Beginners Kabbalah: Court Cards and Astrology (revised)


The Courts Cards and Astrology

If you're anything like me, you don't know anything about astrology. If you're not, then you're better than me. That being said, not knowing astrology has never stopped us from faking our way and making ourselves sound smart, and it certainly doesn't mean anything about how we use the Courts. All we have to do is remember a few definitions and we are on our way. The advantage astrology has is that there is a lot less philosophical bullshitting than Kabbalah. That's also a disadvantage.

All the Court cards are arranged on the wheel of the zodiac. The Princesses have a special astrological attribution which we will get to. There are various occult reasons for this, but for the moment, we will ignore the Princesses and concentrate solely on the other members of the family: Knight, Queen, Prince. This gives us twelve cards to work with, which incidentally is the number of sun signs and the number of the months of the year. So after having ditched the Princess and having the proper number, we can move on.

The easiest, most efficient way of getting a handle on the Courts is astrologically, but with a caveat. Each sign rules 30 degrees and so does each Court. However, the cards are not arranged perfectly on the wheel, but each Court rules the first 20 degrees of one sign and the last ten degrees of the previous. This is an attempt to demonstrate the different facets each person has, and to afford the system maximum flexibility.

The wheel of the zodiac is divided in three main ways, three methods of categorizing the signs, all of which will become important. The first division is to the four elements: fire, water, air, earth. There are three signs to every element:

Fire: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius.
Water: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces
Air: Gemini, Aquarius, Libra
Earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

It is outside the scope of this essay to go into what identifies each sign and element. I'll discuss this in some way at the end, but these can (and should) easily be derived from an astrology website (Aries' are aggressive, Taurus is fat, things like that). Secondly, I admit I'm relying a bit on my target audience having a background in Tarot and knowing a thing or two about the elements.

However, this brings us to the next subdivision, that of how the signs relate to the seasons, and their influences on them. This subdivision is composed of three parts: Cardinal signs, Fixed signs and Mutable signs.

Cardinal: These signs usher in the season, they are its leaders. Aries is the first sign of Spring, Cancer the first of Summer, Libra is the first of Autumn and Capricorn ushers in Winter.

Fixed: The fixed signs maintain the seasons, they solidify the energy and formulate ideas. Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius

Mutable: These signs prepare for the changing of the seasons and have their eye on the end. They represent communication, change and destruction. Sagittarius, Virgo, Gemini, Pisces

Aries (cardinal Fire) – Queen of Wands
Taurus (fixed Earth) – Prince of Discs
Gemini (mutable Air) – Knight of Swords
Cancer (cardinal Water) – Queen of Cups
Leo (fixed Fire) – Prince of Wands
Virgo (mutable Earth) – Knight of Pentacles
Libra (cardinal Air) – Queen of Swords
Scorpio (fixed Water) – Prince of Cups
Sagittarius (mutable Fire) – Knight of Wands
Capricorn (cardinal Earth) – Queen of Pentacles
Aquarius (fixed Air) – Prince of Swords
Pisces (mutable Water) – Knight of Cups

The third division of the zodiac to which we must give consideration is the division into decanates, called decans for short. This relates to dividing each sun sign into three parts of ten degrees each. Each of these sections is attributed to one of the seven classical planets. Depending on your brand of astrology, there are several different ways to allocate the planets to the decans, but the Golden Dawn used the sensible method of beginning with Mars in Aries, and going in order around the wheel. This gives us the following scheme, and thanks to Richard for the outstanding diagram:

Courts Wheel of the Zodiac by Richard

Beginning with Mars in Aries, the seven planets cycle through the wheel, repeating themselves. Mars both begins and ends the cycle, which is interesting in itself, and is doubly attributed to the first and last in the cycle. This is a kind of "patch" the Golden Dawn utilized in order to make the system work. Now, we know today that there are more than seven planets, but the Golden Dawn used an earlier version of astrology which makes sense in its own way.

I don't know anything about astrology

Before we begin actually using the definitions given above, it might be good to mention how one might use them without being astrologers. As is always the case in these things, there is no limit to how many associations one can use with the cards. The more you know = the more well rounded your knowledge of any card will be. That being said, there are many obscure formulae to determine what a sign or planet mean, just as there are many facets to any symbol. However, I, at this time, don't use any of them, since I am just not a mathematical person. It is simply too much to take in at once.

