RWS suits tell a story in sequence?

Lunar Lobster

In 'The Encyclopedia of Tarot' Volume I, page 272 Stuart Kaplan writes:
Interestingly both the The Rider-Waite tarot pack and the Royal Fez tarot pack designed by Michael Hobdell, that closely follows the Smith-Waite designs, present a continuous story through the sequence of the cards in each suit. The three highest court cards in the suit of swords comprise a family of father, mother and eldest son. The King of Swords is the father, the Queen is the mother and the son is the Knight. A young lad in servitude to the knight appears as the page. In the Ten of Swords the son is killed and the Nine of Swords shows a grieving sister sitting up in bed after a dream has revealed to her the terrible fate of her brother. The sister seeks to revenge, her brother's death, and in the Eight of Swords she is shown bound and blinfolded. In the Seven of Swords, the page appears with swords symbolizing that help is on its way, and in the Six of Swords the sister and her young son are rescued by the page, who is also her lover. The page is now a warrior and in the Five of Swords he is shown with the swords of his craft. In time, the page is also stricken by the sword and killed, (Four of Swords), which causes much sadness as evidenced by the broken heart pierced by three swords in the Three of Swords. The Two of Swords shows the widow in mourning with swords of defiance and her eyes blindfolded to the way of peace, for she seeks revenge. The Ace of Swords emerges from a cloud, claiming that those who live by the sword are apt to die by it.

The suit of staves or clubs depicts the story of a family divided between the traditional ways and modern methods. Its moral is that harmony and progress are best attained when the old and new work together. The story of cups reveals the paths to happiness and the search for two brothers for companionship. The suit of coins relates the story of a wealthy family and the temptations and the alternatives afforded them by the luxeries of wealth.
This is all Kaplan says on the matter, and I can't find anyone else expressing this notion.

The question has been raised here before (linked below) without resolution. But I must ask... does anyone know more about these proposed narratives illustrated in the RWS minors?


I think Kaplan's remarks seems stretched and far-fetched. I much prefer Mary Greer's ideas, summarized by rwcarter:

In summary, Mary narrates the following stories through each of the Minor Arcana suits:

Cups - Joseph of Arimathea carrying the Grail out of Israel
Wands - the story of Perceval
Pentacles - freemasonry as "(t)he story of the erection of an external building veiled (in?) a divine mystery"
Swords - three "referents":
  • Galahad's failure to bring the Grail "back into the world"
  • the unbelievers in Joseph of Arimathea's band who were banished from the Grail table
  • "the failure, within Masonry, to ask the questions that would lead to an understanding of the deeper significance of the story of the Master Builder who is killed by his jealous brethren"

Kaplan's story seems pulled out of thin air, and ignores the background of the deck's creation.


I don't know of anyone who puts much credence in Kaplan's apparent flight of fancy.


I think that in the RWS there is a story, but only in the suit of Pentacles. I don't know why Kaplan works backwards through the numbers for the Swords, but my story for Pentacles starts at the Ace and goes up.

A person gets a gift of money (Ace of Pents) from someone he is close to, friend or family. He debates how to spend the money (2) for a while, and then decides to spend it on art supplies because he always wanted to be an artist. He turns out to have some talent, and attracts the attention of some wealthy people who commission him to do some work for them (3). He makes a lot of money, but he spends it all on himself on selfish pleasures (4), and then ends up broke (5). He now falls on hard times, but manages to get government assistance (6) which helps him get back on track. This time, he is more cautious with his money and assesses his situation before he spends anything (7). Then he gets a regular job as a full-time employee with a company (8). And he does OK and manages to save some money (9). Finally he does well enough where he can get married and have a family, and live comfortably (10).

The End

The other suits don't seem to work as well for stories, at least not for me.


The suits could be FILL to cover the Majors real stories...which makes them a completed set...a coverup ...

It's a story as good as any other story...


I would love to see that pentacles story outlined in detail ... any links ?

{Especially links to any outline that actually knows a bit about Freemasonry.}


Genius at work.

Wow ... here is an idea ... maybe the basic plot is a 4 way alternative of a story based on the idea of number progression fluffed out into human scenarios



I am more inclined toward Mary Greer's ideas of Masonic and Grail legends being embedded in the Minors, but I think the primary influence on the images was Mathers' interpretation of the Picatrix decans.

Among other things, I don't think the scenic pips were intended to have a direct bearing on their interpretation, but were rather a memory gimmick for associating them with the decans. To directly base divinatory interpretations on the images may be a mistake, unless somehow the cards magically conform to whatever fantasy you project onto them.


I would love to see that pentacles story outlined in detail ... any links ?

No, not for this. It's just a little story I made up. No links, no details.


Errrrmmm ... I meant the Masonic story ... I wasnt asking for people with Masonic knowledge to explain your story :)

I realised you made yours up. I have made up some too , but I better not post them })

I want to know who made up this Masonic one , well, actually, first; what IS the Masonic story in the RW discs?