The Tarot deck has been used for centuries by devotees of the occult arts; the symbolism of the cards known as the Major Arcana are still used today as divinvation tools. The images, as well as the interpretations of the deck, are rooted in mythology and folklore.
"The Lord of the Rings" is a story equally rooted in myth and fantasy. Therefore, how could we resist creating a divination Tarot deck based on these wonderful fantasy elements? Using both book-verse and movie-verse (so long as they did not contradict each other!) we have assembled a Tarot deck featuring characters, places and situations from "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring."
It should also be noted there is already a lovely Tarot deck available for purchase (read about it here), with which we could never hope to compete. :-) We do, however, know that fellow fans will appreciate a fan-created Tarot. After all, ours is fun, fan-based, and free!
Stealing vegetables from Farmer Maggot, singing and dancing at the Green Dragon, joining the Fellowship without truly understanding its goal...who's more adventurous, innocent, spontaneous - and foolish! - than our own Fool of a Took? His curiosity in Moria brought about consequences he could never have foreseen, but that's Pip: he never looks too far ahead.
1. The Magician
The Magician uses four tools to manifest his will: intellect, inspiration, emotion and practicality. This card represents the ability to act and not react, to see one's own will-power and strength of will to accomplish what needs to be done.
Despite a fondness for pipe-weed, Gandalf's intellect is sharp. It is he who discovers the true nature of Bilbo's innocent ring. It is he who inspires young Frodo to embark upon a quest to save his home. And it is he who becomes the physical and spiritual guide of Fellowship, over the foothills of Caradhras and through the mire of their own fears. He will do all he must to prevent the defilement of Middle-earth.
2. The High Priestess
She is intuition, hidden knowledge and insight. She is the High Priestess, and she represents a deeper understanding of the world on a level beyond that of others. Intuition is her guidance and she uses it well, tapping into psychic levels and warning against ignorance of one's own inner voice.
With her age and experiences, Galadriel knows far more than she ever reveals about Middle-earth and the paths of the future. Within her realm of the Golden Wood, the Fellowship found solace...and more questions. She forced them to understand the dire importance of their quest while showing each their own weaknesses and strengths. She sees beyond the faces she is shown and she encouraged Frodo to trust his own inner voice. Beyond even the knowledge of an immortal Elf, she understands that death is not an ending for all.
3. The Empress
The Empress represents nurturing, caring and maternal feelings; she is peace and harmony, the sense of being at ease with one's inner self. She is a woman in control of her feminity, and she is also wise and decisive, and prepared to make sacrifices for those under her care. She symbolizes the need to look at a greater good, taking all things in consideration.
Widowed by violence and left to raise the heir to the kingdom of Men, Gilraen took her son to the protective valley of Rivendell and the power of the Elves. To her final day, her purpose was to keep Aragorn safe so that he might choose his own path when the time came. It was she who first gave her son the elvish name of Estel, meaning “Hope.”
4. The Emperor
The Emperor represents courage and ambition, stability and authority. He is a very strong father figure, a provider, one who will not hesitate to work hard to reap the rewards of his actions.
As the father of Arwen Undomiel and the foster father of Aragorn, Elrond cares not only for his own kin, but for the last hope of the Kings of Men. He cares for Aragorn, providing a stable home and becoming a father figure. A powerful figure in the Last Alliance of Elves and Men in the Second Age, he rules over Rivendell in the Third through the waning days of his race, leading them all toward their final journey into the Undying Lands.
5. The High Priest
The High Priest is the card of spiritual guidance, higher truth and realization. He represents the need to conform to rules or fixed situations, as well as guidance in the spiritual form. This card may indicate the need to seek spiritual guidance from one who is respected, or from a comforming way of thinking.
Founder and Lord of Lorien, he protects the Golden Wood with the help of his wife Galadriel. When the Fellowship seeks refuge within Caras Galadhon, Celeborn speaks harshly to Gimli the Dwarf, conforming to and echoing the sentiments of most of his kin. It is Galadriel who cautions him against such rash judgments.
6. The Lovers
The Lovers card is about decision, temptation and moral choice; options must be considered so that the best one will be taken. Some may urge otherwise, but in the end, one must follow the path that is true. A relationship may be formed beyond the relationship itself, with goals in sight that may be achieved with both partners working together.
