The Moon

I’ve somehow managed to misplace the photos I took of the moon cards… When I find them again, I’ll add it in.  In the meantime, you can find most of them on google images if you’re interested.

RWS and Pagan Cats

Both of these cards depict two creatures looking up at the moon, standing between two pillars with water in the foreground and a crayfish.  The moon is looking down on the scene and in the distance are hills.

This moon is glowing brightly but remember that the moon doesn’t shine her own light, she reflects that of the sun, which is currently hidden. Even in the dark, the sun is still there.  Like the moon reflects the sun, the subconscious reflects the world around us – inner experiences reach the outer mind through imagination, dreams and creative practices.

The moon casts shadows and distorts what we see, there is a strangeness to the world when the moon is out, nothing is quite what it seems.  Magic and mystery slides in the space between dark and light.

On the rws card, the two moon gazers are a dog and a wolf, representing the tamed and wild sides of ourselves.

“A werewolf howling under a full moon is a vivid metaphor of the power of the unconscious to bring out something primitive and non-human in the most respectable people.”
– Rachel Pollack

In the pagan cats, we have a cat and a dog instead, perhaps also representing the tamed and untamed but in a more subtle way – it has long been said that humans tamed dogs and cats tamed humans.

According to Pollack, the crawfish (I thought it was a lobster but I defer to her wisdom) at the bottom of the image is emerging from the water but will never completely come onto land, instead falling back again.  This feels a bit like the ebb and flow of the tide, a phenomenon which is itself a lunar process.  It also echoes the just out of reach-ness, just beyond seeing-ness that can permeate the moonlit night.

“The deepest terrors are the ones that never fully take shape.  We feel something inside, but we never see just what it is.”
– Pollack

Interestingly, the cat in the pagan cats appears to be lifting the crawfish out of the water suggesting an attempt or desire to pull that elusive thing out of the unconscious and into the conscious realm.  If you’ve ever tried to remember a dream, you’ll know how futile this is!

In tarot, we see two pillars as a gateway, such as that in the high priestess card.  Here we are standing on one side, on the side of the known, with the unknown or unknowable on the other side.

Wild Unknown

Where the RWS and pagan cats depict animals between pillars, the wild unknown is animal free but does feature two tall trees reaching skywards towards the crescent moon.  The sky is dark, the trees white and the moon golden and I find the simplicity of this card interesting for such a complicated meaning.

The image is a silhouette and this reiterates some of the ideas of not seeing clearly, not seeing all that is in front of you and things being distorted in some way.  The two trees are illuminated by the moon, they are depicted in white, and it suggests to me that we are being welcomed through the gate I mentioned in relation to the RWS card.  This gateway is encouraging you in, inviting you to explore your subconscious and dream world.  Make friends with the darkness, with what scares you, with your inner self.

Carrie Mallon makes an interesting observation about the wild unknown moon;

The ground is not visible in this card. The Moon is a energy that can make it hard to catch your bearings. Up might be down or down might be left might be right. This can lead to wildly imaginative adventures…or it can lead to confusion and anxiety. In the faint light of the moon, you question what is real and what is imagined, what is beautiful fantasy and what is pure madness.”

Lumina Tarot

A moon goddess looks to the reader, an amethyst circle behind her and the symbol of pisces etched in with the other details.  The book tells us:

“This is a card of intuitive and psychic strength – strong messages and insights are coming to you through your subconscious.”

Things aren’t always as they seem; deception, confusion and distortion rule here.  Fears are ever present, but in the shadows, you can find gold.  Through shadow work you can explore the darker parts of yourself consciously.  The moon can illuminate your subconscious self and if you embrace and work with it, you can harness your innate power and work towards an illuminated self.  Going through the moon realm, you can bring light to your unconscious self and grow.  It has a different power to the sun.  The sun directly feeds and nourishes our bodies, the moon gently encourages and invites us to feed and nourish our souls, ourselves.  The moon is no helicopter mom, the moon is the mother that gives you the resources, skills and knowledge and steps aside for you to discover things for yourself.

The moon encourages us to dive deep, to dream deep and to transform.

