Getting into The Halloween Mood with The Ghostly Anne Boleyn

Hello to all my Tarot Friends around The World,

Halloween draws near and in Ireland we call it Samhain. It is a time of intense spookiness and great fun. I will be posting an article in the coming days about the origins of Samhain, a Celtic Festival and some of the traditions associated with it. There may be a few rituals and spells too, so be warned! In the meantime I would like you to meet one of the Dollies that I make.

This is a photo of my Gothic Anne Boleyn Doll, which I suitably named ‘The Lady of The Tower’.  Designing and creating Vintage style Boudoir Dolls is one of my hobbies along with training to be a Mezzo Soprano. Don’t worry, I won’t inflict that on you but I intend putting my ghostly Anne Boleyn Doll on display in my window for Halloween so that all the Trick or Treaters can see this Ghostly Queen with her pale skin and dark eyes. I still have to make her famous necklace yet but will get to that soon enough. The necklace she always wore was made of pearls and had a Gold ‘B’ for Boleyn Pendant hanging from them.

Her dress is made of washed black taffeta trimmed with silver silk ruffle. She wears full underwear of long bloomers, petticoat and pale grey net underskirt. Her small waist is defined by her tight bodice which is trimmed in black velvet and silver silk. Her bodice is heavily adorned with dark jewels and she wears a gothic silver sword to symbolise the Sword that will end her life on the scaffold. I left her hair long and loose although, she would have had it tied back and covered once she climbed the scaffold so that the Swordsman could see what he was doing. I have yet to make her famous necklace that she took off and handed to one of her ladies before putting her head on the block. I may also tie her hair up into a weaved bun at the back. She has a large black chiffon shawl that can be worn over her hair and shoulders to add to her dark traumatic end. She has yet to have her face painted in an antiquing glaze to give it an aged and vintage appearance. However, I did want her to look pale and Gothic.

Anne’s childhood home was Hever Castle and her ghost is said to roam there and many other castles she occupied throughout her short life-time. Her ghost has also been seen at The Tower of London where her young life was tragically ended by a vicious, spiteful, bully and tyrant of a man, King Henry VIII,  who when comparing him to the Tarot Court Cards would in my opinion be similar to The Reversed King of Wands or possibly The Reversed King of Swords. Dangerous men who ruled with a fist of iron and controlled by fear and threat of death. Henry VIII was the archetypal Knight of Wands in his youth. Full of energy, fun, athletic, sporty and quite the prankster. A bad fall from his horse and the manipulation of those around him at Court and his State Counsellors Reversed his Personality and he developed all the traits of The Reversed Knight of Wands.  He had never been reared to be King as his brother Arthur was the heir. As a result he was spoiled and allowed away with any behaviour he liked. He shirked responsibility and duty. Arthur unfortunately died of an illness leaving his wife Katherine of Aragon stranded in England.  Henry eventually took the crown and his wife Katherine.  It was only as he came into his real power as King did Henry, understand what real power and control meant and  he could exert it over everyone.  He could get or take anything he wanted. He went from a man much-loved by his friends and country to a tyrant and bully feared and hated by all. Keeping in his good books was extremely difficult and he signed many death warrants for the simplest of presumed offences. The slightest deed or rumour resulted in being found guilty of treason and being sent to the scaffold or worse.


The Only Known Image of Anne Boleyn wearing her Famous Pearl and B Pendant Necklace

(There are many versions of this image but they all come from the same original source)

sepia   2

headless mod

Anne Boleyn was the second wife of King Henry VIII who divorced his Catholic wife Katherine of Aragon and also changed his religion, and the religion of the country, so that the marriage could go ahead.

I made this doll in memory of Queen Anne Boleyn, born 1501. She was executed on the 19th of May 1536 on the North Side of The White Tower, Tower of London. Found guilty of treason, adultery witchcraft and incest, her husband King Henry VIII signed her death warrant and she was held in the Tower in a room where she could overlook the building of her own scaffold, where she was to be beheaded. Henry hired a French Swordsman for the beheading.

Used by her family, The Howards and Boleyn’s, she was ordered by her father Thomas ,The Earl of Ormond and her uncle The Duke of Norfolk to put herself in the way of the King who was at that time married to Katherine of Aragon, daughter of Queen Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon. The King was tiring of Katherine and very disappointed that she had failed to give him a living male heir. Katherine had had several pregnancies, most resulting in stillborn babies or miscarriages. She did have a daughter who survived, Mary Tudor. Henry was obsessed about having a male heir and probably because he had seen what had happened in his own family with his brother dying unexpectedly. Yes, Mary could take the throne, but she would marry and thus power may fall into the hands of her husband and his family. It was too great a risk to take and he was fanatical about continuing the Tudor blood line, through male inheritance.

It was traditional for the King to take a mistress when the Queen became pregnant especially in the last trimester. Mistresses where openly courted, and heaped with favours, jewels, wealth and estates in exchange. The Mistress’s family also benefited greatly and could rise in stature and power within a short period of time. Therefore there was much competition in the Tudor Court during such times to push a daughter or two in front of the King, in the hope that one, if not both, would take his fancy.

