Telling Stories with Tarot: Downfall and Redemption

One thing I love about tarot: it’s all about story. Here’s a spread a did a while ago that I haven’t been able to get out of my head:

It answered the question I asked very well, although I’ve forgotten exactly what that question was. What did stick with me, however, was the clear narrative I could see in the cards:

Two people (let’s call them boys, although really the gender doesn’t matter) experience a disaster/drama (the Tower card) which leads them to become enslaved by obsession or addiction (the Devil card) until they finally become free and have a new found sense of joy and optimism (the Sun card).

In otherwise, a good old downfall and redemption story.

To flesh things out, I had to pull a few more cards.

For the Tower card (i.e. the inciting incident) I asked: What caused this to happen?

I pulled the Queen of Coins. Because a Queen seems to suggest an older woman and the figures in the Tower card look young, I decided that she must be their mother and they must be brothers.

I asked what she did that caused them distress and pulled the five of cups: She drank.

What else? I asked.

I pulled the six of cups: She drank some more.

Now the issues these boys had. The Devil card points to bondage, addiction and/or obsession as I mentioned above. So I asked, What kind?

I pulled the ten of batons and the Moon card.

Batons are hot and fast in speed and the number ten speaks to completion or ending. The Moon speaks to instinct and our animal nature, the irrational and fear-ridden/driven that takes place in the dark.

These boys are hedonistic party animals pushing their self-destruction to the limits to such a degree that they’ve almost reached the end.

But this is a happy story.

I asked the cards why we’ve ended with the cheerful sun. I pulled the Judgement card and the World.

The boys received guidance, revelation or assistance from above. The figures in the first card are naked, but anxious, but the figure in the World card is poised and protected. They’ve learned to be vulnerable and accept boundaries.

Did they get help from a therapist, find religion or simply grow up and learn from their self-destructive past? I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

One last note: When writing this text, I realized you could flip the story around to end in downfall instead.

Let’s start with the Sun: Two spoiled boys who bask in the suns rays, content and throughly at eases. Perhaps we move the Queen of Coins to them. Here is a grounded, wealthy mother (Earthy coins) who lavishes her boys with emotional affection (cups).

Now the Devil with the Judgement and World card read upward: These boys who want for nothing should have worldly success and acclaim, their names shouted out for all to hear (combination of the Judgement and World card), but instead they fall into (a perhaps still secret) bondage and addiction.

And what happens?

Boom! Their world explodes (Tower card). The ten of batons and Moon card: they spiral out of control into unbridled, undeniable self-destructive hedonism.

Not a happy story like the first one, and we like our happy stories. But still a valid one which rings sadly true.

Pull out a deck of cards and tell a story, or write something using these ones. The world is story and it’s waiting for yours.