Learning the Tarot: Understanding the Pages by Michelle Slee

Learning the Tarot: Understanding the Pages by Michelle Slee

Many people begin learning the Tarot using a deck such as the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck with pictorial images on both the Major and Minor arcana. These images can help spark an intuitive approach to the cards, which can then be supplemented with reference to the many excellent introductory Tarot books now on the market. However, the Court Cards (Page, Knight, Queen & King of Cups, Pentacles, Swords & Wands) seem to be a difficult area for beginners. Some people find that the images simply do not speak to them as the others do. A useful way to get around this is to follow these three steps:

1. Research what various different authors have to say on each type of court card generally (for e.g. the Pages) – what do they say is common to all the Pages in the Tarot?

2. Then research what these same authors have to say on what the suits mean generally i.e. not specific suit cards but rather the suit of Cups as a whole & Wands as a whole etc.

3. Then pull out, for e.g. your 4 Page cards or your 4 Knight cards etc. & look at them in turn. Think of what the Pages generally mean, think of what the suits generally mean & then look at the cards & let your intuition flow. After doing this the images, at least for me personally, seem to come to life. It is as if I have placed them in a context from which they can speak to me

With that in mind I have produced the following introductory article on my understanding of the Pages reached via the method outlined above. I intend writing similar articles on each of the court cards. Of course when you do this method your understanding of the cards might very well be different to mine. That is good. The Tarot is a personal journey after all. But the value of this method, used by each individual, is that it balances good research with intuition – essential I feel for developing an understanding of the cards that is grounded in tradition but informed enough to deviate from such tradition when one’s intuition is allowed to properly come into play.

Introducing the Pages: some general comments
Pages are often understood to represent the beginnings of a new stage of life (the particular stage they refer to is dependent on the suit of the card). Certainly there is no sense of completion with the Pages, rather we have a sense of something just begun, an area of life in which work & effort must now be invested. However, since the Page is young & energetic this can be done with youthful exuberance rather than jaded maturity! Given the young figure on the card it is also true to say Pages can sometimes represent young people in the life of the querent (or their own inner child and/or childhood memories). Finally, because they represent beginnings they can sometimes refer to news received from another that introduces such a new beginning into the life of the querent (a letter, phone call, or generally news from afar).

Page of Cups
On the Rider-Waite-Smith card we see this Page standing on land with the sea in the background, gazing with fascination at a fish emerging from his cup. If you look at the Page, Queen & King of Cups in sequence you will see that gradually they all get nearer the sea until the King is found floating on his throne in the middle of the ocean. The Knight slightly disrupts this sequence, being near a stream that probably flows towards the sea but not the sea itself – this is relevant in regard to the meaning of the Knight of Cups but I will leave that for another day. But generally this movement towards the sea suggests to me a growing emotional maturity in the Cups court cards & a deepening sensitivity tempered with control & experience. For the Page then his emotions are brand new & therefore exciting (if a little scary perhaps?). He feels free to explore them, to allow his imagination to spark & his creativity to come into play. If the card appears as an advice card in a spread I would suggest it means that the querent is being encouraged to explore their emotions openly & without repression, to become less controlled & freer flowing & expansive – to have fun with their emotions rather than being heavily weighed down by them. By doing this the querant can reach a deeper understanding of her/himself. If a new romantic interest has entered the person’s life the card would suggest enjoying the new experience, but treating it at this stage somewhat lightly, having fun with it but not getting too intense (the latter approach might come into play later but at this stage would be inappropriate). The card might also be suggesting that the querent should start to explore psychic/metaphysical matters (such as learning how to read the Tarot!).

There might also be a sense of:

1. Having contact with a younger person full of the qualities mentioned above.

2. Learning new skills. In this case this period of learning sparks the emotions, is fun & enjoyable, & utilises the querent’s creativity, spirituality & sensitivity.

3. Receiving news-perhaps of an enjoyable forthcoming emotional event such as a wedding.

Page of Pentacles
On the Rider-Waite-Smith card we see a young man fascinated by the pentacle he holds so carefully in his hands. To me this is a Page who enjoys his work and/or studies greatly. It all fascinates him. Possibly he is learning a new skill or has enrolled on a new course of study, or has just started a new job or business. He is enjoying it and is being stretched by it. He also anticipates that good results will come from this work (money, security & possibly prestige). However, he is also aware that this is the early stage & that much patience & persistence is still required. We should also remember the Pentacles association with health. The card might suggest a return to good health after a period of illness, or just a time in life when one is feeling healthy, robust & in tune with nature. As an advice card in a spread I would interpret it as suggesting the querent devote her/himself to work that fascinates and appeals, that stimulates the mind & the heart, and that can open the doors to future success. The best results come from work that is enjoyed for its sake alone. The querent should enjoy this part of his/her life & know that all that he/she does will contribute to a successful outcome.
There might also be a sense of:

1. Having contact with a younger person full of the qualities mentioned above.

2. Learning new skills (as mentioned above) in a practical area of life.

3. Receiving news – perhaps about a job, a new training course, exam results or even results from the hospital after medical tests.

