the Commonwealth vs Michelle Carter ‒ TdM


On Friday June 16th Michelle Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter for urging her friend Conrad Roy via text message to commit suicide. The verdict was unexpected and precedent-setting.

Massachusetts Judge Lawrence Moniz said "The Commonwealth has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the actions taken by Ms. Carter in the period between June 30 and July 12 [2014] constituted wanton and reckless conduct by her and serious disregard of the wellbeing of Mr. Roy."

Ms. Carter remains out on bail awaiting sentencing on August 3rd. She faces up to 20 years in prison, though she is expected to appeal.

According to The New York Times Ms. Carter, then 17, started out encouraging Mr. Roy, 18, to seek treatment for his depression but then abruptly changed, and in the two weeks before he killed himself on July 12, 2014, she encouraged him, repeatedly, to do it.

Ars Technica: The boy, who was battling depression and had attempted suicide in 2012, was discovered dead about 50 miles south of Boston in a Fairhaven parking lot. He had committed suicide by inhaling carbon monoxide fumes while inside his truck. Carter was also on the phone with Roy for nearly an hour while he was killing himself, and she urged him to get back in the vehicle when he hesitated.

"You already made this decision, and if you don't do it tonight you're gonna be thinking about it all the time and stuff all the rest of your life and be miserable. You're finally going to be happy in heaven," one of the texts read. Another said, "All you have to do is turn on the generator and you will be free and happy." Pierre Madenié TdM.

Relationship...................................................7 d'Espée
Why Michelle wanted Conrad to kill himself.........6 d'Espée [r]
Outcome for Michelle.......................................9 de Denier [r]

Though these troubled teens were supposedly boyfriend and girlfriend, the spread contains no Cups signifying love or affection, or Batons suggesting either passionate connection or capacity for growth. In this context the swords are a bit chilling, pointing to a situation in which depressive thoughts were able to overcome what was good in their lives.

7 of Swords ‒ The 7S represents the idea of suicide as a positive solution to the miseries of the present. The concept that the afterlife is better than life on earth is part of what allowed Conrad to consider suicide a viable option. I'm reminded of what Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) said in Game of Thrones (episode 407). Dying man: "Maybe nothing is worse than this." Arya: "Nothing isn't better or worse than anything. Nothing is just nothing." Indeed, there is no happiness to be found beneath the blade of the seventh sword.

6 of Swords [r] ‒ Michelle's motives are at best unclear. NYT: "Prosecutors said Ms. Carter wanted Mr. Roy to kill himself because she wanted the sympathy that would come as the 'grieving girlfriend.'" But the reversed 6S points to another possibility: that Ms. Carter desired to put an end to a destructive dynamic, one that was leading them both into ever darker territory rather than helping them cope. Her need to be done with the situation is what made her push Conrad toward a resolution, regardless of cost. The central flower is upside down, contrary to nature. The curved swords suggest a downward spiral. A solution of sorts, but a tragic one.

9 of Coins [r] ‒ Coins represent the material world; here, the reality that a life has ended prematurely. As the last numeral, 9 stands at the end of a sequence, but one that hasn't been resolved via the 10. Conrad Roy is gone, but the full meaning of what has happened and Ms. Carter's role in it will not be understood any time soon. Ms. Carter carries the knowledge of her complicity without the wisdom to resolve her guilt. She will have great difficulty moving past these events.

All feedback welcome.


Relationship...................................................7 d'Espée
Why Michelle wanted Conrad to kill himself.........6 d'Espée [r]
Outcome for Michelle.......................................9 de Denier [r]

7 of Swords
6 of Swords [r]
9 of Coins [r]

A very interesting question and spread! I've been following this news, too.

The relationship was based on scheming, it seems. It wasn't upfront, supportive, honest. One was stealing something the whole time - perhaps the boy 'stole' strength from the girl, and the girl was operating behind the scenes all the time, advancing her own agenda. Michelle has been quoted saying that she wanted attention as his grieving girlfriend, so that would fit in 7S.

