Friday, October 31, 2014

Samhain Celebrations with Henry VIII & his Six Wives

Samhain (pronounced /ˈsɑːwɪn/ SAH-win or /ˈsaʊ.ɪn/ SOW-in Irish pronunciation: [sˠaunʲ]) is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the "darker half" of the year.

Samhain is known by most folks as Halloween, but for many modern Pagans it's considered a Sabbat to honor the ancestors who came before us. It's a good time to contact the spirit world with a seance, because it's the time when the veil between this world and the next is at its thinnest.

Sunset on Samhain is the beginning of the Celtic New Year. The old year has passed, the harvest has been gathered, cattle and sheep have been brought in from the fields, and the leaves have fallen from the trees. The earth slowly begins to die around us.

This is a good time for us to look at wrapping up the old and preparing for the new in our lives. Think about the things you did in the last twelve months. Have you left anything unresolved? If so, now is the time to wrap things up. Once you’ve gotten all that unfinished stuff cleared away, and out of your life, then you can begin looking towards the next year.

As part of this year's Samhain BlogHop, we are asked to think of who we would like to have come sit with us for a spot of tea. I have chosen spirits that I have never met before but whom I feel a deeply rooted connection with; Henry VIII and his six wives. I have chosen 7 Tarot cards that I feel best represent them, and will tell why. Also I have asked each of their spirits a question, and am using the Tarot to relay the answer back to me. Enjoy! 

Henry VIII's first wife was Queen Catherine of Aragon. She had first been wed to his brother Arthur who died not long after their wedding day. She and Henry were married for 24 years before their marriage dissolved. Henry became upset that she could not give birth to a living son, and his attentions then strayed from her. 

I have chosen the Queen of Pentacles to represent her because of the following qualities that she possessed. It is very fitting for her character. 

First and foremost, she was born royalty, and before all other things she was a mother. She loved her daughter Mary with all of her heart, and always did what she thought best for Mary. She also cared for people with equal concern and passion, and in return the people loved her just the same.

She was at home in glorious settings and enjoyed the festivities that her young King constantly surrounded her with. But at the same time, she also found comfort in sewing shirts and doting over him. To some extent she put his needs before her own. She was sensitive and very fertile, although only one of her children lived. 

She had an impeccable intuition, and could discern the outcome of future events before they took place. She was always very in tune with her surroundings, and often called Henry out on his wandering eye. Unfortunately it did her little good, as Henry ultimately cast her aside for someone he thought would give him a son.  

The mountain in the background of the Queen of Pentacles stands for her ever enduring and infinite faith. There were so many challenges that she faced, and in her end she came to the realization that some of them just weren't attainable for her. Her ending was quite tragic. Although her intuition was spot on in predicting her fall from Henry's grace, I think her determination to remain his Queen and keep what she had ultimately separated her from her daughter for good. This left a devastating life ahead for Mary. 

That leaves me with a question to ask her. Queen Catherine, if you had it to do over again, would you have done things differently for your daughter? How?

I used the Steampunk Tarot by Charissa Drengsen to answer these questions.

7 of Pentacles - I take this card as giving up control and doing the next 'right thing' & being satisfied with things the way they are. I am getting the feeling that Catherine in spirit, now realizes that by doing what she did, she made life much harder for Mary and this hurts her to her core. 

7 of Wands - This card to me speaks of her struggle for success in her efforts to remain Queen and to keep her daughters birth right. She knew she was courting danger, and her stubborn behavior truly tested Henry's patience. Instead of gaining stability, she did just the opposite. 

The Sun - This card to me speaks of Catherine's wish to have kept her favor with Henry, and in good sentiment remained at least his friend. She loved him greatly, and feels he may have rewarded her with simple pleasures had she not been so insistent on remaining his one true Queen. She also feels by doing so this would have given her daughter Mary happier memories and a more stable life. 

*sigh - me wiping away a tear. * I have to add here a letter from Catherine to Henry, showing her devotion to him even as she lay dying alone in a dank, damp castle.


