Belial 18: Principle of Cause and Effect.

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The final piece of the puzzle is the royal court presided over by the Kings, Queens, Jacks, and Slaves. The royal court is the bridge between the minor tableau of the pips and the grand tableau of the trumps. To give you a mental picture, imagine a square table. The Slave is seated at the bottom left; the Jack is seated at the top right; the Queen is seated at the top left; and the King is seated at the bottom right. All four members face into the center of the table:

tarot cards page knight queen king

If that pattern looks familiar to you, it’s because the royal court sits atop the minor tableau of the pips:

tarot cards court face

Each face card is principally defined by the number upon which it sits, but also by the numbers on either side:
  • Slave: 3 < 8 > 1
  • Jack: 7 < 2 > 9
  • Queen: 9 < 4 > 3
  • King: 1 < 6 > 7
The face cards operate like the pips in that they're gendered according to their suit and are either expressive or receptive as well as supportive or antagonistic. To understand this operation, consider the table at which the face cards sit as if it were a clock: When they're in the company of a trump card, the hour hand points directly at their core number and takes a fixed aspect. When they're in the company of the same element or a complementary element, the hour hand moves clockwise and takes a cardinal aspect. When they're in the company of a neutral or antagonistic element, the hour hand moves counter-clockwise and takes a mutable aspect.

The beauty of the face cards is that they themselves don't represent a person—that is, a King doesn't equate to man, nor does a Queen equate to a woman. Instead, they're totally dynamic and they can mean up to three different things in a single reading because their meanings change depending on the reference card against which they're read. Anchor your point of view on a face card and then look at different reference cards on the table to discover all kinds of different things.

It's very important to remember that the face cards operate according to some of their own rules. For this reason, wherever face cards appear in a reading they represent nuance, complexity, and situations which are unable to be reduced to a single point of view. Life isn't simple, and neither are the face cards. If you're not seeing it yet, use these rules as you consider the following diagrams:

  • Arrows show direction of movement
  • Plus sign shows waxing support
  • Minus sign shows waning antagonism
  • Equal sign shows fixity
  • ♠ = Spades
  • ♣ = Clubs
  • ♥ = Hearts
  • ♦ = Diamonds
  • T/T = Thetical Trumps I-VII
  • T/S = Synthetic Trumps VIII-XIV
  • T/A = Antithetical Trumps XV-XXI
  • c = Cardinal
  • f = Fixed
  • m = Mutable
The Slaves of the Royal Court

tarot card page

The Slave is essentially a prideful hedonist who seeks whatever pleasures can be had. There’s no shame in seeking pleasure, but it’s definitely an expensive way to live because time that could be given to achieving worldly success and mastery over others is diverted into leisure activities which typically give back nothing of value or importance outside of the pleasurable activity chosen.

When the Slave supports or is supported, it is able to gain or share a fair deal of knowledge and wisdom. The important thing to remember, though, is that anything the Slave can learn from you or teach to you ultimately comes back to luxury, pleasure, and all of the so-called sins. If you want to know how to live life deliciously or be feted like you’ve never known before, then the Slave can do that for you.

But when the Slave is antagonizing or is being antagonized, then it becomes locked in the moment and loses all ability to see beyond the immediate desire to escape unwanted pain or to inflict pain on those who deserve it. This lack of foresight and inability to prepare for the future is a critical failure of the Slave.

Use the following diagrams to understand how Slaves behave in a Tarot reading.

The Jacks of the Royal Court

tarot cards face court knight

The Jack is at its core a no-nonsense, hands-on person who focuses on the essentials. Like Elvis Presley, the motto of the Jack is “TCB (Taking Care of Business.)” Wherever it goes, you can be certain it's focused on accomplishing something. And while the Jacks’ industrious nature might give the impression of a control freak, the truth is that it doesn't get hung up on the details: progress is more important than perfection.

The Jack isn't known for its intelligence, but it is known for its passion. Whenever the Jack is supported or is supporting, you’ll be able to see its vigorous qualities at play. The Jack frequently leaps before it looks, and this can result in painful folly, but the Jack’s sheer forcefulness often wins the day.

When Jacks are antagonized or are antagonizing, they’re in it to win it. They nurture grudges for severely long periods of time, and when they feel the need to get back on somebody, they’ll do it patiently and inescapably. The Jack is also a sucker for conspiracy theories, and as an enemy is absolutely fearsome because it will orchestrate disturbingly elaborate attacks against those who’ve been singled out for destruction.

Use the following diagrams to understand how Jacks behave in a Tarot reading:

The Queens of the Royal Court

tarot face court card queen

The Queens are nobody’s fool. Essentially, they doubt everything and are slow to be convinced of anything. Beyond their doubt, Queens are also highly discriminating people who judge everybody and everything on an individual basis. For this reason, they’re rarely at a disadvantage.

But just because they evaluate other people, situations, and things as individuals doesn’t mean that they’re short-sighted. Oh, far from it: Queens are experts at both solving and creating puzzles. When Queens are supported or are supporting, their vision extends to consequences of the fifth order, and their anticipation is marked not by weeks or months but years and decades.

And unlike the Jack and especially unlike the Slave, the Queen cannot be baited into idiocy. When the Queen is antagonized or is antagonizing, she teaches painful lessons or studies and exploits the enemy’s weak spots. The Queen may lose a battle, but she’ll absolutely win the war. Don’t go to war with the Queen.

Study the following diagrams to understand how Queens behave in a Tarot reading:

The Kings of the Royal Court

tarot face court cards king

The King is essentially a dangerous person: it means what it says, it says what it means, and you can depend on it to do exactly what it's said it'll do. Perhaps a Queen will help it to be more subtle in its actions, but without any tempering influences the King is obtuse. Treat the King respectfully and you’ll be rewarded. Treat the King rudely and you’ll be punished.

When the King is supported or is supporting, he is focused and in the moment. He teaches the importance of striking while the iron is hot and making decisive choices about whatever increases its happiness. In this way, the King and the Slave are similar: they’re both connected by their pleasures.

But when the King is antagonized or is antagonizing, it’s cruel and petty. The King may occasionally make wrong decisions owing to ignorance, but those who inelegantly criticize the King’s ignorance will find themselves on the receiving end of a dangerous animal.

Use the following diagram to understand how Kings behave in a Tarot reading: