swords

Tarot Talk

September, 2018

Four of Swords

(The Four of Swords card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

We haven’t spoken about the Fours of the Minor Arcana in a while. This month we will talk about the Four of Swords, and remind ourselves of what happens to the energies of a card when we move forward from the Three.

The Four of Swords is a Minor Arcana card, so as we know, the message offered by this card will most likely be more immediate in nature, or will most likely be connected to more day-to-day issues. The easiest way to get a decent understanding of a Minor Arcana card is to examine its number, or in the case of Court Cards, its rank, and to examine its suit. In this case, we are dealing with the number 4, and the suit of Swords. These two ingredients alone could actually give us enough information about this one card to offer a useful interpretation, and we have other things to consider, too. Let’s begin our examination of this card.

The traditional image of the Four of Swords is of a knight laying on a bed with his hands in prayer position. There is a stained glass window in the background depicting a sacred image, as well as three swords hanging on the wall; the fourth sword is on the side of the bed. The knight’s helm is down, so we can’t tell if he is sleeping or meditating or dead. Some versions of this image actually show a coffin with the reclining knight sculpted on the lid. Another version of the Four of Swords shows a man reclining on the ground with his back against a rock (a very grounded image) and his sword laying by his side; behind him is a large Mullein plant (representing focus and grounding) and three other swords. Still another version shows the four swords grounded (points inserted into the ground), with a person laying on the four hilts with his face pointing toward the blue sky with its fluffy white clouds. There is stillness to these images (as if the figure is deep within a meditation or out-of-body experience) and a sense of deliberate solitude, and the sacred.

The suit of Swords corresponds with the element of Air, the Spades of playing cards, the direction of East and the color of yellow; Swords cards usually tell of some focused intent to bring forth a manifestation, or a struggle and then an outcome. Swords cards are about purposeful and deliberate actions and the thoughts, intentions or beliefs behind them. Swords cards and the effects they describe are sourced from within us; they teach us that we create our own reality from our expectations. The Swords cards give hints as to our mental state, the beliefs we have, and actions we choose to take in response to effects around us. A Sword has two edges, a perfect metaphor for this suit, which can represent attacking or defending, logic or aggression. The Swords cards also represent an opportunity to feel more empowered; self-empowerment happens when we successfully deal with challenges, but self-empowerment can be dangerous if it is not balanced with a bit of humility.

The element of Air corresponds with truth, clarity, and our capacity to analyze or apply logic. Air also represents the intelligence that clears away the fog of ignorance so we can clearly see and understand, and it supports communications and sounds of all kinds. Air allows both expression (out from within us) and hearing (in from outside of us) to happen. This information applies to all the Swords cards in the Minor Arcana, including our Nine of Swords.

The number 4 is about solidification, discipline, balance, authority figures, a foundation being created, calmness, caution, being steady or difficult to shake up. There are four points to a compass, so the number 4 can represent everything around us as it is right now. If we remember that the number 3 usually represents the creation of something new, or the making real of concepts or understandings presented by the number 2, then we can see that the number 4 brings depth or solidity to that creation. On the negative side, the number 4 can represent energies that are slow and plodding, too conservative, averse to change, or suspicious.

Within the Tarot, the Fours represent the concept of the cube, very stable and hard to tip over; here we have the pause that allows us to take a breath after activating the potential of the Ace through the partnership of the Two in order to manifest the creation of the Three. Briefly, we have the potential to experience potent ideas, thoughts and the ability to reason (the Ace of Swords), the power to focus inward and shut out distractions (the Two of Swords), and the perception of personal isolation and heartbreak that can be created by focusing solely on logic and analysis without including partnerships and interactions (the Three of Swords). The Four of Swords offers a “time out,” a period of healing before renewed efforts.

The astrological correspondence for the Four of Swords offers us a bit more depth of understanding; the Four of Swords represents the planet Jupiter when it is in the astrological sign of Libra.