So what I do is correlate each sign and planet to their respective Trumps and to the mythology associated with it. For example, Taurus is what it is and has the qualities associated with it because of the story of Zeus and Europa, but also because of Cerus. Combine those stories with the Hierophant being where it is on the Tree of Life and you get an idea of what the sign is about and why. This does necessitate an open mind, however. Going in the reverse, trying to fit Taurus to the popular divinatory meaning of religious orthodoxy will only get you so far.

Same goes for the planets. Mars was the god of war, and is attributed to the Tower. Seeing that, we get an idea of an intensely violent, disruptive influence. Not necessarily bad, but certainly interesting. Having an understanding of the astrological symbols allows us to correlate different ideas throughout the Tree of Life. For example, Geburah is attributed to Mars, and so all the fives have something in common with the Tower. Some of the mythologies you have to work at in order to extract the essence of their meanings, but the process is enjoyable mainly because those stories are really, really good, and you don't need an excuse to read them. Basically, every time you see an astrological sign, think of its corresponding Trump. Astrologers would probably kill me for even suggesting this, but sometimes things don't have to be good, but simply good enough.

For the Courts, though, I'll be using the bane of all astrologers... the horoscopic descriptions of the different signs found in many websites. Virgos are neat, Taurus is slow and plodding, Scorpios are dangerous. This is simplistic, I know, but taken together with all the rest we have a remarkably useful and enjoyable method. How you ultimately resolve the symbols is up to you. There are many other ways of adding depth to the astrological symbols like rulerships, detriments, exaltations, etc., and although I will try to demonstrate these qualities in use, they do represent the "next step" in our studies and it is up to you whether you wish to continue on to them. I do recommend, though, that you learn by heart the astrological symbols and their sequence, as well as which Trumps are attributed to each sign and planet.

Now we get to how the Court cards are arranged on the wheel. This also has its own logic. The Knights, as the Fire of their suits are a somewhat transient lot, their only interest is to hurl their spears and rest. For this reason, they are attributed to the Mutable signs. The Queens, having received the seed from the Knights, then proceed to order and administer the kingdom. Because of this, the Cardinal signs are their domain. The Princes are considered the apex of their suits, the Holy Guardian Angels, the force that issues from the union of the father and mother. To them go Fixed signs.

Now, if each Court was assigned to one sign, it would make our job easier, but would also detract from the depth of the cards. The Courts are composites, just as people are, and so cannot easily be wedged into a single sign. For this reason each is attributed to the last two decans of one sign, and the first decan of the previous one. This scheme gives us a picture of a person who has mostly attributes of one sign, and recessive attributes of another. The planets associated with each decan also has an effect on the card, and your understanding of how that is will improve with time and work.

In this division the planets affect the overall "personality" of the sign and act as a kind of lens through which the sign acts. For example, the Knight of Swords is attributed to, among other things, Jupiter in Gemini which corresponds to the Nine of Swords. This means that Gemini is acting in a "Jupiterian" manner, and when planet and sign are connected in this fashion they convey a certain idea, an "energy," if you will. This does not mean that Jupiter in Gemini "means" the Nine of Swords since the card itself is a composite of its astrological and kabbalistic attributions, but that something of the same influence pervades both cards. In this sense the "planet in sign" equation is a symbol, albeit not one that you can see. It should be treated as any symbol in that when it shows up, especially in multiple cards, it points to something similar.

Although the Trumps do not perfectly match their astrological attributions another way to visualize the concept is through them. Per the above example, in the Nine of Swords, and consequently the Knight of Swords, the Wheel of Fortune is acting through the Lovers

Looking at the diagram again, we see that this gives us the Queen of Discs, for example, sitting on two decans of Capricorn, Mars and Jupiter, and one decan of Sagittarius, Saturn. She is the Cardinal sign of Fire. Shamelessly looking at descriptions of both Capricorn, Sagittarius, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn:

Capricorn: The most important thing to a Capricorn is achievement. He will tend to take life seriously, and it is important for him to be good at something. He needs to feel that he has a skill, something he can do better than anyone else. Capricorn people are hard workers and many of them make excellent teachers, lawyers and statesmen. They are also quiet and diplomatic and know how to be subtle and tactful in their dealings with others. It may take a long time for you to get to know a Capricorn person, because he is often serious and shy by nature.

