Category Archives: Disney Tarot

Disney Tarot: The Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune might present the very core of Tarot. The depiction of the wheel itself varies greatly, but when it has inscriptions, it usually displays the letters T-A-R-O which can naturally be read like a constant circle of Tarot, but also as rota, which is the Latin word for “wheel”. I left those out, but I found the perfect “wheel” to symbolize the notion of fate in a Disney Princess movies:

10-Wheel-of-Fortune
Since Aurora’s fate literally hinges on a (spinning) wheel, there was no doubt what the motive of this card would be from the get go. This card is a little bit unusual, since it is more unpredictable than most. Sometimes it is read upright as good luck and in reverse as bad luck, but that is a little bit too simplistic for my taste. To me it symbolizes karma, life cycles and destiny in its upright position. And that can be as well as the good karma to be gifted with beauty as well as the bad karma of being fated to die. In reverse though, it can show a resistance to change, but also a breaking of the cycle. Because at the end of the day, we do have a degree of control over our own fortune. When the three fairies break the curse on Aurora, they not just rescue her, she is also finally free of the restricting fate which up to this point has controlled her whole life. She is still restricted due to being a princess, but she now has a future which will be shaped by her, not by decisions the three fairies make to protect her.

And those are my (admittingly very surface) thoughts about The Wheel of Fortune. Frankly, this is a card you always have to read in context, but I am very happy with my interpretation of it. The next card will be Justice, though I can’t promise that the article will be up next week. The busy time of the year starts, and I haven’t even decided yet if I will manage to do a fairy tale month this time around. But I promise, I’ll try.

 

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Disney Tarot: The Hermit

This is one of the cards where I went a little bit more creative. It might be a little bit of a leap to get from an old man with a lantern to a young woman with a book, but I still felt that this picture was perfect to capture the spirit of The Hermit:

09-The-Hermit

This is one of those cards which is often renamed: The Monk, Time or The Sage are all possible alternative names. I considered going for The Reader, but then I felt that keeping the title would be more specific.

Usually The Hermit holds a lantern which guides his path, but only lights the next steps and not the whole journey. He needs to take steps forward in order to see where to go next because knowledge won’t be revealed to him all at once. Reading a book is similar, you have to take it page by page and even when you have finished it, there is still the next book to add to your knowledge.

The Hermit stands for soul-searching, introspection and inner guidance, but also for being alone. Belle trusts her own moral compass and the knowledge she gains through reading, but she is also utterly disconnected from the village due to walking her own path. Consequently she is also experiencing the reverse meaning of the card: Isolation, loneliness and withdrawal from the world.

So, hopefully that helped to explain why I made this leap. My pick for the next card will be a little bit more obvious, though. See you next week.

 

 


Disney Tarot: The Strength

Historically The Strength was the card number XI in the deck, but I went with the now popularized Raider Waite Tarot numbering and put it on number VIII. And I have to admit: This might have been the easiest card of all of them, at least in terms of concept. Just looking at the usual arrangement of this card, I was immediately reminded of this scene:

08-The-Strength

Everything about this moment embodies strength. Walking away peaceful from an alteration is strength. Convincing someone to do so just with a kind word is strength. The Card stands for courage, persuasion, influence and compassion, and there is no story and no character which embodies all those ideas better than Cinderella. To quote from Wikipedia:

“The Strength card was originally named Fortitude, and accompanies two of the other cardinal virtues in the Major Arcana: Temperance and Justice. The meaning of Fortitude was different from the interpretation of the card: it meant moderation in attitudes toward pain and danger, with neither being avoided at all costs, nor actively wanted.”

That is exactly what Cinderella does. She picks her battles. I put the bells in the background of the card as a reminder of the pressure she is under in this scene. She knows that if Bruno actually hurts Lucifer badly, she would no longer be able to protect him. So she let’s Lucifer “win” in this particular situation, but she also rescues Gus from him just a few scenes later. Cinderella’s interaction with her family is similar. Most of the time she is following orders but if an opportunity presents itself to her – be it an excuse to interrupt “music” lessons or to go on a ball – she will take it. That is in a lot of ways true strength, the ability to endure while keeping an eye out for opportunities.

The low point of Cinderella, when her dress gets destroyed, is a cumulation of everything the card stands for in reverse: Self-doubt, lack of energy and raw emotion.

The Strength is usually my favourite card in every Tarot deck, because there is something dignified and powerful about it. Next week we will discuss the maybe most introspective card of them all: The Hermit.

 

 


Disney Tarot: The Traveller

Sorry for the delay. I had to deal with some very stressful RL issues which simply didn’t put me in the right mind-set to delve into Tarot of all things. But hopefully the situation has evened out enough to that I’ll now be able to go back on schedule.

