Updated: Apr 5, 2021
Here is an important task in understanding the messages that come forward in tarot, knowing when to act and when to receive. The cards show us the way through symbolism and characters, reflecting these push and pull energies in our lives, but sometimes it can be difficult to crack the code.
When we speak of the feminine and masculine in tarot, we’re talking about spiritual energies. These are universal principles that come together to form wholeness. Regardless of our sex and gender, we need a balance of these energies within us. Energies of action, physicality, and the Sun in contrast to energies of receiving, intuition, and the Moon. Yin and yang, duality in contradiction and compliment. Why do we need to know these energies? Because it helps direct us on the path to take and where we may be out of balance.
For instance here, we see a feminine character bound, blinded and surrounded by swords. She is stuck and won't move forward.
When we understand that the feminine - as a spiritual energy - represents knowing, intuition and deep guidance, we see how this card communicates to us that we are all twisted up, too much in our heads and relying on masculine energies instead of going within for answers. It shows us the condition and the cure.
In a beautiful synchronicity with the Chariot, we see images of the Sun and the Moon - a perfect balance of energies - and this major arcana card speaks to a spirt who is unleashed, powerful and able to move forward. A person receiving these cards will need to be told that perfectionism, doubt and self-sabotage are the only forces holding them back. When they trust their intuition, they will get on track.
In another example here, I did a reading for a man who was struggling with his image and idea of "who a man is" now that he decided to get sober. Notice those broken wine glasses on the cards that came forward? Amazing.
Here I understood the 8 of Cups (walking away from what no longer serves us) as a very supportive card to this new path. He didn't have to worry about what people would think of him - because I could see in the cards the energy and vitality within the Knight of Wands, that he was growing in power, strength and confidence because of this decision. What he really needed was permission to be proud of his recovery. He needed to take action by allowing others to see his transformation and lead the path for those who needed to make a similar change. Can you see the story here?
Masculine and Feminine in the Court Cards
These energies are important to keep in mind when we talk of our Court characters. Often, the images will align with the sex of the person but not always, for instance I often show up as the Knight of Swords (my sun sign of Libra) or as the Queen of Pentacles (my moon sign of Taurus). This makes perfect sense for me because I often feel aligned with that masculine energy of action, ambition and independence. I am softening however and tapping into my feminine energy, so more and more, the Queen shows up for me.
When understanding our Court Cards in Tarot, it's vitally important to throw out any dogmatic belief of gender, particularly in love readings. A masculine figure may come forward to represent you or your partner, even though you are both female. For this reason, non-binary and trans folk may prefer to work with modern decks that move beyond duality, though they can be harder to interpret.
If you feel unrepresented by the imagery in your deck, support a modern artist. My only caveat here is that not everyone is versed in the deep symbolism and mysteries of tarot that speaks to our intuition, so you may be drawn to a flashy deck and have zero connection to WTF its trying to portray. It's not you - it's them.
A modern deck I would suggest is the Wild Unknown by Kim Krans, who uses the spirit of animals to convey the masculine and feminine. This deck is beautiful and is very rooted in the archetypal energies without being tied to outdated norms.
That being said, I am a mega fan of the artwork of Pamela Coleman Smith in the famous Rider-Waite-Smith deck and the more I learn about her and how she channelled her work, the more it remains one of my most sacred tools. I would highly recommend this deck if you're just learning tarot and still mystified of the feminine/masculine energies.
When in doubt, journal about the cards that come forward for you and when these cards make an appearance in your life. You will start to notice these subtle forces the more you acknowledge them and will ultimately come to feel your way through the messages in the art.
Just keep pulling cards and have fun!
Decks portrayed here are from the Wild Unknown and Mystic Mondays Tarot - also a top fave.