Arwen, Elf-maiden, and Aragorn, son of Man. For their love, Arwen chooses a mortal life, opting for death by Aragorn's side rather than immortality without him. Her father Elrond disapproves, her fellow elven kin do not understand her devotion to a mortal and Aragorn himself feels he is unworthy of such a gift. But despite the oppositon, the bond is strong between them. They know they must be together.
7. The Chariot
The Chariot card is about the challenges and obstacles one must find the strength and focus to overcome. Difficult times may be ahead and one must call upon control, perseverance and strength of will to triumph over them.
The Ringwraiths are there at every step complicating Frodo's journey from the Shire, showing him for the first time the evil in the world allied against him. Frodo cannot defeat them, but he can endure them - and he must to achieve his purpose.
The Strength card does not necessarily represent a brute force type of strength; instead, inner strength and courage are needed to succeed in a given situation. This card symbolizes that the time has come to face one's fears, to find the courage and will to face up to a challenge.
Fond of food and ale like all hobbits, Merry Brandybuck is not so strong as Aragorn, nor so swift as Legolas, but he has great strength of heart and will. He is the one who bravely chooses to leave the Shire to help Frodo arrive safely in Bree and he is the one who is a constant companion and often the adviser to young Pippin. Unlike Pip, he joined the quest with his eyes open, aware of the potential dangers, even if he doesn't feel ready for them.
9. The Hermit
The Hermit represents reflection, truth and guidance; this guidance usually comes from within, or sometimes from a higher spirit. He indicates the time has come to seek answers, and the truth. However, The Hermit can also represent sadness and loneliness.
Many, many years ago, Gandalf urged Bilbo Baggins on his own journey. He faced trolls, Mirkwood spiders and the dragon Smaug - and acquired a peculiar little trinket. In his old age, Bilbo's thoughts dwell often on his adventures and he realizes he has outgrown his home, the Shire. The once content and respectable Baggins of Bag End became elusive, unsettled, eccentric - and not just to the loathed Sackville-Bagginses. Truly connected to only his nephew Frodo and the wizard Gandalf, Bilbo's world is outside the Shire, though he himself, still lives within.
10. The Wheel of Fortune
The Wheel of Fortune represents the ability to see the opportunities that are all around, visible to those who know how to look for them. The present may not be desirable, but it shall pass, and current situations do not have to remain as they are if one is prepared to use one's potential to instigate change.
The Mirror of Galadriel is a window to the future, the past and the present. In it, Frodo sees the perils he faces, the danger he has faced...and the horror he will face if he fails. It is Galadriel and her Mirror that give Frodo the strength in himself he must have to prevent a possible future from becoming a terrible reality.
The Justice card indicates that a balance has been reached. Now is the time to call upon the ability to see and understand all aspects of a situation, and to make a sound decision. Honesty and responsibility are now needed for one's actions. Morality, virtue, fairness and rectitude are symbolized by this card.
The fellowship broken, the One Ring no longer their responsibility, Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli reach one moment of clarity. The future and the fate of Middle-earth are no longer in their hands, but the lives of little Merry and Pippin may yet be. They understand that they have a duty to honor to the hobbits, to each other, and each to himself, and that friendship is just as noble a quest as fate.
12. The Hanged Man
Struggling now would serve no purpose; The Hanged Man represents the need to reflect on past actions. This card is also highly symbolic: The Hanged Man is being sacrificed, yet it often seems to be a voluntary sacrifice; he abandons the shackles of the physical world to gain a new awareness, a new perspective.
Merry and Pippin watch helplessly as Boromir, pierced repeatedly by Orc arrows, continues to fight for them. But he does not fight only for them; he fights also for himself. A good man corrupted by an evil beyond his control, he is atoning. His rational mind knows he has done wrong and it is his rational mind that chooses death rather than blind acceptance of defeat and a coward's life. He gives his life for others because he knows it is all he has left to give.
The Death card does not represent physical death nor is it an inherently negative card. The death symbolized here is the end of a cycle, a time for change, renewal, rebirth. It is time to stop, accept the past, and find the strength to face what is yet to come.
Gandalf's passing is not an end. As Gandalf the Grey, he has done all he can; he chooses to fall in Moria, for only through the darkness can he emerge as light. And through death he acquires the strength he needs to lead Middle-earth against evil.
