Ludy Lescot Symbols: Black and White


There are several cards where Black and White colours seem to have a symbolic meaning.

There are checquered black and white floors in five cards: 3 and 7 of Chalices, 4 of Wands, 7 and King of Wands.

People (or dolls!) are dressed in black an white at least in six cards: Temperance, 3 of Wands (the doll!), 2 and 10 of Swords, Six of Chalices (the clown) and 6 of Pentacles.

Many of the animals are black and/or white: The black cat (Hermit), the white rabbit (Q of Pents), white hen (Fool), black ravens (4 and 9 of Pents), black and white Great Dane (4 of Wands, where also the floor is black and white), white doves (the Sun, Empress). Many of the horses are either black or white and Chariot has got them both.

About Black and White symbolism:

" refers to an ambivalence or else to a union of the opposites in the realm of instinct." (Emma Jung, M-L von Franz: The Grail Legend)

" ..darkness and light, black and white are to be found in every act. And since every act carries with it both good and bad effects, the best that can be done in such circumstances is to err on the side of the good."
"The image of the black and white magpie is the leitmotif which flits from chapter to chapter throughout the entire work...He (Percival) marries a black princess and they have a child who is both black and white..This is a natural dialectic as if the author is warning the reader to take the middle path.
(M. Goodwin: The Holy Grail, 1994)

Then there is, of course, the Yan-Ying connection:
"Yin yang are not opposing forces (dualities), but complementary opposites that interact within a greater whole, as part of a dynamic system. Everything has both yin and yang aspects as light cannot exist without darkness and vice-versa, but either of these aspects may manifest more strongly in particular objects, and may ebb or flow over time. The concept of yin and yang is often symbolized by various forms of the Taijitu symbol, for which it is probably best known in western cultures.

There is a perception (especially in the West) that yin and yang correspond to evil and good. However, Taoist philosophy generally discounts good/bad distinctions and other dichotomous moral judgments, in preference to the idea of balance. Confucianism (most notably the philosophy of Dong Zhongshu, c. the 2nd century BCE) did attach a moral dimension to the idea of yin and yang, but the modern sense of the term largely stems from Buddhist adaptations of Taoist philosophy." (Wikipedia)

There is some more discussion about checquered floors and Masonic symbolism HERE


I found more about black and white symbolism in M-L.von Franz: Shadow and Evil in Fairy Tales (Shambhala 1995)

" In mythology black and white are often not an ethical designation. They have become so only in late Christian allegory as a secondary, artificial interpretation.

In comparative mythology black generally stands for the nocturnal, the underwordly, the earthly, belonging to what cannot be consciously known, fertility and so on. White, on the other hand, stands for daylight, clarity, and order, but it can be either negative or positive, depending on the situation."

La Force

Checkered flooring

I just wanted to add my 2 cents :)

The floor tiles alternate in black and white, black represents death and white represents purity. Also, the black/white checkered tiling on the floor refers to (what is usually). The checkered pattern on the floor is a Masonic Lodge symbol that refers, very basically and quite simply, to polarity and duality: light/dark, cold/hot, dry/wet, large/small, sweet/bitter, etc..

Pam O

Here are more "black and white" symbolism ideas from the Emperor thread in reference to the checker board floor.

I have also come to the conclusion that this card suggests that everybody has "a checkered past" like the tiles on the floor. We are not all goodness or all evil. By acknowledging the past, both good and bad, we can then bring acceptance to who we are.

This is a fabulous option for reading the black & white tiles behind him! That is a creative angle!

Here are alternate ideas for reading this checker board pattern:

- Every thing is not simply black or white. Expand your mind to see other options.

- Someone is playing games. Is this in fun, or is it malicious?

- There are times it is wise to remember that seeing things playfully can be just as critical as taking everything seriously.