Anyway, the card I’ll discuss today is The Chariot which I renamed The Traveller. Mostly because there is no picture of John Smith riding a chariot and I feel that the ship is a better fit for him anyway. So the card ended up looking like this:

07-The-Traveller

A few elements of the card are missing. There are no sphinxes, but then, a ship doesn’t need to be pulled by anything. Though I did add the shadow of an eagle on John Smith’s armour (btw, what is the deal with it, it is as if the animators couldn’t decide if it was an armour or a shirt). The cards also has usually a canopy of stars above the charioteer’s head, indicating celestial influences, but I felt that there is enough sky in my take on it to replace it, even if is is stormy sky.

What was really important for me was to find a picture of John Smith which both indicates his status as a Traveller, someone who is constantly on the move, but also expresses control, willpower, success and determination. Him as captain at he helm of his own ship was perfect for what I had in mind.

In reverse the card usually stands for opposition and lack of direction – which actually works better with a ship than a chariot, because a ship can literally be “adrift” while a chariot can’t. But I would add another reverse meaning to this version of this card: harmful overconfidence. Not harmful to yourself, but to others, people whose life you impact without truly thinking about what you are doing.

And that is all for today. I should be back on schedule now. So, until next week.

.

 


Disney Tarot: The Lovers

Well, there was certainly no shortage of candidates to represent the card of The Lovers. But I actually settled pretty early on having Snow White and her Prince in the role. Hence the card ended up looking like this:

06-The-Lovers

Well, it is not perfect, because the original card is very intricate and I left out most of the symbols. For starters, there are three figures in it instead of just two, and there are other elements like a flaming tree, which is considered the tree of live in some readings, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

I admit, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the initial reason why my mind jumped to Snow White pretty much immediately. After all, her mistake was to take a bite of an apple, too. But there was more to it, than that. To me, the card of The Lovers is about love in its most innocent form, and who is more innocent than Snow White?

Upright the card can stand for true love, but also for an union or for a good choice. In reverse, it stands logically for bad choices, eventually made out of passion ( it can stand for infidelity) as well as attraction which is purely physical and doesn’t go past the surface. But I chose to believe that Snow White and her Prince lived happily ever after anyway.

Next in line is another card I renamed. The Traveller will take the place of The Chariot in my Tarot. So, until next week.

 


Disney Tarot: The Hierarchy

Or, to be a little bit more precise, the higher power. Yes, I renamed The Hierophant, too. To be frank, there was no card of the Major Arkana I had as much trouble with as with The Hierophant. In a way it would have been logical to put a character related to Pocahontas on it, since I picked her to symbolize the High Priestess/The Spirits, but I felt that John Smith is a terrible fit for this particular card. I considered the Shaman for a moment, since he is some kind of religious leader, too, but I didn’t think that he would represent the rigidity of the card. Finally, I ended up with this:

05-The-Power

See, I really wanted to transport the hierarchical aspect of the card.  In the Raider Waite Tarot three levels of power are displayed. The clergy, in itself a powerful body when the card was designed, is kneeling in front of the pope who in is supposed to represent the highest power of all, god, indicated by the way one of his hands points towards heaven. In the end, I recreated a similar situation from Cinderella: The Step Sisters, who have the absolute power over Cinderella bow in front of Prince Charming, who himself has to obey a higher power, his father.

When the card is upright, is is supposed to represent commitment, the continuation of tradition, conformity, the identification of a group with one principle, but also loving intentions. I think you can find all this in the situation at hand. The general acceptance of the authority of the royal family, the desire of the king to have grandchildren, and Prince Charming standing between those fractions, fulfilling his commitment, while also representing a power on his own. His father can force him to participate in the ball, he can’t force him to fall in love. He himself has a standing above the guests at the ball, who want his favour, and yet he also owes them to fulfil his role.

This plays also in the reverse reading of the card. Then it stands for restrictions, a commitment the reader doesn’t want, for outdated traditions someone needs to break out. We all know that next Prince Charming will break away from protocol in order to walk towards Cinderella. So if you get this card in reverse, it might be time for the reader to walk away from something, too.

Next week The Lovers are up. Three guesses which Disney Princess pair I picked for this particular card.

 


Disney Tarot: The Emperor

As much as The Empress is in a lot of ways a maternal authority figure, The Emperor is supposed to symbolize a patriarchal authority. Now, there are many fathers in Disney Canon, but only one case in which the relationship between father and daughter as a major plot point. Hence my take on The Emperor ended up looking like this:

04-The-Emperor

I felt that Triton was perfect to represent a strict but well-meaning ruler, whose beard hints at live experience and wisdom. I picked in this case a promo picture instead of one from the movie, because Triton’s gesture shows exactly the kind of strict but paternal authority I was going for. The swirls on top of the throne are reminiscent to the rams which adore the one in the original card.

I added the trident to replace the Ank and the orb as an ancient symbol of power and I kept the background empty, because in the original card, there are only barren mountains, and I felt an empty sea would work just as well. I think the end result expresses exactly powerful but reliable influence the card stands for. This is also Triton’s role in the movie itself, someone who will jump in for his daughter to protect from the consequences of her actions no matter what she has done.