M wanted C to kill himself, so that both of them would be rid of worries and anxieties (6S rx). Perhaps she had some genuine intention to help (twisted and wrong as it was), but I think she mostly wanted to free herself. Perhaps she thought/felt C will be codependent with her forever, won't leave her alone, will bug her with his worries.

M lost her independence and chances to fame and fortune (9P rx). She is not standing on her own, admired, independent, but is locked up possibly for a long time. I doubt she'll be able to cash in with her story either, because media would be accused of profiting a killer.


Saskia, Thank you for responding. From the start this case was compelling. Outwardly both teens had a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to. Inwardly they both had serious psychological issues, issues that were documented in great detail by the thousands of text messages they exchanged.

I see where you get the scheming: Ms. Carter definitely presented one face to Conrad, pushing him to kill himself, while playing the ever-helpful, ever-concerned girlfriend to his mother and even his 13 year old sister.

I agree with your take on the 6S [r], she was only thinking of herself at the end.

Had the last card been the WS 9 of Pentacles I could see the "cash-in" take, but I try to approach the Marseille as a separate tradition. If I had never seen Pamela's image I doubt I would have arrived at the meanings that are now standard for this card. The payoff that Michelle was looking for was more in the realm of status and attention, but of course it's still a payoff in the broad sense of the word.

Would be interested to hear what you think she deserves by way of a sentence.


In going back over the case I was struck by this from the Washington Post: "According to prosecutors, the two had met in 2011 and later struck up a romantic relationship ‒ mostly online. Her attorney says they had met only a few times in person over the course of two years before Roy’s death."

This fits with a sword-dominant spread and a lack of cups, as the relationship was almost entirely virtual, entirely in their heads. They were not a normal couple in the sense of being loving or physically affectionate.

I believe the sixes are about finding peace away from the disruption of the fives. The Sun Chronicle: During his opening statement, Carter’s lawyer, Joseph Cataldo of Franklin, argued that Roy became depressed after his parents’ divorce in 2011 and was physically abused by his father and verbally abused by his grandfather and uncle.

The 6S [r] text that helped the judge decide: "Sam, his death is my fault like honestly I could have stopped him," Carter texted on Sept. 15, 2014. "I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared and I f--king told him to get back in Sam because I knew he would do it all over again the next day and I couldn't have him live the way he was living anymore I couldn't do it I wouldn't let him."

Sam was Ms. Carter's then-classmate Samantha Boardman.


Hi Sentient, that's an interesting piece of news that they were a couple but hardly ever met in person. Swords fit into it perfectly. That part is interesting about her ordering him back in because the situation would repeat over and over. Sounds very 6S to me - perhaps Rx because it was not a fruitful way to resolve problems.

I'm starting to think they were both out of their depth and tried to solve it the best they could, but Michelle seems to have been quite selfish in her help.

I thought when I heard the sentence that it was justified - I think this fits into domestic abuse, emotional and mental manipulation - but after hearing the bit about wanting to end it, I'm thinking she should get help, too. No normal person pushes another to suicide and she needs her head checked, too.

I don't think 9Coins is so much about cash-in as it is about independence. Being able to sustain oneself. I think Michelle got too entangled and for a reason or another, was not able to get rid of him neatly in any other way to regain her independence. Maybe she thought she'd be blamed if she left him and he then killed himself, whereas if he killed himself while they were still together, she'd be soothed and pampered.


Hello Sentient, Saska

I was about to share my views on the cards, when I started thinking about the ethical implications of putting on the internet some thoughts about a case that is not resolved yet.
Please do not feel that I am judging this thread in any way or other. On the contrary, I find it very interesting, both from a reading exercise point of view, and also because it made me think about the larger implications of reading tarot, and writing on the net.
This is a case were I would not pull cards. If I had to have an opinion on a convicted murderer, if I had to seriously think about their motivations and the implications behind all that, I would NOT use tarot. I would only rely on logic, facts, trying to be objective, without passions, trying to listen and compare expert reports etc.

