependable, they may see what needs to be done before others do, and see that it gets done. They do have a need for structure and organization, they enjoy being in control of their environment, and may need to be careful of controlling those who do not need or wish to be controlled. As providers, they not only indulge in good food and wine, but are generous in sharing it. They are genuinely kind and generous– the type who would give you the shirt off their back. Traditionalists, they respect the established system of rules and authority rather than wade into unchartered territory — which may cause them to blindly accept these lines without questioning (or even understanding) them.

(-) In resistance, they hold their resources close to home, gaining the reputation of the miser. Their avarice applies not only to money, but to their wealth of talent or other knowledge that they withhold.

(+) In excess, their conservative and stubborn need to control creates rigid structures and resists change. An overimportance on material wealth and possessions may show in an ostentatious display of luxury. They may exploit the labor or resources of others.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • Where are you fixed in controlling your environment?
  • Do you keep your resources tightly secured, unwilling to share?
  • Do you feel the need to display wealth in a fancy car or designer clothes? What insecurity is this masking?
  • Conversely, do you deny yourself things that could make your life easier?
  • Do you feel that you balance the material with the spiritual? How are you walking your path?
  • What would you like to be known for? How are you passing that on?

What else? Court cards are complex and multifaceted, including more than these labels, and you may have other insights. What historic or fictional characters does this king remind you of? What part of yourself is represented, here?

King of Swords: The Judge / Bigot

speak what must be spoken

Kings exercise maturity and leadership in their element + Swords represent the mental realm with its words and our sense of justice

from Leonardo Da Vinci Tarot (Lo Scarabeo)

King of the suit of logic and reason, they are concerned mostly with truth and knowledge, and the rules of society. Knowledgeable, philosophical, impartial, strategic, responsible, direct, and judicious, they use their position to speak truth, including truth to power. They offer good, clear advice more fairly than the Queen; although Swords lack the compassion seen in other suits, they are able to see the complexities of situations more abstractly and is more apt to compromise. (Note that in Smith-Waite the Queen sits confined by her throne on a block of immovable stone, whereas the King’s throne is more open, and rests on the softer earth.)

As the master of the Thinking court, they are the quintessential ESTJ, which are the honest rule-followers who value competence and efficiency with a clear sense of how things should be and enjoy creating order according to these standards and beliefs. Impersonal and straightforward, they view the world through reason rather than emotion with little tolerance for the dreamers and rebels of the world, and have no problem disciplining those who do not abide by the standards they uphold.

(-) In resistance, they lack the principle of fairness, becoming the bigot intolerant of differing beliefs and opinions, and inflexible in their reasoning. The truth they speak is skewed to suit their own bias.

(+) In excess, they are judgemental and unforgiving in their standards.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • Where are you inflexible in your beliefs? Where are your prejudices? Can you ever consider the other perspective, or do you remain rigid?
  • Do you judge others based on some criteria that you hold?
  • When do you feel judged?
  • Who establishes the rules in your life?
  • What is your relationship with authority and its rules?
  • Do you have rules of order that you expect others to follow?
  • What prevents you from speaking your truth?

What else? Court cards are complex and multifaceted, including more than these labels, and you may have other insights. What historic or fictional characters does this king remind you of? What part of yourself is represented, here?

King of Cups: The Teacher / Savior

hold space for others to support their growth

Kings exercise maturity and leadership in their element + Cups represent our emotional life and how we relate to others

from Shakespeare Tarot

Focused on understanding, supporting, and encouraging others’ growth, the King of Cups provides emotional support from a position of strength. The most sensitive of the kings, their watery nature allows them to be intuitive and gentle, though more discreet with their own feelings, appearing aloof and hiding their own vulnerability. They enjoy helping others and are excellent group leaders. Diplomatic, they maintain harmony and are most apt to act from a place of emotion than cold logic or authority, and may be viewed by the more masculine kings as impotent. Drawn more to spirituality, counseling, and the arts, they are more likely found in academia, faith circles, or private practice.

Leadership is not being in charge; it’s about taking care of the people in your charge. Simon Sinek

With water / Cups correlating to the NF personality types, this king is the ENFJ, whose understanding and love of people makes them fun to be with. They are likely to interact with others on their level, chameleon-like, and tend to define their life’s direction by other people’s needs, unaware of their own. Do not force them to deal with logic and facts without any connection to a human element. They have a strong need for close, intimate relationships, and put effort into creating and maintaining them. Those who have not found their place in the world may be extremely sensitive to criticism, may worry excessively, and feel guilty.

