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Category Archives: Stories

The Death Card Visits The Battle of Bosworth!

Death Upright

This post is prompted by historical events that happened in England, culminating on the 22nd of August 1485. I weaved in a few Tarot cards to enhance the telling of The Battle of Bosworth which marked the end of The War of The Roses, the fall of the House of York and the rise of The House of Lancaster. The death of King Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet Kings, on the battlefield of Bosworth began the reign of the Tudor Dynasty with Henry VII. With tension, intrigue, cliff hanging moments and and array of complex characters, the story of this incredibly important transitional time in English history reads like the plot of a great novel or script of a thrilling movie.  It is full of superb tarot archetypes and archetypal situations. Look around you in the world today and you will see they are still here, especially in the halls of power and politics. Nothing really changes.

I have written a potted history of the story below with all key characters and events, and have mused over how certain cards might symbolically represent this powerful story. Really, the whole deck could have been used so I had to exert some discipline and self restraint. Read the rest of this entry

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The Tarot School of Drama Performs, ‘A Recipe for Ill Health’

Hello to all my Tarot Friends around the World,

Thought I would ask the Tarot to stage this mini production below about how I ended up so unwell  in recent weeks. I hope you can follow my ill health drama through the imagery and symbolism used by the lovely Tarot School Actors and Players I have chosen to tell my story. It may involve using your creative imagination at times but that is always a plus when learning to read Tarot.


Queen of Swords Upright Queen of Wands Upright Queen of Pentacles Upright

Here is me, Thinking, Doing and being Productive on a daily basis. No time for slacking. Too much to do. Must keep at it every day. My mind is never still. It is full of ideas and plans, concepts, theories and opinions. My mouth is never silent either. I talk a lot! Too many things interest me and I get enthusiastic about all my projects. I have a tendency to underestimate how much time and effort is required to achieve my goals. That doesn’t stop me though. Then I must not let an hour, a day, a moment go by without being productive. I have to see results. Weekends are just extra days when you can get work done. Must put in the hours. I am methodical and thorough so push myself to give 150% all the time. I have high very high standards which can make life quite challenging and demanding. I am not great at delegating so will attempt to do everything myself. I can be stubborn, belligerent and pedantic.

King of Cups Upright 8 of Pentacles Reversed7 of Pentacles Rx

Now, here is my partner, The King of Cups. He takes life much easier than I do. He likes to relax and chill out. He believes there is a time for work, a time for play and a time for rest. When he gets tired he takes a break, or even just acknowledges that he is overdoing something. He is into self-care and will take it easy when he feels he needs to. He has been trying to counsel and advise the triple Queen personality (Swords, Wands, Pentacles) he lives with. He gently warns that I am working too hard at the moment. He finds it difficult to get me away from my desk at meal times. He sometimes has to get firm with me and remind me that he has boiled the kettle three times and still I have failed to turn up in the kitchen. I get irritated by his attempts to get me to leave what I am working on. I persist and explain to him that I have to finish what I am doing before I eat. The food and kettle can wait. He tells me that everyone needs a break, even if it is just for lunch. He says I am pushing myself too much and need to start scheduling some days off. I am busy and there is too much to be done. He goes ahead and eats without me. I am a stubborn woman after all. Read the rest of this entry

The Queen and The Soldier – Tarot Tales

The Queen & The Soldier

(Song Lyrics by Suzanne Vega)

Featuring, The Queen of Swords and The Knight of Pentacles

Queen of Swords Upright  Capture_knight_pentacles_flipped

This song was playing over in my head while I lay in bed last night. The Queen and The Soldier by Suzanne Vega It is an old favourite of mine but haven’t heard it in some time. While I sang it to myself, I thought how superbly a young Queen of Swords and The Knight of Pentacles might fit into this story line. The cold, aloof and calculating woman who puts her duty and crown ahead of her feelings for the lovely young Knight who has been the Queen’s loyal Champion for so long. He has worshiped her from a distance, and wants to love and protect her, yet she keeps him at arm’s length. She is the Queen and he The Solider. Regardless of the distance that lies between them, we get the impression of a connection somewhere in the past, even if she refuses to acknowledge it. Behind her controlled and disciplined appearance we can tell that her heart aches for him, yet she pretends to but vaguely recognise him when he comes to her door.

