Author Topic: Madoka tarot and other theorycraft (Thar be spoilers here!)  (Read 2642 times)

First things first, since this is a post and potentially thread about Madoka theorycraft, pretty much everything will potentially be a spoiler, and if you've not seen Madoka and don't want to be spoiled... go watch the show! It's finished airing ages ago!

That said, let's continue.

I don't know how much theory there is left to craft out of Madoka with the series over and the loose ends tied up, but I was just playing around with an idea of "Maybe each girl is one of the classical elements" while listening to a lecture about the tarot, their relation to the classical elements and meanings... and was promptly sent scurrying off to my books and Madoka episodes.

So for those who don't know, the elements in the tarot (In some interpretations. I'm aware there are other ways people look at these things) are related to the suits. Cups represents water, wands is fire, swords is air and pentacles is earth, and a couple of the major arcana are of the 'spirit' element. It occured to me that if you applied the characteristics of those suits and elements to each character in Madoka, it made quite a good deal of sense. Cups relate to emotions, love and reaction, fitting for Sayaka (who also has some heavy water imagery later on). Pentacles relate to finances and material posessions, things that Kyouko tends to hold highly. Swords represent mental and intellectual action, and communication, which Homura spends most of the series doing as she tries to plan for Walpurgis and manuver people either away from contracting or towards helping her defeat Walpurgis. Wands pertains to action and passion, which tends to be Mami's contribution when she's around. Madoka doesn't get a suit because she's special and relates more closely to the major arcana from what I can see.

I was pretty glad to see that small reference. And then I began considering the meanings of the cards in the suits themselves and quickly came to the realisation Urobuchi took a whole lot from the tarot when writing the characters and their passages through the story of the anime. I'm going to use Sayaka as my example here because she's the character who had the most go on with her story in the anime without it happening in a weird chronological order.

Here's the huge text part. I'm using generic descriptions of the cards I found online to stop my knowledge of the anime changing how I interpret the cards as I explain, and I've cut a few lines from the descriptions but that's just unrelated parts to how they relate to Sayaka, usually things about finances.

Ace of cups: Faithfulness, fertility, joy, love.  The commencement of creative or artistic projects. The card is symbolic of changes for the worst, possibly a time of barrenness, which can be either of a physical or mental nature.  Failure of love, stagnation, despair and possibly loss of faith.

The ace is the summary of a suit, for lack of a better explination, and in Sayaka's case it seems to be a summary of what happens to her in the story.

Two of cups: Affection, love, the beginnings of a new romance, partnership or friendship. Emotional affinity, sympathy, joyous harmony, the reconciliation of opposites in mutual trust.  Resolved differences. Also: Misunderstandings and quarrels, love not returned.

This is Sayaka's relationships and friendships in episodes 1-4, the affection and love she feels towards Kamijo, albeit not returned, and the misunderstanding over the music she was bringing him making him happy. Friendship and partnership with Madoka and Mami. The card accurately describes Sayaka early on.

Three of cups: A fortunate end to a valued project or venture. Something coming to fruition that was conceived out of love.  A card of abundant fertility, trust harmony, maternity and the healing of ills. But: Loss of happiness.  Loveless sex. Self indulgence to excess.

A fortunate end to a project, something coming to fruition that was conceived out of love, the healing of ills. All of that relates to her decision to contract and heal Kamijo, or at least her feelings on her decision at the time she made it. I can relate the loss of happiness to Mami's death, and the loveless sex and self indulgence could easily refer to her making the wish out of her own desire for Kamijo to love her, rather than just wanting him to be well.

Four of cups: Time to re-evaluate an all too familiar environment, dissatisfaction and boredom.  The need to search for a more stimulating way of life.  Apathy, dwelling on past experience.  Love that turns to familiarity.  Happiness that has reached its peak.

After becoming a magical girl Sayaka finds herself re-evaluating the world with her new status and duties, but she's overall thrilled with the good she can do and being an ally of justice and all that. This is where her happiness in the show peaks. On the other hand, it starts to become apparent that her love for Kamijo was not really noticed, and her fawning over him begins to dwindle somewhat, especially as Kyouko enters the scene.

