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It’s in the Tarot Cards or How I Made Peace with the Finale of Mad Men. Copyright Marcia Masino May 2015.
Knowing how to interpret the Tarot has its advantages. Especially when forecasting and understanding the finale of Mad Men. It was in the cards; Don Draper’s Tarot card reading to be exact.
Each Mad Men episode opened with an ad man’s version of the Tower card with Don falling from its lofty heights and closed with the literal Sun Tarot card emblazoned with the Weiner Bros. logo and establishing the fact that the Tarot is a significant element in the Matthew Weiner Universe.
And so it is, from an interview with Mr. Weiner we learn that the Tarot card spread performed by Anna Draper in season 2, episode 12, The Mountain King, was really Weiner’s own reading. He had received it and insisted that the scene built around it be used in the episode, much to the chagrin of his writers. The spread contained the last three Major Arcana cards in the series of 0 -21, The Sun, Judgment and the final card, The World.
That is how Don came to have his cards read by Anna one of the very few people who knew his identity as Don/ Dick; he’s trusted her and a bond between them was formed long ago. She lived in California where Don’s destiny – destination is located; the symbolic place of new consciousness in the 1960s.
The Tower card meaning is fitting for Don’s story, he has built or should I say rebuilt since even his identity is false with needs of his ego rather than ethical values. Believing he is alone and isolated (another Tower card meaning) he cheats everyone without understanding the repercussions of his actions, even himself. His professional reputation, his family both past and present, his relationships, money and career ambitions will be exposed and destroyed throughout the series as we watch him build them up only to be struck down by forces beyond his control. He is not impenetrable or in control or even addiction free. Instead he has numerous secrets, self betrayals and unethical truths behind the façade of his life.
The Sun card meaning guarantees protection and safety, my first clue that all will be well in time in Don’s world. His actual Tarot spread begins with the reversed Sun card, an indicator of his lack of awareness (being in the dark) falseness and susceptible position. The cards in the layout describe the thoughts and actions that have made him vulnerable; he is surrounded by the Five of Swords a destructive combative card that indicates defeat, the Reversed Three of Cups the debauchery card and the reversed Wheel of Fortune (possible repeat of destructive behaviors.)
His foundation card, the Page of Pentacles was encouraging he is learning especially through messages that come his way. They arrive via the usual path of the soul through dreams, odd encounters with archetypal forces and characters and through visits from spirits who deliver them.
That is why I was so pleased in the sub -finale last season 2014 final scene when the spirit of his newly deceased former business partner Bert Cooper appeared to him during a high pressured battle for ambition and power and sang him a song with a message - it was, “The best things in life are free.” Bert will reappear to guide him away from Diana, a siren of self destruction in the final season. Rachel, another dream spirit whispered,” your late for your flight” and threatening dreams of not getting away with things disturbed him
Many of the characters that Don encounters are externalization of his own psyche. In the final season and he is in a battle quest to survive by facing the truth each represents. The truth is; not many people really care about him, the walls of self protection he has built have served to alienate him from what he really wants, he has lost his attachment to his career position and ambition, he gave away his money, his family doesn’t want him around, he has hurt many people and his lack of loyalty to himself and others has caught up with him.
A card indicating the journey of the soul to find true meaning should be in Don’s reading; it is the helping and hindering card in the layout, The Eight of Cups. He’ll experience loneliness and a soul searching time period where he abandons his attachments and emotional comforts. This is an underlying theme in the story line, “The only thing keeping you from being happy is the belief that you are alone” says Anna, she summarizes the belief that both hinders him and drives him toward the moonlit night of the soul and subsequent redemption, Don asks, “what if that is true?” She says,” then you can change” and he counters with.” people don’t change,” Anna points out the World card ” I think she stands for wisdom as you live you learn things.”
During the reading Anna chose to focus on the World card. “She’s the soul of the world. She’s in a very important spot here. This is you, what you are bringing to the reading. She says you are part of the world. Air, water, every living thing is connected to you.”
