The focus of my character sketch for “The Tarot of the Animals Lords” is XIII. Death. The card depicts a foggy day, shrouding the landscape in mist. A raven stands at the entrance of a cave. In one hand, he holds a scythe, and with the other pats the crown of a skeleton lying beside him. In front of the raven is a chameleon resting near his feet.
In the outline of the story that I created
from my character sketch, I focused on Raven and his deeds. The other four
cards I used complete the story (in order) were XV. The Devil, XVI. The Tower,
VII. The Chariot, and VIII. Justice, respectively. In my opinion, each of these
cards reflected many of the facts of the Death card.
Raven gloats that he is now the Ruler
of the Land. Through stealth, he has vanquished all of his rivals. As he talks
to his spy, Chameleon, Raven muses on how he united with Goat to do more mischief.
He ponders his next move to keep his power intact.
The scene shifts to The Devil. In a cavern
with their backs to the rising moon is a goat and a toad. The standing goat is
patting the toad, which squats behind him. The rocky cavern is empty except for
these two figures.
Goat is waiting for Raven to arrive
for more plotting of mischief. He muses how they pulled the key log from
Beaver’s dam, and sent him to his death. As Goat wonders what Raven will do
next, Toad agrees to meet with Chameleon. Since Chameleon is a double agent, he
will find out if Raven is plotting against them.
As Major Arcana cards, Death and The
Devil fit together, since we are all in bondage to death. The Devil shows
people their limitations, fears, and beliefs that hold them back. Moreover, Death
is the biggest fear and limitation of all. For me, Death reflects the positive
aspects of The Devil, as a final release from our fears.
The next card, The Tower features a
beaver being flung over the falls as his dam breaks. Flying over him is a raven.
The rush of water and flying logs reflects the beaver’s doom. In this scene of the story, Beaver screams,
“Help! Raven did this! Help!”
Both The Devil and Death are
reflected in The Tower card. Death in the form of the raven flying overhead is
the cause of the dam breaking. (Ravens are traditional symbols of death.) In
the Tarot, The Tower comes after The Devil to break The Devil’s hold on us. The
dam in The Tower reflects the holding power of certain beliefs. Once Death
comes, the dam breaks and everything floods out. The suddenness of the flood
washes away any limitations that we may hold.
Next in the story comes The Chariot.
Over the mountains, a crested crane rides a mute swan. As they fly towards the
plains, the sun is rising. Standing on the swan’s back, the crane is aloof as
he eyes the vista below him. In the distance are migrating swans.
In my story, Crane hears Beaver’s
cries, and races to help. It is unsure whether he will arrive in time or not.
If he does not, he still will be a witness to what has happened to Beaver.
In the Major Arcana, The Chariot is
movement. For me, The Devil, The Tower, and The Chariot reflects the several
states of Death, which can be both sudden and gradual. The Devil holds death to
a single instance, whilst The Tower shatters death completely. Whereas The
Tower is sudden change, The Chariot is steady, the mid-point between the two
extremes of inertia and discrete movement. Meanwhile, both Death and The Tower push
forward to overcome The Devil’s active inertia.
The last card in the story is
Justice. This card depicts a barn owl, standing on a cliff’s edge, with a sword
and scales. As day dawns over the mountains, a tern flies over the owl’s head.
In nature, barn owls are known as voracious ratters. Moreover, they are often
found in church yards, and have become associated with death. Because of this,
I connected Justice with Death.
Owl looks down at the scene of
Crane’s rescue of Beaver. She decides to send Tern to Raven to ask him, why
Beaver? As Justice, Owl will go down to deal with Raven, since she is equal to him
One aspect of Justice is dealing
with unlawful death and administering lawful death. Moreover in Justice and
Death, the owl’s sword and the raven’s scythe act as the same in conducting
their respective duties. Both are impartial in what they do, and do not favor anyone.
What I learnt from doing this
character sketch is how the cards flow into each other, telling a story with
relative ease. Death was the focus of these other four cards, with each
highlighting a facet of this Major Arcana card. Also within each card were
elements that related to the others in the group. The Chariot and The Tower are
both about change, whilst The Devil is contained by Justice. Together, these
cards weave an intricate story of intrigue and power.