It was the most epic television show ever created, and one of the all-time best. Based on the books by George RR Martin, Game of Thrones existed in a fantastical universe filled with heroes and villains, dragons and White Walkers, and mythic quests of bravery and conquest. It was a cultural touchstone throughout its 8-season run, airing on HBO throughout the 2010’s.
As an epic show filled with archetypal characters and mythic themes, Game of Thrones is an excellent source to explore tarot’s court cards. The Kings, Queens, Knights, and Pages found within the typical tarot deck represent personality types. All 16 of these personality types are represented among the show’s colorful cast of characters.
Let’s return to the legendary world of Westeros and take a look.
Page of Wands – Tyrion Lannister
Tyrion is small in stature but has a big spirit. His is one of the many fascinating character arcs, as he begins the series as a drunken, irresponsible fool. Yet nearly everyone took an immediate liking to him, including a fellow-misfit named Jon Snow. Over the course of the show’s eight seasons he becomes a trusted adviser and loyal friend.
The Page of Wands is a youthful expression of the element Fire, making him an optimistic adventurer in life. His fun and free-wheeling attitude is where his strength lies, although he can be a little irresponsible sometimes. He’s adaptable to his surroundings, as Tyrion had to be throughout his many travels. This Page is often a source of playfulness and humor, as Tyrion often supplied welcomed comic relief during the series’ dark episodes.
Page of Cups – Bran Stark
Bran is the prophet who became the three-eyed raven before someday becoming King. After being the victim of a tragic fall at the hands of Jaime Lannister in the show’s very first episode, Bran’s character arc takes him to the worlds within himself, and ultimately to the dimension beyond reality. Bran was chosen to take the throne at the show’s conclusion because he was deemed the most deeply connected to all people of Westeros.
Childlike and with a pure heart, the Page of Cups is more interested in the worlds of dream and fantasy than in worldly matters or ambitious goals. As a youthful expression of the element Water, he plumbs the depths of the collective unconscious, connecting him to all. He is a gentle and sensitive romantic who is often gifted with psychic abilities. This Page is a messenger of intuitive perceptions.
Page of Swords – Samwell Tarly
Samwell Tarly always had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. His dreams were to become a wise old maester, with access to the greatest library in Westeros. He discovered the truth early in the show that dragonglass killed White Walkers, and later his patient research discovered that his best friend was heir to the throne. His inventiveness saved Jorah’s life when he successfully attempted a new method for curing greyscale.
As a youthful expression of the element Air, the Page of Swords is always curious to learn something new. Like Samwell’s dreams of living at the Citadel, he’s happy to spend a lifetime of scholarship, soaking up new information. He also has a gift for writing, and it was a common theory among GoT fans that Samwell was the writer and narrator of the epic tale.
Page of Pentacles – Gendry Baratheon
Gendry had been missing from the show for a few seasons as he was in hiding, working as an apprentice blacksmith. As the bastard son of dead King Robert Baratheon, he had a claim to the throne, making him a threat. He played an important role down the stretch as a dependable and able ally in the war against the Lannisters.
The Page of Pentacles is often an apprentice, learning a craft, and working humbly. He is a youthful expression of element Earth, not drawing much attention to himself but a source of reliability and pragmatism. He tends to be warm, strong, and unpretentious. Arya, after her long and arduous journeys throughout the show, found shelter in his strength toward the end.
Knight of Wands – Jaime Lannister
Jamie Lannister is known as the King Slayer, the one with the courage and audacity to take down the former Mad King. He’s cocky with the skills to match. His bravery can border on recklessness, as his army got wiped out going against Daenrys’s dragons. His arc found him leaving his sister and lover Cersei behind so that he could remain true to his higher ideals.
Knights are extreme forms of energy, and Jaime is extreme Fire. The Knight of Wands is extremely masculine and energetic, brave and adventurous. They’re not quite level-headed enough to be king but they do lead with their sense of optimism, outgoing personality, and overall sense of derring-do.
Knight of Cups – Jorah Mormont
Jorah serves his Queen Khaleesi with passion and dedication. He loves the woman he serves deeply and takes pride in being her protector and rescuer. Jorah experienced the horrible consequences of not remaining true to his ideals when he was banished by Daenarys, contracted greyscale, and nearly died. He followed his heart back to his queen, and ultimately gave his life for her.