I do not think tarot is fit to give answers in this kind of situation, due to the wide possibilities of interpretations, the space for error, the inherent imprecision of card reading.

I actually find this spread a very good reading exercise, and one that brings interesting interpretations.
But, I do not want to share that on the net, because this specific case is not closed.
I think it could be a good idea, though, to maybe use similar cases for reading exercises, cases where all the actors are long gone, dead and buried including the culprit, and where whatever we would share publicly would not influence anything, because everything would be long closed.

But for this case, she is stil being judged, and after that she will still have possibilities of appeal, so I prefer to refrain from publicly sharing views on her, when in fact I have no serious matter to form an opinion on the case.

What I can share, though, is that I found it incredibly difficult to try and interpret the cards without letting my own opinions of the situatin seep in, because I had heard of the case on the news before I read the thread.
THis is the sort of news event that does not let one indiferent : it is so unusual, and dark, and heartbreaking, they are both so young, both their lives are ruined, and there is aparently such an unhealthy mix of depression, cynisism, naiveté and cruelty in the whole story. For that reason I found it difficult to try and read the cards with a totaly objective mind. That can be a good exercise though !
Also, I realised from what I read here and from the cards drawn, that whatever I would have read in these specific cards woud have been darker, than whatever opinion I had on the case before reading the thread. The idea I previously had of her motives when I heard the news, were not as dark as what I see in this spread.
This is also what led me to think that it was not appropriate for me to share on a public forum, a card reading about a case where all the elements are still under discussion, and where the main culprit is still awaiting trial.

I hope you do not mind the views I share here. I am certainly not being judgmental or trying to frown upon anyone. All the contrary ; this very thread made me think, and reach the conclusions I just exposed. Also, I found everything in this thread very interesting from a learning point of view.
Without this thread, I would not have though of all that, and I am always interested in all ethic aspects of tarot reading, so I am glad I was given the opportunity to think about it and formulate an opinion here.
I am very interested in any thoughts you could have on the subject.
Thank you !

ETA of course the views I share here are mine only, I am not pretending to be right, and I am not expecting anyone to agree or implying in any case that this is the only way to see the situation. Discussion is welcome, and I am always happy to hear different point of views and hear different argumentations, because we all can change our minds or evolve in our way of seing things. I myself evolved between reading the thread for the first time, and eventually wrting this post. For that I thank this thread because it gave me much to think about !
I hope it does not sound like a lecturing post because it is not, really not my intention at all. Rather, I hope to open a discussion, but that's all
Thank you !


Carojulie, Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Tarot is never supposed to substitute for more tangible means of investigation. As you say, a judge should be logical, objective and apply the law without passion or prejudice. As far as I know, no one on the board feels differently, or feels that the case should somehow depend on subjective impressions.

Oracles (of which tarot is one) are meant to provide something logic cannot: wisdom and insight. They are supposed to supplement a rational decision-making process, not substitute for it. Can you articulate exactly why you would never read on case that has yet to be fully decided? Do you feel that by doing so you might somehow influence what will happen?

Saskia, I think you're right, about emotional and mental manipulation.

It occurred to me that while the TdM 6S and the WS 6S are not identical, their meanings are consonant. In Waite-Smith terms, imagine if the boatman decided to rob and push his two passengers into the water when they were halfway across. Or decided to bring them back to the difficult situation they had just left. (For Game of Thrones' fans, recall when Ramsay Snow tricked Theon into believing he was helping him escape, only to bring him back to that chamber of horrors. ep304.) We assume that the ferryman is trying to help those he ferries, but when the card is reversed that may not always be the case.


Carojulie, Can you articulate exactly why you would never read on case that has yet to be fully decided? Do you feel that by doing so you might somehow influence what will happen?