The young woman takes life and her Queenly duties very seriously. To drop her guard with this Knight would be a sign of weakness on her part. That she will not tolerate for she has vowed allegiance to the throne.  The Knight wants more from life, and from her. He is no longer content to keep doing her bidding, fighting her painful battles, without getting something back in return. He is tired of her mind games and strange ways. He wants to know why she lives as she does? Read the rest of this entry

A Tale of Four Knights – Part Two- The Drama Continues

Greetings to all My Tarot Students and Enthusiasts,

The Second Instalment of The Knight’s Drama Continues. This story can also be found in the Main Menu in Part II Court Cards-Lesson Two-The Knights Intro-The Drama of The Four Knights. For those who have already read the First Instalment, you will need to Scroll Down The Page to find the Second Instalment. Below you will find and an extract from it. The First Instalment is also available on the Main Page as Detailed Above.

I do hope you enjoy the Story. This time I have added some Cards to help with the Story-Telling. In the meantime, work is going on behind the scenes on the re-writing of The Knight of Cups. 

Will be back soon,

Vivien (your Tarot Teacher)

Featuring The Knights of Wands, Cups, Swords and Pentacles

The Festivities, Foreign Guests, and A Shock In Store

Knight of Wands Upright 6 of Wands Upright4 of Wands 10 of Pentacles Upright

The Knight of Wands looked larger than life as his Horse circled and whinnied. The young groom’s boy who had sprung into action once he had heard of his Master’s arrival struggled hard to grab hold of the massive deep chestnut stallion that seemed intent on trampling him out of sheer excitement. The Horse’s eyes looked wild and ready for more action, even after the long and arduous ride from the coast. The Knight of Wands took a tight hold of the reins and circled the Horse a few more times. The Horse snorted and stamped before allowing the young groom to come even remotely close. Laughing out loud, The Knight of Wands leaned down from his massive height and handed his Wand to his waiting Manservant who looked terrified to be so close to such an enormous beast of an animal.

Still holding control of his Horse with his left hand, he released the buckles on his helmet and pulled it free from his head. The Ladies-in-waiting spoke not a word between them as they watched his deep auburn hair fall to just about shoulder length. It was damp from being encased in his head armour, and like his Horse’s coat, was steaming from the exertion of the long ride. He shook his hair free, but long strands of it blew across his face, obscuring his vision. He swiped them away impatiently and looked around at the crowd that had gathered to welcome him home.

Through the upstairs window and still unobserved, The Ladies-in-waiting looked knowingly at each other. Words failed them as they gazed down upon their brave and bold Knight. They watched the angle of his rugged, strong and determined chin as he turned to talk to the gathering crowd. He had a heavy growth of russet red beard, slightly lighter in colour than his hair. In the setting sun, they could not fail to notice the glint of his emerald-green eyes as he beamed his delighted smiles for all to see.  His skin looked lightly tanned, his complexion, ruddy from prolonged exposure under hot foreign skies.

Knight of Wands Upright The Lovers Upright 2 of Cups Upright  Queen of Cups Upright

The Golden Haired Queen’s Lady thought of his finely honed body beneath his armour. After all the months on crusade and campaign; the rigours of battle, the hours, days and weeks on Horseback, she pondered the level of his fitness and agility. He looked strong and incredibly healthy with no signs of injury or damage.  She had worried about all the horrific mutilation that only too often came home from the battle field.  She felt her heart quicken at the thought of her Knight. Here was a man at the peak of his manhood, virile and healthy. He was home and she could barely contain her longing ache for him.

The Knight below remained mounted as the little groom’s boy danced around unsure as to what to do next. The Knight seemed to be waiting for something, or somebody, as he constantly glanced towards the drawbridge. The young boy stared admiringly at his master’s tunic. The evening sun made its yellow colour glow like deep gold. The black embroidered Salamanders of his family crest stood out in stark contrast, making the boy feel almost dazed in its presence.

