Mastering the Tarot Court Cards: The Knights

*Before diving into the Tarot Knights:
Check out my previous post in this series on the Tarot Pages, which includes general guidance on the entire Tarot court and sets the stage for this 4-part masterclass. You can also check out the Tarot Queens and the Tarot Kings.

We continue onwards with the Knights, the “teenagers” of the court family.

After the innocence, whimsy, playfulness, and “new beginnings” of the Pages comes the more active and forceful energy of the Knights. These guys are gendered as “male,” in the traditional sense, but we must read them as symbols or representations of “masculine” energy, which is present in all of us — regardless of our gender identifications. With the Knights, the new beginnings of the Pages must take shape as we act to materialize what we want in our lives.

Typically, Knights indicate that we’re moving from the comfortable, safe, familiar world of our parents’ homes (which is where the Pages reside) and out into the world, where we must fend for ourselves and learn how to become self-sufficient. Of course, once we’re already adults, the Knights can indicate that we’re moving from ANY form of comfortable, familiar world and into the unknown. Examples of this in real-life situations include leaving a long-term relationship or marriage, moving to a new city, or starting a new career. The active, forward-moving energy of the Knights can be very helpful in any of those situations.

Let’s look at each Knight individually.


Knight of Cups


Suit: Cups (emotions, relationships)
Element: Water
Gender: Male
Family Role: Teenager

Page of Cups Tarot court cards meaningThe Knight of Cups is the most emotional and sensitive of the four Knights. When he falls in love or discovers a new passion, he goes all in, and he goes in fast. At times, this Knight needs to learn how to protect his heart and his emotions a bit more — as you can see on the card, he reminds us to put on our armor when appropriate and necessary to protect ourselves.

I love how this Knight reminds us of the excitement, thrill, and sense of anticipation of a new relationship or a new obsession. This Knight gets obsessed with people and things. Often, as adults, we lose that sense of all-consuming love for something or someone, perhaps because we learn it is not “proper” or it’s just too much. The Knight of Cups reminds us to feel our feelings deeply and intensely, and to express them to the world! He also encourages us to find the things we truly love and to do them and guard them fiercely.

This Knight also serves as a warning, telling us to be cautious when things look too good on paper. If someone makes us a tempting offer that seems too good to be true — whether in business or in love or in any other area of life — it probably is. In these cases, we must proceed with caution.

Specific questions to work with the energy of the Knight of Cups: 

  • How much excitement and passion do I have in my life right now?
  • How can I cultivate more passion, excitement, and enthusiasm?
  • What’s draining my energy and emotions right now? How can I cut back on this?
  • What do I *really* love to do and how can I do more of it?


 Knight of Swords


Suit: Swords (intellect, the mind, thought processes & patterns)
Element: Air
Gender: Male
Family Role: Teenager

Page of Swords Tarot court cards meaningWith the Knight of Swords, we move into some extremely swift, fast-moving energy. Just look at the frenzied clouds, trees, and wind in the background! And the Knight himself is charging fiercely, moving with a great burst of momentum. If there was ever a card that could get us out of stasis or stuck-ness, it’s the Knight of Swords. (And from the Major Arcana, The Chariot — a card with similarly fast-moving energy).

The Knight of Swords is applying his insights, knowledge, and wisdom to make things happen in the world. He isn’t just sitting back at home, in his study, at the library — or on a meditation cushion. He’s using his knowledge to fuel his actions. This card can help us tremendously when we need extra energy or momentum to follow through on a project or idea.

However, as always, there are thoughtful warnings with this card: too much Knight of Swords energy, and we become too frenzied, too active, rushing into situations because we want to make everything “right” as quickly as possible. We must balance the high, fast energy of this Knight with rest, reflection, stillness, and time spent back on that meditation cushion.

Specific questions to work with the energy of the Knight of Swords: 

  • How am I applying my knowledge and wisdom in daily life?
  • Which beliefs and thoughts are fueling my actions?
  • Am I balancing action with rest and reflection?
  • Where could I slow down and where could I speed up in my life right now?


 Knight of  Wands


Suit: Wands (creativity, spark of life, energy)
Element: Fire
Gender: Male
Family Role: Teenager

In terms of impulsive action, the Knight of Wands beats the Knight of Swords by far. This Knight is fiery — as indicated by his red hair, red horse, and red flames literally sewn into his armor. This guy is all about adventure, excitement, and spark: he needs to feel fireworks in every situation, relationship, and endeavor. If he doesn’t feel those fireworks, he gets easily bored. We could say, in modern terminology, that this Knight has a form of ADD. He gets bored, he gets restless, he needs constant and ever-changing stimulation.

Therefore, this Knight can really help those of us who tend to think too much before we act — the overanalyzers, the overthinkers, the planners and to-do listers. The fiery, sparkly energy of the Knight of Wands can help us take more impulsive action by following our guts rather than our heads.

However, the warning here is not to burn out on too much of this fiery energy. It’s important to finish everything we start (as long as whatever we’ve started is worth it). It’s important to bring closure to one project, idea, or relationship before jumping into the next one. And it’s also important to create space in between those things so we can check in with ourselves and figure out what we really want to do next.

Specific questions to work with the energy of the Knight of Wands: 

  • How’s my balance between impulsive action and careful analysis?
  • Am I blocking myself by being too analytical or cautious?
  • Am I getting into trouble (or hurting myself and/or other people) by jumping into things thoughtlessly?
  • Where do I need more fireworks in my life? How can I make them happen?


Knight of Pentacles


Suit: Pentacles (the material world, finances, career)
Element: Earth
Gender: Male
Family Role: Teenager

 Now we must do a total 180 of everything we said about the Knight of Wands. The Knight of Pentacles is the most stable and grounded of the four Knights (not surprising given that his element is Earth). This Knight has figured out how to do work that he loves and that brings him material abundance, symbolized by that shiny Pentacle he’s carrying. He knows how to provide for himself and his loved ones.

The Knight of Pentacles reminds us that we must *not* wait for some mythical, perfect “Knight in Shining Armor.” Rather, we are that Knight in Shining Armor. We contain all of his attributes and resources within ourselves. We can provide for ourselves abundantly and do satisfying work in the world. We just need to remember to ground ourselves, to find some form of stability that works for us, and build our lives on that foundation.

When Knight of Pentacles energy becomes excessive, we tend to delay our decision-making and procrastinate out of fear. We want to check that pro/con list one more time. We want to get a third, fourth, and fifth opinion. We want to consult everyone else before making a choice. We want to run the numbers once again. While it’s wise to be cautious and to consider all available options, there comes a point where overanalyzing things paralyzes us. When we reach that point, we must bring some Knight of Wands or Knight of Swords energy into the mix!

Specific questions to work with the energy of the Knight of Pentacles: 

  • What are my beliefs about money and my own ability to materialize it?
  • Am I waiting for a rescuer, savior, or “Knight in Shining Armor”?
  • How can I become my own “Knight in Shining Armor”?
  • What can I do today to feel more self-sufficient and independent?

Happy shuffling! 

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*Illustrations from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck, known also as the Rider Tarot and the Waite Tarot, reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902. c. 1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. The Rider-Waite Tarot deck is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

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