My Lord and Dear Husband,

I commend me unto you. The hour of my death draweth fast on, and my case being such, the tender love I owe you forceth me, with a few words, to put you in remembrance of the health and safeguard of your soul, which you ought to prefer before all worldly matters, and before the care and tendering of your own body, for the which you have cast me into many miseries and yourself into many cares.

For my part I do pardon you all, yea, I do wish and devoutly pray God that He will also pardon you.

For the rest I commend unto you Mary, our daughter, beseeching you to be a good father unto her, as I heretofore desired. I entreat you also, on behalf of my maids, to give them marriage-portions, which is not much, they being but three. For all my other servants, I solicit a year's pay more than their due, lest they should be unprovided for.

Lastly, do I vow, that mine eyes desire you above all things.


Henry's second wife was Anne Boleyn. I chose the Queen of Swords to represent her for a number of reason, but first and foremost because she refused Henry's advances for quite a few years before they married. It was a very intellectual relationship before it became anything physical. Henry was a hunter, and enjoyed the chase. In fact, he sent her at least 17 love letters declaring himself her servant & did the unthinkable to make her his Queen. 

Anne had a watchful eye. She was no stranger to speaking her mind, and viewed others injustices as if a person assault against her. Although it was in her nature to be kind, she didn't have the luxury of revealing it to others very often. Many did not like her & still supported the late Queen Catherine of Aragon. 

She was very independent and relied on her own intuition for counsel. She was a well-developed woman and quite skilled in politics. At first Henry liked this, but quickly grew to despise her for it. 

To those who didn't know her well, she was accused of being cold and calculating. But underneath her facade, to those who knew her, she was filled with compassion and sensitivity, unless you were her sister and married without her permission. lol 

She had dark hair, with equally dark eyes, and although quite plain she had a presence about her that would compel people to bow to her even if she were not a Queen. 

Anne was an unlikely match for Henry when considering the circumstances, and when the haze of love began to wear off, her faults were apparent to him. Their first child was not a boy. She dared to argue with him and be upset with him for sleeping with other women. Upon his waking, he realized that he had lost international credibility and became a laughingstock because of his feeling for her. He felt he was bewitched, and he let his paranoia get the better of him. 

Anne's strong will and authoritative personality were no longer admired but loathed by her husband, so he quickly plotted her downfall so that he could take another bride and have the son that he so desperately needed.

Even in her speech upon the scaffold, she upheld her dignity and only said the things that would be in her daughters best interest. I can not imagine how hard it must have been for her to leave behind an infant daughter with a man who was capable of loving his wife one day, and cutting her head off the next.

If I were to ask Anne a question it would be, Queen Anne, if you had it to over again, what would you have done differently?

2 of Wands - This card tells me that she definitely wishes that she could have been more prepared. There were times that she felt so secure in her realm that she never thought about her prospects of falling from Henry's grace. And when she did finally think about it, it was too late.

The Hermit - This card tells me that she would be more humble if given the chance to do things differently. Now in spirit, she realizes that she wasn't untouchable and that speaking her mind wasn't always the better thing to do. She underestimated Henry.

10 of Wands - This card is all about Anne's resentments. She wishes that she would have picked her battles more wisely instead of arguing about everything that upset her. Playing Superwoman and trying to manipulate the outcome of everything was clearly too much for her to handle, and ultimately led to her demise. Henry was the wind, and she was holding on to too many umbrellas! 

* Another sigh, and frowny face. :( * I am adding a small bit of a letter from Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII during her imprisonment in the Tower. It was found in Thomas Cromwell's things, and probably never made it to the King himself. This small piece again shows another woman's devotion to Henry, as well as a plea for him to show compassion for another one of his children in the absence of their mother.

6 May 1536
.... You have chosen me, from a low Estate, to be your Queen and Companion, far beyond my Desert or Desire. If then you found me worthy of such Honour, Good your Grace, let not any light Fancy, or bad Counsel of mine Enemies, withdraw your Princely Favour from me; neither let that Stain, that unworthy Stain of a Disloyal Heart towards your good Grace, ever cast so foul a Blot on your most Dutiful Wife, and the Infant Princess your Daughter: Elizabeth. ....

