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 He may be stuck on his path or in his standard of principles, stubbornly holding on to conservative or outdated values, intolerant of others, and overly guarded of his resources or body.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?

Knight of Cups: The Champion / Dependent

offer love in support of another

Knights take action + Cups represent our emotional lives and how we relate to others

from the Deck of the Bastard, by Tarot by Seven

Where the Page brought the water element inward to explore, the Knight’s external nature expresses it outward. Peaceful and charming, diplomatic and chivalrous, the quest of this Knight is to bring out the best in others by supporting and cheerleading, making amends and offering gifts. It’s almost as if the cup he is holding contains within it the encouragement that is needed at any given time. Who provides that for you? The champion acts on behalf of others because they believe in them. What part of you encourages and supports others in their endeavors? Ready to gallop in and save anyone, they are the only Knight in the Smith-Waite deck without gloves, a sign of their open and outwardly giving nature.

This Knight always seems to be labeled as a romantic lover, but to me that’s too superficial and limiting of the nature of a court whose role is to take action in an element of compassion and in relationship to supporting others. All of the Cups courts — even the introspective ones — consider those outside of themselves.

In fact, borrowing from personality typing, all of the Cups are NFs (iNtuitive Feeling), and the ENFP is the inspirer who tends to bring out the best in others. They’re affirming, loyal, and optimistic with a good sense of humor, but they are driven to meet the needs of others.

In resistance, they rely on the affirmation of others and may become dependent — or co-dependent, enabling another’s addiction, emotional dysfunction, or irresponsibility.

In excess, their attentions or loyalty may be smothering. A darker side of this type may be manipulative — and quite good at it, as they understand the needs of others.

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

  • In dark times, who can you count on to lift you up?
  • What part of you is supportive of others? Is this from a genuine desire for their well-being or the need of their favor, attention, or affirmation?
  • Do others tell you they need some space?
  • Do you become involved in causes or cases for others’ gratitude or indebtedness? What need or internal part does this serve?
  • Do you enable another’s self-sabotaging behavior?

What else? Court cards are complex and can be seen in many different ways, and you may have other insights. Who is this Knight in your life?

Knight of Wands: The Doer / Thrill-seeker

just do it

Knights take action + Wands represent the spark that drives our actions and our identities

from The Medieval Scapini Tarot

Where the Page was an eager and hopeful beginner, the Knight is more confident. Where the Page embarks on self-exploration or self-development, the Knight is now self-motivated as they direct this energy outward — and the Knight of Wands is motivated to act with the confidence of someone who is comfortable in their identity, the role(s) they’ve chosen for themselves and present to the world in their own style and with all the panache they choose. They are the pioneers; active, vigorous, impatient, passionate, competitive, daring, adventurous, and enthusiastic as they pursue adventure (be it creative or sexual or other), take risks, or compete with others. While those who apply esoteric systems to the cards and assign double elements to the courts usually correlate knights with air, I think that knights take action and the nature of fire is all about action. It’s hot, it’s moving. In this regard, the Knight of Wands is fire of fire. Just do it.

Looking to personality typing, ESTPs live in a world of action. Outgoing, blunt straight-shooters, they’re risk-takers who will plunge right in and get the job done (rules be damned — they are merely guidelines). They look at the facts, decide what to do, take the required action, and move on. Fast-moving fast-talkers, they’re usually a few steps ahead of the rest of us, making it up as they go. With a strong flair for drama and style (even flamboyant — which of course is rooted in the word flame), they love to have fun and are fun to be around. Because their focus is in getting things done, they need to keep moving and will avoid scenarios in which they are restricted or confined.

In resistance, they doubt their actions or feel shame in their identity, denying it or holding back from expressing themselves fully.

In excess, their risk-taking taken to extremes, they’re thrill-seekers drawn to reckless behaviors. (When throwing caution to the wind, keep in mind that air feeds fire!) They may take their showy nature to the extent of being a show-off, or exaggeration to the point of hysteria, out of fear that they’re not measuring up. What do they need to prove? And to whom?

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

  • Does fear or doubt hold you back from taking the action you truly desire?
  • Have you jumped the gun on something? Why did you feel compelled to move so fast?
  • What are you impatient about? Does this present as anger? What fear drives that?
  • Are you uncomfortable expressing the true you? How have you been wounded in doing so?
  • Do you tend to throw caution to the wind? How is that working out for you?

What else? There are many other questions we can ask. We all know a Knight of Wands — who is this person in your life or part in your psyche?