The Eight Hanged Men. To hang one man may count as a misfortune; to hang two smacks of carelessness; to hang three should be considered the unwholesome reticence of a superior mind at war with itself; to hang four, catastrophe; to hang five, a bad decision; to hang six, now you’ve really done it; to hang seven men, you need seven long ropes and seven serious problems which can only be solved by hanging; to hang eight, that’s comedy. Watch out for overcommitment, for excess, for mania. You may want to consider stopping hanging men. Reversed: imagine some situations where eight people relax right-side-up, like the Dutch sport of korfball, or the cast of Dave Malloy’s new musical about a support group for people with Internet-based process addictions, Octet.
The Ten of Towers. Ten towers, with two figures falling from each. The towers protrude from every part of the card — the bottom, the top, the sides — but the figures all fall the same way. If you look close enough, you can see that each figure represents a major reality-show archetype, and that when they reach the bottom, they are all going to date. It’s really distressing how many towers there are. There is nothing you can do about it now. Reversed: not enough towers.
The Judgement of the Ace of Swords. The Ace of Swords has come unstuck in space. Its bendy arm of cloud, ending in a hand, ending in a sword, ending in a crown, is long enough to visit the whole world, and behold! It’s judging! The Ace of Swords is judging you now, and it can’t stop! Mindless as it is, it judges arbitrarily: the villain of the national tragedy is misunderstood, the kind mother can redeem the cruel father, the earlier seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation were actually the best ones, wine is blue, and you’re wrong! You’re going to get chopped in half where you stand by an enormous cloud-hand-sword, and it’s all the fault of its judgements! Reversed: the Ace of Swords is calm again.
The Sword Lovers. This couple loves nothing more than collecting swords. See how each wall of their small apartment, with the stylized cracks in the ceiling, is crowded with mounted kodachi, claymores, and licensed replica keyblades? Look at them. They don’t even care if the sword is any good. There’s stuff there that’s obviously been stolen from Arms and Armor at the Met — and more power to the Sword Lovers, I guess, it’s closed, and someone may as well enjoy the swords — but they’ve also got katanas straight from the mall, and I think even some random épées from when they tried actually taking up fencing that one time. Look, though, this couple adores each other. Even more than swords. Their poses on the card are based on Jan Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait, and so there’s room for the interpretation that there’s a tiny Sword Lover gestating inside of one of the adult Sword Lovers. If so, I hope it’s born via c-section, and that they convince the surgeon to use a sword. Strenuously sterilized, of course, and wielded with great care. We’re not animals. We’re Sword Lovers. Reversed: Sword Haters.
Three Cups of Strength. There once was a boy who, although he had a mighty heart, had muscles of no greater than ordinary power, no matter how he exercised his limbs. The boy wanted more than anything to grow strong, and so he visited a doctor, asking for hormone replacement therapy. After a long discussion about the boy’s social and medical history, his feelings about his upbringing, what toys he had played with as a child, and how long it had been since he had worn a dress — for it was 1992, and the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care were still very much in effect — the boy was given three cups of strength to inject intramuscularly, and now he is strong, albeit conflicted sometimes about his relationship to lesbian community. Reversed: How many cups of strength must I spend, O lord, before you take these cups of strength from me?
Pentacle Star. A talent show for modern witches. The creators of Pentacle Star don’t understand anything about the complex and diverse manifestations of contemporary pagan faith, nor what they mean to the contestants. The whole thing quickly goes off the rails when the contestants refuse to compete, and instead form an intentional community. Reversed: the opposite of that. Discord; howling; talentlessness; a grounded creative team which has done its homework and knows how to present people in the fullest possible light without sacrificing watchability. Appointment television.
Wheel of Swords. Just what it sounds like.