Henry's third wife was Jane Seymour. I might get some flack for this, but the card I pick to represent her is The Star. I pick this card for several reasons, let me explain.

I do not see Jane as the woman who stole Henry away from Anne, like many obsessive Anne Boleyn fans do. If I were to do that, than I'd have to then look at Anne as the woman who stole him away from his first wife!

Instead I see Jane as Henry's hope. After 29 years of being King of England, she is the one who finally gave him the son that he had longed for. This is worthy of recognition. She gave Henry cause to take heart, be at peace and know that all was well. 

She was Henry's star. She offered him a place of renewal and healing. She was plain, and completely natural in her skin. She didn't try to be someone she was not, nor did she cause him friction and upset. She loved Henry for who he was and the mere presence of her put him at rest. 

She was spiritual and had compassion for others. Unlike Anne, she chose her battles and rarely spoke out of turn. Don't mistake this for weakness either, because it takes a very intelligent, strong willed woman to bite her tongue in most circumstances. 

Although she sought the King's favor and was a political pawn in her families desires, she did bravely seek pardon for those involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1536. But after this she remained mindful of the fate of Henry's first two wives, and retired quietly in a more subservient manor. 

Sadly, Jane was a victim of her time. Twelve days after the birth of their son, poor hygiene and doctors lacking in medical knowledge could not stop her childbed fever, and she died. Her untimely death and her gentle character had an enduring hold on Henry's memory. She was given a solemn state funeral. The king wore black until well into 1538 and waited more than two years to marry again.

If I were to ask a question I would ask: Queen Jane, what was your biggest fear as Henry's wife?

The Star - How ironic is that? The Star shows up, symbolizing to me that she has literally heard my questions. :) She feared not fulfilling Henry's wish of having a son. 

The Lovers - This card tells me that she also feared losing Henry's love. She witnessed his first two marriages and feared that it too could happen to her.

5 of Swords - This card tells me that she was afraid to disappoint Henry. I think also she feared her families ambitions, and the gossip of those around her who disapproved of her being Queen. Ultimately she didn't want to fall from grace. I can only imagine her relief to have given birth to a son!

I am adding this letter that was found from Jane to Henry informing him of the birth of their son Edward.

“Trusty and welbiloved we grete you well. And forasmuche as by the inestimable goodnes and grace of Almighty god we be delivred and brought in child Bed of a Prince conceyved in moost Lawfull Matrimonie betwebe my lord the Kinges Majestye and us.”


Henry's fourth wife was Anne of Cleves. He sent his artist to paint a picture of her so that he could decide whether or not he wanted to marry her, and it has been said that the portrait was not painted to her true image. So when Henry showed up to surprise his soon to be wife, he was in for a shock. Personally, I believe that she was one of the most beautiful of all of them, and that he was just disappointed because she did not recognize him upon his arrival and even seemed appalled by him. It was a shot to his ego.

I chose the Ace of Pentacles to represent Anne because she was smart enough to let Henry annul their marriage, and view it as a fresh new start. Henry was grateful for her cooperation and granted her a generous income and several homes, including Hever Castle. Anne enjoyed an independent lifestyle denied most women, often visiting Henry's court as an honored guest. She improved her status without becoming an emotional heap of a woman. For this she has earned my greatest respect. 

If I were to ask her a question it would be: Queen Anne, what did you truly think of Henry?

Knight of Cups - This card to me represents that she seen Henry as a bit of a dreamer, and a man who was in love with the idea of love. It also speaks of mood swings, and someone who swims against the tide. He was charming and offered an environment of merriment. She liked this about him.

9 of Pentacles - She was thankful for all the generosity that Henry showed to her, but never forgot that he could take it away as quickly as he gave it to her. 

The Sun - All in all, she viewed Henry as a good friend. She had much gratitude toward him and cared for him in deepest sincerity. 

A letter from Anne of Cleves to Henry in response to his wish to annul their marriage. You can hear in the letter her careful choice of words and intellect. 

