THE FOUR EMPYREAN COURTS
Archangels are the tarot Kings. Shields are the tarot Queens. The Shining Ones are tarot Knights and the Strongholds are tarot Pages.
Tarot readers may be used to Kings presenting as male and Queens as female, but here, the King equivalents are Archangels, where the elemental forces of Fire and Air present as masculine in both levels, while Water and Earth present as feminine.
The top caption of each court card features the angelic epithet or hierarchical title.
The center of the bottom caption features that angelic being’s role, powers, or jurisdiction.
The four Archangels are the four most exalted titles of divinity within, symbolic of personal mastery over attributes relating to the suit’s element. The title of “King” is not gendered, but rather, is hierarchical.
Archangel of Glory. King of Scepters: You’re being beckoned to pursue greater scholarship or cultivation of the arts. This is your higher angel of artistic, literary, and academic excellence. You’ve worked hard and you’ve perservered, and now you will dominate in scholarly or professional endeavors. Pictured here is northeastern Japan in the mountain ranges of Hokkaido, reflecting a copper red from the rising sun.
Archangel of Healing.King of Chalices: The Archangel of Healing purifies you, mind, body, and soul. She has a tender place in her heart for those who are like fish out of water, caring for them the most. You are being called to lean in to your own pain and through it, feel empathy for others. You will be one who unifies others, one who instills Faith in those who need it the most. You are a crucial part of an oncoming Renaissance. You’ll lead others safely through dangerous terrain. Pictured here is an Inuit spiritual healer set in the Arctic tundra.
Archangel Commander.King of Swords: The Path to choose is to Fight with Purpose. Advocate for yourself. Exude confidence in the powers and capabilities you wield. This spirit’s full title is the Archangel Commander of the Light. He appears to you now to bring strength, conviction, and courage, so that you might stand tall and stand up for yourself. Pictured here is a 14th century French Templar, a knight from the Order of Solomon’s Temple.
Archangel of Mysteries. King of Orbs: Here is the Archangel of Revelations, set in pre-Columbian Tehuelche-occupied Patagonia, the southern tip of South America, incorporating parts of Chile and Argentina. In the skies is the Pleiades, under the constellation Taurus—an omen of prosperity and abundance, of a great harvest to come. The corn symbolizes provision, one who is a Provider, one who nourishes and sustains the livelihoods of others. You work and labor not for yourself, but for the establishment a kingdom for your kin.
The four Shields are four sanctuaries, and each sanctuary is a safe haven where you cultivate greater power and abilities that correspond to the suit’s element. The title of “Queen” is not gendered, but rather, is hierarchical. The essence of the feminine is not physical, but rather in reference to a dwelling place, a metaphorical womb where we nurture and cultivate, and the epithet for each Shield is a “Sanctum of…” Each Shield’s color reference is to its corresponding alchemical phase: Yellow Work, White Work, Red Work, and Black Work, summation of which is achievement of the Great Work.
The Golden Shield. Sanctum of Splendor: There is cause for optimism. Cultivating your passion project to maturation will bring great rewards. Dedicate time in the sanctum of splendor to gain experience that will fuel your passion. The setting is a Zoroastrian Fire Temple in Persepolis during the Achaemenid Empire. Featured here is Nuska (or Nusku), the Mesopotamian god of light and fire, son of the moon god. Prayer in Old Persian cuneiform on the Shield: “Lord of Wisdom and Light, protect my people from our enemies, from famine, and from falsehoods.”
The Ivory Shield. Sanctum of the Immaculate: The patron divinity in this sanctuary is Airmid (or Airmed), from the Tuatha Dé Danann, or tribe of the goddess Danu. In Gaelic Irish lore, Airmid is an immortal with the powers of healing. She is also the guardian over the Well of Wisdom in the Celtic Otherworld. Airmid is surrounded by blossoms of chamomile, one of the oldest medicinal herbs documented. Dedicate time in the sanctum of the immaculate to clear your world of the debris others have left behind in it, and once cleared, trust and create from your own intuition, psychic senses, and trust your emotions—in the matter at hand, they will not lead you astray.
The Scarlet Shield. Sanctum of the Valiant: There must be sacrifice for there to be glory. Your spirit guide in this sanctuary is a Shorn One, an Aztec warrior priest who shall be your formidable line of defense as you charge forth confidently to face your battles. His shield features an eagle devouring a serpent: a divine omen from the gods. Pictured in the background is the city-state Mexica-Tenochtitlan in the 15th century. Cultivate your confidence and fearlessness. Make sure your voice is heard—you do that by presenting yourself as logical and reasoned. Also, do not hold back. Conquer to dominate.
The Ebony Shield. Sanctum of Treasures: Save, invest, and be more mindful of your personal security. Fortify yourself. Ward to preserve and protect. This is the archetype of the breadwinner, and the rock that anchors the family, the anchor that keeps the ship grounded. The Ebony Shield safeguards your wealth, luck, gains, and earthly dominion so that others cannot take what is yours. Pictured here is Dihya, warrior queen of the Amizighs, circa the 7th century. She was al-Kahina, The Prophetess. The men who feared her called her a soothsayer-sorceress. Here, in tribute to the Amizighs, she appears with traditional facial tattoos—magical talismans for fertility, prosperity, and power during magical rites.
THE SHINING ONES
In Biblical angelology, the Shining Ones are a hierarchy of angels who gift humanity with miracles, endow us with blessings, and encourage us to act virtuously. They’re called the “shining ones” because they emanate with a brilliant, luminous light. They represent the pure kinetic power of the four elements, masculinized. Each Knight is accompanied by one of the Four Winged Horses and one of the four alchemical mythic creatures per Paracelsus.