“This card is ruled by Pisces, who is, in a sense, afraid of nothing, being one with the Universe and the Universe contains all.  Remember that when pondering your fears by moonlight: this thing that so frightens you – is it inside you as well?”
– Michelle Tea

Animal Totem Tarot

Once again, we have two trees as pillars, with an owl flying in front of a full moon, over a body of water where the moon is reflected in ripples.  The great grey owl has a message for us:

“The light of the moon makes everything look different.  The trees seem to become bigger and everything around them looms like an unknown landscape… But the truth is that nothing has changed at all – merely the way you see it has changed.”

We see the world though our own unique lenses, through our experiences and emotions and this changes what we see.  We see what we expect to see, we see ourselves reflected in what surrounds us.  What each person sees will be different, will be slightly distorted by where we see it from and which pool we see it reflected in.

“How you see the Moon is deeply connected to how you see yourself.”

Further, each night we see the same thing differently.  Each night has a different amount of light which transforms what we thought was static, the trees, the water, these things change with the cycle of the moon.

As the owl swoops across the moon, she seems to grow.  Things in the dark can seem larger than they are.  What is it that you are escalating?  What do you think is bigger that it is?  Are you making mountains out of molehills?  On the flip side, what are you refusing to pay attention to?  What are you ignoring?  What is having to make itself bigger for you to notice?

Brady Tarot

The Brady Tarot moon is very similar to the animal totem tarot – two trees frame the image, an owl is in flight in front of a full moon and a body of water is underneath.  This card however also features the crawfish.  In addition, there are two coyotes in the background, one looking out of the card and the other howling to the moon.  Looking more closely and into the darkness we also find two opossoms in the trees.

Pollack describes the crawfish as symbolising the primitive, instinctual part of our self, the deep unconsciousness, a place where fears and wildness live:

“The owl and the crawfish show us the power of wild nature.  The coyotes react to this energy, but the opossoms remind us to simply accept without fear or judgement.”

This card, more so than the others I’ve looked at, illustrates the night as a realm of it’s own.  It has its own inhabitants and it’s own way of being and it’s own way of seeing.  To understand the moon realm, we must immerse ourselves in this world, become one of the characters and feel our way into the part, intuitively.

“Imagination in action.  Instinctive energy, dreams, the unconscious rising up to affect our lives.  Deep instincts that may disturb our daily life.  Animal energy, wildness.  The part of us governed by the phases of the Moon.”
– Rachel Pollack

It would be impossible to talk about the moon without also looking to some of the common lunar associations.  The moon is also about the feminine, about fertility, creation, mystery and power.  It is about the daily tides, the monthly menstruation cycles, the seasons and all of nature’s rhythms.  The moon asks us to embrace the circularity of life, the ebbs and flows, the ups and downs and to trust in the darkness and have faith that light will return.

Our Tarot

Mary Shelley is centered in the card, a full moon in front of her and what look like two horns behind her, perhaps an echo of the antennae of the crawfish?

Of course, Shelley is famous for Frankenstein, an amazing tale of the things that can happen in the night, in the imagination and what can occur when man made monsters are released onto the world.  With this we have themes of death and rebirth, of resurrection and transformations.  We lean into what can happen in the shadows, in strange dreams and fantasy worlds.

“Her chief childhood pastime was writing – “as a child, I scribbled” – and she found her own dreams and imaginings to be far more interesting than her daily life.”

I feel like Shelley is asking us to pay attention to our dreams, both night journeying as well as hopes and goals.  She is asking us to express those ideas we find in the moon light, whether that is in writing like her or in art or science or whatever it is that makes you feel most alive.

How can you draw inspiration from the world around you?  What transformations are currently taking place in your life?  What visions are you bringing to life?

“I stand to face my shadows, I learn from them and incorporate them to give myself greater power and agency”
Jessi Huntenburg

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Page of Pentacles

I got a new deck last week and the only card I’ve pulled has been the daughter of roots, equivalent to the page of pentacles.  I’ve pulled it so many times that I feel as if it’s trying to hit me over the head with a message that I am just not getting.  So, I thought I’d write a blog post and see if that helps me to figure things out!  Given the insistence of this card, I’m going to have a look at all the decks I own so this will be a much more detailed, and longer, post than my normal tarot ones.