But the reverse meaning of the card is also reflected Triton’s character arc. Depending on position and reading, the card can stand for a controlling influence becoming too restricting – like Triton does by trying to keep Ariel under the sea at all cost – but also for a lack of a stabilizing influence. It might sound strange to say that Triton is both too restrictive and too absent, but if you think about it, if he had supported Ariel, she would have never gone to Ursula in the first place.

Well, this card was actually pretty easy to put together for me. I had a clear picture of it in my mind from day one. The next one was more difficult, as you will see in one week.


Disney Tarot: The Empress

I admit, the main reason why I decided to add Brave to the Deck after all was this card. Because, who could be a better figure to represent The Empress than Queen Elinor? In her you have the connection between the power and the motherly aspect of the card. I made a few adjustments, though, partly due to the pictures I could choose from, partly because I wasn’t satisfied with having just a picture of Elinor sitting on her throne. So in the end I picked a picture which featured a throne-like stool in which Elinor sits and her crown to symbolize her high status, but which is a little bit less stiff than the pictures in which she sits in her actual throne.

 

03-The-Empress

Usually, there is a strong emphasis on nature and grown in The Empress card. Though the productive aspect is still there in the waved basked and the hand-made blanket, my take on the card focusses more on the notion of motherhood and history.

One aspect I was originally not quite happy about is that the card is supposed to be connected to water, but this one is illuminated by the shine of the fire. Water stands for feelings in the Tarot language, while fire is usually connected with the action someone takes. But then I felt that the feeling aspect is already shown in the way Elinor holds Merida. Combined with the warm shine of the fire it gives the picture a sense of protective motherhood, meaning action taken out of feelings, which makes the card a little bit more dynamic by suggesting more agency for The Empress.

Another detail I like is that Elinor and Merida are both literally covered in the history of their ancestors, symbolizing the family line and the stories which shaped their view on the world. But if you read the card in reverse this history is a burden. It shows someone being so dedicated to the expectations placed on her (or him, but since we are talking about Elinor, let’s stick with “her”) that she effectively trapped herself. It’s an indicator to think about your own desires for once and to reconsider if there might be responsibilities one can let go of.

I think after this it is easy to figure out who I picked for The Emperor. But feel free to guess.  Until next week.


Disney Tarot: The Spirits

As I announced last week, I renamed the card of The High Priestess. But then, renaming the card is an old and proud tradition. Originally it was called The Popess, and there are a number of variations of the card around. Often the card is called The Seer. What all those variations have in common is that that they usually show a female with some sort of spiritual connection. And to me, there is no Disney character which presents this notion better than Pocahontas. Hence my version of the card looks like this:

02-The-Spirits

As you can see, I went fairly far away from the usual depiction this time around. The most important elements of the visuals are the female figure sitting between the pillars of a Temple, half in darkness, half in light, in the background pomegranates and a half moon at her feet. I felt though that none of those elements are essential to portray the core of the card, which has always been about intuition, higher power and enlightenment. Pocahontas listening the wind is portraying exactly this kind of spirituality. In reverse the card indicates the need to listen to your intuition instead of your doubts which again plays in the lesson Pocahontas learns in her story.

But I also wanted the serene feeling of the card transported, so I have added Grandmother Widow as a protective figure and spiritual leader, the pillar behind Pocahontas so to speak, with her caressing Pocahontas to show the emotional security Pocahontas experiences in her belief. Not necessarily belief in a higher power, but the belief in herself.

Next card will be the Empress. That one will be a more straightforward translation.


Disney Tarot: The Magician

I had a hard time deciding which Disney character I should pick for the magician. There are after all a number of characters with magic abilities. Originally though, the Magician was less the mythological figure it is now, instead he was a stage magician, a Trickster so to speak. This in mind I felt that Doctor Facilier, while technically not being a magician, would be the best fit, because he presents the connection to higher powers which is inherent in the card as well as the more “slight of hand” aspect of the original design. The end-result looked like this:

 

01-The-Magician

As you can see I took care to incorporate all the four suits of the Tarot, the cup, the coin, the sword and the wand, here shown as a magic staff. Usually the staff is raised to the heavens, but I felt having it touch the ground is more fitting anyway, since Facilier goes deep (pun intended) for his otherworldly power. I even went a step further by having him hold a deck of cards. I considered to change the deck to the one of this game, but I decided to refrain in favour of keeping the pattern which vaguely alludes to the infinity symbol which is central to the magician card.

Facilier is also a good character to present the notion of power, skills and resourcefulness as well as the reverse reading of the card, which includes manipulation and poor planning. I underlined the last aspect in my interpretation of the card a little bit more by adding his “friends from the other side” as well as a shadow-figure to present the hidden duality of the card. The Magician might be the number 1, the ego so to speak, but even we on our own are not truly “one”, instead there are always different desires fighting within us. At the end of the day, we can’t deny our darker desires, but we also shouldn’t succumb to it.

I hope my extension of the card wasn’t too off-putting. Next week I will go even further, in that I will rename a card. I felt that the High Priestess is a little bit too religious for a disneyfied Tarot (as it the Hierophant). Hence we will discuss “The Spirits” next time.