The Knight of Cups is the quintessential “knight in shining armor” who chivalrously saves the damsel in distress. He is a romantic to the extreme, always following his heart. He feels emotions deeply, which often makes him charming but also potentially duplicitous.
Knight of Swords – Arya Stark
Arya became a ruthless assassin over the course of her long journey. She sees through the facades of appearances to the real truth. Don’t BS her, or you may be on the receiving end of her favorite weapon, the little sword she calls “needle”. Ultimately, her never-ending quest for truth and justice led to a most heroic end as the slayer of the Night King.
The Knight of Swords is just the kind of character who would keep an “enemies list”. They know they’re right and will take down anyone who’s wronged them. They’re a warrior, skillful in battle but prone to anger and aggression. As an extreme of the element Air they’re fast-moving and quick-witted.
Knight of Pentacles – Brienne of Tarth and Sandor Clegane
Early in the show, Brienne swears an oath of loyalty to Catelyn Stark that she will locate and protect her daughters Arya and Sansa. Her sense of duty and determination define her character for the entire show’s run. She’s nearly unbeatable in battle.
Sandor Clegane – aka The Hound – is a beast of physical toughness and courage, as evidenced by his many burns and scars. Although it was Brienne who swore to protect Arya, it was the Hound who ultimately filled that role. He’s taciturn and unemotional, with a stoic nature. In the end, he dutifully gives his life to fulfill his duty of killing his wayward brother Gregor, aka The Mountain.
The Knight of Pentacles is an extreme of Earth energy, evidenced by toughness, physical strength, and reliability. Loyalty is also key characteristic: Brienne is fiercely loyal to the ladies of Winterfell, and throughout most of the show the Hound was loyal to himself.
Queen of Wands – Daenerys Targaryen
As the Mother of Dragons, she is the master of the element fire. Her character arc began as a victim of her brother’s cruelty and ambitions. She slowly discovers herself and her immense source of inner power through the fires of profound personal adversity. Through her magnetic personality and ability to inspire, she leads slave uprisings throughout Westeros. In the end, the passionate intensity of the flames within her become too much for her to handle, as she succumbs to the latent madness that dwelled within her all along.
The Queen of Wands is a self-empowered and confident character type, master of the inner expression of the element Fire. She is alluring and charismatic, as Daenerys was able to attract a loyal team of followers that would fight and die for her. This Queen is a ruler of energy and spirit, which are represented by the show’s dragons.
Queen of Cups – Margaery Tyrell
Margaery was the loving Queen who had empathy for the downtrodden. She may have been very ambitious, but we also got the feeling she actually cared about the people ruled over. She navigated her marriage to the ruthless King Joffrey by keeping her emotions in check through his many moods and outbursts. She was beautiful, compassionate, and intuitive.
The Queen of Cups is the master of the inner expression of elemental Water. As such, she is loving, kind, and sensitive to the needs of others. With the innate ability to navigate the depths of feelings within herself, she has a mysterious quality. She’s generally a supportive listener and confidant but may become manipulative or smothering as well.
Queen of Swords – Cersei Lannister
Cersei is the ever-conniving, ruthless strategist who’s always two steps ahead of her adversaries. She’ll stop at nothing to win, including an ingenious scheme to blow up an entire group of enemies in an explosion of wildfire. Included in that blast was Margaery Tyrell, whom Cersei’s keen sense of observation she could see as a threat to her position of power.
The Queen of Swords is the honest and insightful master of the inner expression of elemental Air. She does not suffer fools lightly and has the courage and perception to tell it like it is. She’s organized and disciplined, logical and straight-forward. She sees through agendas so don’t try to cross her, like Cersei’s many adversaries eventually learned.
Queen of Pentacles – Sansa Stark
Like Daenerys, Sansa had to experience great hardship on her journey to Queendom. Along the way she gained the wisdom and strength to rule both herself and others, following in the footsteps of her mother Catelyn. Sansa ultimately became a worthy leader of Winterfell, with a loving and protective approach to her subjects. Her practical means of rulership were borne from her experience.
The Queen of Pentacles is a domestic and nurturing character type, often making for great wives and mothers. They are masters of the inner expression of the element Earth, making them sensual, generous, and pragmatic. They rule the home, like Sansa came to rule her hometown. They capably apply the lessons they’ve learned through life experience to protect and help others and themselves.
