It’s All In The Cards

The following article is presented for entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as scholarly research and is not a final authority on the subject.

Today I’m going to share about an upcoming project that has me very excited.

The name of the project is Allegories of the Tarot. You’ve probably seen it on the homepage of this website. Perhaps you have even seen me mention it on Facebook. Or maybe on Twitter. Now, it’s time to talk about it in detail.

Allegories of the Tarot photo by Annetta Ribken and Kris Austen Radcliffe
Allegories of the Tarot
photo by Annetta Ribken
and Kris Austen Radcliffe

Why I’m Involved

Those privy to the Trials and Tribulations of Catie™ know I met Annetta Ribken, The Editor Goddess, while readying Forever Road for publication. Netta—she allows only initiated minions to call her this—changed the way I write. More importantly, she became my friend.

Her Allegories of the Tarot project fascinated me from the first time she told me about it. I’m going to use her words to explain it to you guys.

I have long had the desire to put together an anthology of the Major Arcana of the Tarot. I thought how fascinating it would be to corral an author for each of the cards, and see what kind of story they’d write. Because although there are many universal human experiences, the truth is they are as diverse as the perspective of the individual.  Click here to read more.

~Annetta Ribken, Word Webbing

That, in a nutshell, is the backbone of this project. If you’re wondering what on earth she means, I’m going to explain a little about the tarot deck and what’s in it. If this information is totally boring to you, skip down to the heading How This Project Works.

The Tarot Deck

First, let me explain the difference between a tarot deck and a standard 52 deck.

A standard 52 deck of playing cards–like we use to play poker–contains 52 cards. The cards are sized 2.5×3.5 inches or 64×89 mm.

Standard 52 Deck photo by me
Standard 52 Deck
photo by Catie

The deck is broken up into four suits–spades, clubs, diamonds, and hearts–which are numbered from ace to ten. Each suit has three face cards–jack, queen, and king. Not counted in the 52, but usually present, are two jokers.

The tarot is both similar and different from the standard 52 deck. The most noticeable difference is that each card in the tarot deck is a pictogram which represents a concept.

Queen of Rods Morgan Greer Deck photo by Me
Queen of Rods
Morgan Greer Deck
photo by Me

The cards in the tarot deck are often larger than the cards in the standard 52 deck. In addition, the tarot deck contains 78 cards instead of 52. These 78 cards are divided into Major Arcana and Minor Arcana. Let’s talk about the Minor Arcana first.

The Minor Arcana

Like the standard 52 deck, the Minor Arcana has four suits; however, in the tarot deck, the suits are cups, rods, swords, and pentacles. Each suit represents a concept.

Pentacles represent material gain. Swords represent triumph in conquest. Rods represent spiritual strength. Cups represent beauty, joy, love, and peace in matters of the heart. All of these concepts mirror challenges we meet in every day life.

Tarot 9 of Pentacles
Nine of Pentacles/Coins
Morgan Greer Deck

Like the standard 52 deck, each suit of the tarot deck contains ten numeric cards, numbering from ace to ten. However, each suit in the tarot deck has four face cards–page, knight, queen, and king. Each station (or number) in each suit represents a period in life’s journey.

The Major Arcana

The Major Arcana completely sets the tarot deck apart from the standard 52 deck. It contains 22 cards, numbered from 0-21.  Each card represents an archetype.

For instance, the 0 card is The Fool. This card parallels human attitudes at the beginning of a journey. The fool is enthusiastic but inattentive to details. He is described as immature and carefree, pure of heart. He makes poor choices and can be careless.

The 21 card is The World. This is the final card in the Major Arcana. It symbolizes infinity. Each card in the deck has passed before it, and the cycle will now begin again. This card also symbolizes completion and success.

The World Legacy of the Divine Tarot Laura Eno, photographer
The World
Legacy of the Divine Tarot
Laura Eno, photographer

There are twenty other cards in the Major Arcana, each representing an archetype with which we are all familiar. Each person identifies those archetypes–and the tarot in general–by their own life experience, their world views, and the sand in their shoes. Hundreds of tarot decks exist, each one operating on a different theme.

For instance, one interesting version of the tarot I found while writing this post was the Urban Tarot. Click here to check it out. What the creator talks about, finding meaning in places you don’t expect, is exactly what Allegories of the Tarot is all about.

How this Project Works

Allegories of the Tarot deals specificially with the 22 cards in the Major Arcana. Each of the twenty-two writers participating in this project either picked a card in the Major Arcana or were assigned one.

Because I am a believer in fate, in the Power of the Universe, I asked Netta to choose for me. She very quickly assigned me Justice.

Justice Rider-Waite Deck Kris Austen Radcliffe, photographer
Justice
Rider-Waite Deck
Kris Austen Radcliffe, photographer

 

As you can see, Justice holds in one hand the scales with which we are all familiar. In the other, she holds a sword. She is both the giver and the enforcer of laws. The little square on her crown represents her good instinct and her power of perception.

Jusice (in the tarot) is a metaphor for peace. Sometimes justice is not about what’s fair, but is, instead, about keeping the peace.

Remember Escalus, the Prince of Verona, in Romeo and Juliet?  He’s the voice of authority, ordering the Capulets and Montagues to make peace following the suicides of Romeo and Juliet. His character is often considered one interpretation of the concepts in the justice card.

Tarot Justice Morgan Greer
Justice
Morgan Greer Deck
Photo By Me

Another interpretation of the Justice card–in my opinion–can be found in the TV series Justified. Boyd Crowder and Raylan Givens represent opposite ends of the justice spectrum. Raylan metes out justice in the name of law enforcement. Boyd Crowder doles out vigilante justice.

Both characters strive to bring about peace–as they interpret it–in their worlds. Though often driven by selfish motivators, they each hold a position of power. Their underlings look to them to settle disputes and make things right.

I am tasked with the job of interpreting the Justice card my way and writing a short story about it. Twenty-one other authors will be doing the same thing…only with different cards.

Learn More

If you’d like an introduction to each author involved in the project and how they plan to interpret their card, Annetta is doing a series at her blog, Word Webbing. She is running a different card and author each day. Below are links to the ones she’s done so far.

The Fool

The Magician

The High Priestess

The Empress 

The Emperor

 

 

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