Five of cups: A need to re-order and re-evaluate priorities.  Union and espousal.  Dishonour that cannot be overcome, loss and defeat.  There is a need to curb futile belligerence and accept the inevitable.  Worry and regret, broken engagements and emotional letdowns.  Emotional or monetary legacies. The overturning of a way of life.  False starts.  Worries which arrive both unexpectedly and from an unexpected source.  Ill luck which leaves a feeling of being bereft.  Worries and anxieties.

Sayaka gets beaten and only just saved by Homura, the trouble with the situation with Kamijo really starts to dawn, and it becomes apparent that Sayaka might not quite have her priorities right. It's a false start to her career has a magical girl and I would call both Kyouko and the soul gem's true nature unexpected worries from unexpected sources.

Six of cups: A hankering after the past and that which is gone and never to return.  Vanity and pride in past success and accomplishment creating a barrier to future success.  A Clinging to the past and outdated habits and customs.

Sayaka can't get over herself in episode 7, even though she talks to Kyouko and accepts that they may have got off on the wrong foot she refuses to back down, becoming stubborn and keeping a firm grip on her ideals. The entire scene at the church really shows that she can't move on from the frame of mind she had when she first made the contract, wanting to be a warrior for justice, even though the situation is so far from what it first seemed.

Seven of cups: A need to reflect upon choices.  Sometimes too many choices and opportunities are presented, which need careful consideration if a grave error of judgement is to be avoided.  May refer to a variety of choices of people for example marriage and other partners. Reliance upon false hopes.  Inaction causing the loss of opportunity.  A fear of success.  Self-delusion and indecision.

The big reveal that Hitomi is into Kamijo too, giving Sayaka her choices that she needs to consider carefully. She doesn't consider it carefully though, her ideas that she isn't a real person and can't show her face to Kamijo in her soul gem posessing state leaving her with the mistake of doing nothing and ending up in an even worse situation because of it.

Eight of cups: A turning point, a severing of links with the past, which have become outdated.  A turning away from established relationships and objects of affection, to facilitate progress to newer and deeper things.  A change of perspective a change of viewpoint. Abandonment of that which has been well founded in order to pursue an impossible ideal. Fantasy and risk.  Restlessness and recklessness.

Sayaka's throwing away her allies and friends at this point, going nuts and beginning her reckless attempt to destroy all witches and familiars alike. Despite everyone else being able to see that she's completely losing it, she's refusing to leave her dreamworld where she can just keep  destroying the bad guys and everything will somehow become right, even as she refuses the grief seeds because using them would somehow be wrong.

Nine of cups: Falling into error, complacency, vanity and self indulgence.  Shortage of money due to spendthrift tendencies or loss of credit cards. Sentimentality and an overlooking of the faults in others which can lead to abuse of hospitality.

She keeps going until she finally can't go any further. There's not a lot in this card that I think can relate to her situation at this point, although I think the shortage of money due to spendthrift tendancies could relate to her stupid usage of her soul gem power (maybe.)

Ten of cups: Loss of friendship. Sudden violent disruption of an ordered environment and ordered routine, anti-social actions.  Look for signs of new adolescents or new births.

And that's the transformation to Oktavia.

Not all of the meanings of the cards could relate exactly to her, and the nine I had trouble relating to her in chronological order, but with how close they all seem to be to her as a character and her progression through the story of PMMM, I'm willing to chalk that one up to it not fitting in to a story perspective and being skipped for the sake of the story working.

I'd definately like to hear from fans of the series, or people with knowledge of the tarot  (or preferably people who are both!) to see if I can get more insight on this. Looking at the other suits, the cards seem to line up in a similar way for the other characterst too, but not as easily to explain due to the confusing timeline, short lifespan or long backstory of the three other girls. The themes and major events are definately all there though.

Oh, and as for Mami being wands?


I think some of the artistic direction might have had some nudges from Urobuchi if this theory does turn out to have some grounding!