I thought I’d do something a little different today, since we’ve had so many simple 2-Card spreads for writing prompts. Today I thought I’d give you the outline for a Protagonist and an Antagonist, and looking at how they interact with each other in order to develop a story.
The idea behind this is that while your Antagonist is obviously hindering your Protagonist, they should have a similarity that somehow binds them, thus making them almost perfect enemies.
You can read more about this spread in my Protagonist Vs. Antagonist post here to get more details. This post is just going to be the spread.
Because this is starting from scratch, to get the signifiers for the Protagonist and the Antagonist, I shuffled the cards and split the deck in three. Of the third pile, I selected the top card to represent the Protagonist and the bottom card of the third pile to represent the Antagonist.
From there I shuffled the rest and laid them out.
At the end, to add a little bit of a theme, I add the numbers of the cards together and find the corresponding Major Arcana Card.
Again, you can read about the spread in more detail in the Protagonist Vs. Antagonist Spread, but I’ll give you a brief overview here.
S1: Protagonist’s Signifier
S2: Antagonist’s Signifier
Card 1: The Protagonist’s Goals
Card 2: Antagonist’s Goals
Note: Cards 1 and 2 should be compared to each other to see how different or similar their goals are. Do they have the same goal, opposing goals, etc.?
Card 3: The Obstacle of the Protagonist
Card 4: The Obstacle of the Antagonist
Note: Consider the goals of the Antagonist against the Obstacle of the Protagonist. Do they align? Likewise, do the same for the Protagonist’s goals and the Antagonist’s Obstacles.
Card 5: The Similarity.
The idea behind the Similarity position is to give the common thread that interlinks the Protagonist and the Antagonist.
Signifier 1: Ace of Pentacles
Signifier 2: Page of Pentacles
Card 1: 9 of Swords
Card 2: 3 of Swords
Card 3: Queen of Rods/Wands
Card 4: 4 of Cups
Card 5: Hermit
The Aces represent new beginnings, specifically in the material world. They are the seed from which things grow. They are the inkling to start a new business, the urge to get a garden growing, the inspiration for a healthier life style.
Personified, the Ace of Pentacles can represent someone at the beginning of their journey, on a new turn of life—entering a new job, opening their first garden book, deciding they need to get into shape. These are just examples of course. Likewise, in a professional setting, they can represent an intern at the bank, in an accounting firm, in a treasury, etc.
The Page of Pentacles is similar to the Ace of Pentacles. While the Ace has lessons and messages to teach us, the Page is the personified version of those lessons, and can even be the deliverer of those messages.
The Page of pentacles is often someone lower in the work-place, such as someone who’s just started in the business, or perhaps someone who just hasn’t risen to any occasion to elevate themselves. They’re green though, and still have a lot to learn.
The 9 of Swords is a card of retreat, of processing something from the past. The depiction shows someone sitting up in bed at night, crying, presumably from a nightmare. This is because the time and dedication needs to be made to come to terms and process these memories that haunt us.
Thus, in this situation, there is a past trauma that needs to be addressed for the Protagonist.
The 3 of Swords indicates heartache, though can also resemble making the difficult decision to leave a difficult situation. This situation generally involves the heart, or matters close to the heart. It might not be romantic, though it is something that the individual cares a great deal about.
The similarity between the two goals has to do with something difficult. The Goal of the Protagonist is to process something from the past while the Antagonist needs to move away from something. The suit of both of these cards is the Swords, which is known for communication and thought. Likewise, the Swords are double-edged, thus, can cut two ways. Consider two ways to look at both of these cards together and separately.
The Queen of Wands gets things done. She’s a very charged woman in that she’s passionate about what she loves, and she loves a great deal. She can be a difficult woman to deal with.
The Queens of the Court Cards deal with the Water element, and the Wands are the Fire element. Thus, there is the application of Water to Fire. This can result in steam, which can burn. Likewise, when there is too much water present, then it douses the Fire.
Water deals with the emotions and intuition while Fire deals with creativity, creation, and passion. Thus, when she is balanced, she can be charming and loving, and energetic. When she is imbalanced, she can be overwhelmed with emotion, perhaps paralyzed with it, or she can be sheer momentum.
The 4 of Cups deals with boredom. A figure sits with three cups in front of them, having overlooked every part of them. The figure is so close to these three cups that they don’t see the fourth cup being offered to them. There might be something new, or it might be more of the same.
However, their closeness hinders what they’re able to see.
The nines are a number that have to do with the last test before the completion of a lesson. It is the last hurtle to see how much you’ve learned during this cycle, and to see whether or not you are worthy to go on to the next round of lessons. In the Cups, the test is whether or not one can discern between material love/contentment or contentment on an emotional level; in the Swords, a person is battling their inner most thinking; the Wands test relinquishing power over a project to let it grow on its own; and the Pentacles tests the willingness to share the fruits of harvest. This number represents goals, and the step just before completion.
The Hermit is the 9th card of the Major Arcana, coming just before the Wheel of Fortune. While the Wheel depicts a time of going with the flow, a change in tides, or simply moving forward and going with whatever is presented, the Hermit is inner reflection in order to prepare for the Wheel. It is reflection on the path so far, in the Fool’s journey, and discovering inner strengths and weaknesses that can be used, developed or shed for the next leg.
To get the theme of the story, if you’d like to take this writing prompt a step further, we’ll add all the cards together to reduce to a number under 22. This will give us a Major Arcana Card that will act as our Theme.
The numbers present are:
These all add to 50, which is bigger than 22. Thus, we add the two digits of our sum together to get 5 (5 + 0 = 5).
Fives are a number of man. Each human has two arms, two legs and a head (five), two eyes, two nostrils and a mouth (five), five senses, five fingers on each hand, five toes on each foot. In the Tarot, the number five corresponds to transition. It is the half way point, and thus, is the divider between the higher and lower lessons of the suit or of that cycle. Thus, the five brings forth discomfort, which can manifest itself in aggression, sadness, hopelessness, or ego. These are all symptoms of discontent, and discontentment urges us to move forward.
The Hierophant is the corresponding Major Arcana card to the number five. The Hierophant is the guardian to our beliefs, the one who tends the fire of what we honor and know to be true. Likewise, the Hierophant can represent conformity and social acceptance. He is the director of the standard action taken and social approval.
Hopefully that generated a couple of good characters for you and a plot will develop. Let me know how it goes in the comments—I love hearing what people come up with. Happy writing!