Don responds that it is a nice thought, but he doubts it. Instead he points out the Judgment card, seeing the image as death resurrection. The Tarot session scene concludes with sunlight pouring though a window and the sound of wind chimes.
Although he doesn’t like the Judgment card by the end of the episode we see him entering the ocean with the sun overhead the waves washing him clean and baptizing him (something I am sure he never received in his early years.) His baptism into light and new life foreshadowed the necessary dark night of the soul, facing his sins, confession and his subsequent spirituality of the final episodes.
I found the entrance of the Fool card in the guise of a hitchhiker who Don picks up very prophetic in the 3rd to last show. He entered the car and we did not see his face but the last thing we hear is the sound of his tambourine, similar to the bells on the Fool’s cap and satchel and reminding us of Anna's wind chimes in California. The hitchhiker is used in symbolism to represent the wild card or Fool experience. It can take you into unexpected uncontrollable territory but the positive side is that it’s jarring affects can open the path toward change and enlightenment. After picking up the hitchhiker Don had to deal with his military past, his con-man self, his alcoholism as well as the imminent death of Betty.
The writing of Mad Men was multi-layered and it was within those layers that I found Tarot symbolism, metaphysical understanding and spirit messages that revealed Don’s fate. When the spirits speak you listen, when you awaken with a startling dream message you listen and when a Tarot reader comments on your life in ways that resonate with you, you listen. The soul sends us messages via archetypes in dreams, the Tarot, worldly encounters and other worldly beings and Don’s journey encompassed these experiences.
His Tarot spread made some aspects about the finale abundantly clear; he would reach his destined destination through a journey: the Eight of Wands – a travel card, it was his future outcome. He was destined to return to California, Anna’s world , a change in consciousness and his soul self.
The spirit of Anna appeared to Don; she bid him farewell after her death and although in life she had a “bad leg” she was no longer limping. A foreshadowing of the World card's cosmic dancer. In the May 2014 episode, The Runaways, she reappears in the form of her pregnant daughter Stephanie who states that Anna is , “ still around” foreshadowing a death and rebirth theme for this season. Within The World card’s image is an Androgynous Dancer, who Anna resembled, representative of the feminine world soul, divine wisdom and harmonious integration expressed outwardly, successfully in the world.
The final card of the Tarot should appear in the series finale. Don’s fulfillment of Anna’s interpretation of the World card became fully realized in the series finale as he ended up in meditation, chanting Om in a California retreat center surrounded by “air, water and connected to the soul of the world.” Ah yes, The World as in “buy the World a coke.” Ad man Don’s world view will become the famous coca cola campaign in the near future. However the last scene tasted like flat cola to me.
I wanted to see support from the spirit side in the form of the unseen guidance of Anna and Bert meditating alongside Don or appearing behind him revealing that they have his back and are helping him integrate a new wholeness of self, in other words he is not alone. He never was. Just for a second I would’ve liked to see the reappearance of the spirits; that would’ve added a dimensionality that was consistent throughout the episodes and content.
The only other resolution option regarding this world and the next is that Don had become the World in other words integrated the lessons and he'd found inner peace. Then I realized the meaning of the word he was chanting. He is chanting Om and you have to understand its meaning; in essence you are harmonizing within and with the divine and you are really chanting the word “Peace.”
Don is chanting the word peace, peace as in inner peace, peace as in rest in peace, peace out man, peace as in peace to the world. From Matthew Weiner’s perspective, whatever issues were raised for the viewer during the series the message was to make peace with them. Peace to the viewer. Above all, Don is saying, “Go in Peace.” Like at the end of a prayer – “peace be with you and with you too. “
Want to know more about your soul journey? Contact Marcia for more information regarding Tarot and astrology readings for the soul.
Please read my other Mad Men Tarot blogs below.
Mad Men Season finale “Waterloo” Tarot Blog by Marcia Masino copyright May 28, 2104
The Genius of Matthew Weiner.
