The Tarot and The Wheel of Time

A hot lazy day, today. With nothing better to do, I unpacked my tarot cards and sorted out my tarot books. Some of the books match a specific deck, and I like to keep the matched sets together. Other books seem more generic, or it could be I simply don’t have the decks the books mention. I also set aside the duplicates, the unopened packs, and those that might be collector’s items, such as the Dali tarot. I’ve never opened either the Salvador Dali tarot (supposedly a deck he was creating for the James Bond movie Live or Let Die), or the Tarocco di Sissi (from artist Amerigo Folchi and based on the life of Austrian Empress Elisabeth) thinking these might have more value still in their factory seal, but things only have monetary worth according to what people will pay, and I don’t know how to find people who want such things. I could keep them as part of my collection, of course, but when one has more than three dozen decks (and doesn’t use any of them), another one or two, especially one by an artist you don’t admire or one about a person you don’t know, doesn’t seem that important.

Just for an experiment, I attempted a one-card tarot reading for a friend who is trying to figure out whether to move or not, and I drew the King of Wands. To be honest, I have no idea how this card answers the question (apparently, it’s best to do a spread and see how the cards relate to one another, but maybe he can figure out if the card means anything to him), but I was struck by a coincidence having to do with The Wheel of Time. Coincidence? Considering the ten years that Robert Jordon put into researching, constructing his world, and developing the story before he started writing, I would have to say that it’s a good bet there’s no coincidence here.

In the book The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot, the King of Wands is described as “a red-haired man with blue eyes riding upon a fiery black stallion. The horse and rider both seem wild and warlike, but this is due to raw, unleashed power. The overall feeling that the card gives is one of great uncontrollable energy which erupts with volcanic force.” Another passage says “He is extremely dynamic. He is the Fire of Fire, the volatile igniting spark of the Father Force.”

In the Sadowscapes Companion, the King of Wands strides forward and “The trees part before him, lifting their branches to make way for his passage. The environment shifts to his will and obeys his unspoken desires and commands.” Also, he is charismatic, and is “a source of inspiration and bears his mantle of authority with ease as if he were born to it.”

If you know anything about The Wheel of Time, you will recognize The Dragon Reborn. Although sometimes his eyes are described as gray rather than blue, this is the savior character in the series, a clueless country boy who attempts to control the raw power of the universe at his command. Eventually he controls the power and develops into a fire-wielding king who rides a black horse. He becomes a charismatic leader who changes the very lives of those he meets, who molds the world around him however he wills. Also, the salamanders in the red tarot card are more like the dragons in the book than what we consider to be dragons.

At one time I thought it would be interesting to use the tarot to create a story, basing the story on cards chosen at random, as well as by a spread, but apparently, Robert Jordan has already done it.

Many of characters in The Wheel of Time are typical archetypes, such as the trickster, nurse, queen, shapeshifter, but now I suspect there’s a completely different element to the book, a tarot element, for me to deconstruct.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

6 Responses to “The Tarot and The Wheel of Time”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Maybe you should write a story around Tarot.

  2. Joe Says:

    I’m pretty conversant with Tarot by now but I find it amusing that you have a friend who’s trying to figure out whether to move or not. That’s been my question for 3 years. The cards just give me unclear impressions which usually means “Ask again later.” Some people say the court cards always represent people, but some disagree and say it could refer to qualities the questioner might try to emulate in the situation they are querying. As always, context is key but in this case I’d say King of Wands hints at successful endeavors, but be mindful taking one’s time to examine any contracts or agreements that are undertaken.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I hope you will be even more amused (and not offended) to find out I had you in mind when I picked the card. So you basically interpreted your own “reading.” I hope your endeavors will be successful, no matter which way you decide (or not decide.)

  3. Malcolm R. Campbell Says:

    I’ve been tempted to write a book based on tarot cards, but I never quite get around to it. I used the so-called Thoth Tarot and that’s it.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      I still might write such a book. I was going to do a Madame ZeeZee’s Nightmare sequel, though with people around here, but for some reason, that has lost its appeal. I have considered doing a series based on the book that’s supposed to be published next year, and since I have no real story, just two people (Adam and Eve) who need to roam the world until they find each other, it seems the tarot would lend a helping hand.

      As for Thoth Tarot, I have that one, too, (actually, I have three or four of them, all different sizes), though to be honest, a lot of the images in the deck creep me out.

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