Some keywords, just in case you don’t want to read over 2000 words…:

learning * practical * planning * opportunities * focus * responsible * slow and steady * taking the first step * experience * curiosity *

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Left to right: Wild unknown, pagan cats, animal totem tarot

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Left to right: Brady Tarot, Lumina, Our Tarot

Rider Waite Smith and Pagan Cats

If you’ve been reading my blog a while, you’ll know I don’t like the RWS deck but I do acknowledge it can hold some interesting takes on cards.  My closest deck is the Pagan Cats and I prefer this non human take although it does still have some of the aspects of RWS that I find problematic.  In previous tarot card posts, I’ve considered these two decks separately, but in order to try and achieve some conciseness here, I’m going to merge them.

Both cards have a figure standing in a field, trees and mountains in the background and a yellow sky taking up much of the scene.  The human figure of the RWS card stands tall in the centre, a golden pentacle balanced on or just above his hands.  The cat again is dominant in the image, taking up a lot of space on the card, and is sitting with a forepaw resting on a pentacle.  Her eyes are watching it intently and she seems to be focused on the pentacle to the exclusion of her surroundings.  Michelle Tea describes the figure in the page of pentacles as being meditative, as transfixed by the pentacle and says that “extreme focus is the way to go when the page of pentacles pops up”.  This student is fully immersed in their studies, fascinated by what they are learning and discovering.  They are putting in the work for the pleasure of the work, not for the status or acknowledgement or prestige that might come from it.

I like that both characters are placed in the landscape as the pentacles are about earth and land and the physical side of the world.  Both feel very steady and surefooted despite having the naivety of youth and a tendency to stumble that comes from inexperience.

For the Pagan Cats, the little white book reads: Someone who is learning something about the physical world, resources, or finances.  We can see that the pentacle itself is representative of a resource, of money or some other thing that you can hold and touch.  Throughout the tarot, pages are the cards of study, of the student, of exploring and of messengers.  They are youth, they are newness and they are innocence.  This page is learning the ways of the material world, of work, of health and money.  Importantly, they are learning by doing, because the pentacles is all about the hands on experience, about learning from mistakes and of building up those skills.

“If the Page of Pentacles is appearing in your life as a person, you can depend on them.  There may be something about this person that raises a bit of scepticism – their youth, their lack of experience, perhaps their very sheltered life.  Regardless of that, their wish to apply themselves and make up for these deficits is real, and they possess the latent skills they need.”
– Michelle Tea

Wild Unknown

In the Wild Unknown Tarot, pages are called daughters, a convention I much prefer as it steps away from ideas of regal-ity and ruling and leading entire countries.  A young deer stands under a rainbow, peaked by a pentacle.  Like the RWS and pagan cats page, the deer isn’t in motion, she has paused and has a contemplativeness to her.  Despite her youth and her unsteady legs, she is ready to meet the world.  The use of a young deer reflects the child like way in which this deer explores and appreciates what’s around her.  She is discovering and learning for the joy of doing so, she is curious and interested and wants to get out there and do stuff.  Even though she’s depicted standing still, this little deer won’t stay still for too long.  The rainbow over her head reflects her innocence, her optimism but as an earth card, we know there is a practical side to her.

She doesn’t expect the world to be all rainbows and unicorns.  She knows she’ll have to put in the work, turn up on time and see things through.  She will be reliable and trustworthy, practical and responsible but it is exactly these traits that will help her get where she wants to go.

Lumina Tarot

Here we find the maiden of pentacles instead of page or daughter!  This seems to be the most variation I’ve had on any card I’ve written about!  A young woman is sitting with her legs underneath her, a loose dress draped around her, her neck and chest mostly exposed.  Her cupped hands are releasing flowers and her head is lifted skywards.  Just behind her, a young looking bear rests with a pentacle on its forehead.  The green of the card gives the scene a fresh, peaceful kind of feel.

The associated book says of the card: field of blossoming dreams and inspiration.  And just knowing that, we get such a different vibe from this card that we have with the others we’ve looked at so far.  The book goes on to discuss the manifesting of desires and visions into reality, birthing and nurturing projects, exploring ideas.  Whilst you may feel excited and want to share all of these, remember that they are young, like the maiden, and need nourishing and protecting whilst they grow.

“You may have just come out of a winter period or time of introspection, and can now feel the stirring seeds of a project which requires exploration and energy.”

