How do Tarot cards connect to fairy tales?
The Tarot cards are grounded in our shared experiences. They exist in that space we can all relate to. All dreams, all myths, all creativity come out of the collective unconscious according to Carl Jung, the father of psychotherapy. He also said that this is the realm where archetypes come from.
Likewise, fairy tales relate back strongly to the same collective unconscious for they carry similar motifs, symbols and themes. But Tarot cards actually pre-date fairy tales in their current form as collected by the brothers Grimm. So it is, that the Tarot cards are more primitive and archetypal than fairy tales and we can see tarot symbols woven into whole tapestries of themes in even the simplest or fairy tales. Thus Tarot can be thought of as the building blocks of fairy tales.
For example, you can see the High Priestess surrounded by her moon symbolism in various fairy tales. In Sleeping Beauty, for instance, 12 fairies come and offer the princess presents but it is the 13th fairy who casts a spell on the young girl. This reminds me of the lunar year has 13 months in opposition to the 12-month solar year. And of course, sleeping beauty is a princess similar to the high priestess. I always see the prince who rescues the situation as being like the Magician card. In fact, an earlier version of Sleeping Beauty was entitled, “Sun, Moon and Talia”
Also in “Red Riding Hood” we have a story with strong sexual overtones and Red Riding Hood wears a velvety red cape that reminds us of blood. You can’t help but notice that women’s periodic cycles are related to the lunar months. She is also in a dark forest that reminds me of night scenes. In another version of Red Riding Hood, the wolf is even called Wolf Moon. And of course Riding Hood is like a princess who I can easily relate to the High Priestess card.
Maybe to you, these connections to the Tarot seem tenuous at first, but the more I look the more links I can see to fairy tales passed down by oral traditions.
As I said earlier, I think the Tarot provide us with many of the archetypal building blocks from which all these tales are also constructed, perhaps originally, even around the same time. I think many of Grimm’s Tales have a hidden agenda that has popularised these tales but also changed them away from their oral nature.