If you thought yesterday's sarcophagus card was grim, then hoo boy, do I have a card for you today.

Today's cards are the Empress and the Eight of Swords.

Tarot cards depicting a crowned woman on a throne, and a blindfolded, bound figure surrounded by swords.

This is an execution, right? It's definitely an execution.

On the left, we have the person passing judgment: the Empress. If you give that card a good long look, you'll see that the words "wealthy and powerful" are an understatement. She has comfy cushions, a beautiful robe, a crown of stars and a solid gold karaoke microphone. In the background, they've diverted the course of a river just so she can have cool running water at her fingertips. A field of golden wheat has magically sprung up at her feet. Someone has given her a box of Valentine's chocolates--not the commonplace red cardboard boxes you or I would get, but a box made out of platinum with a light-up logo.

And on the right is someone tied up in the mud behind a fence of tall sharp swords.

Above the bound figure, a silent sky. The Empress raises a hand. It's about to happen.

Does the prisoner deserve it?

Maybe so. I mean, maybe their crime was just forgetting to charge the battery in the Empress's light-up chocolate box, but maybe they did something horrible. Contemptible. Irredeemable. Maybe they earned a place in that muddy field. Maybe they do deserve it.

And if you had to choose to be in the position of one of these cards, it's an easy choice, right? Who wouldn't want to be the Empress? You can just feel that she's the kind of person who always finds a parking spot right away and never has to circle the block. When the repair company calls her to say they'll come by between twelve and four, they're out there at 12:01. Whenever she goes into a McDonalds to order a frappe, the machine is always full and in perfect working order.

But there's a cost for that kind of privilege. Who pays it? Who dug the channel to redirect that river so it would trickle gently at the Empress's left hand? Were they paid well? Was anyone hurt? Did they at least get some of the chocolate?

What did the Empress do to get where she is? Good things? Bad things?

We're talking the kind of wealth that would make Scrooge McDuck blush. Stratospheric, continent-shifting, history-rewriting wealth. Can anyone ever really, honestly, earn that?

Does she deserve it?

The difference between an empress and a prisoner can be as slight as the flip of a coin or the turn of a card, my friends. Whether you're a Cameron or a Ferris might not be in your control.

Just don't be a Mr. Rooney, dear readers.

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