We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tarot Nasties
It's funny the reaction you have to certain cards. It can vary deck to deck, depending on the images, sure, but for a long time my gut response to the 5 and 7 of Swords was, "Ugh! Sneaky, deceptive asshats!" When these cards appeared I knew someone, could be me, was up to no good. And by God, they're just relishing in their assiness! I mean just look at the poor fellow in the far distance in the 5 of Swords (left). Head bowed, face in his hands (sob!). The clouds look all ominous and that little prick in the foreground is just all full of himself, delighting in not only the fact that he's won all the swords, but also in his opponents' losses. And then we have the 7 of Swords thief on the right here, barely containing his self-satisified giggles over the fact that he's just gotten away with nicking five of somebody else's swords while they're all over there in the background oblivious to his treachery. If there's one thing I can't stand is duplicity or sneakiness. Just be straight with me, ok? When the 7 of Swords shows up I can be sure someone's keeping a secret and it's likely something to do with trying to pull one over on someone. Grrrr!

But hang on here just a minute. Let's get off our high horses...well, that would be my high horse I'm referring to, and take a closer look at these cards. While gut reactions tell me something important and often our first responses to are card are the correct ones, I found as I studied tarot that I needed to get past my predjudices and kneejerk responses in order to see both the light and the dark aspects of each and every card. Because they're there...yes, even in images seemingly repugnant. As with even the Devil, a more shadowy figure you would be hard pressed to find, there is a positive message to be found.

First, the suit is Swords, which represents air: communication, thought, words, active response to a mental process, and yes, conflict. 5 of Swords depicts the end of a battle. A time when "clearing the field" belonged to the victor, usually by pages, who brought the weapons back to the winning side. The clouds, though they may seem ominous at first, are breaking and clearing. The fighting has stopped. There are losses, probably heavy losses, on both sides. There are times when it's just no use to keep fighting. The figure on the left of the card maintains a certain repose, dignity, and confidence in light of his defeat. While the far figure certainly is taking it hard, this one seems quite ok with the decision. Did he simply drop his sword and walk away? There are times it is far wiser to do that rather than continue a fight that is just not worth the effort. Yet, the smug satisfaction on the central figure is not entirely out of place either. When one puts forth one's best effort and comes out the victor, is it wrong to feel good about that? I've seen this card come up numerous times in career readings where a sought after position is highly competitive and the understanding is that you will likely have a tough time showing your worth, but if you give it all you've got, you may just get that job. And yes, the others who wanted the job and didn't get it have two choices: walk on with head held high to other opportunities, or spend some time feeling really bad you didn't make the cut. And who wouldn't raise a fist to the air and shout, "Yes!"after receiving word you got it, you got that job, promotion, or contract? The 5 of Swords, more than anything, asks the querant to think a moment: Is this worth it? Someone will win and someone will lose, and only you can decide if going for the brass ring is worth the cost.

Likewise with the 7 of Swords, the first thing to remember is that Swords have more to do with mental activity and communication. Certainly this guy is pleased with his seeming act of treachery...or is it so bad as all that? Could it be that he is merely retrieving stolen property? He's acting alone, so maybe he's cooked up this hair-brained scheme by himself. Or maybe he just didn't want to risk anyone else's head on a platter but his own. This young thug may be a hero, we just don't know. And that's really the point of the card: we don't know because he's not telling. He's keeping his own counsel, planning his own actions, and carrying them out alone. This card can advise the reader to keep quiet about his/her thoughts for the time being, until the right time to tell. Sometimes that's the wisest course of action. See if your plan works before you go blabbing about it.

While my initial reactions to the images remain viable interpretations of these cards, thinking through the images and the possibilities helps me see various facets that open the meanings up to any number of possibilities and situations.

I still think they're asshats. But even asshats have their moments.


  1. I'm thinking you need to write a tarot book. Seriously.

    I'd buy it.

  2. Can I say "asshat" in a tarot book?

  3. You'd better say asshat in your Tarot book. If I didn't find it there somewhere, I'd be pretty bummed. ;)

  4. Anonymous2:11 AM

    Bit late to comment on this one, but it's the one that caught my attention. Anyway the first time I saw the 5 of swords in the Robin Wood deck I thought the young man was calling out to the others encouraging them to come back, that all was not lost.

    I was very suprised when I learned the normal meaning.

    Now when it shows up in a spread I always look very carefully and see which way the card's going, the way I first saw it, or the tradition.


  5. Yay! Winkle figured out how to comment here! :D It's true, the Robin Wood does look like he's calling out to the others, doesn't it? Well, you know...go with that if that's what's coming up for you in a reading with that card. Most of the time our initial feelings are the right ones for the reading we're doing just then. I've kicked myself in the pants so many times when I've suppressed that initial "flash" or feeling and went with something my mind thought more plausible only to find out very quickly that my first reaction had been the right one. Then when you say, "I thought that, I knew that" you totally look like you're faking. :/ So blurt out those initial impressions (if even to yourself) because 9/10 times, they are just creepy accurate.

  6. Anonymous7:58 AM

    Hi Ginny! Me again! I wanted to say (because I get these two cards often and I use the DruidCraft deck mostly) that I've gotten to interpret this cards differently lately (pertaining to me and my current life). To me, in the 5 of Swords, I've often felt it implied that there was a drift between people, a parting of way, probably based on misunderstanding. And that both parties stuck to their impression of the feud, even if they were wrong. Sometimes, also, I've come to see the guy picking up the swords - in most standard decks - as a mediator. He reviews what has been done, said, and can - hopefully - give an objective opinion on the situation.
    As for the 7 of swords, I've always been unsettled by it, but the DruidCraft variation always frustrated me... (still does sometimes) Because it is so far from my initial look on the card and its usual symbolism, I never quite know how to look at it. For those who haven't seen that card, it's an old man writing in a book in a seemingly passionate way. I've come to interpret this as self-imposed/inflicted isolation (he hints "Hermit" to me for some reason), retreat, needing to think things through for oneself (going with the solitary association of the number 7), and crafting, plotting, planning, scheming as well... Imagine my (lack of) joy when these cards keep appearing in romantic readings for over 7 or so months now! No wonder I chose to remain single!

  7. I draw those cards constantly, and have for years. My take on why I, who am not a particulary sneaky, competetive or duplicitous person would draw those cards over and over is this:

    I chose to work in a field where I am very different from a lot of the people around me. I worked in the lab field, a field which a,llows for absolutely no creatvity whatsoever. I was often at odds with the people around me on a very visceral level.

    Sometime when you are a minority, people insult you without knowing they are doing it. In their normal, day-to-day conversations, they talk about 'liberals' or 'people like them', never realizing that they are actually talking about you and don't even know it.

    Drawing those cards over and over again during the time period, the phrase that would always come to my mind was 'us against them mentality'.

    So I grew to see the cards as representing people behaving the way they are behaving out of necessity. They are driven to it because they have to sneak. This is more so in the case of the Seven, which I didn't see as being such a troublesome card. I saw it as being expedient, rather than immoral.

    The Five was a different matter. I saw him as being more immatuare or having more of an attitude problem, and as someone who often brought these things upon himself through his own behavior.

    When I saw him, I took it as a clue to ask myself what I was doing to attract negative behavior towards myself. But even then, I saw his behavior as that of someone who has been injured and is strking back....someone who just needed to grow up and let down their defenses and try a new way.

    Back to the Seven. I saw him as someone who shouldn't let down his defenses.


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