Warn the Protagonist, giving BLACK SWAN’s main character a tarot reading

Author’s Note: I’m playing around with an idea I had a few weeks ago. If this post gets 10 likes, I’ll follow through with the second portion of it. It’s a mystery! 😘 But hit like if you enjoy this!

Ever wonder what kind of tarot reading your favorite main character would receive before their film starts? What would their tarot reader warn them about?

Black Swan came out in 2010, starring Natalia Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel, and Winona Ryder. Natalie is our fragile yet determined main character, Nina Sayers. If you’ve seen the film, you know that Nina is troubled, suffering from an eating disorder and an undiagnosed mental illness. You could argue that her obvious perfectionism comes from suppressed childhood abuse. I suspected that her mother was the root of the problem, but her father’s absence also prompts a few questions.

I suggest watching the film before reading any further. There are spoilers below.

But first, let’s examine Nina’s core problem and her motives.

I think Nina’s mother is the reason for all of Nina’s issues. We only see her eat one grapefuit, which suggests she has anorexia nervosa. Normally, I wouldn’t be so sure of this if Nina wasn’t a dancer. I know the dancing industry is ruthless on the body, and even harder on some minds, like Nina’s. Still though, Nina is a grown woman, even if she is emotionally stunted. She is still her own enemy, and we see this play out as the film goes on.

When the company’s artistic director announces that the ballerinas will be performing Swan Lake, we watch Nina become determined, strengthened by the need to make her mother proud of her. Nina needs to be perfect, and how else can she begin to prove this to herself than by winning the lead role of the play? Some people cope with abuse by focusing all of their attention on one thing. This is how we see some prolific readers, dedicated actors, driven football players, etc. in middle school and high school. They need a distraction. So, if we keep this in mind, it makes sense that once Nina wins the role, the pressure is on. She starts to slip.

I’m going to “pull” some cards for Nina, as if I was able to jump into the film and warn her ahead of time, before Thomas, her director, made the announcement.

Moon, reversed

The Moon reversed means that Nina does not know what she is truly seeing in front of her. In this case, the Moon represents the maternal influence in Nina’s life, obviously her mother. We can interpret this in a few ways:

  1. Nina’s mom does not have her best interests at heart even though she is acting like she does.
  2. Nina’s grip on sanity is slipping, since the moon can also represent reality.
  3. There is something Nina doesn’t know.

Regarding #1: Mom tries to prevent Nina from going out with Lily, and we get the sense that this isn’t the first time she has attempted to do so. Maybe the first time in a while, though. When Nina’s mom brings Nina an entire cake to celebrate, Nina shies away from it. I suspected it was her eating disorder at first, but after watching the film again, I realized that maybe this was an innocent moment with her mom . . . until she threatens to throw the cake away. The emotional abuse is obvious, but only this once. Nina backtracks and eats the cake, and the whole situation feels icky.

Regarding #2: The moon and sun never change. They always look “the same”, never change color, stuff like that. Near the end of the film, Nina starts hallucinating that her mother’s drawings could talk and that she attacked and killed Lily in her dressing room. However, she doesn’t panic. This is her night. So what does she do? She hides Lily’s body. Interestingly enough, after she goes on stage and transforms into the Black Swam, she comes back to her dressing room to find that Lily’s body is gone.

Regarding #3: Can we assume at this point that Nina is mentally ill? Yes. But does Nina know? Her mother tries to lock her in her room to keep her from going to perform, saying that Nina “is not well.” It’s safe to assume Nina had no idea what was going on, but her quick acceptance of the chaos is a little suspicious. Like how easily she hid Lily’s body. That concerned me, but the show must go on, right?

4 of Swords, reversed

When I see this card, I know that my client is fatigued. Their mind is tired. They are mentally exhausted and need to rest. They should set down whatever has them so stressed out and take a break form it. Schedule purposeful downtime so they can come back to it with a fresh head. However, with Nina, her mind is on overdrive. Her mother was right. Nina wasn’t well and she needed to rest, but she refused to. I suppose you could also interpret this card to mean an incoming mental breakdown if you don’t get it together, if you read this with an upright 9 of Swords.

9 of Swords

Like I said, an incoming mental breakdown. This card means my client is full of anxiety. They’re not eating, not sleeping well. They are pushing their mind to its limit, and we see this with Nina. She practices her routine late at night and for hours after rehearsal is over. My favorite comedic moment Black Swan gave us was when the pianist left Nina to practice alone, saying, “I have a life.” This remark only shows that Nina is obsessed with being perfect.

10 of Wands

This card means that Nina is at her wit’s end. Her creative energy is depleted. She really needs to take on the energy of the 4 of Swords and lay down. But she won’t. We know she doesn’t. But I’m certain Nina would receive this card in a reading. Usually when I see this card, I tell my client to see if they can get someone to help them carry the load. If I knew Nina was this obsessed and mentally unwell, I would tell her to limit how much she practices and ask Lily to hold her accountable. There is a way to keep your spirits high, your work ethic strong, and still deliver a good performance. But Nina wouldn’t have listened to me. And Lily might have tried to say Nina was too sick to perform at all, so . . .


Besides the fact that Nina appears to die at the end of the film, the hallucinations and stress have killed a part of Nina by the end. She is no longer the White Swan she was at the beginning. I would hope that Nina enjoyed dancing before she was chosen to be the Swan Queen. Once the film is over, you are left with a feeling that Nina will never be the same again, dead or alive. If I was her reader, I would warn her that she is going down a dark path and that she needs to consider the cost of what she wants. But also: eating disorders can create permanent damage, if I read this card literally.

Overall, this reading warns Nina that becoming the Swan Queen isn’t sunshine and rainbows. It takes sacrifice to be perfect, and Nina would be willing to do almost anything.

Do you think Nina dies at the end of Black Swan? How do you feel about this tarot spread? Leave your thoughts below!

P. S. – I do not mean to be dismissive of mental illness and the struggles it brings. I know all too well that it is no laughing matter. I wrote this article and others like it for entertainment purposes only. The explanations of the cards shown here are based on my experiences and opinion. Yes, all of the tarot cards have their own “definitions”, but they are open to interpretation, and I decided to share a few of mine with you.