In Roman mythology, Jupiter is the ruler, guardian and protector of the gods. Similarly, the planet Jupiter is in many ways the ruler of our solar system. Some astronomers believe that Jupiter with its massive gravity actually protects the rest of our solar system by attracting or deflecting comets and asteroids that might otherwise threaten Earth. Like passions and emotions, Jupiter is brightly colored and covered with large and intense storms; the planet is symbolized by a lightning bolt. Astrologically, Jupiter is associated with growth, expansion, prosperity, freedom, exploration, and good fortune. Jupiter is connected to long distance and foreign travel, higher education, religion, all humanitarian pursuits, and the law (and its role as a protector of society). Jupiter is also associated with gambling and merrymaking.

Libras are usually very focused on the people around them, and how they interact with those people. Libras are true team players, concerned with balance and cooperation, with fairness to everyone. Libras always put their minds to good use, considering and balancing carefully before choosing a course that brings the highest good to all. Because Libra is Cardinal Air, this sign initiates through new ideas, and by being a balancing force among people. Libra is about partnerships, and about a focus on other people rather than just on the self. Libras are most happy when they are paired up with another, and they are good at partnerships of all kinds. Balance is important to Libras, too, and they don’t like conflict. Libra corresponds with the planet Venus and with the element of Air. They use the intellect and their ability to communicate to form those partnerships and to maintain harmony.

When Jupiter is in Libra, matters focused on equality, liberty and balance are of importance. The energies associated with Jupiter, expansion, growth and good fortune, harmonize with the traits of the sign of Libra, partnerships and collaborations, and bring us balance, harmony and equality, a good foundation for building on and improving all kinds of relationships. Communication between groups and people will be positive and beneficial, and patience, compassion, empathy and an effort toward manifesting the highest good for all are possibilities for the future. This combination does not necessarily create passion, but cool, calm and collected is a good state of mind in which to be.

The Fours have a place on the Tree of Life of the Qabalah; they are found in the sephira of Chesed in the middle of the Pillar of Force/Expansion. This sephira is seen as the place of both expansion and stability. Chesed represents Mercy and tells us that love cannot happen without understanding. Chesed also represents the concept of authority, which brings the danger of self-righteousness and at the same time offers us the opportunity to learn humility.

The Wild Unknown Four of Swords shows a lamb with a brightly-glowing third eye chakra, all curled up and serene beneath four Swords hanging point-down above him. This tender, untried youth is resting below four Swords hanging precariously above him, and yet he does not appear frightened. He is alert, so he knows those Swords are there even though he does not even spare them a glance, but he is not even prepared to run should they come loose. Perhaps his stillness is part of his protection. It is as if he is keeping those Swords up there with his serenity, his stillness, his awareness of what is going on around him, and his belief, his mental force . . . his Will!

The Thoth Tarot Four of Swords is called “Truce”; the original name for this card was “Lord of Rest from Strife.” Crowley states that Swords are weapons, and weapons are connected to the discipline of war, not of peace. Thus, while equilibrium and justice are a part of this card, the “truce” being represented in the Thoth Tarot Four of Swords is a peace enforced by the threat of violence, a mutual deterrence. That kind of peace is not usually lasting.

The Llewllyn Welsh Four of Swords shows a woman warrior, resting with her hair streaming under her head, her eyes closed, and her mouth slightly open, with her white dog asleep beside her. In the background are four Swords floating above her, holding up a curtain that shields her, and a tree with naked branches whose trunk appears to be echoing the position of Christ after death on the cross. The card represents a vigil, withdrawal and silence, asylum, finding sanctuary, and a deathlike phase in life which incubates future dreams.

The Legacy of the Divine Four of Swords shows a man asleep, floating above a bed of four Swords with points facing downward, representing an inward focus. Behind him is a round stained glass window through which light shines faintly as if from the moon; upon that window is the Greek symbol for Christ. A hawk flies above the sleeping form, dropping a red rose, representing life, and a white rose, representing death. The card represents the need for recuperation, inactivity, physical healing, and distance from the stresses and responsibilities of life.

Our first three Swords cards, the Ace, Two and Three of Swords, have caused an imbalance that often creates the perception of being harmed. The Four of Swords can represent a pause or truce or mutual deterrent, or a time of silence and isolation used to prepare for challenges to come. Often it is necessary to take a moment to absorb what has happened thus far within our current situation, and this card offers that valuable pause. The truce represented by the Four of Swords does not happen due to weakness, but rather through a conscious and deliberate choice and through a balance of power. After all, the truce is “supported” by Swords, the suit of the intellect. This moment spent in limbo is not a surrender, but rather it gives us the opportunity to heal and rejuvenate, so we can once again face the challenges of the day with renewed optimism and focus.