The Shining Flame. Embers of the Salamander: Do not delay; do not procrastinate. Train now, and train hard. Throw the lightning bolt. Accelerate your passions and impulses. Crystallize your intentions and define them clearly. Here is a hwarang warrior knight from the Silla Kingdom, training at a Buddhist monastery dedicated to Maitreya. Balancing the scepter off-center requires more of the knight’s core strength. Helper spirit: the fire-breathing salamander. The winged horse is named Bellum.
The Shining Waters. Waves of the Undine: Slow down and take some time to introspect. Go with the flow. Ride the waves. Romance is present. The world you’re creating is pure poetry. Dreams are prophetic. Employ kindness and charisma, as they will take you far. Pictured here is one of nobility from 14th century Florence (“the Flourishing Town”) at the start of the Italian Renaiisance. His helper spirit is the undine, who shapeshifts, can cast illusions, and can show you prophetic visions. The winged horse is named Mortem.
The Shining Gale. Winds of the Sylph: Be strategic. Appear to conform to the shape of that which is around you, but then assert yourself once you’re at the center. That is how you advance quickly to the top. The Shining Gale is a spirit counseling you to raise both sword and shield. Launch the attack, but be cunning about it. Do not show your hand. Do not reveal your plan. Just hasten your move, and act progressively. Pictured here is a warrior general wielding the Sword of Goujian. The text in red are the opening lines of the Diamond Sutra; behind it in imperial yellow is the seal for invoking the Lady of the Ninth Heaven. The warrior general’s helper spirit is the sylph, who controls the winds and storms. The winged horse is named Victorum.
The Shining Quarry. Caverns of the Gnome: Slow and steady is your pace. Take time to think through every move. Be chivalrous and you will be abundantly rewarded. You are the workhorse who gets the task done. Pictured here is a Rajput warrior in front of a reimagined Rani ki Vav, a subterranean temple and stepwell in honor of Vishnu, The Preserver. His helper spirit is the gnome, who grows metals and minerals in the earth and who can help to retrieve that which was lost. The winged horse is named Denarius. Take some time to review your finances and also, check in on your own physical health and wellbeing.
In previous editions, they were referenced as The Strongholds.
The Heralds (also known as angelic Strongholds) represent the power of potential for the four elements, feminized. They signify the gestation of a force or influence forthcoming.
When a Herald appears in your reading, the sealed scroll signifies that she comes bearing you a message from beyond. Pull an additional card to receive the message and to reveal the gestating force that will most influence the journey to come.
Herald of the Flame. Awaken the Brilliance: Here is an omen of talent rising, the promise of a Light about to shine with magnificence. In the matter you’ve inquired about, the underlying theme is career matters, schooling, a creative or artistic endeavor you’ve been working on, employment, or passion projects.
The Page of Scepters is a princess from Bhutan, the Hidden Holy Land and Lotus Garden of the Gods. The Bhutanese call their lands the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon. The princess is being trained and prepared for the role of Queen, which she will someday serve. Likewise, you are in training and preparation for the great title you will someday be ordained to hold.
Herald of the Waters. Inspire the Prodigy: You’re endowed with precocious gifts of prophetic significance, but as much as you are a marvel, you are an abnormality—the two traits go hand in hand. You cannot accept one without the other. Your next step now is to inspire the inner prodigy. You do that by tapping in to your empathy. This can be a subconscious response to what’s going on in a relationship of yours, or it’s your intuition knocking on a closed door, wanting you to pay attention.
The Page of Chalices is the Herald here to help you become better attuned to your emotions, helping you in your pursuit of true happiness. She appears to you when you need further guidance on your path to finding your personal Holy Grail. Pictured here is a as a 15th century Inca ñust’a, or high-born from Tawantinsuyu. Nusta is the Quechua word for a princess, queen, or a feminine divine being. Tawantinsuyu, meaning “The Four Regions [Suyu],” is the name the Inca gave their empire.
Herald of the Winds. Ventures of the Dauntless: You are fearless. You’ll undertake an enterprise, even while it’s speculative. The future is uncertain, but that won’t stop you from chasing fortune. Speak your truth. Walk your talk. Pictured here is a Roma woman of Indo-Aryan origins traversing the Silk Road during the Byzantine Empire. In one hand she holds a bronze sword, which she acquired by trade, and in the other, her enchanted divination cards. Inscribed upon her sword is the mantra invoking Vajrayogini, the dakini or female essence of transcendental passion, a passion that will break down every barrier in your path.
Herald of the Earth. Dedication of the Adept: The adepti were those skilled in the secret arts of alchemy and mysticism. Your hard work and commitment to success will bear the fruits of mastery. This is the narrative of tenacity, grit, and determination. It’s demonstrating the discipline to hone your craft. You will do whatever it takes to become learned, to increase your personal capabilities. You will be resourceful. You will master the power of transmutation. Crowley describes the Thoth Princess of Disks (Page of Orbs) as a priestess of Demeter.
When this card appears, it’s a sign from beyond that it’s time for you to cultivate the traits of perseverance, persistence, and embody the indomitable spirit. This is about working with your hands, being physically present in the practicum of the craft. Pictured here is a maiden inspired by Bertha of Savoy, from the Duchy of Swabia, who later became the Holy Roman Empress. In the midnight blue skies is the birth of a supernova that occurred in the 11th century, now known as the Crab Nebula in Taurus.