Paul Joseph Rovelli

The Court Cards


In ancient Greece, everything was considered to be composed of some combination of the four elements:

Fire Suit of Wands
Water Suit of Cups
Air Suit of Swords
Earth Suit of Disks

The symbols shown above, are the alchemical symbols used to represent these elements, along with the four suits of the Tarot; their conception of these elements being not only their physical representation, but also such qualities that we can perceive through our intuition; ideas, personalities, and qualities, etc. The royal titles of the Court Cards are then also attributed to these elements; so that the Knights are attributed to Fire, the Queens are attributed to Water, the Princes are attributed to Air, and the Princesses are attributed to Earth. Obviously, since we have four Court Cards for each suit, it is easy to denote the sub-elements, as shown in the table, below.

Of the four elements, there are two types, active and passive. Fire and Air are active. Water and Earth are passive. Also, each of the elements do not necessarily work well with each of the other elements. In this regard, Fire is inimical to Water, and Air is inimical to Earth. While Fire and Water don't get along with each other, they both get along with Air and Earth. And while Air and Earth don't get along with each other, they both get along with Fire and Water.

The four-element system relates to the Tetragrammaton; the four-lettered name of God, such that Yod=Fire, Heh=Water, Vau=Ear and Heh (final)=Earth. The elaboration on this is vitally important to any understanding of the Qabalah and should really be studied carefully in The Book of the Concealed Mystery, as translated by S.L. MacGregor Mathers. But for the purposes of interpreting Tarot cards, we need only be concerned with the elemental attributions of the Court Cards.

  Knights Queens Princes Princesses
Wands Knight of Wands: Pure Fire Queen of Wands: Water of Fire Prince of Wands: Air of Fire Princess of Wands: Earth of Fire
Cups Knight of Cups: Fire of Water Queen of Cups: Pure Water Prince of Cups: Air of Water Princess of Cups: Earth of Water
Swords Knight of Swords: Fire of Air Queen of Swords: Water of Air Prince of Swords: Pure Air Princess of Swords: Earth of Air
Disks Knight of Disks: Fire of Earth Queen of Disks: Water of Earth Prince of Disks: Air of Earth Princess of Disks: Pure Earth