The elder of the Ladies-in-waiting began to get a bit anxious about standing up on the window ledge too long, and feared they would be scolded if caught involved in such unseemly behaviour. The Golden Haired Lady took no notice of her nervous twittering companion and continued to watch her glorious man in the courtyard below. There was a rumble of noise, some scattering and reforming of servants and guards, and The Queen and King of Wands appeared down the Great Hall steps to formally welcome their son home from his escapades at war.

The Empres Upright Queen of Wands UprightKnight of Wands UprightKing of Wands UprightThe Emperor Upright

The Queen of Wands stepped towards the mighty Horse as The Knight leaned down to kiss her hand. From the window above, they could see them exchange excited words, and both Queen and Knight looked so happy. The Queen threw back her head in deep laughter at one of her son’s outrageous comments before turning to share his joke with the gathered crowd. She turned back to converse with him. The King then joined them. The Knight glanced over his shoulder towards the drawbridge and then back to his parents once more. Then they all looked back at the drawbridge in anticipation. Whatever was going on?

         Page of Wands Upright  Page of Cups Upright  Page of Swords Upright  Page of Pentacles Upright

The Ladies-in-waiting strained their necks as far as they could in attempt to get a view of what they might all be looking at, but the angle was wrong. The Golden Haired Lady felt nervous and unsettled. What where they waiting for? Who were they waiting for?

Continue Reading ………………….

 

Copyright © 2006-2013 Vivien Ní Dhuinn

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.

Anneboleyn2

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

Story Time – The Knight of Wands

Hello to all,

While I am re-working The Knight of Wands I have decided to write a fictional drama around him and will probably do so for all The Knights as I get to them. I hope you enjoy these mini dramas and that they might help you get to know our lovely Knights a little better. It is all great fun playing with their characters and creating dramas, plots and romance around their lives.

 

The Drama of The Knight of Wands Part One – The Homecoming

Knight of Wands Upright

As we enter the action of The Knight of Wands Card, The Knight is nowhere to be seen. Instead we find ourselves in the cold cobbled inner courtyard of a 16th century castle. The place is a hive of activity with men and women of all ages running to and fro, fetching and carrying all manner of items, even furniture.  Tall ladders line the strong stone castle walls, while young boys scurry up and down them to hang garlands of dark green foliage and rich red berries. Everyone is extremely busy, even the Smith whose hammer rings out sharp and clear in the cold morning air, as it connects with hot metal somewhere in the distance. A rotund red-faced young girl runs shouting from a doorway and attempts to round-up a goose that has tried to escape its fate. As we take in the scene around us, we realise it is one of preparation and anticipation. The Castle is being lavishly decorated for a celebration of some kind, even the entrance gate just across the drawbridge and under the portcullis is draped with flowers and greenery.

A clatter and thud of loud hooves in the outer courtyard draws everyone to attention. The Castle Guards rush forward and hail the rider who carries The Royal Standard. He dismounts and breathlessly shouts out loud and clear ‘Hear ye, hear ye, The King is nigh, prepare for The King’s arrival’. A mad rush of sheer frenzy follows as all involved must cease their activity and line up to greet their King. Our eyes are drawn to the second floor window on the west wall of the castle. Three, maybe more young women’s heads bob back and forth. These are The Ladies of the castle and from what we can see, look beautifully dressed and groomed.

A trumpet sounds loud and clear and a voice calls out ‘The King is here, The King is here’.  And with that, three horsemen thunder across the drawbridge, under the portcullis and appear through the gateway in a cloud of steam. Horses call out to each other as they circle excitedly among those who stand waiting for orders to be relayed to them. The three horsemen seem in high spirits and shout and laugh as they greet familiar faces.