The first Moon landing and a clear message from the subconscious in the form of a song and dance performed by a newly departed spirit opened and closed the midseason finale of Mad Men. The reality of the Moon landing and the uncertainty of the astronauts safely returning to earth and the safety of the rational, material world invaded by subconscious and spiritual messages that breaks the illusion of ego and separation are game changers. The Moon card is a harbinger of psychic activity and unsure shadowy circumstances; everything is not as it seems even the perceived isolation and finality of death.
After his passing, which coincided with the Moon landing, the spirit of one of the founders and framers of Don’s company, Bert Cooper, appears only to him and performs a song and dance number to “The Best Things in Life are Free.” The moon, the stars and sun are part of the lyrics and they are also the final cards of the Major Arcana series along with Judgement and The World. Sound is related to the Judgement card (Gabriel’s Horn in the card) and Dance to the World card, therefore you have a metaphysical Tarot quintet ending the mid season in the final scene.
The best things in life, the sun, moon, stars, wind, flowers, wait a minute hasn’t Don heard that somewhere before? Yes, in his Tarot reading from Anna, she tells him he is part of it all and not isolated and alone, he still suffers from this illusion. Once again the unmistakable message still rings true and materializes in the form of Bert Cooper’s final curtain call song lyric. (See Don’s Tarot reading description and how it appears in this season’s shows in my other blogs.)
The political scenes that took place at the S C + P office were set around the staircase, a clear symbol of the stairway to and from heaven, the ups and downs of life and the levels of the psyche. The ascent of Peggy as she announces her account victory to Don at the top of the stairs and their embrace is rewarding. Don’s altruistic sacrifice of replacing himself with her for the presentation helped Peggy and has worked out beautifully.
It is after this scene and his descent that he encounters Bert’s performance from the spirit world. It takes place at the bottom of the staircase. The real world is symbolized by the base or foundation of the starway and Don takes in the spirit show while framed by a barren doorway and slouching on a plain desk as if taken aback, overwhelmed and alone.
Is Bert acknowledging Don’s ethics in helping Peggy? Is he commenting on the wheeling and dealing that has just occurred at the company and Don’s subsequent unease about it?
Will he perform a duet with Anna since they both now reside in the spirit world?
They say that threes a charm; the last season of Mad Men may well feature this message to Don again and if and how he “gets it” will bring a whole new cycle of loss and redemption to interpret through the teachings and symbols of the Tarot.
Mad Men, The Strategy, May 18, 2014 The Genius of Matthew Weiner.
Blog by Marcia Masino copyright 2014 all rights reserved.
Gosh, I didn’t expect the World card dance to happen so soon, but there it was, on this week’s installment of Mad Men. Last week on The Runaways episode there were incidents that pointed toward a revisit of Don’s Tarot reading which contained hints about his journey toward self - discovery. (see last week’s blog, The Runaways.)
The concept of the integration and balance between the masculine and feminine or the Sun and the Moon as mentioned in last week’s blog, is an alchemically charged voyage toward wholeness that is represented by the World card in Don’s reading. This final Arcanum card features a Cosmic Dancer and the dancer has a secret, that of androgyny. When I saw Don and Peggy dance together I saw the joining of the two halves of one person; they are the other half of each other. When they danced to “I did it my Way” the idea of self expression and dancing the dance of one’s own life aka authenticity was clear. Don is the one who points out the co-incidence and makes sure Peggy knows it isn't just a fluke and that it is meaningful synchronicity.
United they come to a new place of teamwork and power as allies that understand each other’s losses, worries and drive toward excellence. For me Peggy’s struggle with her Burger Chef campaign was really her struggle for quality, integrity, acceptance and trust in her instinct. This is something Don is equally familiar with as he states, “he doesn’t worry about her but does worry about having never done anything and that he doesn’t have anyone.” This was the same message that Anna spoke about during his Tarot reading, “Your mistake” she says “is that you think you are alone.”
