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All images are scans of Tarot cards crafted by Bruce Mitchell from many sources
|Lord of the Rings (LOTR) Tarot - Men
Men in LOTR were mortal and the shortest lifespan of these suits (Hobbits 90-100, Dwarves 250, Elves immortal). Men compared poorly to Elves in strength of body and nobility of spirit. Men were a weak race that succumbed easily to pestilence and the rough conditions of the world. They were easily broken in body and spirit by all manner of things that did not touch the Elves at all. Thus the Elves called them "the sickly". The Elves also called them inscrutable, heavy-handed, night-fearers and strangers. Out of pity the Elves taught them skills.
Yet Men were stubborn as a race and bred more quickly than any other except the Orcs. Most men were easily bent to the will of the evil Morgoth. Thus Men generally proved to be unfaithful to the Elves, feigning friendship, and then betraying them to the Enemy. Apart from the few that were faithful, noble and great, Men were corrupt, barbarian, cruel and treacherous.
This suit of Men corresponds to the Tarot suit of Swords and its element Air. The 'Swords' suit is one of strife, misfortune and sorrow, which makes the Men race a good fit. 'Swords' and 'Air' also suggest mind and intellect, which perhaps LOTR developed in the Fourth Age, just as we humans have developed it such a lot.
This is the awakening of Men in Hildórien, when the Sun first shone down on the world. The "firstborn" Elves had come forth with the Rekindling of the Stars, whilst the Men arose later with the Rising of the Sun (and called "the afterborn" by the Elves). Perhaps this is Bëor the Old of the Edain (the Fathers of Men), the first Man recorded by name.
This is two of the Drúedain/Woses, woodland wild men who lived in the ancient forest of Drúadan. By the end of the Third Age, orcs and wolves and other malevolent creatures often came into Drúadan forest. Though the wild men drove them away, often with poison arrows or darts, the evil beings always returned. So it was that the Drúedain wanted no part of the affairs of Men beyond their forest.
However, their chieftain offered to help the Rohirrim (the Horse people) to reach the Battle of Pelennor Fields. He reckoned that victory for the Rohirrim and Dúnedain would yield some release from the perpetual woodland warfare of the Woses. When victory did come and the orcs were destroyed, the new king of Gondor and Arnor granted that the Drúadan Forest would forever be the inalienable realm of the Drúedain to govern as they saw fit.
This story symbolises the card's meaning, that of justice and tension: tension at the end of the Third Age with the constant intrusion of evil into Drúadan and inability to drive it out; justice resulting from the Drúedain helping the Rohirrim, Middle-earth is made good.
This is the Golden Hall of the Rohirrim. Gandalf and three others of the Fellowship of the Ring arrive to appeal for the aid of the Rohirrim in the War of the Ring. Previously the Rohirrim had withheld help from the Dúnedain at the War's outbreak because their King was under the evil influence of the rebel wizard Saruman. The emissaries were successful and the Knights of Rohan cast off their fear and entered the War.
It is the situation at the start of the War that corresponds to the Tarot card meaning: heartache, sorrow and separation. For the Dúnedain, the split between the old allies must have been very upsetting.
Athelas is a healing herb, its uses forgotten by most in the LOTR. Aragorn used it thrice and released the herb's true healing power. He treated Frodo's dark wound by the Lord of the Nazgûl. He healed the wounds of Sam and Frodo after their escape from Moria. In the critical days of the War of the Ring, he revived many victims of the Black Breath of the Dark Riders, from poisoned wounds and dark sorcery. Evil deaths were averted and victims brought back to life and youth.
The card's meaning is rest and recuperation.
This is a band of evil Orc warriors. Orcs were bred in mockery of the Elves. They were fierce warriors, terrible and ruthless. They were of hideous appearance, wearing foul, coarse clothing and heavy shoes. They hated all things of beauty and loved to kill and destroy. The only joy of these creatures was in the pain of others, for the blood that flowed within them was both black and cold. They were cannibals, liking blood and raw flesh. As well as their own kind, they also ate ponies and Men.
The card's meaning is: unethical behaviour, defeat, limitation, use and abuse of power, domination by the enemy, controlled by one's own power and negativity.
This is the scene hours after the breaking of the Fellowship of the Ring, caused by its internal strife and external calamity. The internal strife was Boromir who succumbed to the temptation to possess the One Ring. He attempted to slay Frodo, causing Frodo to flee alone. This was just as well as their camp was ambushed by Saruman's Orcs. Boromir was slain defending Merry and Pippin who were taken hostage.
The image shows the aftermath, the funeral boat of Boromir approaching the Falls of Rauros. This might be interpreted to mean that although there has been a dire situation (Man 5), it yielded a more harmonious time as: otherwise the Ring may have come to Saruman and thence to Sauron; Frodo was able to continue his quest; Boromir's body was honourably put to rest, his face more beautiful than in life, absolving him of any sin and assuring spiritual rest.
The card's meaning is: temporary respite from conflict; movement restores harmony; a journey; calmer waters ahead.
