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Tarot Court Cards & The Myers-Briggs Personality Types

Tarot Court Cards & The Myers-Briggs Personality Types

Though there is no universal agreement among tarot professionals, many of us do see parallels between the tarot court cards, four primary human cognitive functions and the sixteen personality types as described by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) system of psychological science. Understanding these personality parallels is helpful to assigning a significator card to represent a querent or even oneself in a reading.

The four binary cognitive functions of personality lie on a dichotomous continuum of expression:

Extroversion (E) - Introversion (I)

Intuition (N) - Sensation (S)

Thinking (T) - Feeling (F)

Judging (J) - Perceiving (P)

In the MBTI psychological system, the four dominant cognitive functions are Intuition (N), Sensing (S), Thinking (T) and Feeling (F). In an individual, one of these four primary functions will dominate the personality (while other functions orient and refine the personality with greater depth). Extroverts overtly express their dominant function in the outer world. Introverts express their dominant function in their inner worlds, and overtly express their auxiliary (secondary) function in the outer world. For example, while the dominant function of both ENT's and INT's is Thinking, extroverts will overtly reveal the Thinking function while INT's will overtly reveal their secondary Intuition function to the outside world.

The four dichotomous functions combine by degree of expression to form sixteen personality types. Within these sixteen personality types, four core personality types exist.

In my understanding and way of seeing (other ways do exist in the tarot community), the four primary core personality types (namely NT, SP, NF and SJ) correspond to the four suits of the tarot as follows:

Swords/Blades/Athames/Knives - Rationals (NT) - thoughts, visionaries, communicating ideas, exerting power

Wands/Rods/Staves - Artisans (SP) - energy in motion, movers, motivation, passion, spirituality, artistry

Cups/Chalices/Goblets - Idealists (NF) - feelings, emotions, relationships, creativity, dreamers, poets

Pentacles/Coins/Discs - Guardians (SJ) - finances, career, work ethic, material possessions, tradition, duty

Taking it further, the sixteen court cards of tarot correspond to the sixteen personality types: Kings and Knights (or Princes), who traditionally conquer and negotiate with other kingdoms, correspond to Extroversion. Queens and Pages (or Princesses), who are traditionally associated with ruling within the kingdom and internal affairs, correspond to Introversion. 

When Sensing, Judging and Perceiving do not form part of the core personality (NT and NF, Swords and Cups), Kings and Queens, as stabilizing Elders, correspond to the Judging function, while the more youthful Knights and Pages (or Princes and Princesses) correspond to the Perceiving function. When Sensing, Judging and Perceiving do form part of the core personality (SP and SJ, Wands and Pentacles),  Kings and Queens, as ruling Elders, correspond to the Thinking function, while the more youthful Knights and Pages (or Princes and Princesses) correspond to the Feeling function.

The Extroversion-Introversion dichotomy pertains to the way individuals respond to and interact with the world around them. Extroverts are outward turning. Introverts are inward turning. This dichotomy determines the psychological orientation of the personality.

The Intuition-Sensation dichotomy pertains to the way individuals primarily gather information from the world around them. Individuals who prefer intuition to gather information focus more on patterns, abstraction and impressions. Those who prefer sensation to gather information focus more on the here and now reality, data from the body's five senses and hands-on experience.

The Thinking-Feeling dichotomy pertains to how individuals prefer to make decisions about the information they've gathered. Thinkers place emphasis on facts, logic and objective data. Feelers place emphasis on people, issues and emotions.

The Judging-Perceiving dichotomy pertains to how individuals regard complexity and structure. Those who prefer Judging lean toward highly complex structure and tradition. Those who prefer Perceiving are more spontaneous and flexible. This dichotomy reflects a lifestyle preference of the individual.

Putting all of this together, using the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith tarot system, (though some tarot professionals group them differently) the sixteen personality types (as I see them) correspond to sixteen tarot court cards as follows:

SWORDS:

King of Swords - ENTJ

Queen of Swords - INTJ

Knight (Prince) of Swords - ENTP

Page (Princess) of Swords - INTP

WANDS:

King of Wands - ESTP

Queen of Wands - ISTP

Knight (Prince) of Wands - ESFP

Page (Princess) of Wands - ISFP

CUPS:

King of Cups - ENFJ

Queen of Cups - INFJ

Knight (Prince) of Cups - ENFP

Page (Princess) of Cups - INFP

PENTACLES:

King of Pentacles - ESTJ

Queen of Pentacles - ISTJ

Knight (Prince) of Pentacles - ESFJ

Page (Princess) of Pentacles - ISFJ

As a reader of tarot myself, I have an INTJ personality type, represented by the Queen of Swords. In the MBTI system, INTJ is called the Mastermind.

Take the Myers-Briggs Personality Test for FREE and discover your personality type - MBTI Test