For a moment silence descends upon the courtyard as all drop into a low bow, eyes to the ground, they hold their stance agonisingly long as The King takes in his surroundings before giving the signal for all to relax. Grooms then spring into action and move rapidly to take care of their charges.   The three horsemen quickly dismount. They lead their steaming horses steadily away so that they can be fed, watered and brushed down.

The King and his two companions disappear at haste up steep stone steps and enter the castle hall through its thick oak doorway.  We follow unobtrusively behind them, eager not to be seen. There is an air of excitement and anticipation in the way everyone seems to be hurrying and rushing here and there. The mood is light and jolly.

Inside the Great Hall, we encounter yet more servants and maids in a flurry of activity. Two scullery maids tending the large roaring fire in the Great Hall blush with mortification when the three men come upon them unexpectedly. They had been giggling and chatting instead of working and under normal circumstances would have been severely chastised, but The King, whose mood today cannot be broken, laughs with them before sending them on their way.

The King and his companions stand by the bright burning flames and warm their cold bodies. A manservant arrives with a tray of wine and some bread and ham for the exhilarated, yet weary travellers to break their fast with. They had been riding all night and were eager to fall upon their food.

The approaching Manservant once  in the presence of The King drops his head and stares to the floor until he is given permission to rise. Taking a liberty, he speaks out,  ‘my Liege, it is good to see you returned safely to us once more. And your son, The Knight of Wands, has he safely landed too?” The King turns to his trusty manservant and dispensing on this occasion with formalities he gives him a friendly pat on the back. ‘It is certainly good to be back home for a while, and yes, my son will be here before nightfall. I trust all is in place for the festivities tonight and for the Jousting Tournament tomorrow?  My son, The Knight of Wands, will be bringing some people with him, new acquaintances. We want to make a very good impression on them and I am happy to see how well the castle is being prepared for their arrival. They come from some of the most noble and aristocratic families in Europe, and this visit, once successful, will strengthen the allegiance between us. Nothing must go wrong. I want their every wish, desire and need catered for. These are my orders and make sure everyone is informed and aware. Do you understand?”  The King stared into his Manservant’s eyes and held his gaze just long enough for him to be totally clear of his instructions. The Manservant nodded silently and with bowed head backed slowly and quietly away from his King and Master.

The King returned his attention to his two companions, now nicely warmed by the blazing logs and the pungent heat of the strong wine. Feeling restored after their long ride, they settled into deep conversation about the imminent arrival of The King’s son, The Knight of Wands and the important Royals who would visit with him. We listen to them speculate about The Knight’s overseas adventures and conquests. They voice their concerns about the ongoing battles over territory and power, allies and foes, and discuss strategies for future battles. They also discuss in-depth the entourage who will later arrive with The Knight of Wands.  Which ones can they trust? Which ones will join forces with them and who will ride out with The Knight of Wands to lead their armies to glorious success and triumph? They decide to closely observe the other Knight’s qualities, skills and strengths at the Jousting Tournament the next day.  They will also watch closely to discover their weaknesses.

Up the stairs and at the far side of the inner courtyard, sits The Queen of Wands with her Ladies-in-waiting. The Queen’s rooms are known for their liveliness and good humour. Her Ladies-in- waiting are the envy of all, for this Queen is bright, sunny and generous. Her energy and spontaneity keeps them all on their toes, and boredom at bay. The Queen likes to sing, dance and laugh, and provides daily entertainment in her rooms for those closest to her.

The Queen of Wands hates to sew and becomes quickly impatient with all the needlework she is expected to be a part of. Today is no exception but there is an extra restlessness about her which makes her pace up and down her Royal Apartments and draws her frequently to the window, or to the chamber door, where she shouts out enquiring of The Guards ‘any news yet?’ Her Ladies-in-waiting do their best to engage her with snippets of gossip from Court life, a new style of hood that is very ‘French’ , and about the excellent form of her big hunter on his last outing. Nothing seems to impress or hold her attention as she paces anxiously, yet excitedly around the large inner chamber. Even the offer of the bright gold silk thread to embroider the sun cannot capture her imagination.

