Madenié Meets Mother Goose
The Pierre Madenié deck (1709) and The Tales of Mother Goose (1696) emerged from the same cultural milieu at nearly the same time. A small archive of letters has recently come to light showing that Cinderella, Bluebeard and their friends frequented a fortuneteller who read cards with the Madenié deck. Here’s the transcript of a reading that was delivered by post to a rather cautious prince.
The Question: While on a hunting trip, I discovered an ancient, crumbling castle in a forest at the edge of my father’s kingdom. It was so overgrown with brambles and brush I couldn’t get near it. Some villagers said the castle is haunted by ghosts. Others told me that witches hold coven meetings in the grand ballroom on the full moon. Then there were stories about ogres who drag children into the castle to eat them.
But there’s another story that I remember from my childhood, about a baby princess who was cursed by a jealous fairy at her christening. Since her eighteenth birthday, the princess has been sleeping in a deserted castle surrounded by brambles. I wonder if that’s the true story of this castle, rather than those gruesome peasant tales about ogres and witches. I’m going hunting near the castle this weekend, and I really want to hack my way through the underbrush and explore. But before I do, can you give me a clue what’s in the castle and how dangerous it is?
The Crown Prince
Dear CP: I pulled two cards from the Pierre Madenié deck while asking what tarot can tell you about the castle.
The Hanged Man indicates there is something in the castle that’s tied up, suspended, or rendered helpless. The figure swinging in the air makes me think that whatever is in the castle is high up, perhaps in a tower. The imagery also suggests that it’s enclosed in something like a closet or a cabinet.
The Strength card shows a strong and courageous person calmly prying open the clenched jaws of the lion with focused will and determination. Whatever is in the castle is trapped and waiting to be rescued. Don’t be misled because the figure on this card is a woman. She’s an allegory of strength and courage that could apply to anyone. Your courage will be tested in the castle, but you have the inner resources to prevail.
I don’t see ogres and witches, or anything evil, in these cards. I see someone trapped and helpless who needs rescuing, like the Princess you’ve heard about. The Hanged Man could also be the kind of ghost that gets trapped in a tower or attic, and spends centuries clanking its chains and making a nuisance of itself. But the Strength card tells me that physical power is needed to release whatever is in the castle. Which means we’re dealing with something solid, not a ghost.
I pulled one more card to assess the danger in the castle, and got the Empress. She’s a symbol of status and leadership; and she resembles the woman grappling with the lion. Don’t forget that you are the future king of the realm and you must be prepared to face danger head-on. The real danger is not from ogres or witches, it’s from your own lack of confidence. Remember the lion, and summon up your courage as you meet the challenge that this castle represents.
I shuffled all 78 cards in the deck, but you received only Trump cards for your reading. Confronting what’s in the castle will be a major turning point for you. The spirit with which you meet this challenge will determine your life path for many years to come.
I wish you the best of luck on your journey.
Readers: What advice would you give the Prince based on these cards? How about doing your own reading for him and telling us about it in the comments?