Reading the tarot court cards like a soap opera

So, like many people, I struggle somewhat with the tarot’s court cards – the queens, kings, pages and knights. To help me get to know them a little better, I thought I’d brainstorm a little – mapping the cards to explore the relationships between them and possible narratives that could link them together.

Here’s the map:


As I started to make links between the cards, they began to develop into real people, or at least, characters in a story. I started to realise that I had a sense of how they would react to certain situations, and that that was really fun to play with…and it started to turn into a bit of a soap opera.

We’ve got lovers and cheaters, couples and haters, fathers mothers and disappointing offspring. Secret loves, creativity, depression, those who’ve been together so long you can’t imagine them apart, and perfect matches who’ve never even met yet. Oooh…reminds me of Eastenders when it used to be good and was the only reason I had a TV licence. Ah, Kat and Alfie.

Aaanyway, here’s where we meet our court:

Knight Swords carries a burden though – he’s still angry about the way Page Wands left him. ‘You’ve no passion!’ she would say to him, ‘all you think about it yourself and the bloody ‘truth’, whatever that is.’ She just didn’t understand him, he thinks to himself. And it was wrong, the way she left him. Just a note, one afternoon, when he came back from a ride. ‘I know you’ll understand – I have to make my own way. I’m sorry.’ He’d scrunched it up in his fist and flung it into the fire. He still sees Page sometimes – often alone, striding purposefully through the town, always with that bloody violin. She’ll end up as weird as her mum, he thinks.

Still, Knight Wands is his lover now. They’ve been together about a year, united by their shared love of adventure and gung-ho attitudes. And what a prize Wands is! Dashing and daring, with flashing eyes and long auburn hair – Swords can feel the envy in the eyes of onlookers as they ride by, and this gratifies him somewhat.

But Knight Wands is getting itchy. Swords knows it, but he’s turning a blind eye. Knight Wands wants adventure, he’s bored! He longs to ride off into the distance – who knows where – and start something new. It’s gotta be better than here. Each morning he asks Swords to come with him on an adventure – each day Swords refuses. Knight Wands knows why. Page. ‘He must think I’m stupid,’ he mutters to himself, ‘he thinks he hides it so well.’

Page Wands is doing just fine – better off without him, her friends say. Anyway, she and Page Pentacles, her best friend, are up to something. It was Page Pentacles’ idea – to turn the town into an exhibition space, to install guerilla art on every street, on every wall – sculptures, paintings, grafitti…anything. Page Wands was instantly excited, full of ideas and inspiration…it was all Pents could do to calm her down so they could get things planned properly! They decided to get Queen Cups involved – she could do with something to throw herself into, poor love, since she’s going through a rather unpleasant divorce. Queenie was more than happy to get involved – as an artist (and an amazing one at that) – she more than welcomed the opportunity to express some of the tumult of emotion she’s feeling at the moment.

Time was when King and Queen Cups were inseparable – a golden couple, people used to say. They were so in love – it was as though their bodies moved in sync, like water, intuitively understanding each others thoughts and feelings, a knowing smile on their matching faces. But as the years wore on, something changed. Queenie had tried everything she could think of to keep the love alive – always making little treats, offerings, gestures. Nothing helped…he just seemed to be…slipping away. Perhaps the success had gone to his head. When she met him, he was an artist too, and they’d done some incredible work together. Then he started working for that gallery…and promotion after promotion had seen him gradually detached from his arty roots; it was like he lost touch with the true meaning of things.

Meanwhile, King Cups is round at the Pentacles’ place, drowning his sorry in King and Queen P’s excellent homemade beer. They’ve been running The Star Inn for donkeys years – the doors are always open and the welcome is always warm. Cups sits at the bar, slowly downing his third pint of the day. It’s two o’clock, so it’s not too bad. Besides, he’ll head home before the after-work crowd arrive and find him in this state. Despite the hard times, he has a reputation to maintain.

Queen Cups’ first piece is a sculpture, moulded from clay. It’s of a figure – the body of a cat, with the head and shoulders of a woman. It’s hard not to notice how much the woman’s face resembles that of her neighbour, Queen Wands, with her huge, questioning eyes and playful, teasing smile. She plans to fire it with a golden-umbre glaze to finish it. She wonders if Queen Wands will like it…or even notice it.

She’s a funny one, that Queen Wands. There are always friends coming and going for the house, she has a lot of parties, barbecues, dinner-parties, yet she lives alone. She’s good friends with Queen Swords, with whom she runs *** business.

Queen Swords is round at Wands’ place now, actually. They’ve been sharing a bottle of wine and going over some old photographs, reminiscing, enjoying that bittersweet feeling that comes with age and a lifetime of battles won and lost, mistakes made, lessons learned. They’re good for each other – Wands with her quick wit and caring nature, Swords with her common sense and sharp, just memory. They’ve known each other for years – pair of witches, people used to say. Queen Wands pulls out a battered photograph – it’s King Wands. He and Queen Swords had a fling, many years ago. It could never work, people warned them…and true, they parted on unhappy terms. But when it was good, boy was it good. Queen Swords gives a sigh, wondering when she’ll next see the two sons they had together.


King Wands is frustrated. When will they learn? Knight Cups and Knight Pentacles, his sons, that is. One spends his days wandering the streets, dreaming of romance, the other is buried in his books all day long. Life doesn’t just happen to you, you have to get out there and grab it, he’s sick of telling them.


Well, that’s as far as I’ve got. The point of this exercise wasn’t so much to get caught up in plotlines as to explore each of the court cards through a soap-like story, and it’s certainly helped me to do that!

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  1. Ellen says:

    Well that was a fun read and a great exercise for a rainy afternoon. It could be interesting to do this with different decks too. I think the Druidcraft has different characters than the Shadowscapes.
    This exercise is giving us a good idea how tarot can be used by writers

    • Little Red says:

      Thanks Ellen – yes, there is a definite *thing* about people using tarot for story-telling, writers using it for ideas and so on. Not really my thing, but it’s fun to imagine the courts as real, not-many-dimensional people!

      Glad you enjoyed it 😀

  2. Ekstasy says:

    This is amazing: it has given me a totally new way to view the court cards. So creative!!! I could imagine all the characters – their nuances and body language, their facial expressions and layered relationships to one another. Thank you!! This is going to stick with me for a while…

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