King of Wands – Khal Drogo
Khal Drogo was the fierce leader of the nomadic race of warriors, the Dothraki. Ruthless, fearless, and masculine in the extreme, he commanded respect and loyalty from his barbarian subjects. Kahl gifted Daenerys three dragon eggs as a wedding present, a symbol of fire and otherworldly power. He also proved to be a passionate leader and lover, inspiring Daenerys to the heights of accomplishment after he died.
The King of Wands is the master of the outer expression of element Fire, making them exceptionally inspiring and bold leaders. Their profound vitality and courage draws others to them, like moths to a flame. Their fiery personalities and driven nature make them dominating alpha-males, with passion, charisma, and a potentially very nasty temper.
King of Cups – Jon Snow
Like the other most fascinating characters of the series, Jon Snow experienced a profoundly long and arduous character arc. He began the series as a disrespected bastard and ultimately saved the entire kingdom of Westeros from the ruthless Queen he swore loyalty to. He was always calm under pressure and wise beyond his years. His innate gifts for diplomacy allowed him to connect to and ultimately befriend adversaries, such as the Wildlings and Daenerys. At a critical point in the series, he literally died and was brought back to life, and in the process he plumbed the deepest parts of his psyche and beyond.
The King of Cups is the master of the outer expression of the element Water. They have full command over their emotions, making them intuitive, charismatic, and protective of those who are weaker. They naturally find common ground with all others, even enemies, making them charitable, trustworthy, and sympathetic.
King of Swords – Eddard Stark
The pilot episode of Game of Thrones features this patriarch of the ruling family of the North being chosen to be hand of King Robert Baratheon. He made an excellent choice for the position not only because he’d been long-time friends to the King, but also because he was a strong and fair leader to his subjects and his family alike. Also part of that first episode showed King Stark behead a soldier for desertion, illustrating his commitment to the ideals of justice and power. His integrity and strong ethical character lead to his being killed at the conclusion of the show’s first season.
The King of Swords is an authoritative and just ruler, making him the master of the outer expression of elemental Air. His impeccable judgement and gifts for analysis make him a clear-headed, decisive, and respected leader.
King of Pentacles – Tywin Lannister
When the psychopathic enfant terrible Joffrey ascends to the throne, his grandfather is brought in from his ruling perch in Casterly Rock to be a mature and steadying influence in King’s Landing. Tywin is a taskmaster, creating alliances with House Tyrell to secure finances and military power for the administration, and also Walder Frey and Roose Bolton to execute the shocking “Red Wedding”. His administrative genius and ruthlessness empower the Lannisters to remain the ruling family of Westeros.
The King of Pentacles is gifted in matters of trade, commerce, and administration. As master of the outer expression of element Earth, he is a practical technician and successful with material concerns like finance. He is a stable and mature figure who can be counted on to do whatever is required to take care of business.
CONCLUSION: THEY ARE ALL WITHIN YOU
Game of Thrones had far more than 16 (or 17) major characters, so I chose the ones I felt best fit each of the archetypal character types represented by the court cards. Of course some others would also fit, if not quite as perfectly, including Petyr Baelish as a Knight of Swords, except whose weapons were cunning and information; Stannis Baratheon as a Knight of Wands, whose unquenchable thirst for power led him to the depths of depravity; and Melisandre, who best embodies the High Priestess of the major arcana, but as a court card would be a fitting Queen of Wands.
Please don’t perceive any of the 16 character types as more intrinsically heroic or villainous, based on the characters that best embodied them in Game of Thrones. Just in Daenerys alone we see the wide range of positive and negative traits that can come from a single type. The same is true for each of these characters from Game of Thrones and the character types they symbolize. The bottom line is that none are inherently better or worse than any others, and all have equal potential positives and negatives.
For new and even experienced tarot practitioners, the 16 court cards can be difficult to interpret. Since Kings, Queens, Knights, and Pages don’t have much relevance in modern times, these images are often hard to relate to. But by connecting these cards to a show like Game of Thrones, we can more easily see how they behave when brought to life. We might also see bits of all of them within ourselves.
Just remember that despite the armor, swords, and dragons, that ultimately all these powerful characters are universal personality types that dwell in all of us. When one of the court cards appears in your readings, feel free to think of a character from Game of Thrones to help you relate to them better. But to work with court cards best, you’ll recognize all of them within you.
(All card images from the Waite-Smith Borderless Tarot Deck)