The Bitter Suite Tarot


0 - The Fool
II - The High Priestess
III - The Empress
IV - The Emperor
VII - The Chariot
VIII - Strength
IX - The Hermit
X - The Wheel of Fortune
XI - Justice
XII - The Hanged Man
XIII - Death
XIV - Temperance
XV - The Devil
XVI - The Tower
XVII - The Star
XIX - The Sun

In Season Three of Xena - Warrior Princess in an episode called 'The Bitter Suite', Xena and her freind Gabrielle enter the land of Illusia to resolve their differnces. They have both lost their children and blame each other for the loss they both feel. This loss and the tearing apart of their friendship threatens to drive them both insane.

Illusia is a strange and musical world, where most of its denizens are images are based on the Rider Waite Tarot card deck. Just as the Major Arcana in Tarot is a journey of self discovery, so Illusia is a place of understanding and healing. However, Illusia, like the Tarot rarly makes the journey simple or easy. Both Xena and Gabrielle must face their innermost thoughts, feelings and pain so they can be free of their anger and hurt.

I've culled the various images of the Tarot from the episode, and present them here on this site to detail their relationship to each other, the series and the rider Waite Tarot deck. The images I've found relate only to the Major Arcana, and even then not all of them. However, this is not suprising, as getting all 78 cards into a 45 minute show would be rather difficult.

For those of you not familiar with Tarot, the Rider Waite deck was published in the early 20th centuary. It was created by Arthur Edward Waite (an occultist, memeber of 'The Golden Dawn' and contempory of Aleister Crowley) and illustrated by an artist called Pamela Coleman Smith. What was special about the deck was that for the first time, images were used on the Minor Arcana (or 'pip cards') rather than showing (for example) three swords for the three of swords. The correct number of swords, cups, coins or wands appear on the cards, but surrounded by a more expressive image, which more sense to the card reader. No one knows if this decition was made by Waite or Smith, but it was a landmark in Tarot either way. This deck has shaped modern tarot more than the original decks of old, and its images resonate in most tarot decks today. One other change was that Waite swapped the positions of the Strength and Justice cards, which has been copied by several other decks as well. Again, few people know why he did this, but it is suggested that 'The Golden Dawn' ordered their decks in such a way.

If you are unfamiliar with Tarot I should explain a little more. The deck contains 78 cards, divided into the Major Arcana, and Minor Arcana. the Major Arcana comprise 22 numbered cards (from 0 to 21) and represent powerful archetypes, The Magician, The Hanged Man etc. The Minor Arcana are four suits, Cups, Swords, Coins and Wands, and number 1 to 10 with four court cards, Page, Knight, Queen and King. If you want to know more about Tarot, have a look at my other site The Matrix Tarot which contains links and more detail.

So if you are a Xena or a Tarot fan, this site should be of interest to you. I hope you enjoy it.