Blake's Tarot in the Ripper Game

     As their investigations continued, the company have found a series of mysterious Tarot cards apparently penned by William Blake. The deck bears different imagery and titles from standard Tarot decks, but subtlely related. In the game-world, the Blake paintings on these cards are virtually unknown (instead of being often famous images as they are in our world).

     The cards found thus far are:

# Printed Name Normal Tarot Name Represents
0 THE BEGGAR The Fool ? ? ? ? ? ?
I THE MAGUS The Magician ? ?
II THE WHITE LADY The High Priestess Hilda Stein Hawksquill
III THE QUEEN The Empress ? ?
V THE ARCHBISHOP The Hierophant ? ?
VI THE LOVERS The Lovers ? ?
VII THE EYE The Chariot ? ?
VIII JUSTICE Justice ? ?
IX THE HERMIT The Hermit ? ?
X THE WHEEL The Wheel of Fortune ? ? ? Hayward
XI THE PIT Strength ? ?
XII THE GOLEM The Hanged Man ? ?
XIII THE BLACK KING Death Charles Milverton ? ? ?
XIV THE RED MAN Temperance ? ?
XV THE BEAST The Devil ? ?
XVI THE CHURCH The Tower ? ?
XVII THE SHADOWS The Star ? ? ? Stringham
XVIII THE LONG NIGHT The Moon ? ? ? Rook
XIX DAWN The Sun ? Edwards
XX THE ARISEN (Final) Judgement Afterlife Club Violet
XXI THE CITY The World ?London? ? ? ?
II and XIII found in Dr. Lorenz's notes at Malbray Asylum (1/30/89).
X and XX found on the wall which mysteriously appeared at the destruction of the Afterlife Club.
XVII, XVIII, & XIX found in the sarcophagus puzzle box from Merriweather's trunk.
0 and XXII found in Sir Simon's book -- in Grimmond's notes.


     As Eck looked into the background in the game, he found that there are some rumored Tarots constructed by Blake, which might very well accord with the cards you've seen. Unfortunately, he painted them while on a vacation in Mortlake (a suburb west of London, near Kew), and the house burned down essentially while he was there; the assumption has been that the cards (if any) and other sketches and writings were burned in the house. It's unclear, though. Certainly, if these cards exist, they are priceless! If it really exists and is a secret, it's a surprisingly well-kept one. On the other hand, there have been various rumors of people buying odd Blake pieces and vanishing (usually dead) shortly thereafter. Depending on how much time you want to spend, you might look into the records of auction-houses which deal in fine art, such as Christies; alternatively, there are a few booksellers in places like Cecil Court (near Leicester Square) who might know about the Tarot end of things.


     Each card has on the back a picture with 3 colorful dancers in the foreground. Behind them on the left, giant vultures attack a giant dark figure (Promethean?). Behind them on the right, a woman cradles a giant figure's head which is contorted in sorrow. In a box is the poem which reads:

in their minds

     The fronts of the cards we have found thus far are described as follows:

A child stands with his back to a mysterious door that is slightly ajar, symbolizing both opportunity and the unknown. Beside him a dog growls at the opening.
In traditional tarot, the Fool shows a highly imaginative and open minded person. It indicates immaturity and foolish risks, but also untapped (and unexpected) potential.
This is represented as a woman kneeling (? weeping) beside four bloody heads. Behind her, on a hill with Stonehenge-like megaliths, is the word ``Jerusalem.'' Above is a line of clouds, then a night sky with an enormous sickle-moon being dragged by some sort of bridled or harnessed nude woman.
In traditional tarot, the High Priestess represents education, knowledge, wisdom, and esoteric teachings. It can also represent intuition, foresight, or spiritual revelation. In Blake's card, it seems to represent albedo, the purifying force in alchemy -- knowledge, order, and boundaries.
A crouching, unidentified figure sits in darkness, beneath speckled hoops of blue and red. Behind these are four figures which could be angels, winged fairies, or perhaps some kind of insects with human-like shapes. In a box is the poem:
In futurity I prophetic see,
That the earth from sleep
(Grave the sentence deep)
Shall arise and seek
For her maker meek:
And the desart wild
Become a garden mild.
In traditional tarot, the Wheel of Fortune always indicates a change of fortune, usually for the better. It also indicates cycles of change and randomness.
A blonde, muscular figure, entirely black but for the hair, stands in clouded shadow. His right hand is raised before him, fingers spread. In the top left are the letters ``MIL''; along the right the letters ``TON.'' At the bottom, a small caption reads, ``To Justify the Ways of God to Man.''
In traditional Tarot, Death indicates a major change or transformation. This change may be traumatic and unexpected, but can also open the way for a positive new beginning. In Blake's version, it seems to represent negredo, the alchemical force of putrefaction and decay -- breaking down boundaries. (This as explained to the company by John Dee.)
Shows the back of a man walking into a dark doorway. In his right hand is a shining disk.
In traditional tarot, the Star usually signifies a time of new hopes, splendid revelations of the future. It represents insight and inspiration, courage and enlightenment.
Two couples are in the foreground, in the background the moon shines over water. The placid couple on the left stand in the light holding their child. The barbarous couple on the left crouch in shadows holding knives.
In traditional tarot, the Moon is a card of deception, dreams, and mystery. It indicates insecurity or uncertainty. The Blake image suggests specifically a dichotomy: a unresolved struggle between dark and light.
A river flows down the center to the setting sun. Three figures (a woman? and two children) are in the water in the foreground swimming while another stands upon the water's surface. Another figure in the background floats in the air over the river, reaching downwards with a finger. Other figures stand with trees by the water's edge.
In traditional tarot, the Sun signifies a time of contentment, freedom from restraints, and achievement. In Blake's imagery it suggest baptism and renewal as well.
The dead rise from their graves; angels look on smiling. In the night sky, above a large low moon, is a strange rainbowed image; it is as though a tear has been made in the sky, and a figure (female?) surrounded by moons of different phases appears in a burst of multicolored glory.
In traditional tarot, Judgement represents a final decision in respect of the past. A time of atonement, healing and fulfillment. Overcoming negative situations and the problems associated with them. Blake's image adds the female figure who seems to embody the release -- lying between worlds or times.
This image is from Jacob's dream in the book of Genesis, showing Jacob and his ladder to heaven. In Blake's myth, this is Albion asleep on the Rock of Ages.
In traditional tarot, the World signifies well earned recognition, achievement, and reward. It indicates a time of prosperity and fulfillment. Blake's image is quite distinct, while also indicating material prosperity -- as God promised to Jacob in his dream, that his ``seed would be as the dust of the earth''.


Additional Tarot Links

     These are links not directly related to the William Blake tarot in the Ripper game, but which could be useful reading nonetheless...