THE BEAVER you will die

Placement: The Obscure Arcana

Description: Most iterations of The Beaver card are not particularly interesting. These depict a beaver in a forest, carrying a stick. Occasionally there will be one or two other beavers in the distance, swimming or chewing tree trunks.

In rare versions, there are no live beavers but a top hat, which sits on a shelf. Top hats were traditionally made from beaver fur felt.*

An Ontarian tarot publisher in the 1970s made available a card depicting a beaver in a tartan waistcoat, referring perhaps to the co-founder of C.U.C.U.M.B.E.R., an esteemed organization of wildlife journalists under the age of twelve. The deck in which that particular version of The Beaver card appears is one of the most sought-after in the world, as it also includes a card called The Living Statue in place of The Hanged Man, a waltzing log driver on the Nine of Wands, and the Five of Swords wielded by four anthropomorphic raccoons and an aardvark.


Right side up:

To truly understand the meaning of this card, you must withdraw from any notion of the beaver as euphemism for a certain bodily organ primarily associated with womanhood. Beavers are noble animals, round and covered in soft fur. They build strong, warm wetland dens. Beavers symbolize labour, perseverance, and ingenuity. It is for this reason, and this reason only, that The Beaver is a symbol of Canada, and not at all due to the country’s shape, split in two by Hudson Bay, which is a gaping wet crevasse.


Upside down:

The card of the dammed. Your efforts slow or stop the progress of society’s metaphorical river. Beware that your actions do not cause or exacerbate a metaphorical flood. Beware that you do not fell too many metaphorical trees. Beware flat sticky cinnamon pastries with a squeeze of lemon, and also 1950s family sitcoms. Beware the toes of camels.


*Silk top hat were also en vogue, but these were not nearly as effective at maintaining head warmth in winter, and few romanticize the life of the adventuring silkworm trapper.


Classic The Beaver deaths:

  • Falling timber
  • Choking on a five cent coin
  • Caught, skinned, transported by canoe and traded for a chic striped blanket
  • Your limbs gnawed off and used as construction material
  • Unseen, behind your larger, more famous neighbour
  • Cave diving
  • Velvet tipping
  • Deaths of the “little” variety