Sagittarius: This sign often has a tremendous amount of physical energy and a strong constitution, and physical exercise and sport can be a positive way to work off this energy. Sagittarians have no natural boundaries, which explains why they are often so clumsy, crashing into things and into other people. Fundamentally sociable and gregarious, Sagittarians tend to sweep up other people into their orbit. The more people, the bigger the party, the better. They will always be seeking a more universal or philosophical dimension to life. Their vision is so powerful that, with the self-confidence of all the fire signs, they can even come to believe that they are the arbiters of the one and only truth, which opens them up to accusations of being arrogant, patronizing and condescending.

Mars: Mars rules our animal instincts for aggression, anger, and survival. Our sexual desires come under the rule of Mars. Whereas Venus rules romantic attraction, Mars is most associated with basic body attraction. This is the planet of action rather than reaction. With Mars, there is no contemplation before action. The drive associated with Mars differs from that of the Sun in that it is self-assertion rather than assertion of the will; it is raw energy rather than creative energy.

Jupiter: Jupiter has generally been associated with good luck and bounty. Optimism and growth (including mental and spiritual growth) come under its rule. On the up side, Jupiter is associated with a sense of humor, good will, and mercy. The more negative manifestations of Jupiter include blind optimism, excess, and over indulgence. Irresponsibility that results from blind optimism, not ill will, can be displayed.

Saturn: In astrology, Saturn is associated with restriction and limitation. Where Jupiter expands, Saturn constricts. Although the themes of Saturn seem depressing, Saturn brings structure and meaning to our world. Saturn knows the limits of time and matter. Saturn reminds us of our boundaries, our responsibilities, and our commitments. It brings definition to our lives. Saturn makes us aware of the need for self-control and of boundaries and our limits.

The above are the basic definitions we use, the building blocks of what our Queen of Discs is made of, we can begin to construct her personality. The first decan is Saturn in Sagittarius. As mentioned above, Saturn in the planet of structure and restriction, of Time, of constriction. Sagittarius, on the other hand, seems to be the exact opposite and does not deal well with this influence. What arises is a great deal of pressure, of Saggitarius desperately trying to break free of Saturn's grip. The card associated with this decan is the Ten of Wands, called Oppression in the Thoth. The Trumps of this decan are the Universe (World) acting through Temperance (Art). The Trump of Sagittarius is all about bubbling change and fire and alchemy, and does not take well to the earthy, hard restrictions of the physical Universe.

The Queen's second decan is Jupiter in Capricorn. Jupiter is the planet of expansion, of luck, of chance (whether good or bad), of upswings. Capricorn deals in ambition, the goat striving to climb to ever greater heights in search of its ever-escalating goals. Jupiter acting through Capricorn may temper some of its more brazen qualities toward practical goals and sustainable energy. The Thoth card associated with this decan is the Two of Discs, Change. It deals with acting upon earthy material to change it. The Trumps here are Fortune and the Devil, expansive chance meets uncontrolled creative urge.

Our third decan is that of Mars in Capricorn. Mars is difficult in some configurations because it is unbridled energy and disruption, and as is written above,"there is no contemplation before action." The same could be said, however, of Capricorn and thus the two complement each other, especially in working toward practical goals. Mars excites Capricorn to the point of frenzy in attaining its ambitions and thus the card associated with the decan is Works, the Three of Discs. It shows a pyramid rising out of the desert, the sand billowing away from the sheer force of its rising. Our Majors here are the Tower working through the Devil, great disruptive energy channelled towards unbridled ambition.