The Ladies-in-waiting all looked to each other and sighed. They all knew The King had arrived and his very presence in the castle had created strong energy vibrations all around.  His presence today also meant that his son, The Knight of Wand’s arrival was imminent. The Queen of Wand’s limited patience had been severely put to the test these last six months. Both her strong, powerful husband, and vibrant, virile, son away overseas fighting battles and defeating the enemy, while she had to stay at home and keep busy.

Trusted implicitly by her husband, The King of Wands, thankfully she had not suffered the same fate as many other wives left to entertain themselves in their husband’s absence. The Queen of Wands had been left in a position of Governing Power. Not full power of course, but he knew he could rely on her to do what had to be done, and also to keep an eye on those who could cause trouble for The Kingdom in his absence. He knew she was no fool, and if the situation called for it would be able to confidently rule The Kingdom herself without any help from him. She was strong-headed and feisty, with an independent nature and natural curiosity. Nothing would slip by her attention, and all within the Castle were well aware of the power of their Queen. The Queen knew she was an excellent match for her husband’s mite but remained vigilant about not appearing to be in competition with him, or too forceful in her opinions. Being a clever woman, she had ways of getting what she wanted. However, being a Queen, she had to bow to the etiquette and protocol of a Queenly life which is why she now waited to be summoned by her King instead of just running to greet him as she wished to do.

One of the Queen’s Ladies-in-waiting picked up the gold thread declined by The Queen and began to embroider the sun. Her own hair, although mostly covered by her fashionable hood, was just as bright and dazzling as the silk thread. In fact, she believed her own hair would make a more suitable match for the sun than the expensive silk thread she drew between her delicate fingers. Outwardly she appeared calm and consistent, just as she did every day, but inside her heart pounded in her chest. Every time a horse and rider arrived in the outer courtyard she nearly dropped her needle, and it took all her concentration to steady her hands. Her eyes darted from the window to the door, waiting and willing for something to happen. She thought she would go mad with all this waiting. She understood how The Queen felt, but unlike The Queen, she was frustrated for a very different reason.

Suddenly voices came from outside and there was the familiar noise of The Guards standing to attention.  The Queen stopped her pacing and faced the door as it flung open before her. She dropped into a low curtsey before The King, as did all her Ladies-in-waiting, eyes cast down, stomachs a flutter with nerves and anticipation. The King moved swiftly, and breaking all Kingly etiquette and protocol, swept his wife into a passionate embrace before holding her in his extended arms for a closer inspection. The Queen’s face was radiant and alive with happiness. Taking her arm in his he marched her out the door startling The Guards into attention once more. The Queen’s Ladies-in-waiting rose to follow their mistress but The King waved them back and announced that he wished to speak alone with The Queen. Embarrassed looks were exchanged all round as The Ladies-in-waiting dropped into sweeping, acknowledging curtsies.

Once the door closed behind The King and Queen, all pretence at focusing on needlework was gone. The Queen’s Ladies scattered about the room exchanging excited chatter as they danced around in circles. They ran to the window seats and climbed up high to view the activity down below in the Courtyard. They strained their eyes as far as they could see in search of the Royal Standard that would herald the arrival of The Knight of Wands. Still nothing on the horizon. They turned back to each other to breathlessly discuss the festivities and celebrations the coming night would bring; the dancing, the entertainment, the merry-making, the courting, flirting and possible lovemaking.  It was all possible now that the men had arrived home. Court Life could begin in earnest once more, and tomorrow there was The Jousting Tournament to look forward to. Life had certainly picked up. Fun was in the air again and the promise of exciting days ahead. The Knight of Wands had been sorely missed.

A message arrived to The Queen’s Chambers dismissing her Ladies-in-waiting until later when they would be expected to return to prepare and dress their mistress for the night ahead. Their Queen knew how excited they were about the return of The Court and was happy to allow them some time and freedom to prepare. She had chosen her Ladies for their engaging dispositions, enthusiasm and liveliness. She despised the boring, dull, lifeless faces of some of the other Ladies in the Castle. Ladies who had nothing to say for themselves, no opinions and no interests, other than their husbands’. She felt in a wonderful mood and couldn’t wait to see her son again but in the meantime, she had matters of State to discuss with the newly returned King.