Page of Swords
We meet a slightly different Page with this card. He looks a tad besieged as he stands on the mountain top, blown by the wind, sword in hand, looking over his shoulder at his pursuers. This is a Page, I feel, who has dared to think the unthinkable, tried a new approach, perhaps put forward a new viewpoint. However, this new approach has not been universally accepted. He now needs time on his own to clarify his thoughts further & to allow the dust to settle. However, it is likely that conflict is on the horizon. It can be difficult to break with the tried & tested, and those people who are innovators, intellectually strong & very capable of thinking outside the box can be scary to those around them. However, this Page cannot but think outside the box. He loves new ideas, stretching his mind, expanding his horizons, but he yearns to do it in a peaceful, non-confrontational way. And so he tries to escape to higher ground in order to be alone with his thoughts, knowing such peace will not be available for long. So as with all swords cards there is an element of conflict here – either recently fought or forthcoming. As an advice card I think it suggests the querent try to distance her/himself from the conflict, to try to find some breathing space in order to explore any new ideas/attitudes currently occupying his/her mind. If this will involve looking at any written documents then the querent should take the time to read them carefully. At all times the querent should be mindful that not everyone might be feeling very well disposed to her/him. The querent should proceed cautiously, but certainly carry on moving forward. New ideas/attitudes can sometimes cause conflict but if they represent much needed progress then they shouldn’t be avoided. There might also be a sense of:

1. Having contact with a younger person full of the qualities mentioned above.

2. Learning new skills (as mentioned above) – specifically in the intellectual area of life (e.g. enrolling on a degree course, reading a fascinating, thought provoking book, learning debating skills etc.)

3. Receiving news – possibly difficult news that places obstacles in one’s path that will require care & deliberation in order to deal with them. Legal contracts are a possibility. If these are received they need to be analysed carefully (ideally by a professional). The news received might spark the querent’s intellectual curiosity & excite her/him, but similarly it might also spark their more argumentative nature and/or fill them with dread at the thought of the conflict ahead. They should think of it though as a new exciting opportunity to flex their intellectual muscles – they can deal with the difficult times that might lie ahead & they will emerge stronger for it.

Page of Wands
This Page holds onto his wand, studying the tip. He is full of excitement & enthusiasm, although for what we don’t know. Whatever area of life this card refers to there is certainly a buzz that can only come at the start of something when energy is high & motivation even higher. Whether this can be sustained over the long term remains to be seen (& there is always the danger that it will fizzle out), but certainly at this stage there is a great deal of hope, enthusiasm & optimism for what lies ahead. The energy must be appropriately directed, however, & it is this that the card might point to when in the advice position. It is suggesting to the querent that they be motivated & stay motivated. It suggests a happy, confident & courageous outlook – go forth with enthusiasm & energy. The querant has the resources to make a success of whatever they are involved in, as long as they don’t hold back. But remember this is just the beginning too; the querent should be reminded not to burn themselves out too early & to focus the energy with hard work, clear thinking & emotional balance (in other words the querent needs to draw on the energy of the other Tarot suits).

There might also be a sense of:

1. Having contact with a younger person full of the qualities mentioned above.

2. Learning new skills – if doing so this will be something exciting & fascinating, & energy will be high.

3. Receiving news – an exciting message that brings a great opportunity for the future. Sometimes this card refers to news about a job.

So there we have it-a brief introduction to the Pages in the Tarot, using the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. Don’t take my analysis as the final word on these cards, however. Follow the method outlined above & analyse the cards yourself. You might be surprised at the insights you reach & at the story of the Page that unfolds before you. End


3 thoughts on “Learning the Tarot: Understanding the Pages by Michelle Slee

Tawana HoversonPosted on  2:05 pm - Apr 14, 2010

I’m pleased! It’s nice to see someone very proud about what they do. Thank you.

Smokeless cigarettesPosted on  4:33 pm - Jul 2, 2010

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Shirley ProbertPosted on  7:39 pm - Jul 12, 2010

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