He is still in that stance of aloneness; however his actions of empathy toward Peggy both in context of their shared loneliness, his coaching of the best out of her and his past help when she secretly gives birth all reveal that he does have compassion. He just needs to offer it to the other part of himself. Let’s face it; the ego is always that last to know.
The loss and subsequent regain of the feminine and therefore the other part of the psyche equation pictured in The World card’s victorious dance symbolism is seen in the mother, intuition and feminine role themes throughout the story lines. Peggy asks what do I know about mother hood? Joan holds out for true love and Pete Campbell insists Peggy’s ad campaign can change if its still “about mothers.” It is, but in a whole new Cosmic sphere.
She reworks the campaign taking it from the societal expectation of mothers, house wives and women in traditional roles and divines a new sales pitch, bringing it into uncharted territory of the societal; we are all one big family and universal awareness. Her new take of a clean and well lit place that everyone can come to foreshadows a new way to look at the fast food eat in restaurant world (away from take out and eat at home.) “What if there was a place where you could go, where there was no TV, and you could break bread? And whoever you were sitting with was family,' she smiles as 'My Way' begins to play." The Cosmic Dance ensues.
Later we see Don and Peggy in the brightly lit new temple of fast food. The image has an odd similarity to a nativity scene with the front consisting of a roof in a simple red triangular shape and walls, manger like, indeed a birth has occurred. A sense of humane caring is expressed toward Pete Campbell who has sauce on his face that needs motherly wiping.
The 8 of Wands represents speed and air travel and it was Don’s future card and has now come to pass. Scenes are continually set between N.Y. and California and airplanes are prominent plus and this season’s promotional campaign photos are set at an airport. In this episode Don reads the headline of the assassination of RFK June 1968 in L.A.; he was brought back to N.Y. for his funeral.
The fact that Don lives in NY but has numerous connections to California is clear, Megan is there, work is there and the Tarot reading took place there, he has lots of history in California. Perhaps that is why for him it is nice place to visit but he wouldn’t want to live there, in many ways he already does, it is his home.
The airplane scene with Megan and Pete’s realtor girlfriend both on board along with the shot of a flight attendant quickly closing the curtain between the classes has me wondering about what is being foreshadowed for the season finale. Opening, closing, who or what Is behind that dark curtain? What’s hidden remains to be seen - is it the future, the inevitable, or another turn of the Tower card???
MAD MEN Tarot blog The Genius of Matthew Weiner
- The Runaways May 11, 2014
Copyright Marcia Masino all rights reserved.
The Runaways episode begins with a return of Don’s past in the form of Anna’s daughter, Stephanie. She contacts Dick aka Don and informs him that she is pregnant and needs his help. He is truly delighted to hear from his niece and sends her to Megan, who after a polite façade of welcoming hospitality and conversation is quietly told that Anna is still with us, “she’s still around.”
Anna has seen Don’s truth and the timing for his destiny because she has read his Tarot cards. She is the only one who knows his soul, she is his real family. Her reappearance has real significance and as guardian type spirits are known to do she can orchestrate when to create events of a synchronistic and progressive nature in order for destiny to unfold. Through Stephanie’s arrival and Don subsequent response he ends up back in the familiar ad man saddle and is jockeying for a new power position through a fortuitous message from his colleague that he can utilize quickly to his advantage.
The advent of Anna and Stephanie signals that it is time to revisit his Tarot card reading with her. Have some of her insights come to fruition?
The 2008 Tarot reading for Dick/Don by Anna has the reversed Sun card as the focal point along with a soul searching moon lit valley portrayed in the Eight of Cups. The appearance of the sun and moon always denote an alchemical process of change and this one is through abandonment themes and a search to regain one’s true identity. The consequences of the sacrifice of the true self for ego reasons and survival dominates many of the characters especially Don. Anna believes he can change, he does not.
A Tarot reader would then look at the future card to see if more of the same, worse or an improvement is forecast. Don’s future card is Judgment, he points it out to Anna and he doesn’t like it. This is a card depicting Archangel Gabriel blowing on a trumpet and a man, woman and child arising from coffins that are curiously placed not on land but on a sea. It predicts he will reconnect to his soul, be renewed and reunite with his true family. In Anna’s words “resurrection, this is a good card.”