Giggling like children, The Queen’s Ladies ran skittishly down the corridors, while The Guards smiled and admired them from behind. The sound of a trumpet in the courtyard below sent them into a mad tizzy. Orders were called out from one Guard to another as the message was communicated rapidly around the castle confines. ‘The Knight of Wands had arrived, he was home at long last. After a six months’ absence travelling to far distant lands, facing the enemy, marching into battle, seizing territory and conquering all who stood in his way, The Knight of Wands had returned in a blaze of  triumphant glory. News of his conquests had travelled ahead of him and whereas he had departed a Knight who showed promise and skill, he had returned as a Knight who had proven his mettle and had already become a living legend, a Warrior Knight of Knights.

In the kitchens they spoke of their Knight as invincible, immortal, fearless and lion-hearted. In the Queen’s chambers her Ladies spoke in hushed whispers of his virility, strong athletic body and handsome looks.  They were all in love with him, all vied to catch his attention and all longed to be the chosen one. Tonight, all would dress to impress their young and dynamic Knight, hoping his gaze may fall upon them, yet at the same time fearful of swooning if their wishes did happen to come true.

One among them, she with the golden hair, secretly entertained more than just a look or gaze from her dashing, brilliant Knight. Indeed she intended to take up where she had left off six months ago when The Knight of Wands gallantly rode out and away in the early morning summer mists, to lands far away, and an enemy known for his brutality and menace. She had stood on the turret stairs then, sobbing and weeping quietly to her brave and courageous Knight, begging him to stay, yet equally proud of his willingness to lay down his life to protect his country and his family’s honour. As she secretly watched his departure that early morning, she could still feel the heat of his body on her skin, the tautness of his muscles as he had held her in his strong embrace, his passion intense and wild. She had abandoned herself to him, risked discovery and ruin, as she ran her fingers through his coarse dark auburn hair in the candlelit enclosure of his bedchamber. His Guards, sworn to secrecy had smuggled her into his room that eve anxious to gain the trust of their Master who may not return from the battle fields so far away.

On the turret stairs he had held her close and whispered promises of love and a lifetime of passion when he returned. She had let him go that morn and vowed she would love no other but him, and would count the days away until his return. She had pulled the silk scarf from around her delicate shoulders and shivering in the chilly air insisted he take it as a talisman that would protect and keep him safe. The Knight of Wands had accepted her gift and said he would tuck it away safely inside the cold heavy armour he would ride out to battle in.

And so she had waited, six long months for this very day. Her passion and love burned strong and deep and she congratulated herself on keeping their secret safe and sound. Not even The Queen had guessed of their secret romance. Her heart beat so hard, she thought it could be heard echoing around the stone hallways of the castle, but no one seemed to notice. After all this time, The Knight of Wands was close by, so close, she would soon hear his voice, see his rugged face and  those striking emerald-green eyes. She knew she would have to contain herself, not show her real emotions. She would have to wait until he summoned her later. Then, and only then could she fall into his waiting arms. She would soon lie beside her man once more, her Knight of Wands, and release the passion for him that burned so strong inside.

Trumpets and horns sounded loud and sharp in the clear winter air of the courtyard as under the portcullis came the thunder of hooves and loud cheering voices. The Queen’s Ladies ran to the nearest windows and throwing formalities and ladylike behaviour aside, climbed up onto the narrow ledges to get the best view.

The Royal Standard billowed in the evening breeze, showing obvious signs of stainage from the long journey it had endured. It momentarily blocked the Ladies’ view forcing them to scramble along the window ledge to see around it. Suddenly, there he was, he, The Knight of Wands, returned from battles in far distant lands, home once again. A joy to behold. The Ladies standing on tip toe upon the window ledge all gasped as they took in the scene below.

To be continued………..

The Court Cards – Lesson 1

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