From the micro to the macro, having defined our astrological bodies and signs, then connected them to form the decans, we can now connect all three decans and try to see who our Queen really is. We will do this in conjunction with her Kabbalistic attribution, Water of Earth. The decans show her as being highly energetic but also not a person to be taken lightly. Some would call her bossy, she just calls herself right, and uses every effort to get her own way, with that sometimes becoming the main goal, but always toward a practical goal. To her credit, she does know quite a lot about what she's doing and has an innate, almost magical, ability to see the end result of projects that are in their infancy. Although quite deep and wise, she is nevertheless endowed with a simple, practical quality that suggests more of a doer rather than a thinker, Very motherly and nurturing, she can also be overbearing and imperious. She may not necessarily be a gifted cook but she will see to it that everyone around her is well fed and pleased (or else!). A true matriarch, being most influenced by the cardinal sign of Capricorn she incubates and gestates plans and projects. The Queen's Aries influence as the Cardinal sign of Fire suggests that she is somewhat of an entrepreneur, an initiator of action, as well as having the charisma to inspire others to action.

The above is not a divinatory meaning, nor are the explanations of the decans card meanings, and should not be used as such. It is merely a demonstration, and a bad one at that, of how the Kabbalistic and astrological attributions can be used in concert to formulate a general idea of what and who a Court card is. Remember when I spoke in the beginning of reverse engineering? Well, I wrote the description of the Queen off the top of my head and while it could stand some refinement, see what Crowley has to say about her. Reading closely, you'll be able to discern the method by which he describes her (since this is the first example, my own guesses are in brackets):

Persons signified by this card possess the finest of the quieter qualities (Water). They are ambitious, but only in useful directions (Capricorn). They possess immense funds of affection, kindness, and greatness of heart (Earth). They are not intellectual, and not particularly intelligent; but instinct and intuition are more than adequate for their needs (Water/Earth). These people are quiet, hard-working, practical, sensible, domesticated, often (in a reticent and unassuming fashion) lustful and even debauched (Capricorn/Devil?). They are inclined to the abuse of alcohol and of drugs(Jupiter?). It is as if they could only realize their essential happiness by getting outside themselves.(Saturn)

Nifty, huh?

There is no getting around it, though. In order to get a handle on the Courts it is essential to work through them one by one and make all the attributions fit, otherwise it's all theoretical. Let's take another example.


The Prince of Discs occupies two decans of Taurus, Mercury and Luna, and one decan of Aries, Venus. Going back to

Taurus: The most important thing to Taurus is stability. Many Taurus people love beautiful things. They may also love the land, and be happiest in the country. Some Taurus people have fine voices and a talent for music, or they may be good at sculpture or woodwork. Others are practical and can be excellent accountants or bookkeepers. But sometimes Taurus people take a long time to decide what they are best at, because this is a patient sign and Taurus people are in no hurry.

Aries: The element associated with Aries is Fire. Think action, enthusiasm and a burning desire to play the game. Aries love physicality, so they won't sit on the sidelines for long, if at all. They'll jump into the fray full force and will contribute much in the process. Talk about eager beavers! Sure, some of their decisions may later prove to have been hasty, but you'll never find an Aries who regretted taking a shot.

Mercury: Mercury, the messenger of the gods, is the ruler of Gemini and Virgo. Mercury is the messenger in Astrology as it is in Mythology. It is the planet of day-to-day expression and communication. Mercury’s action is to take things apart and put them back together again. It is an opportunistic planet, decidedly unemotional and curious.

Moon: The Moon is associated with the mother and with feminine energy in general. The Moon is both our inner child and our inner mother. It is responsive, receptive, and reflective. The Moon is our spontaneous and instinctual reactions.

Venus: Venus is the Goddess of Love. In Astrology, Venus has dual rulership over Libra and Taurus. As a result, Venus represents two main areas of our life: love and money. “Love and money” is actually a simplistic interpretation of Venus. Venus rules our sentiments, what we value, and the pleasure we take in life. Grace, charm, and beauty are all ruled by Venus. Through Venus, we learn about our tastes, pleasures, artistic inclinations, and what makes us happy.

The first decan is Venus in Aries. As far as connecting ideas go, this one is almost a bit too perfect in that the two opposites, Love and War, connect and from there, there is nowhere to go. So it isn't the most fertile of couplings. Aries is all about action while Venus is far more refined. This is almost a neutral influence, and its card is the Four of Wands, Completion. It may suggest resting on one's laurels, maybe even indolence or sloth.