Hello Sentient,
thank you for your answer. I am sorry I took long before coming back and responding to you.
Yes of course I can try to explain the reason behind my feelings, but I will have to share a little of my personnal life in order to do so :

A few years ago one of my nefews, one I was quite close to, has been killed. He was killed by someone he knew and trusted. At the trial, we (my family and I) had to see and hear his killer try to explain their motivations. We also heard experts try to understand the killer's psychic personality, obviously deranged, and the relationship between them and my nefew.
I understood then that this person was extremely unstable, but I did not understand why they killed my nefew. Nobody around me understood. But in the end, I had the feeling that the jugement, the sentence, made sense, even if it did not give us my nefew back. The convict probably though it was fair also because they did not appeal.

At the time, in the trial room, during the trial, I remember thinking about tarot and how it was not appropriate in this situation. I remember hoping no member of the jury would have any preconcieved idea of the situation. I remember thinking that it was lucky that there were so many specialists, psychiatrists, toxicologist, to try and understand what seemed so inunderstandable and monstruous. I remember explicitely thinking that I would not have wanted anyone in the jury to rely on anything else than the experts and facts. Not on gossip, not on what newspapers had printed on the case, not on the angelic face of the culprit, not on tarot reading or divination, not on social media. I remember thinking, at that moment, that what had happened was probably not understandable for sane people, and that it needed to be examined coldly, with all the facts, all the points of view, in order to try and have the begining of an explanation.

When I was first reading through this thread, and then starting to type my views on the cards you drew, I realised that what I was reading in the cards was worse than what I had first thought about his young girl on hearing the news for the first time. I saw some sociopathy in the cards, something I had not thought of before seeing your three cards. It made me think about this trial that I had attended for my nefew, and all the thoughts that I had had at the time, about hoping the jury would not be influenced about anything by anything. This is why I renounced trying to read these three cards.
I also thought that your spread was such an excellent reading exercise, but that I did not want to publicly discuss this matter on the public internet, because at the time of the trial, I remember being extremely wary of what the newspapers had printed beforehand and especially by what had been said on social media (several full pages on FB had been opened by some of my nefew's friends at the time of his death, and all sorts of rumors, misrepresentations, misinformations and totally unwelcome opinions were circulating, some of which I found offensive), wich is why I beware of publicly expressing views on internet about a case that is not closed.

I am typing on a epad without keyboard so pleas excuse any mistype. I hope you understand my point of view... but I am very open to contradictory opinions.
Thank you !



7 of swords as the relationship.

There was dishonesty in the relationship and even cheating. Intuitively, I suspected that she was not committed to him. I wouldn't be surprised if she had used him and taken advantage of his mental health issues. The cause of his mental health condition is significant here. What were the underlying reasons accounting for his depession and any other psychological dysfuntions (rhetorical)?

6 of swords rx is a card I've seen interpreted as rejection. She may have wanted him to kill himself because she didn't want him and probably didn't want him with anyone else. Alternatively, he could have even rejected her as a lover and wanted more of a friendship and confidant.

If the 6 of swords was upright, I'd believe that her efforts and motivation was sincere.

9 of coins rx denotes loss of her reputation as the card could represents a loss of status. Her past behavior will overshadow her for the rest of her life. The conviction will affect her social status/personal relationships and ability to find a nice job that pays well.

I think environment and parenting (or the lack thereof) has played a major role in both situations and I personally believe that the female would benefit from psychological treatment rather than a long jail sentence. It's a very sad situation on both accounts.

Charlie Brown

hoping the jury would not be influenced about anything by anything. This is why I renounced trying to read these three cards.

In the United States, at least, for a juror to even read this thread would be a violation of the law. Furthermore, there will be no more jury in the appeals process. The only way a jury will hear this case again is if the whole trial were to be thrown out by an appeals court and a new one ordered to take place—an almost unthinkable outcome.

If such a thing were to happen any prospective juror who read this thread and was influenced by it would be bound by law to reveal such a thing during jury selection.

ETA - I love your interpretation of the 9 coins. Makes a lot of sense