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Fairytale Tarot (MRP) -- Page of Cups

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Fairytale Tarot (MRP) -- Page of Cups

The story associated in this deck with the Page of Cups is the Russian bylina "Sadko," several versions of which can be found here. This story got a fair amount of attention in the nineteenth century, notably opera (Rimsky-Korsakov) and painting (Ilya Repin--feast your eyes here).

Sadko was a humble, gentle musician in Novgorod (history alert! Novgorod was a member of the Hanseatic League!) who played the gusli (like a dulcimer). He was an orphan and I suppose what we would consider today a homeless person, scratching together a living by playing music for weddings and such.

Sadko is sitting by the lake one day, amusing himself (or, practicing his art!) by playing wonderful music because he doesn't have anything else to do. The water elf resident in the lake rewards him with a great secret (that there is a golden fish in the lake) because the music has pleased him. He parlays the secret into wealth, success, and a lovely wife.

Later, Sadko is sailing one of his merchant ships and a storm arises. Sadko realizes that the Tsar of the Sea wants a sacrifice and eventually offers himself. He doesn't drown, however. He finds himself at the palace of the Tsar of the Sea and plays music for him (which causes more storm when the sea people dance).

The Tsar tries to get Sadko to stay in his kingdom by marrying one of his girls. The helpful water elf of the lake, however, advises him to pick the last girl, and Sadko ends up back at home, with his real wife, with whom he lives happily ever after.

This is a very nice story to illustrate the Page of Cups. First, it's all about the water and creatures of the water--first a lake, then an ocean (the illustration of the card shows both the fish from the lake and the ship that sailed on the sea). Second, Sadko is a dreamy, gentle soul. He does take advantage of the secret told to him by the water elf, but he is not as vaultingly ambitious as, say, Jack of Jack and the Beanstock or the Brave Little Tailor. I don't think he ever slays anybody. He just wants to come back to his wife. In the world of fairytales, such contentment is rare.

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