The next decan is one of the most disastrous, Mercury in Taurus. Right off the bat, Mercury is among the most energetic of influences while Taurus is slow, plodding and calculated. Taurus is too heavy for Mercury to rouse and this tug-o-war between the two, mental and physical (air and earth) leads to great friction and creaking. It implies big plans but being too slow and lazy to fulfill them. The card here is the Five of Disks.

The next decan is Moon in Taurus, an altogether better combination, especially since the Moon is exalted in Taurus, meaning that the sign brings out the best qualities of it. Being ruled by Venus, the intuitive, creative characteristics of the Moon are right up Taurus's alley, especially when aligned with its more practical sides. All material comforts are brought to the fore here, the ability to harness the practical abilities of Taurus to the imaginative qualities of the Moon and get the best results. It is literally what you get when you apply both hard work as well as inspiration. The card's title is Success, and is the Six of Disks.

Taking it all togethet, we have the rather emotionless, analytical sides of Mercury coupled with the slow emotion of Taurus. This is a highly creative person, yet is adept at creating "castles in the air" and not following through. He can fit in any society yet always manages to stay the same. Far more of a thinker than a doer, our Prince prefers to inspire others to do the hard work. Although spiritual and capable of lofty thought, this is usually driven towards practical things. He is slow to become angry, yet once he does there is no stopping a raging Bull. This Prince is very Taurean, and he his attribution of the Fixed sign of Taurus is no surprise, and reinforces the other attributions. \

Now let's turn to to Crowley and see how we did:

He is lacking almost entirely in emotion. He is somewhat in sensitive, and may appear dull, but he is not; it so appears because he makes no effort to understand ideas which are beyond his scope. He may often appear stupid, and is inclined to be resentful of more spiritual types. He is slow to anger, but, if driven, becomes implacable. It is not very practicable to distinguish between the good and evil dignities in this card; one can merely say that, in case of his being ill-dignified, both the quality and quantity of his characteristics are somewhat degraded. The reaction of others to him will depend almost entirely upon their own temperaments.

Incidentally, this is my own Court, in the first decan of Taurus (Five of Discs) so take from that what you will.

Lastly, we can attribute the Courts to the dates of the decans. Notice they do not begin and end with each sign, but there is always a sign overlap with a decan. This demonstrates everything discussed up until now, and allows us to practically pinpoint astrologically any person, according to their date of birth. It may also have limited use for timing questions. You will have to forgive me for not writing it all down here, but I found a site with a table I liked so much, I really can't do any better, so here it is. Even though I didn't, I recommend you copy the table in your notebook and study it carefully; it will be the basis for all of your work with the Courts.

The Princesses

The Princesses are by far the most complex of all the Courts since they rule not a mere three decans but over quadrants, that is, nine decans. Since they arethe figures most closely related to us, it would make sense that it would be so. To see all of a given Princess's decans please refer to the wheel diagram above, Book T of the Golden Dawn does simplify things somewhat, but not by much, by giving each Princess a main sign that affects or influences all the decans. However, like the other Courts, it would be a mistake to characterize them solely by those signs. They are mere starting points, and notice that the divinatory meanings in Book T do not correspong wholly to the main sign the Princess is influenced by:

Princess of Wands: This Princess is attributed to Leo.

In divination, she displays brilliance, courage, beauty, force, vitality, passion, joy of life; sudden in anger or love; desirous of power, enthusiasm, revenge. If ill dignified, she is superficial, theatrical, cruel, unstable, and domineering.

Princess of Cups: She is attributed to Scorpio.

In divination, the character displays sweetness, poetry, gentleness, nurturing, and kindness. She is imaginative, artistic, reflective, intuitive, dreamy, at times indolent, yet courageous if roused. Ethical action. Harmony between one’s soul and the universal spiritual patterns of the Higher Soul. If ill-dignified she is selfish and luxurious. Disharmony between one’s soul and the Higher Soul.

Princess of Swords: She is attributed to Aquarius.

In divination, the character is wise, strong, acute, vigilant, strategic, subtle in material things; with grace, dexterity, and practical sense; battling for insight , knowledge, and wisdom. If
ill-dignified, she is frivolous and cunning.

Princess of Disks: She is attributed to Taurus.

