Friday, August 25, 2006

Training Wheels: The Tarot Pages

To understand the meaning of the Pages in tarot, I think a little smattering of history is in order. Tarot cards were created in the middle ages when everyone understood what was meant when someone was a "Page."

A castle Page was a boy of a nobleman or a vassel who, if he did not already reside in the castle, was sent to his lord's castle to live for the duration of his training. That is, until he became a knight. Lest the romance of it all soften this image, the knight was a soldier. He was trained for war. Thus, very young children were conscripted into training away from their families into a program so comprehensive that as they grew into young men, they would be fully prepared to serve their lord unto death, no questions.

Tarot Pages, I believe, cover the entire duration of what was actually a two-stage process from Page to Squire, for the next court card is the Knight. Pages waited the lord's table, cared for his clothing, and was trained in the proper procedures of these duties, such as how to properly carve a roast at table. He was uniformed in the colors and crest of his lord. The women of the castle looked after the younger pages and oversaw their education in religion, etiquette, and social skills. The boys were also to begin acquiring the skills of a knight so they began training in lance tilting, pell jousting, hunting, and hawking. Pages would be encouraged in sword play with wooden swords and shields and fighting on piggyback to acquire the balance needed in mounted combat. The Page was elevated to Squire status at around fourteen years of age. At this stage he would be the junior to a Knight and would more seriously begin training to knighthood. He would be at his knight's disposal at all times, even sleeping at the foot of his bed at night. In this phase the Squire was taught chivalry, courtly etiquette, music and dancing, the rules of heraldry, horsemanship and practice using genuine weapons while jousting. Squires accompanied their knights onto the battlefield, tending to the horses and dressing them. Many squires were killed on the battlefields before reaching knighthood at age twenty-one.

Thus, in tarot the Page is a servant, a messenger. He or she is also one who is in the process of learning new skills and ways of living. They are either chronologically young, or simply young-at-heart, possibly unskilled, but maybe just immature. In many ways they are ignorant, but it is that innocent kind of ignorance, not the closed-minded, stubborn kind. They are often very enthusiastic and eager to try out their newfound skills. They may attempt a project over their skill level, overestimating themselves, and are liable to make quite a few mistakes.

These guys are literally Knights-on-Training-Wheels. In jousting training they used to use wooden horses on wheels pulled by two pages while another page sat on top with a wooden lance aimed at a target, sometimes a hanged dummy or some other form of pell. A page may become so practiced at this exercise that he believes himself capable of riding a real horse or really jousting an opponent. That overconfidence is typical of the novice and often results in some pretty harsh reality checks. So if a page appears in your reading, one thing to keep in mind, especially if it is telling you something about yourself, is to check yourself for this type of overestimating your own abilities. Not that we shouldn't reach for the stars, but recognizing one's limitations in any area will allow you to learn at your own pace without too many of those fall-on-your-face humiliations that often come from biting off more than you can chew.

The thing to remember with the Pages in tarot is that they are beginning to put the lessons of their particular suit in practice. They are beginning to learn how to use their sharp swords, their reasoning and logic skills; their cups, the lessons of chivalry and emotional navigation; their wands (clubs, lances), their passion, energy directed towards goals; and their pentacles, their bodies, their resources, their ability to create something tangible, as well as managing their money.

Sometimes the meaning of the Page is even more direct. Pages, being messengers, can mean a letter, a phone call, a notice, an advertisement for something you need, an email or some other form of communication having to do with their suit. For example, the Page of Pentacles might be a message about a job or something having to do with your job whereas the Page of Cups might be a message having to do with relationships and other emotional matters. They might bring invitations to attend an event when you will meet a higher member of the court. Pages don't always bring good news, but they do bring news of some kind with information you need to know.

As mentioned in my introductory post in this series, the way to determine which meaning is suitable is by keeping the question asked in mind, examine the position in which the Page appeared, consider the possibilities of what this Page is trying to tell you, and most of all, listen to what he is saying with those internal ears of intuition.
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