Author: Alison Cross
Illustrators: Alexander Daniloff, Sullivan Hismans, Will Worthington
Tarot Court Card DNA is a 331-page book dedicated to working with the court cards of the tarot (Page, Knight, Queen, King). The foundation for this book is set on stripping the cards of extemporaneous meaning and returning to their keywords and elemental DNA energy. The color illustrations in its book are by Alexander Daniloff, Sullivan Hismans, and Will Worthington and are used with their permission. Thank you, gentlemen!
In her forward, Caitlin Matthews notes that the court cards of the tarot come from the court cards of regular playing decks (with the exception of the Knight). I love her comment that meeting the Court Cards is like walking into a room full of strangers and being expected to make conversation. This is so true! Matthews also notes that Cross’s work provides both a valuable beginning for those who are new to working with the court cards and a great resource for those that want to deepen their knowledge.
Cross notes in her preface that the aim of this book is to literally unzip the DNA of the Pages, Knights, Queens, and Kings and explore their genetic components. What on earth is the genetic component of a Tarot card? It is all that makes them tick at their core.
Throughout this book you will find exercises to help you put the information being presented into real-time knowledge. This starts in the introduction, with the exercise “Who is helping me?”, and continues through the chapters for a total of 53 exercises. This is one of the reasons that I think of this book as a resource, as well as a stand-alone book. Readers will keep coming back to work with different concepts and exercises to expand their understanding of the Tarot and the Tarot Court Cards.
Most decks may be easily used when working with this book. One of the first things that the reader is shown how to do is to take the suits and ranks of the deck they are choosing to work with and compare their qualities to the standard Tarot. Then they will assign the suits and ranks in their deck to the suits and qualities of a standard Tarot deck. It will make it much easier to work with this book.
Image plays a large part with the court cards – the student/reader needs to be able to connect with the images on the cards. The Queen of Cups is not going to appear the same as the Queen of Wands, The Queen of Swords, or the Queen of Pentacles. Cross presents a method that she terms the 4H method to help the student/reader work through the cards. It is well worth taking a look at.
There is also a section on Keyword DNA where the keywords for each suit and rank are addressed. I loved the exercise on creating Pidgin Tarot phrases through the use of the keywords for the suits and ranks.
Elemental DNA uses the elemental qualities of each suit to help understand and work with them. Through using this method an Elemental Name is assigned to each of the court cards. From here, Cross moves on to discuss whether elemental relationships are friendly, unfriendly, or neutral.
To move deeper into how the Court Cards can be used, Cross presents their assignment on the Wheel of the Year. In doing this each of the seasons is also assigned an elemental quality. I find this quite intriguing!
Other things that Cross goes into are the assignment of Sun Signs to the court cards and using the court cards as birth cards. The Court Cards can also be used as a significator, as a guardian, as aspirational cards, and as a point of meditative focus. They may also be used as ancestral references and as timing.
Reversals have an important place in the Tarot – Cross has devoted an entire chapter to reversals and complements. It is interesting to note that Cross feels that a reversed court card takes on ALL the associations that its opposite number represents.
At the end of the book is a summary of information that was presented on each of the Court Cards.
This book addresses what can be a difficult area in the Tarot – that of Court Cards. The information presented is in-depth, and the exercises help the student/reader come to their own personal grasp of what each card means to them. The color card images add a great deal to this work – I deeply thank Alexander Daniloff, Sullivan Hismans, and Will Worthington for being willing to share their work. I also thank Alison Cross for presenting this book in large type – this was much appreciated by these aging eyes!
(c) December 2022 Bonnie Cehovet
Reproduction is prohibited without the approval of the author.