She states that the World card is very important it is him and indicates that he is connected to all living things and the barrier to his ultimate happiness is the misconception that he is alone.
The reading takes place in Anna’s California living room and the actual scene is filled with mystical sensory overtones. Don wistfully senses the ocean before him and mentions twice that he can smell it. He gazes through a light filled partially open curtain, clearly the breeze is blowing we can hear wind chimes. Light and wind together in a spiritual context is known as pneuma, the breath of life and spirit.
In the Tarot this concept is represented by The Fool card and it is the card that follows from the series that have appeared in his reading -The Sun, Judgment and the World. The culmination of a cycle is being forecast with a foreshadowing of a leap of faith and a birth of spiritual integration and wholeness. What that looks like in Don’s world remains to be seen,he can hear, smell and sense the spirit but hasn't seen it yet; but the ocean of the great sea of understanding known as Mara the Great Mother is beckoning while the cosmic World card dancer performs her dance this is indicative that spiritual cosmic forces are at play in the plot of Don’s redemption.
How will life turn out for Don? His outcome card is the Eight of Wands he will reach his goals swiftly, helped by spiritual influences. This card is known as a travel card usually by air and the emphasis on airlines and by - coastal travel has been very clear this season.
A significant empowering message begins (the Spiritual message of birth from Anna via Stephanie) and ends the episode. In the Tarot these messages are delivered by the Pages, and in Don’s reading the Page of Pentacles serves as the foundation of the reading.
A strong message from Anna‘s spirit spoken by a new-life carrying young woman feels like the completion of a death and rebirth cycle with a harbinger of renewal to me. Annunciation like, Don doesn't actually see Stephanie he justs talks with her and she seems more like a vessel for messages than an actual physical presence.
Other cards from the original reading match up nicely with what’s been going on, the recent 3 of Cups reversed is a notorious excessive partying, adultery and overindulgence card
Most revealing is the Five of Swords a card that has a theme of defeat and illusionary success by winning through underhanded means. Aka Don's lifestyle and career. Betty and Megan both display self injuring behaviours as they struggle between the desire for security and independence.
The inner torture of sacrificing one’s personal truth in other words self inflicted mutilation courses through the episode. Sally receives a potentially disfiguring blow to her face, and the ominous computer takes it’s first victim with Ginsburg going berserk and cutting off his nipple to give to Peggy, (Happy Mother’s Day.) How symbolic to have the fearsome technological computer laden world be the cause of the disfigurement and self mutilation of a body part . This is a clear disconnect to the sustenance of mother earth and nature and the overemphasis on the rational mind, another type of abandonment.
Seems as if everyone in Don’s universe has problems with being confident, balanced and authentic.This situation will be remedied, at least for Don, if Anna's card reading messages hold true.
MAD MEN TAROT BLOG the genius of Matthew Weiner and The Moon Card.
May 5, 2014 blog by Marcia Masino copyright all rights reserved worldwide.
Did you notice the crescent moon brightly shining in last night’s installment of Mad Men? It was for me a clear signal that the story would have the Tarot's Moon card as a plot focus and the content did not disappoint. The episode title, “The Monolith,” introduced an unknown, all knowing and disturbing, game changing influence into the workplace force field aka a computer. The title suggests a prehistoric or ancient theme plopped into a modern realm. The mash-up of primitive reaction and techno-future idealism has a message for the advertising biz, "Here is change, deal with it."
The computer, a symbol of unstoppable progress, change and conscious mind orientation is juxtaposed with the primal fear responses of the characters as they experience the lower subconscious emotions of the Moon card during the unfoldment of the storylines.
