"The cards were more than beautiful. He studied them in great details over the years and come to love them more than anything he had ever possessed: the intricate barons; the red and gold cups; the King of Coins with his broad hat; the poor  Hanged Man dangling upside down in his sling. How many days had he spent poring over the battered cards, marvelling at their colours and designs, unravelling symbols and codes-those snakes, wolves towers, queens, moons and lobsters? The permutations were fascinating and endless and they comforted him somehow."
Mary-El Tarot @Marie White
Extract from City of Crows by Chris Womersley. p 126.

Oh I so relate to this paragraph. My mother says she can never remember me not shuffling cards. I also love the book which is set in France in 1673 and the character of  Lesage reads the tarot.
The story is set in a Tarot Reading Lesarge does for Charlotte; beginning at the Empress, followed by the Magician then the Queen of Coins and the Hanged Man and finishing with Judgement. 

The tarot readers in this book resemble those portrayed in the Court of Versaille, 1667, very wealthy women dressed in rich brocades always with a tinge of the darkness walking close to the line of being burnt at the stake but revered by the society who flock to them; from the peasants who could afford to and the members of elite society. Women who knew the secrets of the underbelly of the community. Affairs, abortion, murders, charms and poisons were apart of their trade. People visited them in secrecy and often. The more powerful the reader became the grander the abode, perhaps the more likely to be overlooked by the church. The readers knew of the corruption inherent in the power of the church and the church would know of the role these women played especially for women. This was a risky profession that was on the outside of the social order, occupying similar rank of prostitutes and criminals.

Have we changed? 
As readers we still live in the underbelly of the community. We are the people who can allow subjects that could be taboo to be discussed. Still the affairs and all complications of relating dominate our readings. Death and the many nuances that accompany the experiences that go with death; the interesting way the unseen world presses closely whilst we grieve. Legal matters feature highly, maybe this is the modern power that the church used to occupy. Justice overtakes the Heirophant. Spiritual matters do arise but they are no longer matters of the church, more subjects that people enjoy to study of which the Tarot, itself features strongly. Even though some people still hold the fear that has journeyed with the Tarot since the 17th century; many now have embraced and marvel at the wonders of its magic. No longer do we need to hide away to do readings or people need to secretly haunt our doors; although there is still a suspicion around the work.
In  the modern world we can even leave behind the concepts of the fortune teller and the market place and head toward exploring Tarot as a psychological tool for well being. People no longer need to give their power away to the reader but can join with her and work to create lives that are abundant. Tarot is a master at leading the way; it projects the future pathways if we keep travelling in a set line. With awareness we can change the line we are projecting. 


Mary-El Tarot @Marie White
 It really is a fascinating exercise to write by the Tarot. In learning about a new deck I have often just pulled a few cards and either created a story by either writing or verbalising movement from one card to the next. It is also a great way to learn the Major Arcana; lay them all out on the floor and walk the process or the cycle they are telling. If you get to a card you can't create a concept from just pass and keep moving as the Major Arcana is the story of processing life's experiences. It is quite astounding what comes out of your mouth as you do this exercise.
Chris Womersley broke his story up into the reading I have set out below. Any story that begins with the Empress has a positive beginning and I would assert is probably going to end positively too. The energy of the Empress is a blessing and abundant and pregnant. So we expect many things to spring from her womb. Our Empress character is a mother figure who nourishes her children and the community.

Mary-El Tarot @
Marie White
The Magician is also a wonderful card for beginning a story as it's position in the Major Arcana is at the start, numbered one no less. If is also full of possibilities as all the Magician needs is at his fingertips. Let the magic begin and the character of the Magician grows in strength and learning throughout the whole tale. We all expect our Magicians to grow in skill and wisdom throughout life. Magician's also make great characters, often dressed uniquely and not expected to behave as the norm. They can do, say and behave anyway they have conjured up. There is a freedom to be a Magician.

Mary-El Tarot@Marie White
The Queen of Discs is an unusual pick for a character in fiction. She is the only card in this reading that isn't a major card. None the less we usually love the Queens. They represent women of standing, they do have experience within their suits or courts. The Disc Queen's knowledge is in the earth realm so includes money and assets. She knows about wealth and possibly how to create it. She and the Empress bode extremely positively together. We would expect the earthly desires to be well taken care of or our story to be set within courtly settings.
Court cards are fabulous for story telling as there are sixteen of them depicting different characters. Just using the court to create story or to represent problem solving is a great use of Tarot.

The Hanged Man is a card that gets so much publicity. It is usually portrayed in the world of  film along with Death and the Devil. We could say he is a part of the Dark Night of the Soul cards. His message though is quite benign; there is a hold up which is often associated with much frustration. Frustration is not benign but to deal with it means we just have to wait. We need to get a different perspective so in our story the Hanged Man swings the perspectives. Things are changing, it will take a moment for the perception to alter.
Mary-El Tarot @Marie White

Judgement is a definite end card. Do any of us like the responsibility and duty held within the Judgement card? It is often a complex card, the artists pack a lot of symbology with a touch of abstraction into this card. It is the card before our worldly freedom; we need to tend to the issues that have kept us locked in situations and the ones that probably won't resolve. A card that cuts the loses and rebirths our lives into something else, quite unknown at the time we get the card in our readings. Great pick for the end of a story as for the writer this is the time to tie up all the threads of the tale.
Mary-El Tarot
@Marie White

  My question is: Did Chris Womersley pull these cards randomly and write the story around what came or did he have a question for the Tarot, for example; Show me my plot for the story? The story reflects these cards very well.
As a Tarot Reader and loving to write, I often find the Tarot and the various ways the differing artists represent the concepts of the Tarot, as a great writing tool. Sometimes I just let the characters lead and follow along behind the story and at others I create the reading to show the flow of the plot. Either way I can see the Tarot offering many a great story.

Mary-El is available at #Lyndallstarot #Daylesford


Chris Womersley may have Tarot cards but his wife won't let them in their home. (Sydney Morning Herald Sept 2017) I wonder what deck he uses? This article still shows the ignorance that still surrounds the Tarot and maybe the fear that it has power over the reader.

Mary-El Tarot is published by Schiffer. I am really impressed with their decks. Great size to work with and brilliant colour and packaging.

If there is a theme in Mary-El Tarot, it is Alchemy of the Soul.


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