Last night I completed the first Court Card for the Tarot of Bones, the King of Cups. When I was designing the basic components of each type of card in the deck, the Court Cards threw me for a loop. See, the Pips are easy–the Ace of Cups has one rib bone, the Two of Cups will have two, etc. And the Major Arcana feature whole, complete skulls with the jaws intact. But what to do for the Court Cards? I didn’t just want to make the Page of Cups a set of eleven ribs; the Court Cards traditionally have more personality than that. But I also didn’t want them to be symbolically at the same level of the Major Arcana, which are supposed to be weightier cards.
So I compromised: each Court Card would have a partial skull (top half only) of a given animal, along with a bone representing its suit. So in this case the King of Cups (ribs) features the skull and carapace of a red slider turtle. Turtles no longer have individual ribs; rather, the turtle’s ribcage has become part of the shell for which it’s so well known. It’s a beautifully specialized structure that protects the animal’s inner organs, heart included. In the same way, the King of Cups has mastered his emotions and lives in harmony with them, able to express or rein them in as needed. He can keep his own heart safe, and defend against outside influences which could harm him emotionally. Like the turtle, his method of defense is completely integrated into his being.
I rather like this balance for the Court Cards. It allows the card to have something the Pips don’t, while not having the same “oomph” that the Major Arcana have (with their jaws intact and everything!) I do admit that this particular card is cheating a bit–the jaw of the red slider skull is there; however, it was glued on by the person who sold it to me. I was concerned that this delicate little skull would be damaged if I tried to remove the jaw, so I decided to leave it. It’s not as prominent as the jaws of other animals, especially when viewed from above; I hope you’ll let it slide (no pun intended.)
How are you folks enjoying the set so far?