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The Page in Tarot

The Page of Cups from the Dark Days Tarot | Illustration by Wren McMurdo

I’m winding down to the harvest celebrations with daily indulgence in terrifying paranormal flicks like The Conjuring, Hereditary and It. The force to face mortality, the fantastical and the great beyond is strong.

As a card reader, I can’t help but notice a recurring archetype within these flicks: the page! In the Dark Days Tarot, a page is a gender-fluid messenger delivering mail from the universe to the soul, often youthful in spirit.

The Pages in Tarot by Wren McMurdo. Dark Days Tarot deck by Wren McMurdo.

In movies both frightening and tame, the page is the ingenue and also the possessed; the untouchable muse damned by vulnerability. Both immortal and deeply fragile in their youthfulness, the page's innocence is sometimes guarding and at others, dangerous. Because they carry potential, the page is at once hopeful and also the canary in the coal mine. They somehow hold the weight of the world in their hands, setting the stage for magic and transformation with presence alone.

This contrast has me taking note of the depth of character in page Tarot cards. I’m also compiling a short list of mystical movie characters that connect with page archetypes.

The Page of Cups is the messenger of the heart, showing up as a figure capable of forming deep emotional connections all throughout their world. They are friend of the heartbroken, the cool auntie to the castaway queer (and also the castaway queer), the gangly romantic lead, the maternal oracle on her last legs. These messengers speak the words of deities in digestible increments that inspire, relax and release what truth lies within the heart. They are the flowing current of the community or journey. Mystical movie character equivalent: Piakea in Whale Rider.

The Page of Wands taps into pure muse energy. They lead by example, brewing ideas fervently in groups. This page is a charming messenger, sparking energy and communication. They are the traveling ones, the poets and philosophers buried in books. They see and perceive that which others do not. They light fires and sing songs for the wind to carry. They are the guides of the community or journey. Mystical movie character equivalent: Hermionie Granger in Harry Potter Series.

The Page of Pentacles are the land spirits. They live in tastes and goals and skin. They are the barefooted, the hunters and the cooks. Catch them if you can in the smell of an infant wafting milk and poo, the chewing of food and the flourishing of a garden. They are the fawns and mammals. They speak of life vs. death and that is their ambition. They are the bodies of the dying living and the living dying. They are the health of the community or journey. Mystical movie character equivalent: Pan in Pan’s Labyrinth.

The Page of Swords is the fire starter, and communication is their flint and fuel. The crying infant, the gossip, the gambler and the artistically prone come to mind. This page is one to watch to for their lack of insight. Curiosity is both fantastic and dangerous. They are the grenade and the light socket, exposed and the accidentally powerful. They are the challengers of the community or journey. Mystical movie character equivalent: Nancy in The Craft.

As a Tarot knowledge-deepening exercise, practice identifying your own page archetypes in communities and in the arts.

Something to note: classic playing card sets are thought to be modeled after the Tarot, with similar suit structure including hearts for cups, spades for swords, diamonds for pentacles and clubs for wands. The major arcana are missing in classic playing card decks—and also the pages. The court cards are still present in classic playing card decks but the page went missing in translation. Where did these characters go and why were they buried?


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