Meet the Family | Dame Fortune’s Tarot Wheel
A while back I was enthusing about this Dame Fortune deck because it had a ready-made significator which absolves you of appropriating another Tarot card to use as the significator for your client. At the time, I said that the Courts of the deck were worth a post on their own, so here they are.
A year later.
What can I say? I’m in a Pentacle-type sloooooooow state of mind 🙂
I’ve written a post on the names associated with these Tarot cards, which you can read here.
Dame Fortune’s Tarot Wheel was created by Paul Huson, the author of the excellent Tarot books, The Mystical Origins of The Tarot and The Devil’s Picturebook.
Huson favours the tarot as it was, prior to the meddlings of those pesky kids from The Golden Dawn and draws his inspiration directly from Etteilla’s Tarot of the 1700s.
Who was this Etteilla person and why are we interested in him? well, that will be the subject of another post!
Anyhoo, let’s meet the courts who have been waiting patiently for a year! Here’s my take on Dame Fortune’s courts 😀
The Swords family are largely in orange with a contrast of bright blue. They all sport spades on their regalia in some way or another, linking to their playing card suit.
The Knave, Ogier, stands attentive while the nameless Knight’s white horse rears up – terribly chivalrous-looking, isn’t he?
The Queen is clearly Pallas Athene – the Greek goddess of wisdom. I love the blood-like slashes of red inside her cloak – reminding us that this is a woman not to be messed with! She looks directly towards the Knight – and he to her. Looks quite an interesting relationship there…..
I did read in Stuart Kaplan’s Tarot Encyclopedia that this name ‘Athene’ might actually refer to the martial Joan of Arc.
Our elderly King of Swords is the Biblical hero, King David. I love the Star of David on the throne and the inclusion of the harp, to remind us of the Psalms he wrote. You can see the spade insignia on his armour and over his heart.
The Cups are all in a deep watery blue, coupled with green and red. The characters in this suit have no weapons nor armour (other than the Queen, Judith) Hearts are the playing card associations for this crowd and you can see this in all of the cards – La Hire’s leggings, the Knight’s jacket, in the robes of the King and the drapes that surround the Queen, as well as inscribed on each of their Cups.
The Knave stands before a huge display of white lilies and his green scarf flows like water from his shoulder to his open Cup. The nameless Knight is the least warlike of the four Knights – bare headed and weaponless; very much a character from a romantic tale. Queen Judith’s cup has a lid on it – perhaps she keeps something of herself under wraps? It’s marvellous that she’s depicted with a sword (she decapitated the General, Holofernes, in the Bible tale).
The King of Cups, Charlemagne, seems to be standing (the only King to be depicted thus) and is not depicted in armour – so he looks more like a priest than a King, don’t you think?
The suit of Wands is depicted in blue and diamonds are their playing card symbol.
The valiant Trojan Hector in his armour stands as Knave of Batons – his pose reminiscent of the RWS Page of Wands, I feel. What does his baton remind you of? For me it is something quite playful, like a tent pole, rather than a weapon.
The Knight rides forth down a cobbled path on his white horse looking much calmer than we would associate with a Golden Dawn Knight of Wands.
The Queen is patient Rachel who waited 14 long years for Jacob to be able to wed her, her robe decorated with diamonds and clutching a spray of oak leaves and acorns (strength? endurance?). Her baton is a shepherd’s crook. For when Jacob encounters her for the first time in their Bible story, Rachel is tending sheep. Caesar represents the King of Batons and has diamonds on his throne and carries the ‘fasces’ bundle that symbolises the power of the Roman senate.
So what do you think of these courts? Do you like the names? Do you like these characters – do their historical/mythical characters feed into your understanding of the cards as contemporary courts?