An éored (troop) of Rohirrim. Perhaps this is King Théoden, Prince Éomer and other horsemen patrolling their kingdom. They were often called to war, to defend both Gondor and Rohan, for these realms of Men were bordered by many enemies. They were constantly prepared for battle and always wore silver corselets and bright mail. They were ever vigilant, cautious and alert.
The card's meaning is like the lot of the Rohirrim throughout Middle-earth's history: variable effort and caution.
The Dead Men of Dunharrow. There were many spirits who, because of some righteous curse or evil act of sorcery, were bound to Arda (Earth) longer than was their right. These Dead Men were such. They haunted the labyrinths of the ancient citadel of Rohan. In the Second Age they had sworn allegiance to the king of the Dúnedain but, in time of war, had broken that oath and betrayed the Dúnedain to the Dark Lord Sauron. Thereafter they were cursed as oath-breakers and became wandering ghosts who could find no rest.
In the last days of the War of the Ring, they rode under the command of Aragorn to Pelargir and routed the Corsairs of Umbar. Total victory went to Aragorn, rightful heir of the king of the Dúnedain. And so the souls of the Dead Men were released and the vast form of a great pale army faded as mist in a wind at dawn.
The card's meaning is bondage and the Dead Men are in a state of bondage and unrest until they can fulfil their original oath that they had broken so long ago.
Mûmakil, also called Oliphaunts, were beasts of war used by the fierce Men warriors of Harad, the Haradrim, who served Sauron. Mûmakil were thought to be the ancestors of elephants but much larger in size and might. They had a natural thirst for battle and many foes were crushed beneath their feet. Their tusks struck down many enemies and in battle were crimsoned with the blood of their foes. They were virtually invulnerable. They could not be fought by mounted men for horses would not come near, nor by foot soldiers that would be shot from above or crushed. Only if shot by arrows with great force in their eyes could they be blinded or killed. When blinded, they became enraged with pain and ran amok, often destroying masters and foes alike.
The card's meaning is oppression, fear and anxiety. The Mûmakil surely brought this even to the bravest warriors of the Haradrim enemies, and even to the Haradrim.
The Battle of Pelennor Fields was the greatest and final battle of the War of the Ring. Before the White Tower of Gondor, the battle raged for two days and two nights. All seemed lost. Darkness covered the land. Then, unexpectedly, the Rohirrim arrived. Even this would not have saved the day had not Aragorn arrived with his army and all enemies on the battleground were put to death.
The card's meaning is trouble but also "the only way is up". Perhaps this battle conveys this meaning. After almost certain defeat and ruin by the forces of evil, when darkness was at its zenith on Middle-earth, for the forces of Light the only way is up.
Faramir, second son of Denethor II (Steward of Gondor), was a gentle, discerning man. He was a lover of lore and music, and a reader of men's minds. Because of his gentle nature and his love of Gandalf, he displeased his father. Unlike his brother Boromir (Man Knight), he did not care for battle for its own sake. Nonetheless he was a brave warrior, much loved by his soldiers.
Boromir, one of the Companions of the Ring, represented Men. Although a strong and handsome man, and one of the greatest captains of Gondor, Boromir cared little for anything save arms and battle. He was very proud (also see Man 6).
Éowyn, noblewoman of Rohan, daughter of Théodwyn and Éomund, sister of Prince Éomer. Orphaned as a child, she was cared for by her godfather King Théoden in Edoras. After the king's corruption by Saruman, she cared for him and endured the harassment and lustings of Gríma. She fell in love with Aragorn. When he rode the Paths of the Dead, she despaired greatly, thinking him lost.
At the culmination of the War of the Ring, despite being forbidden, out of desperation and being of a martial spirit, she disguised herself as a man. Calling herself Dernhelm, she rode to Gondor with Elfhelm's éored. In the Battle of Pelennor Fields (see Man 10), with the aid of Merry (Hobbit Knight), she won great renown by slaying the Lord of the Nazgûl, who could not fall "by the hand of a man". Having been wounded by her dire foe and inflicted with the Black Breath, she was believed dead.
Carried to the Houses of Healing, Aragorn healed her (see Man 4). There she also met and fell in love with Faramir (Man Page). She realised her true heart and gave up her desire to be a free, independent shieldmaiden (female warrior). She married Faramir and became Lady of Ithilien ('Moon-land').
Éowyn was very beautiful. She was tall, slim and graceful, with golden hair. Faramir called her the White Lady of Rohan.
This is Denethor II, 26th and last ruling Steward of Gondor. Denethor was a noble man, valiant, proud and wise. After his wife's death he became grim and withdrawn. Desiring knowledge of Sauron's plans, he began to look into the palantír of Minas Tirith (as per card's image). But his constant telepathic battling with Sauron aged him prematurely and he became fixed in pride and despair. He even went mad because of Sauron's greater will and ability to manipulate through the palantír. His dislike of Gandalf hindered the wizard and deprived Gondor of an excellent counsellor. Despite his ignoble end, Denethor was an able ruler.
Another option for this card was King Théoden of Rohan (see Man 7), although he never had access to one of the seven palantíri.
by Bruce Mitchell
by Bruce Mitchell
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