** We Feature the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk. You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/.

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding

Tarot Talk

August, 2018

The Nine of Swords

(The Nine of Swords card is from the artist Ciro Marchetti http://www.ciromarchetti.com/)**

We haven’t talked about the Minor Arcana Nines for quite some time. This month, we will examine the Nine of Swords. Comparing cards and their individual meanings is valuable throughout the study of the Tarot, but this process is particularly useful when looking at the Swords cards. If you remember, I stated in past columns that in my opinion the Five of Swords and Seven of Swords are sometimes not easy to tell apart. Understanding these two cards and their differences helps us in part to understand the Nine of Swords and all of its potential effects within a reading. You know by now my method for dealing with this issue: break the cards down to their most basic ingredients. Let’s get started.

The traditional image of the Nine of Swords shows a person sitting up in bed, appearing to have been woken from sleep, with hands over face, ears, or across the chest; sometimes the person appears to be in agony. Above and behind the person are nine Swords, sometimes arranged like a wall or blind, sometimes all pointing toward the person or away from the person, sometimes crossing each other. I saw one card image that showed the points alternating, one to the right, then to the left, then to the right, and so on, cancelling each other out. No matter where those Swords are arranged, they at least appear threatening to the person in the image. The traditional images on the Five and Seven of Swords show Swords being held in the hand, or grounded (point in the ground); while there is still a bit of an appearance of threat, the figure in each of those images has at least partial control over the Swords, unlike the images from our Nine of Swords.

The suit of Swords corresponds with the element of Air, the Spades of playing cards, the direction of East and the color of yellow; Swords cards usually tell of some focused intent to bring forth a manifestation, or a struggle and then an outcome. Swords cards are about purposeful and deliberate actions and the thoughts, intentions or beliefs behind them. Swords cards and the effects they describe are sourced from within us; they teach us that we create our own reality from our expectations. The Swords cards give hints as to our mental state, the beliefs we have, and actions we take in response to effects around us. A Sword has two edges, a perfect metaphor for this suit, which can represent attacking or defending, logic or aggression. The Swords cards also represent an opportunity to feel more empowered; self-empowerment happens when we successfully deal with challenges, but self-empowerment can be dangerous if it is not balanced with a bit of humility.

The element of Air corresponds with truth, clarity, and our capacity to analyze or apply logic. Air also represents the intelligence that clears away the fog of ignorance so we can clearly see and understand, and it supports communications and sounds of all kinds. Air allows both expression (out from within us) and hearing (in from outside of us) to happen. This information applies to all the Swords cards in the Minor Arcana, including our Nine of Swords.

Astrology is a tool that can offer subtle differences for us to consider. The Nine of Swords brings us to consider Mars (action, spontaneity, aggression, drive) when it is in the astrological sign of Gemini (“I think,” curious, talkative, social, dual).

Gemini is about communication of all kinds, and about collecting information and stimulating the mind. Geminis are a mix of yin and yang, and they can easily see both sides of an issue. They are very practical; they are adaptable and flexible but they can also tend toward being wishy-washy, and they are not always good at following through to the end of a project. Gemini is all about the intellect, the mind, and the thinking process. They think clearly and make use of logic, and they can be real good at seeing the big picture. Gemini rules the nervous system, and calmness is a quality they need to cultivate. They love to play, love to share their fun and their ideas with others, and they love adventures that stimulate the mind.

Mars is known as the “Red Planet,” and is about energy, passion, drive and determination, all fiery personality traits. Mars is associated with confidence and self-assertion, aggression, sexuality, energy, strength, ambition and impulsiveness. Mars governs sports, competitions and physical activities in general. Mars is commanding, confident, and powerful, asking us to stand up and be noticed without fear. Ambition and competition are also associated with this planet; Mars encourages us to face challenges and to be our best with honor. Mars rules our sexuality and sexual energy, and governs weapons, accidents and surgery. It’s important to note that Mars’s energy can be constructive or destructive; the key is to use the energy of Mars in a proper manner.

