Laying out Court Cards in a Pentagram Spread is a powerful way to invoke a specific element and to develop a better understanding of the symbolic progressions within the cards themselves. Each suit contains four Court Cards, a King, a Queen, a Knight (sometimes called a Prince), and a Page (sometimes known as a Princess). As you recall, the suit of Wands represents the element of Fire, the suit of Cups the element of Water, the suit of Swords the element of Air, and the suit of Pentacles the element of Earth. This, however, is where it gets complicated: The Kings represent Fire, the Queens Water, the Knights Air, and the Pages Earth, so sub-elements exist within the main elements. For instance, the King of Wands represents Fire of Fire, the Queen of Wands represents Water of Fire, the Knight of Wands represents Air of Fire, and the Page of Wands represents Earth of Fire. In other words, the King of Wands represents the pure element, but the Queen of Wands represents Fire influenced by Water, which can be interpreted several ways, the most common of which is "the spiritual will influenced by the emotions." In esoteric terms, it means "the spiritual plane influencing the archetypal plane."
The Court Cards in each suit contain reoccuring symbols that emphasize themes and reveal basic changes from one level to another. For instance, the Court Cards in the suit of Swords contain five dominant symbols: the color yellow, swords, clouds, birds, and butterflies. Yellow in the Tarot symbolizes mentality, so where you find the color is always significant. For instance, in the Page of Swords, yellow appears on clothing covering the arms and legs, suggesting that mentality is related to movement and the learning of basic survival skills in the physical realm, wheras in the King and Queen, yellow is in the crown, suggesting that the energy is focused in the level of conscious mind or intellect. Butterflies, symbolizing metamorphosis, suggest the transformative quality of mental energy. Butterflies do not appear in the Page at all, suggesting the energy of mentality is focused on basic physical experience. In the Knight, yellow butterflies appear as decoration near the horse's chest and legs, suggesting that the transformative quality of mentality is related to movement and action. In the Queen, yellow butterflies appear on the crown, and in the King, cloud-like butterflies on the throne seem to be rising into the sky. Look at the sword in each card. Is it tilted or straight up and down? Which way is it tilted, and why?
King of Swords.
Queen of Swords.
Knight of Swords.
Page of Swords.
Start by placing the The Fool, which symbolizes the element of Air, in the center of the pentagram. Next, create the Active Invoking Pentagram by placing the King of Swords at the lower right point of the star, then move to the upper left point and lay down the Knight of Swords. Move to the upper right point and lay down the Queen of Swords. Then move down to the lower left point and lay down the Page of Swords. Imagine the positive energies of the element of Air filling your mind with creative, transformative energy on all levels of your being.
Start by placing the The Hanged Man, which symbolizes the element of Water, in the center of the pentagram. Next, since Water is considered a passive element, create the Passive Invoking Pentagram by placing the Page of Cups at the lower left point of the star, then move to the upper right point and lay down the Queen of Cups. Move across to the upper left point and lay down the Knight of Cups. Then move down to the lower right point and lay down the King of Cups. Before you continue, I recommend that you ponder the cards in relation to each other. Look for reoccuring symbols and significant details, remembering that even a foot touching water, or not touching water, can be significant. Consider each card by itself and then compare it to the other cards. Then allow the positive energies of the element of Water to fill you with intense, transformative feeling.
King of Cups.
Queen of Cups.
Knight of Cups.
Page of Cups.
TIP: Judgement represents the element of Fire, and the element of Earth is not represented by a Major Arcana trump, so in my opinion it is best to invoke either an Ace or a trump within the elemental triplicity. In other words, for Fire consider using either the Ace of Wands or The Emperor, representing Aries; Strength, representing Leo; or Temperance, representing Sagittarius, all three of which are in the Fire Triplicity. For Earth, choose either the Ace of Pentacles or the Hierophant (Taurus), The Hermit (Virgo), or The Devil (Capricorn).
The Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.
The Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram starts with the Earth element in the lower left hand corner and moves toward the apex, the element of Spirit, or Aether, then to Fire, Air, Water, and back to Earth. So for the Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, the player should lay down the card with the unwanted energies in the middle of the star and then the Ace of Pentacles in the lower left hand corner. Then proceed as in the Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, placing “Judgement” at the top of the star, the Ace of Wands in the lower right hand corner, the Ace of Swords in the upper left corner, the Ace of Cups in the upper right corner. Then draw the full pentagram above the star in the same order from the Ace of Pentacles back to the Ace of Pentacles, thereby banishing the energies in the card.
Fire and Air are active elements and Earth and Water are passive elements. Therefore, the invoking ritual for Air and Fire is slightly different than the one for Earth and Water. This requires you to decide which element you are focusing on, which is simple if you are invoking a number card, court card or zodiac card, but more subjective if you are invoking the energy of a planet. As you can see in the chart below, except for the Sun and the Moon, each planet rules two zodiac signs, one sign in an active element and one in a passive element. When invoking a planet, you must decide, based on your ritual purpose and the modifiers you are using, if the ritual is more in an active element of Air and Fire or a passive element of Earth and Water.
When it comes to laying out the cards, a little advanced planning is always helpful. Remember to arrange the cards in an order that enables you to perform the ritual without worrying about the placement of the cards, especially if you are using a lot of modifiers. You can, for instance, make separate piles, one for the primary card and the foundation cards, with the primary card on top; one for the zodiac modifiers; one for the planetary modifiers; and one for the number cards--all in the order of placement. Remember that the type of invoking pentagram you are using, either active or passive, affects the lay out of the cards since you will either be starting with Wands in the position of the Fire element in the lower right hand corner and moving to the upper left-hand corner, or with Pentacles in the position of the Earth element in the lower left-hand corner and moving in the opposite direction. This may all sound extremely complicated, but once you've mastered the basics, which is much easier than may appear at first, you shouldn't have any problems. One of the purposes of this layout is to help you with memory and concentration. Both are extremely important in invocation and in the Great Work in general, especially when it comes to the more advanced rituals.
A more detailed explanation of banishing and invoking with the Pentagram Spread.
The Middle Pillar Exercise.
The Basics of the Pentagram Spread.
Divination with the Pentagram Spread.
Example: Invoking Mercury.
The Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram.
Meet the Page of Pentacles.
Meet The Fool.