Mapping Nine Lives

The Map follows on from the introduction page in the graphic novel… It is a Tarot inspired landscape of mountains, forests, lakes and rivers divided by oceans in all directions of the compass. To me, there is something magical about how a map can translate and scale a landscape, a country (or even an entire world), to fit inside the pages of a book. As the pen dances across the paper; the details – and then the space between the detail, allows my imagination to wander… and visit the places I draw.

Nine Lives Map - Annette AbolinsThe preview image isn’t able to show much of the detail within the drawing, but I am still hoping it gives an idea of what I’m working on…

I did a search to make sure I had the cardinal directions ‘right’ for each suit – instead, I discovered that interpretations differ quite considerably and a generalised consensus appears to be ‘whatever works for you’ :) So, in relying on my artistic freedom, I am hoping that you will follow the story, even if some suits are placed differently to how you see them. The place names are forming in my head, which means that for now you will need the expert guide (the Raven), to navigate the four realms.

I have (with a few minor changes) followed the suit associations described on Tarot Teachings, as this is very close to how I see the relationships between the suits, and also the ‘geographical’ landscape in my mind:

The Suit of Swords:

The realm of the Swords is in the very North, where the air is crisp and clean and the mountains provide provide a stark yet magnificent backdrop to the challenges of the mind. Draped in the indigo cloak of winter, the Swords seek clarity and truth in all their dealings.

  • Realm = Mind
  • Cardinal Direction = North
  • Playing card Suit = Spades
  • Element = Air
  • Colour = Indigo
  • Season = Winter

The Suit of Rods:

The sunrise in the East is home to the Rods, where spring-time heralds new beginnings and creative ideas. Passion burns with the fire of the rising sun – for there is no time like today, or in fact, like NOW. The realm is bathed in yellow, symbolising optimism, intelligence and creativity.

  • Realm = Spirit
  • Cardinal Direction = East
  • Playing card Suit = Clubs
  • Element = Fire
  • Colour = Yellow
  • Season = Spring

The Suit of Cups:

The Cups frolic in the South, where the warm summer breeze from the southern ocean caresses a most gorgeous landscape. Love, emotion and empathy are cherished in the realm of hearts; where the colour red signifies both heart and blood, and the waters of the ocean allow emotions to flow.

  • Realm = Heart
  • Cardinal Direction = South
  • Playing card Suit = Hearts
  • Element = Water
  • Colour = Red
  • Season = Summer

The Suit of Pentacles:

The afternoon sun of the West is home to the Pentacles, a fertile land where the golden fields and ripening autumn orchards provide plenty for the realm. Green is symbolic of the fertile land and the earth from which all things grow.

  • Realm = Home and Hearth
  • Cardinal Direction = West
  • Playing card Suit = Diamonds
  • Element = Earth
  • Colour = Green
  • Season = Autumn


The Raven spreads its wings and soars high up in the air… it circles, and then turns – we are heading North …


2 thoughts on “Mapping Nine Lives”

  1. That was all very concise and interesting. Connecting the cards to the points of the compass adds a completely new level to it all. I now have a very different way of looking at the Swords, the Cups, the Rods and the Pentacles, and I am definitely looking forward to the next episode in the story.

    • Thank you Diane :) I have been busy drawing these last few days (working on the next page in the book), I hope to update very soon, as I don’t wish to leave my valued readers straying about in all directions of the compass :)

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