This echoes ideas I discussed when looking at bears; there is a time for thinking and a time for acting.  And action is something that is crucial in our understanding of the maiden of pentacles.  She is not just about pretty ideas and nice daydreams, she is about putting the work in and doing, not just imagining doing something.  To turn potential into abundance requires you to act, to put one foot in front of another and to keep moving, slowly and steadily, forward.

Animal Totem Tarot

I will be looking at this card in more detail when I consider the alpaca, but for now, the message of the alpaca is:

“My mother says that all great things once started off wee, that small is not the opposite of large – it is the beginning.  I know that I am not big enough yet to be of any real benefit, but over time I will become worth my weight in gold.  Never think something is too small to be worth your time and effort, for you just never know what huge miracle it could unlock once it has reached full potential.”

I like this take on the page of pentacles.  It ties in with what the lumina tarot is saying about taking little steps, slowly but surely and however small an action may seem, it can help you towards your goal.  Returning to the idea of this card as student, we are all, always a student of something, none of us are masters of everything.  Do not let this put you off trying something and do not expect to be able to do new things the first time you try.  You cannot go from never running anywhere to completing a marathon without practice and planning and putting in the work and giving it time.  In a fast-paced world, it’s easy to think we should be able to understand and do everything, for ourselves, instantly.  But then we wouldn’t have professionals and experts.  They become experts because they have spent time learning and working in that field and there are somethings that only come from experience, that you can never be taught or told.

Note that the alpaca is standing to one side of the pentacle and away from the baskets of wool, she knows that she’s not reached that stage yet and she is happy regardless.  She knows that as she grows and learns and experiences, she will make steps towards the pentacle and towards producing the lovely wool that alpacas are known for.

Each card in this deck comes with some journal prompts and for the alpaca, one of these is what gifts are you learning to grow into?

Our Tarot

I’ve not written about this deck yet and it’s very different to my others but I loved the premise.  I’ve not really used it yet so am not that familiar with the nuances but the basic idea is that each card features a collaged image of an historical woman.  For the page of pentacles, this is Mary Lou Williams, not someone I knew before but that is in essence an important part of the deck – to raise awareness of overlooked women who’ve made important contributions to the world.

Keywords for this card include: manifesting, learning, material opportunity, collaboration

Mary Lou Williams was a self taught, very gifted pianist who was born in 1910 and was playing by the age of three…!  Despite her innate talent, her gender stood in her way, holding her back from joining a band until the bandleader could be convinced to have a woman play.  Regardless, she continued to play and work in the music industry, recording national hits, playing numerous gigs and producing music for other bands.  She formed a record label and established a jazz festival as well as teaching at Duke University.

She had grown up in a struggling family with lots of other children and not that much money but regardless, she had seized upon, and created, opportunities, such as when at age 6 she began playing piano at parties.  Where some depictions of the page of pentacles are about actually taking opportunities, this version is much more about seeking them out and spotting them, even when they are in unusual places.  There’s also an element here of not letting convention stop you, don’t let others tell you it’s not appropriate or not right for you to pursue your passions.  If there’s something you love doing, do it.  Do it for the pleasure of doing it.  Do it because you love it, not because of what money or status it’ll bring you.

“The page of pentacles encourages you to seek inspiration in your surroundings without being afraid to ask for help.  How can you share your gifts and skills with others?  What work do you find yourself most drawn towards?”
– Our Tarot

The aspect of collaboration – performing with others, writing songs for others, producing music etc – is one I really like with this card.  One of the things I love is learning with other people, you bounce ideas and thoughts off each other and deepen your understanding of the topic.  I am also a big fan of merging subjects together, sort of making the topics collaborate as it were.  When it comes to art, I have almost always engaged in mixed media, long before I knew it had a name.  I love taking different strands, different threads and weaving them together, whether literally or in this case when I’m learning and sharing that knowledge.

As a very much aside, Mary Lou wrote a set of songs called the zodiac suite and as the Page of Pentacles is associated with Capricorn, I thought that might be interesting to listen to.

The Brady Tarot

Finally, we reach the deck which kickstarted the entire post, the Daughter of Roots from the Brady Tarot.  Again, this is a very new deck and I’ve not had chance to get to know it yet, especially because I keep drawing the same card over and over!

