How to Read the 4 Knight Tarot Cards

Learn how to read the four Knight tarot cards from expert Ellen Goldberg, M.A. in this Howcast video.


Hello. I'm Ellen Goldberg, and I welcome you to this Tarot Moment from the School of Oracles. In this segment, we're gonna look at the four knights of the four suits. The knights are also on the Tree of Life. All of the court cards are on the Tree of Life, just like the ace through 10 cards are. The knights belong in hokma. Now you'll see that other authorities disagree. Some say they belong other places. Some, well, don't even put them on the tree at all. But the knights are a self-conscious card and they are at the top of the fire pillar, and so all knights are fire.

They also are the mutable signs of the zodiac, or at least two thirds of their essence is the mutable sign, and they also have one third of whatever sign comes before that. For instance, the Knights of Wands, since all wands are fire and all knights are fire, he is a very fiery fellow, and you can see that they knew this quite well in the Golden Dawn because of the fiery horse that he's on, a red horse, flames coming out of his armor, and even his plume on his helment is like fire. In other words, this person has a lot of enthusiasm.

He is two thirds Sagittarius, the fire sign that is mutable. Why are the knights mutable? Well, they are moving. All the knights are on horses, and they represent the tendency of matter to change and move.

You'll see that on his cloak he wears, that there are salamanders, which is the totem symbol for all fire court cards. It is the only animal that in mythology can live through fire, and you'll see salamanders in just about every fire court card, somewhere. His key phrase is the impulse to freedom, when he is high and dignified he does this through yearning, through learning, and in a very positive way. When he's on his lower polarity, it's escapism. If you're going to use him as a significator, please see the dates below. He is one thirds Scorpio and two thirds Sagittarius, and this helps to give him part of his character.
The Knight of cups is fire, because all knights are fire, and all cups are water, and you see that fire and water don't always mix well inside somebody, so there's going to be some internal conflict here, and yet he has the wings of imagination coming off his helmet. You see the fish on his cloak that he wears, and the wings, again, of imagination are on his shoes. This is an inspired person. His key phrase is seeking self-fulfillment. When it's positive, he yearns to fill himself up creatively with love, with spirituality, but when he is on his lower polarity he is a dilettante, and he goes sensation mongering, and seeks to fill himself up with anything he can, whether it's over sensualizing life or using substances.

Sometimes this card represents a longed for lover, because he is a knight in shining armor, and cups are the emotional suit. When he's on the higher polarity, he may be a lover coming towards you. When he's on the lower polarity he may be exiting.

If you're going to use the Knight of Cups as a significator, see the dates below, but remember, he is two thirds of the mutable water, so he is two thirds Pisces, and that has an awful lot to do with his personality.

The Knight of Swords, look how he charges forward. His key phrase is curiosity, and he represents the ravenous and searching mind. The clouds in the background show with what eagerness he is. Wait called him a Sir Galahad, and certainly he charges forward. He wears, in his cap, the feather of truth, that we see that the fool wears also. This feather, it relates to the Egyptian goddess of justice, Maat. If you're going to use the Knight of Swords as your significator, remember that he is two thirds of the sign of Gemini, which is mutable, air, and he is the ravenous, curious mind. In his most positive form there's a yearning to learn. In his negative firm he's all over the place, and maybe has self-destructive curiosity, or maybe he's using the mind incorrectly.

Since all knights are fire and all swords are air, that combination of fire behind the mind, behind the air, mental element, means the mind is on fire. Crowley called him "the wind in the tempest," the idea of attack, and you see he goes forth bravely.

Our last knight is the Knight of Pentacles. He is very solid. The horse he rides is dark and solid and heavy, and in the background you see cultivated earth and farmland, plowed fields. The knight of earth, his key phrase is "seeking self-knowledge." There is a natural, intuitive sense because he's close to nature. Mutable earth is the sign of Virgo, and so look at the dates below and see if your birthday falls in there.

There's something wonderful about him on his upper polarity, because he adapts to the rhythms of nature, and there is a kind of heat, that fire in the earth. You know, if you put your hand on earth where things are growing, you can actually feel the heat of growing things beneath your hand. He has a natural instinct for the rhythms of nature, and he may not be as intellectual as the Knight of Swords or as psychic and creative as the Knight of Cups, but he knows when things should happen, because he's completely in tune with rhythmic cycles.

When he's on his lower polarity, he's a jack of all trades, master of none, never really has found himself, although his yearning is to seek knowledge of the self in natural ways.

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