(-) In resistance, they are emotionally unavailable, detached; perhaps hiding behind the facade of a caring role. Disloyal, they violate our trust.

(+) In excess, they may be melancholy, maudlin, wearing their heart on their sleeve — or perhaps they’re wearing our heart on their sleeve, taking great pride in their humanitarian nature and of their role as savior.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • Are you always the one holding emotional space for others? Are you also tending your own emotional needs?
  • Does the Wounded Healer archetype hold special significance to you?
  • Is it difficult for you to tap into your own emotions?
  • Do you showcase your tendency to help others, proud to be their savior? Do you think it, privately? What part is served by that?

What else? Court cards are complex and multifaceted, including more than these labels, and you may have other insights. What historic or fictional characters does this king remind you of? What part of yourself is represented, here?

King of Wands: The Leader / Ruler

take your vision out into the world

Kings exercise mastery and leadership in their element + Wands represent our identity and energy, and how we enact our inner flame

from Art History Tarot for Past Lives, by Red Orchid Press

The King of Wands is the master of taking our creative vision out into the world. It may be bold and it may never have been done before, but this king will show us how it’s done, for they are the trailblazer with the drive and the ego to do it; the entrepreneur who likes a good challenge and moves quickly on his intuition. Confident and successful, they’re the natural leader who gets results but may not always be a team player. They will not suffer fools, and grow impatient with those not quick enough for them. They are passionate in their endeavors as long as they are not restricted by demanding colleagues or partners.

In personality typing, each of the kings fits the E/J type of their suit’s Jungian function, and the King of Wands is textbook ENTJ, the idea people who tend to assume leadership roles but can be pushy when putting their ideas forward; the take-charge types who live in a world of challenges to be surmounted, but they need to be the ones surmounting them. Impersonal, their emotional lives are accidental and social lives incidental. As extraverts, they enjoy interactions and appreciate challenging conversation, but don’t like explaining themselves and their dynamic personalities and self-confidence may come off as cold, intimidating, forceful, and authoritative.

(-) In resistance, they lack the drive for competition or achievement, or deny their power, perhaps out of a fear of a lack of expertise.

(+) In excess, their ego’s domineering need to be in charge must not be questioned. They may be grandiose, arrogant, egocentric — even narcissistic. This is the baby king who needs to be the only one shining.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • What role of yours is always in charge? What internal part has this need?
  • Does having power or a leadership role frighten you? Why?
  • Do you fear that you do not have what it takes to enact your vision? What would it take for you to do so?

What else? Court cards are complex and multifaceted, including more than these labels, and you may have other insights. What historic or fictional characters does this king remind you of? What part of yourself is represented, here?

Queen of Pentacles: The Caretaker / Abuser

tend to your physical needs and well-being

Queens nurture the magic of the element within and reflect it out + Pentacles represent the material world and how we navigate it

from Darkness of Light Tarot

The Queen of Pentacles is warm, peaceful, and content in their own skin while providing physical nurturance in some way (as the Queen of Cups nurtures emotionally, the Queen of Pents nurtures physically). They are good with their hands, hospitable, kind, practical, and enjoy a comfortable life — reflecting not necessarily one of luxurious indulgence, but one in tune with nature and life. They appreciate the natural world in its ability to calm and the pleasure it brings to the senses; for they are in relationship to that which is around them and, as such, take responsibility in caring for it. They provide a sense of security; but here it is on an interpersonal level rather than the King’s more transpersonal one. A traditionalist, status can be important to them, and they may work to keep up appearances.

In resistance, they are ungrounded. Withholding their care, they deny others physical nurturance or stability. Or, as the Queen of Swords’ critic turns inward to self-criticism, the Queen of Pentacles may become self-abusive. “The good wife” so dutiful to husband, home, and family must remember to give themselves some of the nurturing they dispense so freely to others.

In excess, they are overly concerned with appearances and status, perhaps with a sense of inadequacy. The importance they place on earthly fulfillment may turn to overindulgence as their constant quest for more is displaced.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • When do you feel ungrounded?
  • Do you resist taking care of others or deny them security?
  • In what ways are you self-abusive? What is this (addiction, overindulgence, self-deprivation, self-injury, etc.) masking?

What else? There are many facets to the courts and you may have other insights. What historic or fictional character reminds you of this queen? What internal part presents in this way?

Queen of Swords: The TaskMaster / Critic

establish boundaries and communicate them clearly

Queens nurture the magic of their element within, reflecting it outward + Swords deal with the mental realm of the rational mind and its belief systems

from Touchstone Tarot (trimmed)

Cool, capable, and efficient, the Queen of Swords seeks clarity and gives straight answers. They communicate their beliefs and principles so strongly through their being that they are not threatened by others. They establish boundaries naturally and are clear in expressing them. Precise and uncompromising, they expect things to be done “by the book” and have a reverence for discipline which will keep us on task, teach us to do a thorough job, and keep our promises. More Thinking than Feeling (this is the ISTJ in personality typing), when they make a decision, it comes from the head, not the heart.  They take criticism and conflict well… and can dole it out. Their honest tongue may be sharp but will be direct. This is the friend you turn to for cutting through the bullshit, including your own. The sharpness of their mind allows them to be witty and insightful. They would rather live alone than give up their autonomy, and this independence is an ally of wisdom.

In resistance, the fairness of their sense of justice can be blocked, giving them an air of intolerance and even a vindictive streak. Perhaps they use their tongue unfairly by gossiping in their hushed little circles.

In excess, their sword cuts away at all that doesn’t mesh with their belief systems, and they become scornful, criticizing without compassion — or even basis. Turned inward, their self-critical eye can be ruthless.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card appears include

  • Are your boundaries permeable (or nonexistent)? How might you strengthen them?
  • Are you your own worst critic? Where does that come from?
  • What part is critical of others? Is this really just projection of the above?
  • Do you demand perfection? Why?

What else? This is a common archetypal character in fiction. Can you think of one? They are more complex than a simple label or character, of course, and you may have other descriptions or insights. Who is this queen in your life, or in your self?

Queen of Cups: The Counselor / Martyr

hold up the mirror to reflect for another

Queens reflect the magic and power of their suit from within + Cups represent our emotional life and relationships

from the Cary-Yale Visconti

Deep diver of the inner realms, the compassionate and supportive confidante is always there with a sympathetic ear to listen to our woes and help guide us through them. Able to put their own feelings aside in favor of others, they possess an emotional maturity which allows others their own feelings. The unconscious is a mysterious place, obscured to us and often uninviting, but the Queen of Cups can reflect it back whether they mean to or not. It’s almost as if they’re a vessel, channeling water through their core with a natural affinity for the psyche and its shadows, dreamworld, visions, and attunement to the clairs.

They care for the feelings of others, and their natural emotional fluency is reflected outward not only in guiding us through our inner realm, but their compassionate nature advocates for those less fortunate. As empathic as they are empathetic, their sensitivity can be a benefit or a bane.

In resistance, they close off to their own feelings and become reactive and moody, fluctuating as widely as the tides. Similarly, they can be insensitive of others’ feelings, and their environment in general.

In excess, they rely on the love and affections of partner, family, and friends for their own self-worth, sometimes absorbing others’ emotions or values as their own in order to feel accepted, and sacrificing their own needs in service to others.

Questions we may be prompted to consider when this card appears include

  • Do you explore your own emotional drives and triggers? What gets in the way of doing that?
  • Where do you find yourself reacting rather than responding to others?
  • Do you rely on the love of others for your self-worth?
  • Are you sensitive to the needs of others, or is that something you could develop?
  • Do you suppress your own feelings by focusing on those of others? How can you honor your own?
  • Do you readily absorb the emotional experience of others like a sponge? How can you establish better shields?

What else? Court cards contain so many personas and aspects, and you may have other insights. Who is this queen in your life? What internal part takes on this role?

Queen of Wands: The Witch / Pretender

harness your will and direct it

Queens reflect the magic and power of the suit from within + Wands represent the inner fire that sparks our will and identities

from Murder of Crows Tarot

The Queen of Wands is the image of being self-possessed. Their determined nature knows its Will and is straightforward in pursuing it, almost intolerant of doubt; for they know precisely how to use their wand. They embody fire energy in enchanting self-confidence, willfulness, and intuitiveness; standing in their power, knowing who they are, what they desire, and how to get it. They can read the energy in the room and use it to their advantage. Creative and courageous, loyal and supportive, feisty and passionate, their reflection of fire inspires confidence and courage in others. The cat at this queen’s feet in many cards signifies their witchy independence.

In resistance, their self-knowledge is blocked, and a pretender aspect is avoiding their authentic self and projecting a false persona. Or, doubting their own gifts, they suffer imposter syndrome.

In excess, self-assurance and willfulness can turn to self-absorption and pushiness. Their steamy (water of fire) aspect can be objectified sexuality, presented outwardly in the persona of the sex kitten.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card appears include

  • In what area are you being called to direct your will? Is this a challenge for you? What prevents you from doing so?
  • When using your gifts, do you feel like an imposter?
  • What is the persona that you project?
  • Whom do you admire for their sense of self, and what part in you responds to that?
  • Do you compensate for self-doubt by objectifying yourself?