In divination, the character is generous, kind, benevolent, diligent, deliberate, careful, courageous, persevering. Fulfillment of one’s potential (or of True Will). Pregnant with possibility and meaning. If ill-dignified, she is wasteful and prodigal.

I have systematically presented my method of building up the meanings for the Court cards. However, all this is rather theoretical, and without sitting down with a notebook and going card by card and analyzing them, it won't give you much. However, as you may have seen, when the veil of mystery is lifted from these cards they cease to be mysterious. I'll admit that some of the work might entail boring memorization, but it will be very useful in the long run, will help you look at the rest of the deck and will allow you to make quick connections between cards that you might otherwise not have noticed. There is no limit to how far you can go in elaborating on the different associations each card has, but rest assured that once you cover the basic definitions and structure, you will take flight and embark on an exciting path.

Now, since I write as a student who has made mistakes, I try to make the material as approachable as I possibly can, asking questions any n00b would. This does not mean I have succeeded, which is why I recommend going beyond and reading more and working out the attributions. The material isn't easy, despite any attempt to make it so, but it is logical, makes sense and is interconnected. This works to the student's advantage, since the same tools studied for one aspect will be used over and over in other areas of study. If you know the four worlds, you already know a lot about the Courts, and if you grasp the basic astrological symbolism, you've already done most of the work for the Majors and Minors. So nothing is wasted.

While I don't know when the next installment will be, it will deal with methods of how to analyze both the Majors and Minors according to their attributions and path placements.

Further Reading

The best books are also available for free, and I heartily suggest you download and read them even if you don't use the Thoth deck.

free books

Liber Theta: Tarot Symbolism & Divination - College of Thelema (James Eshelman)

The Book of Thoth : A Short Essay on the Tarot of the Egyptians - Aleister Crowley

Liber 777 vel Prolegomena Symbolica Ad Systemam vel Prolegomena Symbolica Ad Systemam Sceptico-Mysticæ Viæ Explicandæ, Sceptico-Mysticæ Viæ Explicandæ, Fundamentum Hieroglyphicum Fundamentum Hieroglyphicum Sanctissimorum Scientiæ Summæ Sanctissimorum Scientiæ Summæ (a collection of tables with all Tarot attributions)


The Qabalistic Tarot: A Textbook of Mystical Philosophy - Robert Wang


I would like to thank you for all this amazing work. I didn't had the time to calmly sit and read until today. I don't know how you do that but even if english is not my native language, reading your words make it easy to understand and grasp the idea.

Such an interesting topic, going from the story of Cerus (that I didn't know as well as this nice website :D) to the decyphering of the 3 decans of court cards... lovely reading for sure. I think I will come back here several times, taking notes.

Where does the astrological short description comes from? A website or a book? (you know the "Aries : The element associated with Aries is Fire. Think action, enthusiasm and a burning desire to play the game...")

And just to mention the second link provided (not the circular diagram from Richard, the other one later in the text) doesn't work, guess it was an old link that hasn't been updated.

Zephyros you're becoming my new hero ahah ;)


Where does the astrological short description comes from? A website or a book? (you know the "Aries : The element associated with Aries is Fire. Think action, enthusiasm and a burning desire to play the game...")

I got them from a website somewhere, don't remember which one.

And just to mention the second link provided (not the circular diagram from Richard, the other one later in the text) doesn't work, guess it was an old link that hasn't been updated.

That's a shame, it had a really good table of dates and things. I'll try to find another one, for some reason supertarot has changed drastically and now it's awful. I'll update here when I've fixed it, or created a table on my own.


Such an interesting thread, I will read everything!


That's a shame, it had a really good table of dates and things. I'll try to find another one, for some reason supertarot has changed drastically and now it's awful. I'll update here when I've fixed it, or created a table on my own.

Supertarot on Wayback :D


The link provided by Zhadee works for me. Maybe it is because you're on a smartphone?

Thank you for the link Zhadee, looks great :)


The link provided by Zhadee works for me. Maybe it is because you're on a smartphone?

Thank you for the link Zhadee, looks great :)
OK I'll try on my computer tomorrow. Thanks!

Sent from my R5 using Tapatalk


What a wonderful thread! Thanks for starting this up. :)
I've only scanned over it, but I can't wait to read more.