When Mars is located in the sign of Gemini, the drive and passion of Mars can get a bit scattered due to the influence of mutable Gemini and its duality. When there is a long To-Do list of things to be done, this combination can be effective and enthusiastic, but with not enough to keep busy, the energies of Mars in Gemini create lethargy, restlessness, and boredom. Words, the power of words and the effects of words, are a focus, tool, and sometimes a weapon. This combination creates enthusiastic communication, and perhaps angry and hurtful statements. These energies are good at multi-tasking, dealing with change, and manifesting new and exciting ideas into reality, but you may need to depend on others to help bring projects to completion.

The Tree of Life offers further insight. All of the Nines of the Tarot Minor Arcana correspond to the sephira (or sphere) of Yesod (which is known as “Foundation”). Yesod is the first sphere out of (and the last sphere into) the sephira that represents the physical world, Malkuth. Yesod is about things such as emotions and feelings, which are directly connected to our physical existence but are not actually physical themselves. Yesod is the home of our life force, our personality, and the Self; it is also the home of the Dark Night of the Soul and all of its doubts and challenges. It is only above Yesod that the Tree begins to branch out. This reminds us that emotions and feelings and an awareness of our life force and our personality are natural effects and experiences, and that exploring them and understanding them is an important part of our own evolutionary process.

When dealing with the Minor Arcana, perhaps the most important ingredient besides the suit of the card is the number of the card. In the Tarot, the number 9 tells of completeNESS (not compleTION or the winding up of a cycle). The number 9 represents our perceptions as we reach the limit of our understanding of or experience of a situation, just before we wind up the process and take another step up the ladder, in order to begin the whole process again. In our spoken language, we say that we are going to “go the whole nine yards” when we intend to experience something to the fullest, and that is what the number 9 can tell us in the Tarot. This will not necessarily indicate to us that we are done with the experience, but rather that we are at the “peak of the wave” just before the wave tips over and disseminates its energy onto the shore.

All of the Tarot Nine cards offer this concept of completeness of manifestation or full and material impact of all the previous cards. We have the necessary focus and discipline over the long term that is needed for success (Pentacles), we have the satisfaction that comes when we obtain what we think we want (Cups), and we have the knowledge that our learning and our ability to survive life’s challenges will be enough to bring us across the finish line (Wands). In the Nine of Swords, we have the illusion that all is lost and it is all our fault.

The Hermetic Tarot Nine of Swords is a nightmare; every part of this image is distorted or decayed. Eight of the Swords in the image are rusted, distorted, bent or broken each in its own way, and the flower has become 12-tentacled monster. The ninth Sword rises up from the bottom of the card, wickedly curving and coming to a sharp and deadly point. Called the Lord of Despair and Cruelty, the name of this card describes perfectly its meaning. It tells of loss, misery, and suffering, burdens and oppression, and lying, slander and dishonesty. There is an obedience laced through this card, as if we can’t help but continue the despair and cruelty that is manifesting.

The Shadowscapes Tarot Nine of Swords shows a young winged man, a black crow on his shoulder, looking anxiously upward into a swirling vortex of storms above him while clutching a sheathed sword to his breast. He is filled with unnecessary anguish. He is a being of Air and should feel free to take to the skies and escape. He is carrying a Sword that could light the way to freedom, yet he lacks the courage or the skill to wield it. This card tells of inner turmoil, guilt, and vulnerability, and of our soul being laid bare to our own demons.

The Thoth Tarot has a name for the Nine of Swords: Cruelty. This card represents the “agony of the mind,” and the poison created by this agony can kill the day. Here is the hangover and all of its discomfort: dizziness, nausea, and an ugly taste in the mouth, all created by our own actions. Within this degeneration of the suit of Swords, we need to remember that we do have the ability to control what our mind focuses on. This control might be difficult to achieve under the circumstances, but we must not succumb to despair.

The Llewellyn Welsh Tarot Nine of Swords shows a traditional image, and tells of nightmares, suspicion and insecurity. Here we have the weight of depression upon us as we are eaten up by worry and delays, longing and misery. This card tells of distress, injustice, loneliness, and the haunting of past hurts, all of which indicate a debilitating and unhealthy situation of our own creation.

