Tarot Tales

Courts and Others: Swords Alone


Lucy takes us on yet another wonderful adventure with Courts and Others. As always it is a great insight into how to perceive the court cards in tarot.

A group of mothers were standing at the school gates at the end of the first day back after the Christmas holidays. “Something ought to be done,” said Seven Wands’s mother. “We ought to complain to the Head.” “Yes, well,” said Ten Pentacles Junior’s mother, “I’ve always thought there was something not right with that family. The mother is always so distant, never joins in anything.” Mrs Five Pentacles slipped past the other mothers on her way in to school.” Hey, didn’t you hear? Your child was one of the victims,” called the Page of Swords’s mother. Mrs Five Pentacles looked over her shoulder in acknowledgement and scurried into school with her head down. Her daughter would tell her whatever it was later, after she had finished her stint cleaning the school.


After assembly with the Head Teacher, the King of Cups, Miss Pentacle had taken her seven-year-olds back to class and settled them down – eventually. The morning passed relatively quietly.

“Now children, it’s time for lunch. What do we do before lunch?” “We wash our hands,” came the dutiful response. “Right, we will all go to the cloakroom first, and then we will pick up our lunch boxes” and she saw the children out of the classroom.

She left the children in the lunch room under the watchful eyes of Mrs Pentacle and Mrs Sword.

“Gerroff,” snapped Seven Wands, “keep your paws off my sandwiches.” Seven Swords skipped out of the way, but when no-one was looking, he swiftly swiped a piece of cake from Five Pentacles who started to cry. “What do you think you are doing?” asked Mrs Sword who knew that the Five Pentacles family did not have a lot to spare, so a piece of cake was a rare treat for their little girl. “That’s my ganic apple,” said Ten Pentacles, disgruntled. “Mummy says I can only eat ganic food.” “Fusspot,” said the Page of Swords before slapping Seven Swords’ hand hard as it reached into his lunchbox for a hard-boiled egg. “Give that back!” but Seven Swords had already swallowed the egg.

“Seven Swords, come here,” said Mrs Sword. “Why are you taking other people’s food? Where’s your lunch box?” The child looked down and said nothing. “You know it’s wrong to take things from other people,” continued Mrs Sword. She paused. “Did you forget your lunch box today?” “Don’tavealunchbox,” mumbled Seven. “Oh? Why’s that?” Seven started to cry. He cried and cried. His nose ran nastily and he wiped it on his sleeve. “Here’s a tissue,” said Mrs Sword. Seven continue to cry. He reached the hicupping stage but still could not stop crying. Mrs Sword was anxious. This was serious. Seven had reached the shivering stage. “Where’s your jumper?” asked Mrs Sword, “you’ll feel warmer if you put that on.” “S’t’ome.”

Mrs Sword was perplexed. The next sitting of older children was due but she could not turn Seven out into the playground in this state. She saw the Page of Wands with the oldest children and asked him to go to the staffroom. “Ask Miss Pentacle if she can come, provided she’s finished her lunch.”

Miss Pentacle and Seven Swords went off to the cloakroom first. She had to wash his face and hands for him and then they went somewhere quiet. “Shall we telephone Mummy?” she asked. “Noooo,” said Seven, “Mummy’s not home.” “Where is she? Can she speak on the phone?” Seven went rather white and started to cry again. Between sobs he managed to mumble something that sounded like “ring daddy” but Miss Pentacle was not sure, so she asked a colleague to sit with Seven while she went to speak to the King of Cups.

“Oh,” said the King of Cups. “It sounds difficult. I’ll ring his father.”

Seven Swords’s father arrived an hour later, harrassed and untidy-looking. The King of Cups explained what had happened. Seven Swords Senior put a hand to his face. “He’s usually all right, he does his own breakfast and lunch and he goes to his Child Carers Group once a week and I go to the Adults’ one, your wife is a volunteer there I think, and Mrs Five Pentacles comes in once a week to clean and do a bit of cooking and now the ironing as my wife can’t lift the iron and we look after ourselves at the weekend, I don’t let him cut vegetables, and I don’t think his schoolwork is suffering and ……”

“I think there is something you haven’t told me,” said the King of Cups, tilting his head to one side and looking kindly at the child’s father. There was a long pause. “It’s his mother, you see,” said Seven Swords Senior. “She’s gone back into hospital. She’s been ill for a long time, but we have managed up to now. She didn’t want people knowing and fussing, so we just got on with it, by ourselves, except for Mrs Five Pentacles and the Carers Charity, but she was rushed in just after Christmas…. and the boy’s frightened …. we both are …..we knew this could happen and we’ve all talked about it…… .He’s usually quite capable about making his lunch and helping in the house as I said…. only we were at the hospital seeing his mother and there wasn’t time for shopping…….. I’ll see it doesn’t happen again.”

“When is your wife likely to come out of hospital?” asked the King. Seven Swords Senior shook his head. “We’ll be on our own soon,” he said.

The next day at lunch time, with Mrs Pentacle and Mrs Sword keeping a watchful eye, Seven Swords brought his lunch box (filled!) to school. He also had a small carrier bag. He went up to Seven Wands: “I brought you a sandwich,” he said. “I hope you like cheese.” Then he went to Five Pentacles: “Here’s some cake. I’m sorry I ate your cake yesterday.” “Here’s an apple for you,” he said to Ten Pentacles, “but it isn’t ganic.” Then he went up to the Page of Swords and placed a boiled egg beside him.

A few weeks later

“Well I think it was most odd,” says Seven Wands’s mother, waiting with others at the school gates. “Fancy not telling anyone. And expecting a little child to help in the house, well really …..” “His mother was in remission when he started school,” says Mrs Ten Pentacles, “and never strong, apparently. That’s why she seemed so aloof, she was too ill.” “There are other children in that situation,” says the Page of Swords’s mother. “I read about that charity that helped him and his father, the Queen of Cups is a volunteer there.”

Little Five Pentacles and Seven Swords walk past the mothers and smile shyly. Mr Seven Swords has an arrangement with Mrs Five Pentacles that his son goes to them after school and has his supper, and he collects him when he gets home. (The arrangement is also helpful to the Five Pentacles’s finances, father having been sent down for a long stretch).

Sometimes Seven Swords goes to play with Ten Pentacles Junior and sometimes Ten Pentacles Junior comes to play with Seven Swords. The Ten Pentacles’s grandfather walks the boys to and from, with his dog. Seven Swords likes the dog: he can tell it things he doesn’t want to worry his father with.

© Lucy Voss
January 2019