Placeholder to remind me to move it to FAQ's

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Placeholder to remind me to move it to FAQ's

Postby Jan » 01 Mar 2012, 15:58

Modern vs traditional Courts

This is probably the most commonly asked query about the Thoth deck - "Why doesn't it have 'normal' Court cards."

Most traditional decks have the familiar layout of King, Queen, Knight, Page as Courts - a family of each for all suits. However around the turn of the last century, when experienced workers from some of the proliferating magickal societies turned their attention to the tarot, these atrributions were challenged and re-thought considerably.

Previously here was a tendency to make hard and fast allocations to the Court families, including build, hair and eye col.our, even Sun sign in some cases. The new thinking demanded three things:

1) Courts should be regarded as archetypal guides rather than set-in-stone personalities.
2) The concept that only one specific Court applied at all times to one person was possibly open to challenge.
3) The gender balance and expression of Courts was inapprorpiate.

Any and all of these points were built into the development of later decks. #1 broadened the concept of the Courts out dramatically, following through and extending the themes introduce by "the big four" in the Major Arcana - Magus, High Priestess, Emperor and Empress developed an extended group of faces primarily through the leading male and the Queen of each suit. Thus the purely domestic and instinctual nature of the Empress reflected in greater detail through into the Queen of Disks for example. The King or modern Knight of Swords would be extrapolated to broaden the rational and intellectual qualities apparent in the Magus.

#2 had the effect of allowing a reader to be considerably more flexible in interpretation when watching an individual shifting "type" as they moved through events. The Princess of Cups could very easily become a vengeful Queen of Swords over the period of time her love affair fell apart, for example. This idea was further extended into the idea that, whilst at heart we may have a tendency toward one specific "type", aspects of other archetypes may also exists within.

#3 arose from the fact that traditional decks had 2-3 male courts and one female (though many readers took the Page to mean a young child of either sex). In the traditional line-up we have a leading male - the King; a leading female - the Queen; a man having reached physical manhood but possibiy not mental or emotional maturity - the Knight; and a youngster - almost always shown as clearly male - the Page.

Modern Courts usually have a Knight instead of a king. He has the qualities of the King in as much as he is an established male, possibly head of his own family, with career, ambitions and achievements in place. However, here we also add in to some extent the warrior qualities inherent to the traditional Knight - maybe our Knight has put his battles behind him now - but that does not mean he has not fought them.

The modern Queen remains much the same - with the caveat that one needs to build in the understanding of points 1 and 2.

And then arrive the two new introductions - Prince and Princess. These two can represents children, teenagers or young adults of the appropriate sex, thus doing away with the Page and Knight contexts to a great extent.

It is worthy of note though that to an extent the gender allocation of a Princess is slightly less fixed in very young children than is that of the Prince (therefor when dealing with children under seven you'll find a Princess comes up for a child of either sex sometimes). Also the Princesses carry forward the concept or idea prinvciple inherent to all Pages in certain types of interpretation - so for example the Princess of Swords can sometimes indicate a spy in the camp, as could the Page of Swords.

Princes,to some extent, shoulder the "young buck" concept inherent to the traditional Knights too - some interpretations of Princes will bring in energy surges and enthusiasm akin to the power a tradiitonal Knight could introduce.

The old and new interpretations are not readily interchangable - I think it's a good idea to just extend one's understanding of Courts all round in order to get to grips with this group of cards.

Loadsa love
Last edited by Jan on 01 Mar 2012, 15:58, edited 2 times in total.
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