The Legacy of the Divine Tarot Nine of Swords shows a woman in bed but not asleep. Her head is resting on her pillow, but her eyes are turned upward toward the nine Swords hanging overhead and the phantom ghostly hands she imagines are reaching for her. The image shows us what happens when stress and worry push our imagination into overdrive. This card represents the loss, suffering, doubt, and pain that we inflict upon ourselves as we second-guess our choices during the dark wee hours of the night.

The Nine of Swords represents brooding and worrying, usually self-caused, and usually unproductive. Often the worrying attached to this card is connected to insecurity or suspicion, or it is connected to things that are over and done with, and thus unchangeable no matter what we discover during our late-night ponderings. We may seem to need seclusion in order to be safe and survive until dawn, but in the end we are allowing ourselves to become a slave to our own anxiety. Until we realize that our preoccupation is becoming dangerously unhealthy, we will not find the peace and clarity we need in order to thrive.

To me, the Nine of Swords shows us what happens when we allow the element of Air and its use of only logic and information to exist without such concepts as feelings, intentions and emotions (Cups/Water), safety, security and comfort (Pentacles/Earth), and courage, personal power, and the influence of Spirit (Wands/Fire). The complete manifestation of the effects of the suit of Swords can create a sense of paranoia, helplessness, guilt, and despair. Perhaps bringing in influences of outside recommendations or counseling will balance things out in the end.

** We Feature the art of Ciro Marchetti as part of Tarot Talk.  You can view his work and Decks at http://www.ciromarchetti.com/ .

***

About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding

Tarot Talk

August, 2013

Let’s continue the theme of uncomfortable Swords cards.  Last month, we talked about the Three of Swords, that card of pain and isolation and betrayal.  If you haven’t read it yet, take a few moments now to do so.

 

In my opinion, there are two other Swords cards besides the Three of Swords that are not that much fun: the Five of Swords and the Seven of Swords.  The thing about the Five and Seven of Swords is that sometimes it is not easy to differentiate between them.  You know by now my method for dealing with this issue: break the cards down to their most basic ingredients.

 

The traditional image of the Five of Swords shows a man holding three Swords, standing next to two other Swords laying on the ground, with people walking away from him.  The image on the Seven of Swords has some similarities; there are Swords being held by a man (five this time, rather than three) and there are two Swords not being held by the man, this time stuck into the ground, point down and hilt up.  Both of these cards have a “me-against-the-world” attitude about them, don’t they?  Both the Five and Seven of Swords represent self-interest to the point of letting the ends justify the means, and they represent dishonor and isolation; they just each come to these things from opposite directions.

 

Confused yet?  Let’s break these cards down and see what makes them tick.  This month, we will talk about the Five of Swords.

 

The suit of Swords corresponds with the element of Air, the Spades of playing cards, the direction of East and the color yellow; Swords cards usually tell of some focused intent to bring forth a manifestation, or a struggle and then an outcome.  Swords cards are about purposeful and deliberate actions and the thoughts, intentions or beliefs behind them.  Swords cards and the effects they describe are sourced from within us; we create our own reality from our expectations. The Swords cards give hints as to our mental state, the beliefs we have, and the actions we take in response to effects around us.  A Sword has two edges, a perfect metaphor for this suit, which can represent attacking or defending, logic or aggression.  The Swords cards also represent an opportunity to feel more empowered; self-empowerment happens when we successfully deal with challenges, but self-empowerment can be dangerous if it is not balanced with a bit of humility.

 

The element of Air corresponds with truth, clarity, and our capacity to analyze or apply logic without the distraction of emotions or feelings. Air also represents the intelligence that clears away the fog of ignorance so we can clearly see and understand, and it supports communications and sounds of all kinds; Air allows both expression (out from within us) and hearing (in from outside of us) to happen.  This information applies to all the Swords cards, so we will need other ingredients in order to see what makes the Five of Swords unique.