Anne had a sister called Mary and she had spent time as the King’s Mistress during an earlier stage in his marriage to Katherine. Mary had been one of Queen Katherine’s ladies-in-waiting, and both knew the role each other played in the King’s life. The Queen basically had to put up and shut up, but she was well aware that the mistress was been played by her family, and used as a pawn to further their advancement. Women, especially those born into nobility or the gentry, had very little say in their life or who they would marry. Mary Boleyn had been married to William Carey when she caught the King’s eye, and her husband was told to step back while he courted her. Mary had two children from her relationship with Henry although they were never officially recognised. A boy Henry, and a girl Catherine. When Henry’s interest with Mary waned, she was sent back to her husband, and the children who took his name, were reared as his.

In the meantime, Katherine was pregnant again and prayed night and day that the baby this time would live and that it would be a boy. She knew she was treading on dangerous territory and the King was displeased with her. Henry was beginning to question the nature of his marriage to Katherine and believed, like all did in that time, that the fault always lay with the woman if there were fertility problems. He began to plot a way of getting out of his marriage on the basis that it had been a sin against god to marry his brother’s wife and that they were being punished by having no living son. He wanted out on the belief that they were cursed.

Of course, it did not take too long for this rumour to spread throughout a Court where secrets could not be kept, and vicious gossip flourished. If the King wanted rid of his wife, then he would need a replacement. Families mobilised as quickly as they could to get their daughter to the front of the line. The Howards and Boleyns saw it as their big chance to rise even further and quickly called their daughter Anne back from the French Court where she had been for some years.

Anne, unlike Mary, was very ambitious and saw a golden opportunity to be one of the most powerful women in Europe. Instructed and controlled by her family she was given precise details of how to ensnare the King and catch his interest. The plan was to use Anne as the bait and then slowly but surely reel the King in. Anne was told to do anything the King asked of her but not to let go of her maidenhood, as this was their best bargaining tool. They believed that if Henry had her too quickly, she would be set aside quickly once he took interest in another. Her sister Mary was told to instruct Anne in the ways of sexually satisfying the King but without losing her virginity. Essentially, The Howards/Boleyns were, like every other big family at the time, pimping their daughters in return for royal favours and titles.

The plan worked. Anne teased Henry and he became besotted by her. The more he fell under her spell, the more influence she had over him. Carefully controlled by her family, she made subtle suggestions about ending his marriage and the possibility of him marrying her. She brought to his attention the fact that she was young whereas Katherine was old and rumoured to be entering menopause. She could easily give Henry a son, whereas his wife was all but barren.

Driven by lust, desire and the obsessional need for a male heir, Henry fell under Anne’s spell and pulled out all the stops to get an annulment. Cardinal Wolsey was put under immense pressure to achieve it as Henry was not a person who understood the word ‘No’ or ‘Can’t. Wolsey never liked Anne and could see what her and her family were up to.

Katherine was set aside and the King, Henry VIII married Anne Boleyn in 1533. The people of England were not impressed and both Henry and Anne were booed and harassed wherever they went. At one stage, Anne was the most hated woman in Britain for they had loved Katherine, who had been reared to be a real Queen and ruler of a country. She was also religious and devout.

To marry Anne, Henry had to break away from the Catholic Church as they refused to issue him an annulment. They had already issued him with a dispensation so that he could marry Katherine years earlier and felt, rightly so, that he was only tired of her and wanting to trade her in for a newer model.

Anne Boleyn, and her relationship with Henry VIII, changed the course of English history. Anne’s coronation, unlike that of Katherine of Aragon, was received with stony silence throughout the streets of London. Anne was raging and Henry too for he had always enjoyed the love of his nation. As the Queen, Anne became immensely aware of her power and began to wield it to her gain. She had many scores to settle with others in Court and non-more so than Cardinal Wolsey who had belittled her. Anne is reputedly connected with the arrests and sentencing to death of many of her enemies. She also turned on her family as the power went to her head.

However, regardless of Henry’s love or lust for Anne, he still needed a Male Heir. All eyes were on Anne to see what and when she would produce. When Anne became pregnant, Henry was overjoyed and there were banquets and feasts. Anne needed to have a boy and Henry expected it of her. The pressure was on.

Anne had her baby but it was a girl. Both Anne and Henry were disappointed, but they planned to try again as quickly as possible, for Anne had proved that she could give birth to a living baby. Anne’s baby was named Elizabeth. Elizabeth would become Queen of England, Elizabeth I, one of the greatest Monarchs of all time, yet at the time of her birth, all were disappointed she was not a boy.

Anne continued enjoying her life as a Queen. She misunderstood the fragility of the power she held in her hand. She began to become lacks and indiscreet in her behaviour. She kept the wrong company and under her reign, the Court became very laid back and undisciplined. Anne had a brother, George, who was very close to her. George visited her personal rooms often and they spent hours together talking and laughing. George moved in circles that were considered dangerous. Homosexuality was considered a sin and crime punishable by death. It is believed that Anne was aware of her brother’s inclination but took no steps to dissuade him or object. Instead she drew his friends into her inner circle, and it did not take long before the rumours started to spread.

