The Tarot in Williams

"It doesn't matter, anyhow," Nancy hastily said. "Aren't they fascinating? But why are they? And what do they all mean? Henry, why are you looking at them like that?"

Henry indeed was examining the first card, the juggler, with close attention, as if investigating the smallest detail. It was a man in a white tunic, but the face, tilted back, was foreshortened, and darkened by the brim of some black cap that he wore: a cap so black that something of night itself seemed to have been used in the painting. The heavy shadow and the short pointed beard hid the face from the observer. On the breast of the tunic were three embroidered circles--the first made of swords and staffs and cups and coins, balanced one on the other from the coin at the bottom to the apex of two pointing swords at the top; and within this was a circle, so far as Nancy could see, made up of rounded representations of twenty of the superior cards each in its own round; and within that was a circle containing one figure, but that was so small she couldn't make out what it was. The man was apparently supposed to be juggling; one hand was up in the air, one was low and open towards the ground, and between them, in an arch, as if tossed and caught and tossed again, were innumerable shining balls. In the top left-hand corner of the card was a complex device of curiously interwoven lines.

Henry put it down slowly as Nancy spoke and turned his eyes to her. But hers, as they looked to plunge into that other depth--ocean pouring into ocean and itself receiving ocean--found themselves thwarted. Instead of oceans they saw pools, abandoned by a tide already beyond sight: she blenched as a bather might do in the cold wind across an empty shore. "Henry!" she exclaimed.

It was, surely, no such great thing, only a momentary preoccupation. But he was already glancing again at the cards; he had already picked up another, and was scrutinizing the figure of the hierophantic woman. It had been drawn sitting on an ancient throne between two heavy pillars; a cloud of smoke rolled high above the priestly head-dress and solemn veil that she wore, and under her feet were rivers pouring out in falling cataracts. One hand was stretched out as if directing the flow of those waters; the other lay on a heavy open volume, with great clasps undone, that rested on her knees. This card also was stamped in the top left-hand corner with an involved figure of intermingled lines.

Charles Williams – “The Greater Trumps” (Chapter One – The Legacy)

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