Troubled Blood: Every Tarot Card Spread

I am neck deep in an exploration of the True Book’s Celtic Cross tarot card spread and realized I had skipped a step in this process, one necessary even to understand the cards I am learning about in their proper context. What is needed is a simple catalog of the tarot cards that appear in spreads in Troubled Blood. Two cards appear three times (Two of Cups and Lust) and two appear twice (Nine of Swords and the Hierophant).

As noted in the first post about the cards in the Celtic Cross spread, swords appear at the beginning, middle, and end of this spread; I should have mentioned then that the Nine of Swords, in addition to being the first card of Talbot’s Celtic Cross, is also the last card in the hidden spread on the ‘Babalon the Mother of Abominations’ page. They act as something of a ‘latch’ to Strike5 if you’re paying close attention to the cards

I’d note, too, that the readings with only two exceptions are trump cards (12), swords (4), or cups (5). There are no batons (‘wands’) and only two discs (‘pentacles’). We have archetypes in the trump cards, intelligence or thinking in swords, and “emotions, relationships, cleansing, and healing” with the cups. No surprises there with respect to Rowling’s themes for this series and her other work.

After the jump, then, a very brief listing with a few links to the True Book’s various tarot cards, both the clear-as-day and the hidden pictures.

True Book Cards: The Celtic Cross Spread

  1. Nine of Swords
  2. Two of Cups
  3. High Priestess
  4. The Devil
  5. The Chariot
  6. Ace of Pentacles (Reversed)
  7. Ten of Swords
  8. Five of Pentacles
  9. The Hierophant
  10. Prince of Swords

The Embedded Three Card Spreads

She knew from her exhaustive examination of his notes that Talbot had sometimes tried to see his way through the investigation by laying out just three cards: the first representing “the nature of the problem,” the second, “the cause,” and the third, “the solution.” (539)

It’s only a theory, but it seems that Rowling-Galbraith inserted three card spreads in each of Talbot’s ‘True Book’ illustrated pages; elements, quotations, or mentions appear for specific cards reading the pages from left to right. I have to revisit this idea, but my first thoughts on the subject can be found at the links for each page’s tarot elements below.

The Horns Page, 537

  1. The Emperor (Aries, IV), 
  2. Lust (Leo, XI), and 
  3. The Hierophant (Taurus, V)

The Death Card Page (Dancing Skeleton) 632

  1. The Princess/Queen of Cups (Significator?)
  2. The Lovers/Lust
  3. The Moon

Babalon 774

  1. The Moon
  2. Lust
  3. The Nine of Swords

Robin Ellacott’s Three Card Spreads

Laemington Spa 539

  1. Prince of Cups, 
  2. the Four of Cups,
  3. Two of Cups

London Flat 924

  1. Two of Swords
  2. Adjustment
  3. Two of Cups

Please let me know if I missed any spreads or stray card appearances in Troubled Blood or if you spot any other relationships and patterns on this list. Thanks!


  1. This intriguing analysis of the Tarot card spreads in Troubled Blood adds depth and complexity to the discussion surrounding J.K. Rowling’s use of Tarot symbolism in the novel. The author’s exploration of the individual cards and their interpretations within the context of the story showcases a keen understanding of Tarot symbolism and its potential significance in literature. It sparks curiosity and invites readers to further examine the connections between the cards and the narrative themes, adding a new layer of appreciation to the novel. A thought-provoking piece that enhances our understanding of Troubled Blood’s rich tapestry of symbols and meanings.

  2. The article “” is a comprehensive and insightful analysis of the use of tarot card spreads in the novel “Troubled Blood” by Robert Galbraith (a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling).

    The author of the article explores how various tarot card spreads are employed throughout the book, dissecting their meanings and implications within the context of the story. This in-depth examination showcases a keen understanding of both tarot symbolism and the narrative intricacies of the novel.

    What makes this article stand out is its ability to uncover hidden layers of meaning and symbolism in the book, shedding light on how tarot card spreads serve as a storytelling device. It offers readers a fresh perspective on the novel and its connections to the world of tarot.

    Thank you to “Hogwarts Professor” for this thought-provoking analysis, which enhances our appreciation of the literary and symbolic elements in “Troubled Blood” and demonstrates the depth of J.K. Rowling’s storytelling.

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