What else? Court cards contain so many personas and aspects, and you may have other insights. Who is this queen in your life? What internal part takes on this role? When?

Knight of Pentacles: The Planner / Protector

plot your course carefully for a slow & steady pace

Knights take action + Pentacles relate to the ways in which we as souls navigate the material world

from Arcana Tarot Playing Cards

While the other knights are charging forth, the Knight of Pentacles is patiently plotting his course. Not one to rush into anything, this knight exercises caution to protect his interests on his soul’s quest, committed to the journey and knowing that slow and steady wins the race. Like his sturdy draft horse (bred for strength and endurance, not speed), he represents duty and work on his path.

As protectors, knights can be multifaceted, and in his role of protector, the Knight of Pents is protecting his resources through careful planning and preparation, so that his efforts yield growth (like the greenery in the helmet of the Smith-Waite card). Conservative, practical, reliable, disciplined, and responsible, he works hard for safety and security in home, health, and finances, and can offer that help to friends in need.

In resistance, that cautious attitude slows him from taking any action at all. He may be stuck on his path or in his standard of principles, stubbornly holding on to conservative or outdated values, intolerant of others, and overly guarded of his resources or body. The heavy energy inherent in this card feels like the weight of the world on his shoulders as he plods on, bored and unsure of what he has committed to.

In excess, he is the planner on steroids. This is the traveler who has every moment of the trip planned out in his agenda. As the protector, he takes the interest of security a little too earnestly, perhaps feeling the need to arm himself (he could be the militia ammosexual protecting his property or his privilege against the Knight of Swords’ activist); or is so focused on the physical that he becomes the bodybuilder in a showy display of strength. What does he need to prove?

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include

  • Are you so cautious that you take no risks at all? Is there something you should be acting on?
  • Is it time to re-plot your goals, or divide them up into achievable action steps?
  • Are you overly focused on your body and how it measures up to body ideals?
  • Do you take on the role of the protector? Who or what do you need to protect? Does this involve proving your worthiness through physical strength?
  • Do you need to protect yourself in some way?
  • How flexible are you in terms of your values? Where are you inflexible?
  • Is there someone to whom you can turn in times of need who can provide shelter, food, or money? Are you that person for another?

What else? This card is complex, with different aspects of planning and protecting interwoven. How do you see it? Who do you know that fits these roles? What parts of you do you recognize, here?

Knight of Swords: The Defender / Warrior

defend your beliefs

Knights take action + Swords deal in the mental realm of our beliefs and communicating them

from Paracelsus Dreams Tarot

Where the Page was more stationary and curious, the Knight charges in defiantly. They appear the most valiant of the courts, if not the most self-righteous and even contentious, unafraid to be the aggressor when that is what’s called for. Internally, they may be the firefighters defending our wounded parts, acting out in ways that may surprise us in an effort to protect our hurt parts. They are courageous, competitive, impersonal, and fierce when needed, as they may utilize their element with arguments, harsh words, and disparaging remarks when provoked. In contrast to the Cups, they can be insensitive, more apt to consider how others can affect their pursuits than how their pursuits affect others. Fluent conversationalists, their quick wit enjoys verbal sparring. This is the person you want representing you in a court of law — think legal arguments (in fact, the ENTP most closely fits this court and is often referred to as the “lawyer type”). This can also be the activist speaking out for what is just. Though often seen as a card of conflict, we rely on these qualities when we need to confront someone or a system in great need of reform. Sometimes, we need to become a force to be reckoned with.

In resistance, there can be a sense of haste with this card, impatiently acting without engaging the brain; they act without thinking or checking the facts, perhaps not choosing their battles wisely and later regretting their actions.

In excess, they are arrogant and combative. Do not question their valor, and do not challenge their opinions. This is the quintessential bully cop, acting rashly and defending corruption. Studies conducted by Dr. Arthur Rosengarten have shown spousal abuse most frequently among ENTPs.

Questions we may be prompted to ask when this card appears include

  • Are you rushing into action without thinking?
  • Can you back up your beliefs with a well-considered argument?
  • Where have you felt violated? Do you feel a sense of injustice that must be acted on?
  • Do you always have to be right?
  • Are you considering how your words and actions affect others?
  • Is there a cause you want to stand up for? Why haven’t you?

What else? Courts are complex, with many facets. Who is this Knight in your life? What internal parts protect your wounded parts?