In my new five-part series, I will examine the tarot’s Court cards, pairing them with characters from my favorite books, movies, and even people in real life.
This week, in Part One, I’ll start with an overview of how the tarot can be used in character development, and then illustrate my thoughts around the personalities who I believe best represent the Pages.
Next week, I will continue my examination with the Knights, followed by the Queens, the Kings, and then wrapping up the series with a fun activity. I hope you enjoy!
The tarot is an excellent tool for creative inspiration. Even without any prior experience with the cards, writers can quickly learn their meanings and, when paired with intuitive nudges, use the images to inspire worlds, develop characters, and even build storylines. In today’s blog post, I will share with you my interpretation of the tarot’s Court cards—also known as “face cards”—and how I work with sixteen of Pamela Colman Smith’s (Pixie) most famous illustrations.
While I prefer working with Pixie’s illustrations to honor and remember her—the often disregarded Black female artist who illustrated the world’s most famous tarot deck to date—it behooves me to note the lack of diversity within this deck. When A. E. Waite commissioned Smith to illustrate his cards, his vision for most (if not all) of the figures was of white European decent. Therefore, there is very little ethnic diversity (if any at all) within this deck. Should you prefer to work with a more diverse deck, I highly recommend choosing one that aligns with both the Major Arcana, as well as the fully illustrated Minor Arcana. My favorite contemporary decks are The Modern Witch Tarot and The Good Karma Tarot. Not only are the colors stunning and the lines clean and crisp in both of these decks, but racial, familial, and gender diversity is celebrated throughout each.
Now, back to the Courts.
Part of the Minor Arcana (the tarot’s fifty-six everyday ideas), the sixteen Court cards are the personalities and actionable constructs of each suit. Similar to a standard deck of playing cards, which includes a King, Queen, and Jack face card for every suit, the tarot’s Court is also comprised of face cards: Kings, Queens, Knights, and Pages, four per suit. Additionally, each suit corresponds with those of the standard deck: cups (hearts), pentacles (diamonds), swords (spades), and wands (clubs). Some of the qualities these suits inform include emotion, action, nurturing, and leadership, respectively.
Although the Court cards are widely regarded as the tarot’s most difficult cards to work with, what with so many details incorporated within and around a single, ranked figure, those details are the very reason why I believe these sixteen folks are perfect for writing characters. Additionally, while the Court cards typically represent people and/or you, the querent or writer, these cards can also represent ideas and actions. Thus, the Courts are perfect for helping with creative character profiling.
So, how exactly are the Courts used for character development? The method I use starts at the foundation of what each card represents, both the Court position (or rank) and suit. Let’s start with the Court roles and what each represents.
Next, let’s determine what each of the suits means.
And, finally, let’s pair these meanings together and consider each Court card as a character. In today's post, I will start with the Pages.
As a connoisseur of storytelling, I believe the following characters demonstrate the qualities of the Page card assigned to them. These folks are among my favorite personalities from books, movies, TV, and real life.
Page of Cups
If the Page of Cups represents emotional communication, I would say that Duckie (Jon Cryer), from John Hughes' cult classic Pretty in Pink, perfectly aligns with this card... and especially in this iconic scene.
Page of Pentacles
Often interpreted as messaging around home or work, I couldn't think of anyone better suited (pardon the pun) to represent the Page of Pentacles than Anne Frank. A 13-year-old Jewish schoolgirl, Anne enjoyed writing in her diary, made famous by her account of hiding from the Nazi Party during their occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.
Page of Swords
When pairing the Courts, the individual who came to my mind almost immediately for the Page of Swords was Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman. To me, Amanda's rhythmic, intellectual poetry is a perfect representation of the communication (the Pages) of thought and learning (the Swords). Her work slices right through to the core of what it means to be a Person of Color in America today, specifically through the lens of the African diaspora.
Page of Wands
One of my favorite stories is Nicola Yoon's YA romance The Sun is Also a Star. In the book, Daniel Dae (played by Charles Melton in the adapted motion picture) makes it his mission to win the love of a girl he just met—Natasha Kingsley (played by Yara Shahidi)—by helping her battle her family's deportation... and he only has 24 hours to do it. Ever a communicator of passion, what with his poetry and impromptu karaoke make-out sessions, Daniel is the epitome (to me) the Page of Wands.
What do you think?
What are your thoughts about my Page card pairings? What about your own characters? Using what you know and/or have learned about the Pages in this post, which cards best represent your protagonist and/or antagonist?
Next week, I will continue my examination of the Courts as characters with an actionable take on the Knights. Stay tuned!
Next on the blog, the spotlight shines on indie author Carly Jeffrey! Check out her interview on my next post.
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.