In my last article, I gave an overview of the elements of self through the lens of the court cards. The specific card I mentioned was the King of Swords, so this time, I’ve decided to expand on that by looking at all the Kings.
As I mentioned before in relation to gender and the Tarot, all of us contain a unique mixture of masculine and feminine attributes, and different roles and situations in life bring out those characteristics to varying degrees in each of us. Utilizing the Tarot as a mirror for our inner selves, we can draw these elements up into a more conscious awareness. This can help in being more responsive and less reactive within the various arenas of our lives. It can do this by stimulating our imagination. The broad archetypes depicted pictorially can be “gazed” at through a meditative state in which you can allow deeper thoughts to well up, the gaze becomes a reflection and some glimpses into your underlying processes can occur. In being more clear about what these true needs, wants and motivations are (as well as the fears and doubts that can undermine our attempts at self-fulfilment), we can move towards a more conscious and participatory role in unfolding and walking our life path.
When examining a set of court cards like the four Kings, it’s like looking at a Hindu depiction of a deity that has multiple faces emanating out from an underlying impulse that has a kind of unifying impulse to it.
The Kings in general are the “inner CEO”. They come out when we are in positions of authority, in particular when we have to direct and/or oversee the work of others. The Kings like to rely on intellect and rules of order, they prefer things to be “cut and dried” without ambiguity. The Kings are also the intellectual side of ego, how we think (or hope) others see us. The Kings are also where we feel our responsibility to social order.
The King of Wands is “air of fire”. He is fuelled by his passions, that he focuses through his creative determination. He operates by active example, inspiring others into action by his own actions. Like the Kings in general though, he needs to be vigilant in challenging his assumptions- forceful action combined with unexamined, and therefore possibly erroneous, assumptions can lead to some pretty destructive results. When carefully directed though, the King of Wands can be an inspiration to everyone, especially himself.
Looking at the King of Cups, we see he is “air of water”. In the King of Cups we see the battle between the “head and heart”, he can have the heaviness of someone trying to solve the hearts dilemmas with the mind alone. Where his strength lies is in his insight into the human condition, his heart may be heavy, but it is also kind. He is very aware of his own shortcomings, keeping in check his judgement of others. His weakness is in sometimes being overwhelmed by the weight of the world, a kind of “victimology”, that, at it’s worst, can lead into passive aggressive territory. So the King of Cups, if he can keep away from being the victim, can be a healer and a helper, a good adviser with a clear insight into the emotional undercurrents in given situation.
Getting back to the Kings of Swords, “air of air”, we can see our idealogical self, the part of ourself that takes the high ground. At his best, he is objective and fair and seeks balance in all situations. At his worst, he can get caught up in absolutes, obsessively trying to impose his “perfect vision” onto the world around him- if everyone just did it his way, the world would run perfectly! But, when he can get over himself, his logic and reason can transform the world.
And finally we have the King of Pentacles (aka. Disks or Coins), “air of earth”, the most industrious of the Kings. He is the part of you that can generate and attract material gain. Determined and stable, he perseveres until the job is done. He has little tolerance for mood swings or emotional upsets. He also likes to indulge in all the material comforts possible, because, of course, he deserves it! So his balancing act is in being industrious and productive without being greedy or short sighted.
So this is a run through of the Kings, but this written article can only accomplish so much, the real trick is, if you have a Tarot deck, take out the Kings and lay them out in a place where they aren’t in the way, but can be looked at casually in passing (or can be looked at in detail when something catches your imagination). Leave them out for a period of time, a few days, a week or two, whatever seems to work for you (BTW, you should put them somewhere that is out of direct sunlight so they don’t get faded). If you don’t have a deck, but have internet access, you can still experiment by doing a search and finding images of the cards, there are lots of sites dedicated to the Tarot. Also, If you keep a journal, write down your observations, but don’t be afraid to let your ideas evolve and change over time, you are always evolving, so how you look in the mirror will also be in a state of constant evolution… Next time, the Queens in all of us…