The Tudor Court was rife with spies and Anne was playing a very dangerous game indeed. She was too confident of her power as Queen. She refused to listen to advice and warnings. Anne began to feel the pinch herself when she realised that getting pregnant again or carrying a baby full term was not going to be as easy as it was with Elizabeth. Anne is reputed to have had several pregnancies and miscarriages that were hidden from the King. The harder Anne tried to get pregnant, the less successful she became. The King was not pleased, and Anne, living on her nerves, realised she was in serious trouble.

There is a belief among historians that Anne realised that it was The King who was the problem with fertility, and not her. She became distressed and desperate to produce a male child. She tried all kinds of weird advise and was rumoured even to have consulted with witches and wise women, taking potions and herbs in order to conceive a male. Anne eventually became pregnant again but the baby did not live. The King, disillusioned and bored with Anne’s tantrums and disrespect towards him, had already turned his attention to another young woman at Court. The Seymour family, aware of Anne’s predicament and fall from grace, no secrets at Court, had lined up their daughter, Jane to take the role of mistress throughout Anne’s confinement. The Seymours, like the Howards before them, had plans, big plans. They knew Anne was on the way out and they had the next replacement.

Henry had at this stage made himself The Head of the Church in England and therefore, could do anything much he liked. He could issue decrees, re-write religious law and grant himself anything he wanted. With malicious gossip in his ears and the lack of a male heir, Henry decided that Anne must go. Convoluted and trumped-up charges were brought against her of adultery, witchcraft and incest.

Anne was arrested on charges of treason, and of course found guilty by a Court that was under orders from the King. She was sentenced to death and sent to the infamous Tower of London. Her brother George was also arrested and found guilty of heinous crimes. He was also sentenced to death and imprisoned in The Tower.

Anne’s family made no attempt to intercede on her behalf and withdrew on fear of becoming tainted by her fall from grace.

On the 19th of May 1536 she was led to the scaffold where she made a speech to the crowd declaring her innocence.

“Good Christian people, I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak anything of that, whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the king and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never: and to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me. O Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul. ” (Anne Boleyn 19th of May 1536) 

Mary Boleyn was the only surviving sibling of Thomas and Elizabeth Boleyn. Anne’s daughter Elizabeth I, never married and unless there were unrecorded illegitimate children , died childless. Mary’s children were very productive and thanks to them, there are hundreds of descendents of the Boleyn’s and indirectly, Anne. Princess Diana, Sarah Ferguson along with the Queen Mother and therefore the Queen are all descendents of the Boleyns. If and when Charles succeeds his mother, so too will another Boleyn descendents ascend the throne, and William, when his time comes, will be another descendent of a Boleyn and his new son George also. How ironic that whereas, Henry’s bloodline diluted over the centuries, the Boleyn’s strengthened in force. All that terror and intimidation for nothing Henry!

Hope you enjoyed this story.

(Article by Vivien Ni Dhuinn)

Copyright © 2006-2013 Vivien Ní Dhuinn

7 replies »

  1. Enjoyed your story very much and your doll is excellent. Thank you for sharing. I am working on the 5’s and the spread on your web site. Thank you for that as well. L.


    • Thank you so much for your positive comments and for liking my story. I also have part two of the Knight of Wand’s Drama almost ready to go. Doll making is one of my big hobbies and I have several made.I will be starting on making the Four Queens of The Court Cards early next year. At the moment they are all very Downton Abbeyish.

      Good Luck with the Fives and there will be more spreads to come as I get more and more of the cards re-worked. Take your time and let it all come naturally to you. Any questions, I am always here so please ask. You may not get an answer immediately as I am writing a lot but I will get back to you as soon as I can.


      Vivien (your tarot teacher)


  2. As well as being a lover of tarot, I’m also a lover of the Tudor history, thanks so much for that wonderful story! Your Anne Boleyn doll is exquisite!


    • Oh, Thank you so much for your lovely comments and feedback Theresa, and of course for liking my Doll. I love my dolls and have just finished one and have another two on the way. Wish there was three of me to do all the work I want to do. Re Tudor History, I just love that period and definitely want to do a tour of all the castles in the UK. That is on my bucket list. I love Phillipa Gregory books as she so captures that era and gives great insight into how they lived. The story drama I am writing for The Knight of Wands (part two coming in the next couple of days) is greatly influenced by my reading of her historical novels, so too a lot of the Minor Arcana Dramas. I have no new ones at present so need to get shopping. I have read The Constant Princess (about Katherine of Aragon’s Reign), The Other Boleyn Girl (Mary and Anne Boleyn) and The Boyeln Inheritance (Anne of Cleves and poor Kitty Howard). I think I have those in the correct order. She has several more that I am eager to read.

      I am often asked about how to interpret The Court Cards and really I think feeding yourself a diet of her books will definitely broaden the imagination when it comes to the Courts or any of the other cards for that matter.

      Thank you so much,




    • Just one think I forgot to mention my dearest. If you have been using my laptop please make sure to log in as yourself before posting anything to me, otherwise it looks like I have sent it to myself!!! Self-Praise is no praise so the saying goes! xx Vivers


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