On this card we have another bear! As well as a woodpecker (I’m going to be doing a woodpecker post at some point in the future).  The book echoes a lot of what we’ve already seen:

“A student, either literally, or someone who likes to study and is fascinated by new things, new ideas or knowledge, without much concern for how to apply or use them.  Though this study will likely involve commitment and hard work, the impetus does not come from the expected rewards but rather the joy of learning and the inner spirit of the subject.”

This is me down to the letter.  I love learning and I do so because of an innate curiosity, a need to know rather than because I have to or because I want to do something with the knowledge.  It is the experience, the fascinating discovery, that matters, not the outcome.  Specifically, this version of the page of pentacles, is inviting us to dive into the mysteries of life, to study those things which are less obvious at first glance, to look deeper, such as you do when you step into the world of tarot.

The bear seems almost to be watching the woodpecker, who is perhaps weaving the lattice of branches, with wonder and admiration.

Even though the bear is in a tree, there is something about it that feels very grounded, despite being half on and half off, the bear seems to be at one with the tree.  I also feel like the roots, echoing the lattice work, are a reminder to both go deeper, but also to remain down to earth.  The back leg of the bear dangles towards the ground, almost instinctively drawn to stay steady.

High Priestess

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Decks

RWS

In this depiction the high priestess sits between two pillars which speak to us of dualities, a key theme with two cards.

“Passivity allows the unconscious to emerge.  Only through withdrawal from outer involvement can we allow the inner voice of vision and psychic forces to speak to us, it is precisely to avoid this inner voice that many people never rest from action and movement.  Our society, based completely on outer achievement, fosters a terror of the unconscious, yet without its wisdom we can never fully know ourselves or the world.”
– Rachel Pollack

This is a card that speaks to us of passivity, but passivbity with a purpose, an active stillness.  To reverse the card, and thus the meaning, we can see how unhelpful passivity might be.  But we all need a change to pause and reconnect with our inner self.  It is here that we can feel our feelings, listen to our intuition and realign with our true selves.

The high priestess speaks to us of the dark, the mysterious and the hidden.  She is reflective, enigmatic, solitary and serene.  She sits in her power, confident in herself, supported by the power of the moon.

Pagan Cats

The Pagan Cats High Priestess is the controversial black cat.  She sits between two curtains, one white, one black and there is our first duality.  Her paws appear to be resting on a religious or ritualistic document, a sign she is in control of the spiritual or magical, appropriately given her status as high priestess.

This version is very similar to that of the RWS deck so I’m going to unpick that black cat a bit more.  They are contrary symbols, in some cultures good luck, in others bad luck and even within the same place there are conflicting beliefs.  They have been associated with witchcraft and the devil and in norse mythology, Freya, queen of the Valkyries, drove a chariot pulled by black cats.

The penguin guide to the superstitions of Britain and Ireland confirms that the beliefs around black cats are confused.  One example is that on a british ship, one black cat is lucky but two are unlucky.  This is captured well in a quote from Percy Shaw Jeffrey in his 1923 book about Whitby folklore:

“[31 May 1797] Saw three black cats last night so did not go to market today fearing some evil, but it turned out well as Betty was taken with spasms and might have died had I not stayed at home and she is the best milker of all I have, this omen for ill brought nought but good.”

Perhaps this is a sign that we should listen to our gut and that what first seems awful may actually turn out for the best.  I’m sure we’ve all been in situations where that’s happened.  How we react to seeming setbacks may also be a factor here.

Wild Unknown

A white tiger gazes off to the left, a crystal ball in front of her and the black sky behind, punctuated by a crescent moon.  I once read that in tarot if a character is looking to the left they are looking at the past and if they are looking to the right they are looking to the future.  With this in mind, we can see a nuanced high priestess in the wild unknown.  Where the pagan cats and lumina tarot have characters facing forwards, this tiger is looking to the past.  And the past does strongly inform who we are, our subconscious desires and motivations and all of this in turn shapes our future.  This may be a card that is asking you to look back, perhaps to childhood, to see how your emotions today have been influenced by your early years.  We all have ‘core wounds’, those things that we tend to overreact to – mine being invalidation and dismissal – and knowing these and understanding them can really help you to understand your reactions and feelings today.

