You will die on the ocean, in outer space, or on an ocean planet in outer space.


The Ship JessieWillcoxSmith


Placement: The Obscure Arcana



As with many of the less-literal card illustrations, and in fact most of the cards in general, there is no ship on The Ship card. A child floats in the middle of a vast ocean. Some illustrators like to include a tall-ship’s crow’s nest poking at an angle from out of the water, apparently to show that the ship has been sinking and is now almost gone. Other artist forgo the crow’s nest in favour of confusing the card reader. In many versions, sharks circle the frightened child. Rarely, though often enough to make mention in this blog, the child circles a frightened shark.


Right side up:

Marooned. Where did your shipmates go? This water is undrinkable, or in the case of someone lost in space, the lack of oxygen and the pressure change when your suit is exposed, will make you die quickly.

No man is an island, but that doesn’t mean a man can’t be trapped on one for the rest of his life, which in this case is until dehydration takes him. If you’re not a man, of course, you are except from this particular fate. If it happens to you regardless, a different card (such as Two of Swords or The Bermuda Triangle) may predict it.

Some taroists have suggested that in matter of love, The Ship right side up may have a meaning related to matchmaking. Your friends (or marriage broker or the Universe or those writing fanfiction based on the story of your life) ship you and a specific person that they believe to be your ideal mate. For example, “I ship Anais and Danny so hard. Why don’t they kiss already?”* Beware of literal watercraft whose friends ship them. Mid-ocean collisions are not as romantic as one would imagine, and boats often acquiesce to pier pressure.


Upside down:

One of these days your ship will come in, but it will be a plague ship (space plague included, for the astronautical interpretation of the card) full of ghost pirates and boxes full of dirt, one of which might also contain a vampire. You need not worry about him turning you into one of his own. He’s merely hungry. Last month there was an unofficial debate at S.A.U.C.E as to which is worse: dying at the fangs of a vampire or unliving as one of them. The debate came to a halt when treasurer Sorina Jones suggested that they ask those who endured such a fate. An official séance will be held on Thursday to interview a fully-dead victim of a vampire attack, and Anais Hershel has agreed to telephone Anne Rice before the next board meeting, provided she keeps her swearing in check.


*That phrase, as I said, is only an example. Please refrain from repeating it to either of them. I have yet to regain Danny’s trust after accidentally leaving her at CartoCon in Manila.


Classic The Ship deaths:

  • “Person overboard!”
  • Dehydration
  • Walking the plank
  • Walking the Canada arm
  • Crushed in the briny depths of Davy Jones’ Locker
  • Crushed under the rancid tennis shoes in Davy Jones’ Locker
  • Your circuit’s dead! There’s something wrong!
  • Scurvy