XVI: Deception

Basic Description:

A king stands in his courtyard completely nude except for his crown, scepter, and walking stick.  Above him is a green shade, being carried by two men, one of whom has a blue cloak blocking the view of his manliness. One is blonde with a blue cloak, and one is dark haired with a green cloak. All the members of the royal party are doing their best to look away, while the people on the right stare in concern. At their feet are two animals, a dog on the left, and a cat on the right. A bird is perched on the green tarp and another flies above. The courtyard arch is decorated with symbols of water creatures.

Preliminary Meanings:

Someone has deceived the king into going out amongst his people in the nude. Most likely his pride is a direct cause; his party appears to flatter him to the point of going along with it instead of telling him the truth, much like the Red Queen’s court.

Basic Fairytale (The Emperor’s New Clothes):

An emperor loved clothes more than anything else, and 2 con men exploited this by claiming they could weave magical cloth that only the wise can see. The Emperor is duped, but sends his minister to keep track of of the progress, afraid he’d be unable to see it. Each official he sent could not see it, but lied about their ability, as did the Emperor once he finally “saw” it. Everyone clapped and praised the clothing until a child said he had no clothes.

Book Symbolism/meaning:

All is not what it seems, the dog and cat are wise and see things as they really are. There is value in a life unhindered by material things. This is an opportunity for reevaluation and implementation of change.

Personal Significance:

Don’t listen to the majority or be afraid to see things as they are. Sometimes one voice is all it takes to be reminded of the truth that  is obvious. Material possessions pale in comparison to the true value of knowledge.

Traditional Meaning:

The tower of ambition is built upon false premise and misapprehension, man’s thoughts of material ambition are broken down after encountering the devil and it is time to build again. This card signifies change, conflict, and catastrophe with the promise of enlightenment to come. Reversed is the gain of freedom at a great cost.


The emperor sets himself up to fall by valuing materialistic items above knowledge. Thus, he experiences catastrophe during his procession when someone points out the garment he is wearing does not, in fact, exist. He then realizes he has been a fool and has lost money, time, and face.

The Tower (Journey of the hero):

This card is a symbol for all the ugly things you can become when you are on top of the world- haughty, megalomania, and ego-glorific. It means something once appropriate and beloved is now too outdated and limited, and has become a prison- “We cling to what we know.” This is the collapse of the ivory tower; some key experience or realization that has occurred.

“The tower opens the door to an immense truth by letting an old, conditioned value system collapse” (page 177). This isn’t easy, it “involves living something that we had never risked living because we did not have the courage, because we had sold our soul for security, harmlessness, or another false currency” (page 177).

Archetype is liberation, and represents a phase of upheaval or collapse.


– The Merry Wives (Danish)- Three wives lived besides each other and made a bet to see whose husband was the stupidest. The tailor’s wife convinced her husband to stand guard in place of their dead watchdog, and dressed him in a shaggy fur, then chained him to the dog kennel, where he barked and growled at everyone who passed by. The carpenter’s wife convinced her husband that he was ill when he was not, and furthermore, that he was dead, placing him in a coffin. The smith’s wife covered her husband from head to toe in coal, then convinced him he was already dressed for the carpenter’s funderal. They were on the way to the church already when he met the funeral party, naked, and the procession thought he was the devil, dropped the coffin, and woke the carpenter. The carpenter’s wife won the bet.

– The Tale of Sgire Mo Chealag (Scottish)- A man marries a farmer’s daughter, and goes with his in-laws to cut peat. The wife is sent home for food and sees a packsaddle over her head then gets hysterical over the thought of it falling and killing her. The mother goes home to see what is keeping her, and then they both are in hysterics over it. Then the father goes home, and after being told the story, he begins to cry as well. Finally the husband comes home, and discovers their folly, vowing in the morning that he would seek out 3 others just as foolish as they were. He comes across women spinning, and they say that the men in the town are ridiculously silly and believe anything they say. The man offers them a gold ring for the silliest husband. The first woman convinces her husband he is dead. The second that he is not her husband. The third that her husband is clothed when he is not. The first wife wins the ring.

Meditation/Journal write up:

As I stood in the courtyard in front of my people, I was proud- until I realized they were all laughing at my nakedness and stupidity. I had been deceived by my own foolishness and conceit. But now I saw, and I knew. Now I could begin anew and now I knew my weakness.

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