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Tarotcatures: A Five-Part Examination of the Courts as Characters; Part Four: The Kings

In the last few weeks, I have been examining the tarot’s Court cards, pairing them with characters from my favorite books, movies, and even people in real life. This practice is excellent for helping writers with character development.

Rising to the top of the tarot’s Minor Arcana hierarchy, we arrive at the Kings, who lead with confidence, strength, and the mastery of their suits and elements. This week, I’ve selected four fictional personas whom I believe perfectly illustrate each of these Court Kings.

For a recap of the Court roles (Page, Knight, Queen, and King) and what each represents, as well as the suits (cups, pentacles, swords, and wands) and what they mean, check out my first post in this series.

Like the Queens, the Kings are also informed by cards of the Major Arcana, specifically (in my opinion) The Emperor and The Hierophant. The pinnacle of the Courts, the Kings symbolize mastery and leadership. They facilitate with calculated intelligence what the Queens before them nurtured, the Knights set into action, and the Pages sought to understand and/or inform. Like The Emperor, the Kings can represent fatherly, leader archetypes, and like The Hierophant, these Court personalities guide, teach, and mentor.

Let’s pair our Rulers of the Court and their meanings by considering each of the Kings as a character. I believe the following fictional characters demonstrate the qualities of the King card assigned to them. These individuals are among my favorite personalities from books, movies, TV, and real life.

King of Cups

“I could not have parted with you, my Lizzy, to anyone less worthy.” Mr. Bennet is the Dad every girl wishes she had. Kind, discerning, and patient (especially with his wife’s nerves), this famous Austen Papa perfectly demonstrates the King of Cups’ emotional leadership style. I mean, how else could he have survived in a house bursting with such strong feminine personalities?

King of Pentacles

Lounging comfortably on his elaborate, earthy throne, draped in his Dionysian gown, the King of Pentacles is the Ruler of the Roost. When I think of this King, I’m reminded of domestic leadership, especially the industrious, salt-of-the-earth, down-home type. As such, sometimes this King can be stern and impatient, even unkind. Danny Glover’s portrayal of Mister from Alice Walker’s The Color Purple represents the energy of this sometimes harsh and brooding tarot personality.

King of Swords

Randall Pierson of This is Us is a strong, determined, methodical, and intelligent partner, father, and leader. Like the King of Swords, he’s always thinking, always calculating. Also like this King, Randall is as seemingly hard on the exterior, yet just as soft and delicate on the inside as those butterflies engraved on that sturdy throne. Lastly, the tilting of this King’s sword to his right indicates that he is thinking about the future, just like Randall. On the other hand, to the viewer (you and me), that sword is tilting toward the left, indicating that the King is thinking about the past, also just like Randall.

King of Wands

When I set out to decide which fictional character would embody the fiery, enthusiastic, entrepreneurial spirit of the King of Wands, the person to step forward almost immediately was Christian Grey of the Fifty Shades of Grey franchise. Hot-tempered, fervent, and as suggested by the symbolism of the salamander to his left, this King is willing and able to walk on fire for his pursuits. Sound familiar?

What do you think?

What are your thoughts about my King card pairings? What about your own characters? Using what you know and/or have learned about the Kings in this post, which cards best represent your protagonist and/or antagonist?

Next week, my Tarotcatures series will wrap up with a fun activity! Be sure to come back and check it out!

On Writer Wednesday, we will continue our pursuit of the Major Arcana's Tarot Stories with my favorite card of the tarot: The Hermit.

In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.

Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself. And that's a good thing!

When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at, and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative and on Facebook at

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