Pleaseth your most excellent majesty to understand that, whereas, at sundry times heretofore, I have been informed and perceived by certain lords and others your grace's council, of the doubts and questions which have been moved and found in our marriage; and how hath petition thereupon been made to your highness by your nobles and commons, that the same might be examined and determined by the holy clergy of this realm; to testify to your highness by my writing, that which I have before promised by my word and will, that is to say, that the matter should be examined and determined by the said clergy; it may please your majesty to know that, though this case must needs be most hard and sorrowful unto me, for the great love which I bear to your most noble person, yet, having more regard to God and his truth than to any worldly affection, as it beseemed me, at the beginning, to submit me to such examination and determination of the said clergy, whom I have and do accept for judges competent in that behalf. So now being ascertained how the same clergy hath therein given their judgment and sentence, I acknowledge myself hereby to accept and approve the same, wholly and entirely putting myself, for my state and condition, to your highness' goodness and pleasure; most humbly beseeching your majesty that, though it be determined that the pretended matrimony between us is void and of none effect, whereby I neither can nor will repute myself for your grace's wife, considering this sentence (whereunto I stand) and your majesty's clean and pure living with me, yet it will please you to take me for one of your humble servants, and so determine of me, as I may sometimes have the fruition of your most noble presence; which as I shall esteem for a great benefit, so, my lords and others of your majesty's council, now being with me, have put me in comfort thereof; and that your highness will take me for your sister; for the which I most humbly thank you accordingly.

Thus, most gracious prince, I beseech our Lord God to send your majesty long life and good health, to God's glory, your own honor, and the wealth of this noble realm.

From Richmond, the 11th day of July, the 32nd year of your majesty's most noble reign.
Your majesty's most humble sister and servant, Anne the daughter of Cleves.

Catherine Howard was Henry's fifth wife. I really struggled with choosing a card for her. My first thought was 'The Fool,' but then recanted thinking that might be a little harsh. I have been reading a lot about her and am trying to see her in a different light than the normal stereotypical way. I have to remember that she lived in a different time than I do, and things were different back then, but not so different that I can't imagine a young girl being sexually exploited.

Raised in the permissive household of her grandmother, she was a flirtatious and emotional girl who rarely understood the consequences of her actions. She made the mistake of continuing her girlish indiscretions as Queen, and just seventeen months after marrying the King, she was arrested for adultery. 

I have chosen for her The Hanged Man because I truly believe that she had little say over her life. I am beginning to believe that she was abused by those who were suppose to have her best interest at heart. Her sexual explorations were more than likely not voluntary, especially because of the way her alleged childhood love Francis Dereham acted once he arrived at the court. His personality was dominating and aggressive. I feel that any sexual encounters with him were probably forced on her or done in manipulation. I also believe this of her sexual encounter before Dereham. Mannox was her music teacher, much older than her and in a position to control her. She was only about twelve years old.

Another reason I have chosen The Hanged Man is because she was in-between the life she had growing up and the one that the King raised her up into. She enjoyed lavish clothing and gifts from the King, but still sought after the love & proper affections that she never had growing up. It was quite natural to be attracted to younger men, being that the age difference between her and Henry was pretty significant. Who knows if he were even able to perform sexually by then?! Catherine never became pregnant, so it is a possibility.

In her end, she admitted to her guilt of having sexual relations before her marriage to the King and surrendered to her fate. A sad thing to be executed for actions before her relationship with the King, especially since she had been so young and easily manipulated by those much older than her. 

If I were to ask Catherine a question it would be : How did you truly feel about Henry?

5 of Wands - This card to me stands for unrequited passion between them. Perhaps Henry wasn't able to perform in the bedroom; at least this is what I am getting from this card. She had unsatisfied desires. He was much older than she was by this time, and it was very possible.

The Chariot - This card to me represents that Catherine thought Henry was a bit hasty in his decision to have her executed. He had a very perplexed personality and she feels that he easily let others persuade him. His moods were too shifty.