 

When dealing with the Minor Arcana, perhaps the most important ingredient besides the suit of the card is the number of the card.  In the Tarot, the number 5 is seen as adding motion to the depth and stability of the energy of the number 4 card, often toppling or destroying that depth and stability in order to prevent stagnation.  If we look at the card right before the Five of Swords and follow it through to the Five of Swords, we can gain some insight into the effects of the number 5.

 

The Four of Swords is about truce, about a delicate and temporary balance between opposing forces.  Truces offer a wonderful opportunity to rest and heal and refuel ourselves, but they don’t offer final answers or resolutions to conflicts, and they are not meant to be permanent.  The number 5 adds that concept of Motion to that Stability, and brings the next step after the number 4.  All of the Tarot Fives are uncomfortable mainly because of this added Motion.  In the other Minor Fives We have the inability to keep up with changes in the physical world (Pentacles), a focus on a negative change while missing the remaining positive (Cups), and ideas moving in random and unorganized directions (Wands).

 

Astrology is a tool that can offer subtle effects for us to consider as we analyze this card.  The Five of Swords corresponds to the planet Venus (beauty, allure, relationships, pleasure) when it is in the sign of Aquarius (“I know,” friendships, cause-oriented, the group, aloof).  Venus is a feminine planet, which means its energies are inner and receptive in nature.  Astrologically, Venus is associated with feelings and well-being and gentleness and an appreciation for beauty.   Aquarius is a masculine sign, which means its energies are active and outer in nature.  Aquarians tend to focus on connections of all kinds, and in the best of situations those connections are seen as equal and without “ego”; Aquarians are known for seeing the big picture and acting in the best interest of the group.  Aquarians are attracted by “shinys,” by anything unusual.  The flip side of both of these (and there is always a flip side) can offer depth to the meaning of the Five of Swords.

 

An unbalanced connection to the emotions and feelings associated with Venus combined with an appreciation of sensual pleasures can create an overly-sensitive, greedy, or materialistic person.  Because of their embracing of sometimes socially unacceptable concepts (such as “we are all equal”), Aquarians can become isolated or marginalized, and even cold and detached.  Since we are exploring the imbalance created by the effects of the number 5, these concepts are relevant to the interpretation of this card.

 

The Tree of Life offers us further insight.  All of the Fives of the Tarot Minor Arcana correspond with the Sephira of Geburah (which means “Might”), the fifth Sephira on the Tree, the second on the Pillar of Form/Restriction.  Geburah is also known as Judgment, and Fear, and its effects and manifestations can indeed be difficult.  To some, an easy life is an ideal situation, but in the end the easy life offered through never experiencing any true tests lacks the opportunity for growth and evolution, and growth and evolution are the purposes of living.

 

Geburah is about courage and power and invincibility, and these things can bring us true fulfillment, or they can help to release our cruel side.  But unless we are exposed to these temptations, we will never know if we have the will to set them aside when they become unbalanced.  Believing that we have the power and authority to make decisions for others is often a recipe for disaster.

 

Okay, so we have Motion (which is the number 5) that brings an uncomfortable end to Stability (which is the number 4) and we have the element of Air and the use of the Intellect without compassion or mercy (which is the suit of Swords). We have a tendency to be emotional without being grounded in reality (Venus), we have a love of pretty things, and we have the potential of feeling that we know what is best for others (Aquarius).  Add in the availability of “ownership” or “authority over” our ideals and the “might” necessary to impose those ideals for the good of all whether or not they want to be helped (Geburah), and we have the Five of Swords.

 

To me, the Five of Swords tells of action taken without mercy or consideration of others. This card can often represent a victory, but it usually ends up to be an empty victory.  The victor may not know exactly what, if anything, he has won.  Think once more about the traditional image of the Five of Swords: a man holding three Swords, standing next to two other Swords laying on the ground, with people walking away from him.  This scenario has probably happened on every playground in the world.  A spoiled or difficult child insists that we all play with the toys his way; the rest of us surrender to his rules, toss our toys at his feet, and walk away.

 

The lesson of this card is that winning or losing is not important.  The end result is meaningless if the process is unethical.  And if we insist that things must be as we want them, we will end up standing alone, unsure of whether we’ve won or we’ve lost.

 

Next time, we will compare this one to the Seven of Swords.