The tiger seems regal, thoughtful and serene.  She seems confident and whilst thoughtful, she is not clutching the crystal ball in an obsessive, need to know and need to know now kind of grip.  She knows the answers will come when they will come.  And she knows that when they come it will be the right time for them to come.  Are you as sure as she is?  Are you pushing yourself too hard to listen to your subconscious?  As frustrating as it can be, it doesn’t work like that.  The harder you push, the further away you get.  Open your mind, use tools like tarot and meditation but don’t stand there demanding answers.

She does not strain herself to explain the mystery – instead, she immerses herself completely in that mystery.”
Carrie Mallon

The touch of colour in the crystal ball accentuates the black and white of the card, the duality and the yin and yang of the meaning.

Lumina

Study your wisdom within

Note, the artist of this deck changed the image between versions of the Lumina tarot.  The other version has an older woman, reflected through the vertical axis, holding a staff in her hand which forms an echo of the pillars from RWS.  Above her the moon is depicted and around it, the iconic dotwork of this deck shows intertwined crescent moons.

By turning inwards rather than looking outside yourself for answers, you will find what you need.  The veil of illusion will move aside and you’ll be admitted into a world that not everyone is allowed to enter.

The horns or headdress pictured here suggests a receptive nature, ready and waiting to receive the messages from the gods and goddesses.  This is echoed by the same crescent shape of her necklace and the crescent of the moon.

We also have the high priestess literally reflected.  As well as seeing this as her inner and outer selves we may see it as looking from a different perspective.

The use of purple seems important to me.  Symbolically it has been used to represent wealth, wisdom, creativity, devotion and peace.  It has also been used to represent mystery and magic.  It is said to be calming and uplifting and to invoke feelings of spirituality.

Bourn Creative says that:

“Purple is associated spirituality, the sacred, higher self, passion, third eye, fulfillment, and vitality. Purple helps align oneself with the whole of the universe.”

Animal Totem

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A spider sits in a web against a dark blue sky, again a crescent moon is present.  Immediately, on seeing the spider and knowing that the high priestess speaks of a feminine energy, I was put in mind of Sharon Blackie and her book If Women Rose Rooted:

“Women are spinners and weavers, we are the ones who spin the threads and weave them into meaning and pattern.  Like silkworms, we create those threads out of our own substance, pulling the strong, fine fibres out of our own hearts and wombs.  It’s time to make some new threads; time to strengthen the frayed wild edges of our own being and then weave ourselves back into the fabric of our culture.”

Taz Thornton was the second author my mind went to.  She writes about facing fears, using the spider as an example and lets face it fears are such a powerful part of our sub/unconscious.

“If you are afraid of spiders, try to remember when you first learned that fear, then work out what, exactly, you believe you are afraid of… Is it the swift movement?  Would they still be scary if they moved at a snail’s pace?  Is it the legs?  Who else do you know with legs?  Are they scary?  What would a spider have to do to make friends with you?  What if they started delivering your favourite treats, or spinning lovely words for you to wake up to in the morning?”

Their hunting approaches have resulted in the spider symbolising patience and persistence, and combined with their 8 eyes, perhaps the spider is here to remind you to pay more attention to the details or to look closer to what it is that is on your mind.

Linking back to the idea of active passivity, perhaps this card has shown up to remind you of the value of getting out of your head and using your hands.  I don’t know about you but for me answers and guidance often come when I’m doing something else, in particular something creative that is using my hands whether that’s drawing, painting, knitting, playing with clay, cooking or whatever it is that works for you.

Associations

Tigers

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Cats, and of course tigers, with their ability to see in the dark, are often though to have a gift of prophecy, of clairvoyance or a psychic ability.  We can also feel into this idea as we think of the high priestess looking inwards, into the darkness that is our subconscious.

Tigers also show us some of the contradictory nature of twos with adults described as “solitary but social”:

“Solitary-but-social animals forage separately, but some individuals sleep in the same location or share nests. The home ranges of females usually overlap, whereas those of males do not. Males usually do not associate with other males, and male offspring are usually evicted upon maturity.”
– 
Wikipedia

Their excellent eyesight, great sense of smell and their silent stealth allow them to move through the night, or our inner realms, with ease, with confidence and without startling what it is we are seeking.  We’ve all been there, there’s something in your mind that you’re trying to put your finger on, whether it’s a word or a niggling feeling, and the more you seek it out, the harder it is to find.  That is where the tiger energy comes in – use her skills to creep up on whatever it is without scaring it away.