The Temperance card represents spiritual relationship, the sense of kinship and connection with one's surroundings. Deep communication on a higher emotional level is required for progress. One must not only talk, but listen.
The Firstborn. The Elves. They can recall when the towering oak was a narrow sapling and when the deep canyon was a stretch of land crossed by an insistent stream. They are often the voices of reason, compassion and wisdom to others. More than any race, they are connected to the life-breath of Middle-earth and it is their curse to live for as long as it endures.
15. The Devil
Negative control, self-gratification, vulnerability; this is The Devil. This card represents temptation and manipulation by hidden influences. The control may come from a person, an environment or even one's own attitudes. There is a fear and struggle to regain power over one's situation.
That no one is without dreams and desires is how the One Ring weaves its spell. The promise of unimagined power, the power to do good, can seduce many. But the Ring does not have the capacity for good. It makes enemies of men's minds, turning them against themselves, corrupting them. It whispers of a bright future at their command, an unspoiled world at their feet and they believe...even though they know It must be lying.
16. The Tower
The most negative card of the Tarot deck, The Tower represents inevitable change outside one's control. This change can often be difficult and challenging, and occurs without warning. But with change comes the possibility of freedom, and the negative influences may be overcome if strength is found.
It is to the tower of Orthanc that Gandalf rides, seeking the advice and wisdom of Saruman the White. Where he had expected to find advice, Gandalf finds betrayal and Orthanc becomes another stronghold of an already powerful enemy. The gutting of Isengard and the treason of Saruman is more vile than even the lies of Sauron and the decrepitude of Barad-dur, for within the walls of Orthanc, the free peoples of Middle-earth found a deceiver beneath the face of a friend.
17. The Star
The Star has inner faith and belief that the right path is being followed. This card represents the belief that hope will triumph. Guided by inner light and strength, The Star is confident and ready to face the road ahead, allowing inspiration to lead the way.
New to the world outside the Shire, new to the concept of evil on a mass scale, Frodo accepts the burden of the One Ring. And he accepts it alone. He is tired, cold, frightened - and determined. He does not know if he will succeed in destroying It or if he will live to see the outcome if he does, but he knows that he must continue walking deeper and deeper into Mordor because that is the path before him. The path he has chosen.
18. The Moon
The Moon represents the power of intuition and strong dreams. Inner senses must be trusted, for they often hold the answer to questions the conscious mind and the normal sense cannot perceive.
Legolas is the Fellowship's intuition; he senses changes in the air and dangers in their surroundings before the others in the Fellowship ever can. As a wood-Elf, he hears the voices of the trees, the whispers of the water. And he has learned to listen.
19. The Sun
The Sun symbolizes energy, enthusiasm, optimism and spontaneity. A very positive card, The Sun offers happiness and peace, yet can also temper an overly optimistic attitude in favor of realism, and helps lead toward a triumphant situation .
Samwise Gamgee's world was one of shrubs and flowers until it suddenly became embroiled in the affairs of Ringwraiths and Dark Lords. While others worry about the world, Sam worries about Frodo. He is Frodo's connection to the happiness and peace of the Shire. He is scared of the future, but he believes they will succeed. Though it may be a blind belief, it is just what Frodo needs.
The Judgement card represents the need to take a long look at the present situation. Responsibility must be taken for one's action despite outside forces that could be influential. Now is the time to stop and make important decisions-- hopefully with good judgement.
Sauron lay defeated, the Last Alliance of Elves and Men was triumphant, the people were free of an evil dominion...and Isildur picked up the One Ring. In that moment, he held the future of Middle-earth in his hands. If the Ring were destroyed, then freedom would prevail, unhindered by dark forces. If not, the door lay open for evil to return, for savagery, slavery and violence to once again claim the land. In that moment, Isildur made his choice.
21. The World
The final card of the Tarot deck, The World represents completion and accomplishment, realization of a challenge or event. Destination has been reached, as well as a dawning understanding of one's path and purpose.
Standing on the unfriendly crags of the Emyn Muil, Frodo and Sam stand literally and figuratively on a precipice. But they are united in mind and purpose. They will either succeed or die in the trying. They know their goal - to find their way into Mordor and destroy the One Ring - and though they are beginning to understand just what terror, violence and evil awaits them, they still move bravely forward and take those first steps.