If you’re like most people that start out learning about Tarot, reading the Kings and Queens (or for that matter any court card) may present some challenges. There is typically some form of inner panic that occurs when the card is drawn that where the dialog might be ‘ok, what does this king represent again? Damn, why can’t I remember the keywords? Is it someone else, or ideals this person is striving for? I always forget which king is which.’
Yet, all the other cards can be remembered just fine. Why the difference?
My guess is that people expect too much from the card or they trick themselves into believing that it means something that it doesn’t.
With that in mind, let’s talk about Kings to see what they have in common. After that, we’ll look at how they are different. After that I’ll suggest some ways to identify with the cards so you’ll always have something strong to fall back upon during the reading.
What they have in common:
The kings in any classic deck are unmistakably male. This indicates that we’re dealing with masculine energy rather then feminine. If you were an astrologer, you’d say they carry the mature controlled attributes of Mars. They are strong, assertive and confrontational. They stand their ground. They are linked with running the military, ruling with regards to war and making decisions.
Kings don’t get into their position of power by being idle. They don’t keep their position unless they can command the people and win their support. A king that rises to power, earns it. A king that is inherited power must rise to the occasion and adhere to the principles that the people are loyal too.
In all cases, kings have great influence. What they say should not be taken lightly. Kings make deals, sign treaties, build kingdoms, manage money, tax and protect the population. They are educated, generally highly educated. They give advice, they strategize, they plan for the future, they look out for everyone, etc.
Kings come with a worldly experience that is not matched by any other cards in the deck. Because of this, they are the advisors, teachers and strategists.
What else do we see? They are almost always sitting. This is a non-confrontational posture for a ruler. This shows that they show restraint and are willing to listen. It’s a position for diplomacy or conversation. It is the head of the table. It is the teachers chair in the front of the room. They are willing to talk to you and give you advice.
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How they are different:
Now, set the cards side by side, what are the differences?
The most obvious difference is that they rule their suit. Each king carries the token of the suit which defines the domain which they rule over. In order to understand the domain, you’ll need to revisit the elemental aspects of the suit. When you do, a very fundamental association to astrology is discovered. These kings are related to water, air, fire and earth.
Knowing this elemental association means that each king carries with it characteristics of three different Zodiac signs. Aries, Leo and Sagittarius relate to the fire king; Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn relate to the earth king; Gemini, Libra and Aquarius relate to the air king and Cancer, Scorpio and Pisces relate to the water king. If you know anything about the different Zodiac signs, use that to describe the type of adviser or type of advice the king brings to the conversation.
Thinking of these elements in a Tarot sense, we’re dealing with emotion, mind, passion and doing. Each king can be considered expert in these fields. Let’s look at an example of each king.
King of Cups
This king is the champion of emotions. He knows how they can be used and knows the power behind them. Think of a musician that sells out stadiums and everyone knows their song. When on stage, this person knows exactly what it takes to get the audience involved and singing along. The result is powerful. People move in unison and people sing in harmony. It can be breathtaking. This king knows how to do this and is willing to share. Whether it’s singing, poetry, acting or what not, if it involves a complete understanding of how to manipulate the emotions in your self or others, this king has advice to give about that.
King of Swords
This king’s domain is that of the mind or intellect. This is the emotionless logical thinker that actually wins when playing chess. This is the person that knows all the details of every contract. This is the person that can solve any puzzle.
Picture someone like a military commander that has his army at his back in such a way that no one can push him around. He knows all your weaknesses and how to use them against you. He knows your strengths better then you. He knows what kind of advice you need and is willing to send you to the expert. He’s not going to do anything for you, but he will point you in the right direction. It’s not so much wisdom, but intellectual understanding. He knows the answers to the math problems. He’s countered to infinity and back. He knows that it’s up to use to user his advice in a balanced way.
King of Wands
This is the space of passion. This is the driving force that stirs you into action. This is the battle speech in the movie Braveheart. This is the person that knows why we do the things that we do and he naturally chooses the right words are the right time in order to bring out what is innately true and honorable. This is the person that has a story to tell and it has purpose. It has morals. He is the one that brings up why something is important and why you should be motivated to get it. This is the king that upholds the principles that make life worth living. He’s here to share that understanding and fire you up.
King of Coins
This king has dominion over what you do in life. This is the realm of creation and manifestation. This person knows what it takes to bring something into existence. This is the person that is driven to be successful at almost all cost. They are 100% committed to getting the job done and making money in the process. This is that businessman, professor, author, doctor, lawyer that has put the time in to learn the profession and become a master of it. This is the type of person that doesn’t have to tell you that they are wealthy, it is just obvious. They don’t flaunt their wealth, it just is.
Now, with this background, see if you can imagine someone that you know that fits the description in each of these categories. Maybe think of types of people that fit. See if you can relate to how they would teach you their trade. Once you do, the kings will be a lot easier to interpret when they are dealt in a spread.
Let me know if this helps.