This particular symbolism was introduced by the Golden Dawn as the concept of assigning each of the four elements and all their possible combinations with the sixteen Court Cards. They are determined by Rank and Suit, or Element. They are then further divided into type of Counterchange:|
Pure, which corresponds to the Fixed signs of the Zodiac, Aquarius, Leo, Scorpio and Taurus. This Counterchange is determined by an identical Rank and Suit or Element, such as Air of Air. Using, for example, the King of Swords - the King is always represented by Air, and Swords are represented by Air.
Compound, which corresponds to the Cardinal signs of Libra, Aries, Cancer and Capricorn. This Counterchange is either wholly masculine or feminine in gender. An example of this would be the King of Wands. The King is Air, and the Wands are Fire, both masculine.
Complex, which corresponds to the Mutable signs of Gemini, Sagittarius, Pisces and Virgo. This Counterchange is a mixture of masculine and feminine energies, such as the Knight of Pentacles as Fire of Earth. The Knight is represented by Fire, which is masculine, and Pentacles, which are feminine in gender.
Elemental Counterchanges work with the concept of Force and Form. In the Court, Force and Form take the shape of Element (Suit) and Rank. Four of the court cards have only one element; the other 12 are a combination of two.
Think of Force as one of the Elements - Air, Fire, Water or Earth, which correspond to the suits of Swords, Wands, Cups and Pentacles. Think of Form as the container which holds the Force, in this case the ranks of King, Queen, Knight, and Page.
So to use a literal example, if you have a bottle of wine, the wine becomes the Force or Element, and the bottle becomes the Form which contains and shapes the Force.
The Elemental Counterchanges are determined by Element and Rank, then it is your job to figure out how one tempers the other. The Elemental Counterchanges are as follows:
The Kings are always Air, representing Intellect. The Kings correspond to the Fixed signs of the Zodiac:
King of Swords: Air of Air (Pure)
He is the most cerebral King, and also the most emotionally distant.
King of Wands: Air of Fire (Compound)
He is outgoing and charismatic, but thinks before he acts.
King of Cups: Air of Water (Complex)
He is the fatherly type, dispensing good advice and an ear for listening.
King of Pentacles: Air of Pentacles (Complex)
He is the combination of intellect and potential, a good businessman.
The Queens are always Water, representing Intuition. The Queens correspond to the Cardinal signs of the Zodiac:
Queen of Swords: Water of Air (Complex)
She allows her head to rule her heart, and may seem indifferent to her emotions.
Queen of Wands: Water of Fire (Complex)
She is passionate and fiery, a good businessperson with a flair for high drama.
Queen of Cups: Water of Water (Pure)
She is the governed by emotions rather than intellect, and is nurturing and psychic.
Queen of Pentacles: Water of Earth (Compound)
She is emotion tempered with practicality, and a good household manager.
The Knights are always Fire, representing Motion. The Knights correspond to the Mutable signs of the Zodiac.
Knight of Swords: Fire of Air (Compound)
He is consumed with fighting the good fight, the champion of the weak and oppressed.
Knight of Wands: Fire of Fire (Pure)
Fools and the Knight of Wands rush in where angels fear to tread, he knows no boundaries.
Knight of Cups: Fire of Water (Complex)
He puts his passion into emotion, the most charming and disarming of all the knights
Knight of Pentacles: Fire of Earth (Complex)
He move slowly, his Fire being slowed damped by the practical and predictable Earth.
The Pages are always Earth, representing Potential. The Pages are not assigned to a particular Quadruplicity; they are instead assigned a Season.
Page of Swords: Earth of Air (Complex) – Spring
She has the potential of intellect and communication
Page of Wands: Earth of Fire (Complex) – Summer
She has the potential of action and purpose
Page of Cups: Earth of Water (Compound) – Autumn
She has the potential of opening up emotionally
Page of Pentacles: Earth of Earth (Pure) – Winter
She has the potential to manifest reality
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