6 of Wands - With this card Catherine's spirit says that Henry stood out in a crowd, and he himself was bigger than life. He was an ambitious man, and commanded the respect of others. He had great pride and wanted to be remembered as a great leader. He had little room for silliness. 

With that said, here is part of a confession from Catherine concerning Francis Dereham. Although we do not know his age at the time, we do know that he was older than Catherine, and it is plain from her words that she was not his only 'wife.' (toy)

“Examined whether I called him Husband, and he me Wife.— I do Answer, that there was Communication in the House that we
Two should Marry together ; and some of his Enemies had Envy thereat, wherefore he desired me to give him Leave to call me Wife, and that I would call him Husband. And I said I was content. And so after that, commonly he called me VVife, and many times I called him Husband. And he used many Times to Kiss me, and so he did to many other commonly in the House…

As for Carnall Knowledge, I confess as I did before, that diverse Times he hath lyen with me, sometimes in his Doublet and Hose, and Two or Thre Times naked : But not so naked that he had nothing upon him, for he had al wayes at the least his Doublet, and as I do think, his Hose also, but I mean naked when his Hose were putt down. And diverse Times he would bring Wine, Strawberryes, Apples, and other Things to make good Chear, after my lady was gone to Bed.”

Henry's sixth and final wife was Katherine Parr. The card that I have chosen to represent Katherine is Strength. 

She was already twice widowed, and childless by the time she married Henry. She was an admirable wife to Henry and a loving stepmother to his two youngest children; Elizabeth and Edward.

She had great compassion and understanding as Henry's Queen, and he even appointed her his Regent during his military campaign in Boulogne. 

She was also very courageous and used her intellect to talk her way out of turbulent religious scrutiny. Her greatest achievements in life were devotional writings that were bestsellers in the 16th century. She also outlived the King, and married another for love.

If I were to ask Katherine a question it would be: When Thomas Seymour (your last husband) began to act inappropriately with princess Elizabeth, how did this make you feel toward him? What is your view of what was really going on between them?

7 of Wands - This card tells me that Thomas was testing his limits with Elizabeth as well as Katherine herself. He was acting precariously and putting all of them in danger.

Judgment - This card suggests that Katherine put her foot down and made him accountable for his actions. This caused great conflict between them, and she found it hard to forgive him.

4 of Wands - She tried her best to give Elizabeth stability and a chance at a happy home life. Unfortunately Thomas was all about personal gratification. 

Hierophant - This card tells me that Katherine stepped in at just the right moment and was able to save Elizabeth's virtue. Elizabeth was sent away to one of her own estates. This was the only way that Katherine knew how to protect her. 

Before sending Elizabeth away, she summoned her and as tradition has it she told Elizabeth, "God has given you great qualities. Cultivate them always, and labour to improve them, for I believe you are destined by Heaven to be Queen of England."

I feel very strongly that Katherine loved Henry's children as her own, and she helped pave the way to Elizabeth's greatness. I'd stand against anyone who claimed different. ;)


King Henry VIII is my Tower card. I picked The Tower to represent him for many reasons.

The first reason being because at age 18 he was crowned the King and he was physically magnificent with more enthusiasm and energy than most of his contemporaries. 

He enjoyed dancing and entertainment. He held countless banquets and tournaments. He enjoyed all physical activities and excelled at most of them. Hunting, archery, tennis, jousting - the king made his court into an endless round of competition and celebration. A true Renaissance King.

He turned his world upside down to divorce his first wife and marry his second. It was unlike any King before him. His personal and political decisions were always grandiose, melodramatic, and played for great effect. What better card to represent him?

Not to mention, all those that came close to him were exposed to sudden upheaval and life changing events. His moods shifted like the wind and his temper exploded like a volcano at different times.

If I were to ask Henry a question, I would have to ask how he felt about each of his wives. So I will draw six cards, one for each of them while asking him this very question. :)

Queen Katherine of Aragon
Wheel of Fortune - I feel that this card is coming up to show that Henry sees Katherine as a special gain but an unusual loss. I think he regrets what happened between them, and is feeling lucky that she stood by him for better and for worse. His spirit can now appreciate her for that.

