For the past five weeks, I have been examining the Court cards of the tarot, pairing them with characters from my favorite books, movies, and even people in real life, and defining why I feel the matches resonate.
As a writer of stories with rich plots and nuanced characters, the tarot has helped me with both plot and character development. One of my favorite ways to use the cards is during the writing process when I’m fleshing out each character’s personality, determining how they will interact with one another and what role they will play in the storyline.
The last post in my five-part series, today’s activity reviews what we’ve learned about the Court cards and gives you a chance to practice using them to enhance character development.
A Note about Diversity
In my first post of this series, I pointed out the lack of diversity in the Smith-Waite tarot, often referred to as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck. To read more about Pamela Colman Smith, the woman of color who illustrated the world’s most popular deck, be sure to read Celebrating Black Creatives: Pamela Colman Smith.
For a recap of the Court roles (Page, Knight, Queen, and King) and what each represents, as well as the suits (cups, pentacles, swords, and wands) and what they mean, check out my first post in this series.
To review the Pages, check out this post.
For the Knights, see this post.
The Queens and all of their badassery are here.
And you can find the Kings here.
And Now for the Activity...
This activity can help writers with character development by imagining the Court cards as the cast of popular storylines. Doing so offers practice working with the face cards as character significators, which can help you become more comfortable using them to inspire the cast of your own stories.
How might you imagine the Court cards as characters of your favorite stories? Think about a beloved book, movie, play, or television show and then consider the following questions:
Who are the Pages and what do the rest of the characters have to learn from them?
What about the Knights? Which characters are taking action and moving the plot along?
Next, imagine the Queens. Who’s nurturing the protagonist? Who’s the intuitive personality offering support and helping the characters grow?
Lastly, what about the Kings? Who are the story’s leaders? How are they protecting the protagonist?
Now, what about the antagonist? Who are they in the tarot Court?
What you need:
Your imagination, your tarot deck, something with which to make notes, and a favorite story. To inspire you, I have provided a list of five personal favorites below:
The Color Purple
Pride and Prejudice
To demonstrate this activity, I’ve applied what I know about both the Court cards and the main characters from my favorite Jane Austen novel, Pride and Prejudice, and assigned a card for each.
Now, you do the same...
Using what you've learned about the Court cards, choose your story and assign a character for each of the 16 personas. Ask yourself these questions and then draft a summary for each card describing why you chose each card for your characters. Save your work so you have a character profile for each of the Courts. And when you set out to discover the characters for your next story, try this activity again!
What do you think?
What did you think about this Tarocatures series? Did you find it helpful in understanding how the tarot can be helpful in character development? Are you inspired to use the Court cards to help develop your own characters?
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In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.
Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself. And that's a good thing!
When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at haintbluecreative.com, and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/haintbluebooks.