You will die in a constant cycle of adaptation within someone else’s story.

He has clearly hidden the tarts in his hat.


Placement: The Minor Arcana



This page wears a floral tunic and holds a cup with a fish in it. He stands on a beach. Sometimes there is no fish, just a young man in fancy robes and a ridiculous hat.

In some older versions of the card, like the one above, the tunic is not necessarily floral. The fish might be hiding. A golden wall blocks our view of the beach. Sometimes the Page has lost a stocking. Maybe the fish stole it and swam off. The hat remains ridiculous.

It is important to note that Pages in some decks are called the Knaves. They have also been called Princesses and Jacks, but in this case the word Knave says something in particular about the cultural relevance of the card, since the Cups suit in the English world’s contemporary style of playing cards is Hearts. Therefore, the character on this card is also the Knave of Hearts.


Right side up:

The Queen of Hearts

She made some tarts,

All on a summer’s day;

The Knave of Hearts

He stole those tarts,

And took them clean away.

The King of Hearts

Called for the tarts,

And beat the knave full sore;

The Knave of Hearts

Brought back the tarts,

And vowed he’d steal no more.

As well as being the protagonist of a traditional nursery rhyme, the Knave of Hearts was used in an adaptation of the rhyme in the children’s classic “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll. That, in turn, was adapted into every known medium of entertainment and communication in the civilized world. This is not an exaggeration. There have been perfumes inspired by adaptations of Lewis Carroll’s book, which was in term an adaptation of so many other things. Also, I never exaggerate.

The Page of Cups in most decks, however, feature no tarts at all, and no fish are mentioned either in the nursery rhyme or in any scene featuring the Knave of Hearts in “Alice in Wonderland”, unless you consider that flamingos sometimes eat fish and the Knave of Hearts is involved in a game of croquet involving flamingo mallets, but this is a stretch. The most striking feature of the tarot card, however, is the fish in the cup. It is rare for an adaptation of a card character to be weirder than the card itself, but this may be an exception.

Yesterday evening I met with Cups expert Crystal Balque* at her least favourite restaurant (her suggestion) to ask whether she believes that the Knave of Hearts is meant to be the exact same person as the Page of Cups in tarot, or whether it was someone else who simply held the same title at some point. Balque avoided the question and instead taught me a rhythm game where one claps and thumps drink wear on the table in a pattern. This proved to be a most diversion, and it took a near half-hour for the manager to arrive and eject us from the establishment.


Upside down:

You must learn groundedness and to understand the difference between reality and fantasy. Your superior did not make tarts for you or for anyone else. She is a queen, not a baker. Also, you do not really work for the queen, even if you are a civil servant in a monarchist nation ruled by a queen. You also do not have a fish. Fish represent wishful thinking. I would refrain from wishing for anything if the Page of Cups appears reversed in your spread. It would do you no good.


*No one knows her real name or indeed how she earned this nickname.


Classic Page of Cups deaths:

  • Investing everything into a young person’s project inspired by “Alice in Wonderland” but dark and edgy and modern, because no one has ever interpreted that material from a dark and edgy and modern perspective before. You will lose everything to such a venture, however, because nearly every young creative type has interpreted that material from a dark and edgy and modern perspective.
  • Dead as a side-effect of a daring performance art piece that your loved ones will not accept as art. The courts might, however (the Pages (including Princesses, Jacks and Knaves), the Knights, the Queens and the Kings are referred to as Court Cards) might rule your death as an art piece, however, and allow your body to decompose naturally in its own corner of a struggling art gallery. You will be famous!