The Moon card’s traditional meanings of illusion, irrationality, primal instinct, fear, shape shifting, betrayal, deception, self deception, unforeseen change, subversion and escapism played out with drunken Don and drugged out Margaret. Roger and his wife journey to the hippie commune where his daughter Margaret is “really happy” to retrieve her and bring her back to her responsible role as wife and mother. The hippies at Margret’s commune are particularly shaggy; there is a visceral sense of animal instinct and raw sensuality that is on a gut level repulsive and wolf like or untamed.
We see a scene lit only with moonlight and a conversation outdoors in the shadows. This again reflects the Moon card’s,” call of the wild” and while Roger takes a walk on the wild side with the commune folk, his anger about parental responsibility surfaces and he shape shifts into the disgruntled father role and Margaret takes him down shape shifting from her hippie love and peace persona into an angry young woman who confronts both of her parents about their escapist ways.
The card imagery shows a threatening wolf representing the primitive instinctive self and the dog the adapted individual; tame and socially acceptable or companionable. The story has adaption references throughout – Don has to adapt to Peggy as his ego busting boss, she in turn realizes she is being deceived by her boss who is manipulating her. Formerly drunken Freddy plays Don’s conscience confronting him about his escapist drinking ways and Don then adapts and returns to his work.
There is a lot of shape shifting going on here, people moving from one persona to another but who and what is real? Adapt of perish may be the hidden message but who will or won’t and who will be true to themselves or fake remains to be seen. Maybe a better question is who can remain true to themselves in life; this certainly is the plot of the Don Draper character. Perhaps the entire episode is really one big irrational Moon card acid trip and we are seeing a rare glimpse of the various components of Draper’s psyche, after all it is 1969.
Mad Men Tarot Blog.
Sunday night, April 27th - watched Mad Men and saw the embodiment/enactment of the negative side of the four Tarot Queens. In a recent interview Matthew Weiner stated that this season has a pessimistic focus, one of negativity, disillusionment and cynicism. Comeuppance aka karma is an important story line with the inevitable connection with the Justice Arcanum and her unfailing and all seeing active powers.
Choices with consequences abound for the four Queens. Megan looses her confidence and professionalism becoming a desperate, insecure narcissist who cannot realize people who care about her are trying to help her. For me she is the Queen of Wands. The second episode has her embracing the residency of the canyon coyotes in her California home – an ominous note and I see the Moon card’s wolf in the valley symbolism of the darkness, lunacy and lower irrational instincts foreshadowing her meltdown in the third episode.
A similar troubling scenario is experienced by Betty, The Queen of Cups, who cannot see that her children love her and that her negativity affects them. We witness her convincing herself that her children do not love her and questioning her mothering ability preferring to drown herself in smoky insecurity. When she visit the farm with her son we witness her attempt to participate as she drinks fresh cow’s milk from a milking pail, a very earthy version of the in drinking of elixir from an elegant chalice or ritual Cup. This coupled with an emphasis on going without a bra is an interesting juxtaposition regarding the artificiality and natural world of nature and nurture that uncomfortable Queen of Cups Betty inhabits.
Both Joan and Peggy display a judgmental, cold, un-sympathetic response to Don’s reappearance in the office. Their reactions serve as harbingers of the sharp sword of Lady Justice. Joan’s bottom line for decision making is one of finance - the Queen of Pentacles and Peggy has a personal axe to grind, again not perceiving how Don’s return could benefit her choosing a negative, reactive and emotional stance, the Queen of Swords.
Meanwhile, injustice swirls around the African American women office workers and in the second episode we actually see them moved from one position to another on the whim of their superiors.
The depth of despair pictured in the 5 of Pentacles aka the dark night of the soul was clear for me in episode one. The final scenes showed Peggy sinking to her knees in despair and Don Draper doing his version of the same action as he chose to open the balcony doors and return to the dark cold night alone without a job, without Megan and at the bottom of his game. In the actual traditional Tarot imagery two people, a destitute man and woman walk by a cathedral with a brilliantly lit stained glass window. Although the spiritual riches are available they need to look up and go inside, come out from the cold of their own spiritually impoverished barren worlds.