The Big Idea: Shannon Page

For the Nightcraft series of books, of which The Empress and the Moon is a part, Shannon Page delved into a branch of arcana that eventually became the heart of her writing. Read on to find out what it is and how it shaped the work.


I am not a tarot practitioner, trained or otherwise. I’ve done very little reading up on the cards and their traditional interpretations; I have only even ever had my own cards read once. But, as may be obvious by now to even the most casual of readers of my Nightcraft Quartet, I am strongly attracted to the cards and their symbology.

As The Empress and The Moon, the fourth and final volume of the quartet, is releasing, I’ve been thinking more about this apparent contradiction: “I know nothing about this, but I think it’s great.” My main character, a witch named Callie, shares with us her skepticism about the tarot. Her best friend, Logan, is a professional tarot practitioner, and Callie’s mother also works with the cards; both witches are always trying to get Callie to learn them, to accept their value. In traditional witchkind, however, particularly the science-based community Callie is a member of, the tarot is looked down upon. “They’re for humans” is a common, and scornful, attitude.

Of course, characters grow and change, and by the end of the series, many of my witches, warlocks, humans, cats, and others have expanded their understanding of the world and how so many things are not what they may seem. Dividing lines turn out to be more fuzzy than sharp; truths that “everyone knows” get challenged and upended…and Callie finds herself reaching for the cards at some pivotal moments.

In writing these moments, I reached for the cards myself.

I own a number of tarot decks, though the one I use most frequently is also the one I’ve had the longest. It is a traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck in its classic yellow box, and it used to belong to my ex-husband, who found it in the hallway of an apartment building he lived in before we met. Intrigued, he put it on his bookshelf but never opened the box. When we married, I sort of adopted the cards, and took them with me when we parted.

I have no idea whose they were originally, or why they were left in a hallway in Oakland, California in the late 1980s. But they are mine now…

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Source: The Big Idea: Shannon Page

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