on 25 April 2011
Kate Warwick-Smith is the founder of the Order of the Hermetic Rose which is 'an association of individuals pursuing practices and studies in the Western Mysteries'. These practices are conveyed through the Tarot. She has been a member of the Servants of the Light School of Occult Science for over twenty years where she has been involved in training, teaching and supervising students. She has also written articles on the Tarot as well as this book. The author's stated intention in writing this book is clearly expressed as follows :- "this book reveals a new way to interpret the sixteen court cards of the Tarot deck, a method that offers valuable insight into our personal relationships" (p.1) and "one goal of this book is to open up the world of support to reveal exactly who supports us, how they support us, and how we can bring more of that into our lives..........A second goal of this book is to demonstrate how the court cards reflect our inner life...." (p.3)., i.e. how we relate both to others and to ourselves. The book is very well-structured, both in it's clearly defined chapters and in the information presented in each chapter. It begins with an exposition of how royalty, divinity, community and the individual can be seen to relate to the Tarot going back to it's beginnings several centuries ago. This is then followed by a detailed history of the Tarot Court cards with particular reference to their development in Asian, Arabic and European countries, neatly followed up by a look at the way the Court cards have been interpreted over the last two hundred years. In the next section of the book, Warwick-Smith looks at the powerful connection of the Court cards with the Qabala, first in it's simplest sense and then in much more detail at the Tree of Life. Moving on from that, the author then looks at each of the sixteen Court cards in four ways - supporter, detractor, resource and challenge, giving keywords for each one, e.g. the Queen of Cups 'Supporter' is 'Confidante', the 'Detractor' is 'Victim', the 'Resource' is 'Compassion' and the 'Challenge' is 'Depression'. Each card is explained in full, and at the end of each section she offers a Divination Guideline. Also, each Court card makes a speech, anchoring all the above information in the real world, e.g. some of what the Page of Pentacles says is "I am the apprentice. I seek to understand my environment by using my hands.....I am interested in all things material. I knit, throw pots, build......and make things from the goods of the earth.........In my negative aspect I am lazy.........I expect to have skill and power in the world without earning it through hard work and patience...." (p.131). The logical next step is to look at how the Court cards can be interpreted in the context of a reading, and in spite of the amount of information presented in this book, Warwick-Smith addresses an aspect of Tarot that has only infrequently been addressed elsewhere, i.e. using the Tarot - in particular the Court cards - to understand our shadow selves and how to work towards turning that into a positive. Finally there is a section on meditation in both an active and a passive sense, plus a pathworking which involves "following a carefully constructed scenario with your creative imagination - visualising in as much detail as possible a series of events as they unfold in front of your mind's eye" (p.166). So, has the author achieved in this book what she set out to achieve? Absolutely. The whole book is a journey of learning about how individuals relate to others and to themselves, a learning that is facilitated through the Court cards. If it seems like a fifteen-course meal, it is not compulsory to partake of every course. Personal edification can be achieved by a much simpler repast so don't be afraid to sit at the table. On a personal note, when I first glanced through this book I thought it would be very hard-going but once I got started I found it to be a riveting read. Warwick-Smith has a way of presenting complex information in a readily-digestible form and if you, like myself and many others, find the Court cards to be a bit of a puzzle, then this is the book to read. Highly recommended.
on 3 February 2015
I have been studying the tarot cards, mostly as a tool for personal/spiritual growth, for about 2 years and have had trouble understanding the court cards properly from day one. But this book is simply terrific, and although I have only had it a few weeks, I have learned more about these cards in that time than in the whole two years before. I intuitively knew there was more to these cards than the silly lists of personality characteristics my previous books were referring to. And even when some books when a little deeper, I was still left confused and learning very little if anything about these people in our tarot deck. Here we learn for example that the Queen is Wands is "Seer" (or "Self-knowledge" as an internal strength). We learn the Queen of Swords can be our internal critic or judge in her negative role, or discrimination and our ability to make choices in her positive role. Suddenly I have learned to see in the court cards all my personal, internal strengths and weaknesses. I have learned they do not need to appear physically upside down in order to present their negative aspects of internal or external challenges, and that often when you draw a court card both the positive AND negative sides of it will be relevant to the reading.
This all sounds terribly confusing and complicated, but the book explains it waaaay better than me, and is an easy and enjoyable read that will leave you feeling as though you have been with a wise and skilled teacher who can make learning enjoyable and full of wonderful "aha" moments.
All I can say is if you are interested in learning about yourself, and in personal/spiritual growth, and you are using the tarot cards to help you in this, I can not imagine doing so without this wonderful book. It is invaluable and has completely transformed my knowledge and enjoyment of the court cards.
I now only use two tarot books to help me in understanding the cards: this one, and Toni Gilbert's "Messages from the Archetypes".
There is so much rubbish out there written about the tarot, and much of it so contradictory, that I almost ended up leaving tarot to one side. This lovely book came at just the right time and I am grateful to the author for writing it and to the universe for guiding me to it.
on 21 June 2014
This book is most helpful if you find difficulty in interpretating the court cards. The author has quite a bit of information on each card, positive and negative meanings and questions to ask yourself if you are reading for yourself. My only wish was that she had put in what it means to have more than one of the court cards in a reading; I do have a book on this, but I would like someone else's opinion.