Queen Anne Boleyn
The Empress - I feel that this card is coming up to show that Henry sees Anne as very resourceful, level headed and charismatic woman. He thought she was beautiful and captivating but a bit more than he could handle. She was the mountain that he needed to conquer and his spirit feels like he accomplished what he set out to do.

Queen Jane Seymour
Queen of Cups - If you look at the woman in this card, her eyes are very captivating. I think that Henry's spirit is telling me that he loved her eyes, and felt that he could see her soul through them. She was his beloved, his friend and the woman who gave him a son. He sees her as a devoted wife who had the same visions and dreams that he did. He liked best that she was emotionally stable compare to the first two wives.

Queen Anne of Cleves
2 of Wands - I see this card as Henry telling me that he thinks Anne was a mature woman who was in harmony with the Universe. She was content with what he offered to her, and was a cooperative partner. He also felt that she did a fine job of holding her own and was geared and ready for whatever life sent her way. A real team player.

Queen Catherine Howard
Queen of Pentacles - This card tells me that Henry thinks Catherine was easily distracted by the promise of material gain. He felt she was dimwitted and could have made a better life for herself if she had not had her head in the clouds. His spirit tells me that she was beautiful but blind. (I can feel his resentment)

Queen Katherine Parr
9 of Pentacles - This card tells me that Henry thinks that Katherine was very balanced and made the best of her complex life. Her personal life and her spiritual life were well-developed. He thinks that they worked well together in creating harmony in the realm. His spirit tells me that she was refined and graceful and offered him loyalty and much comfort at the end of his days. 

I think that all the cards that came up for these questions were remarkably accurate with how I would have thought the answers to be. This was very time consuming, but a lot of fun. I hope you have enjoyed my blog. Stop by and visit again soon. Become a follower if it so moves you. Blessed Samhain! 


  1. This was a really interesting read, I enjoyed it a lot. I've always been intrigued by Henry VIII and his many wives. I really like what you had to say about Anne of Cleves probably being the fairest of them all, but Henry being off-put by her own reaction to him! :)

    1. :) TY for your kind words. Each of them has taken up a big space in my life. I love history. Anne of Cleves walked away like a boss lol

  2. What a great read - thank you for sharing this. I too was fascinated by Henry and his wives, and also with Elizabeth Tudor, and read all I could about them - years ago. I've really enjoyed revisiting them through your spread.

  3. thank you for your kind words, it was fun!

  4. What an interesting time in history! Thanks for sharing your insights, and readings :) I never really thought of Henry as young and dashing, given I've only seen pictures of him much older. And as you say, Anne of Cleves seems to have done best out of marrying him - lol.

  5. :) The twenty something Henry VIII was tall, muscle-bound and supremely fit - a talented athlete and a courageous jouster at the grand tournaments of the age.

    His armour from that period reveals some impressive dimensions: a 32in waist and a 39in chest.
    According to the Venetian Ambassador, he was 'the handsomest potentate I ever set eyes on, with an extremely fine calf to his leg . . . and a round face so very beautiful that it would become a pretty woman'.
    But not even Henry, who believed himself directly favored by God, could stay young for ever.

    1. Hmm, that Venetian Ambassador admiring his calf ;)
      As for staying young for ever, only Dorian Gray...

  6. Wow! You certainly had a field day with this one :) Great post.

  7. I've been a "fan" of the Tudors for many years; great post on their relationships and personalities, as well as the cool messages they left us through the Tarot. Excellent interpretations as well. Really enjoyed this!

  8. Most enjoyable. I really liked the letters you shared. They are such an intimate look into the lives of others, aren't they.

  9. Ah, but how did the wives all get on together at your tea party? ;)
    The sad thing about Henry is that he became a victim of his own excesses with nobody to rein him in. I wonder how different things would have been if he'd had a son with Catherine of Aragon.

  10. Thank you Arwen. Very intimate. Reading them takes me back in time. :) Yes, I too wonder that Ania! :)