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Another creature, the thylacine, has been called the Tazmanian tiger and whilst it isn’t actually a feline (it’s a marsupial), it’s interesting to consider it here.  The keyword on the oracle card is wisdom, and inner wisdom and self knowledge is exactly what the high priestess is about. As a scapegoat, they induce fear and hatred due to a lack of understanding and this can be the case when we relate to ourselves.  How often have you felt anger towards yourself because of something you haven’t taken time to unpick.  Perhaps an example would help me to explain myself; when I feel vulnerable, my mind goes straight to a well used internal record I have that tells me I am stupid and horrible and fat and worthless.  But if I take this feeling and wonder why I’m feeling vulnerable, I can start to treat myself a little more compassionately.

Moon

The High Priestess, as guardian of the subconscious, is as mysterious as the moon.”
Little Red Tarot

The moon features as its own tarot card so I’m not going to go into too much detail here, instead I’ve listed some of the key words that will help us to understand it:

unconscious * dreams * the inner self * emotions * feelings * intuition *feminine * cycles * water * imagination * reflection * soul * creation * compassion * mother * moodiness * subconscious * creativity * nurturing * divination

Most of the moons on these cards are cresent moons which indicate receptivity, being open to messages and the word crescent derives from crescere, meaning to grow.  Take the lessons you learn from turning inwards and use them to further develop yourself.

 

Two of wands

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Wands

Wands or staves or clubs correlate with fire and are about intuition, your potential and ‘things that aren’t touchable’ is one way I leant into this suit.  Wands are about action and movement, much like flames.  They are about optimism and adventure – think of the excitement of the spark catching and spreading almost contagiously.  Wands are also about beginnings and ideas, things which are moving from potential to reality with the help of the other suits.

If channelled, this can be a suit of success and innovation, the idealism of the wands made real, goals and dreams coming to fruition.  But whilst fire is constantly shifting and moving and dancing and reacting, it can also burn itself out.  Creative sparks and new ideas and projects, started impulsively and passionately, can come to nothing, or be replaced by newer, brighter, shinier ideas.

Twos

In tarot, twos can go two ways.  They can be about union and partnerships or they can be about choices and opposition.  With this in mind though, we can also see them as being able balance or finding the middle ground.

Twos are also linked with the high priestess, the two from the major arcana.  I’ve not done a post about her yet but she is often about intuition and looking inwards for answers.  She is a card that sings with sacred, feminine wisdom.  She is balance and harmony and peaceful stillness.  Yet she is also about awakening what lies inside you, revealing that which is hidden.  This dichotomy gives us a hint of what we will find across the twos.

Decks

RWS

The Rider Waite Smith two of wands is very similar to the pagan cats this time and shows a man on a castle, between two wands, surveying his kingdom, assets and resources whilst also looking into the distance, the future or his potential kingdom.

This is a card of success and dominance but also a card which shows a man who isn’t content with all he has, he still wants more.  The walls of the castle could be read as trying to hold him in and as this is a fire card, we can feel his frustration as the frustration flames ‘feel’ when they are trapped.  They are like horses chopping at the bit.

If we look ahead in the suit to the three of wands, we find this man has moved out of his castle and has set out on a journey; he has overcome his confinement.  But, Waite reminds us with his keywords, stepping out can be scary.  He pins this card down as “surprise, wonder, enchantment, trouble and fear”, acknowledging that even if stepping outside the castle is your choice, it still comes with uncertainties.

We should take a moment to note that this guy looks like he’s probably pretty comfortable, he has a castle after all.  And it is despite this that he yearns to step out and away from what he already has.  Could it be that riches and jewels aren’t enough to fulfil him?  Is he stepping out of his very literal comfort zone in search of something less tangible, more wand like?  My little white book has “success but not satisfaction” in it, is this something that chimes with where you are right now?

Tarot of the Pagan Cats

As with the RWS card, this cat is surveying her resources from a privileged place.  If we were to look at this card through the lens of inequality we could see oppression, dominant hegemony and other issues of race, gender, sexuality, disability etc.  Whilst I feel they are all important ways to read this card, I also feel that the scope of that discussion is much too big for this particular post however I would like to return to this aspect of the two of wands again at some stage.

Related, but taking the (uncomfortable) role of the cat instead of the cat’s subjects, in the Thoth tarot, this card is the Lord of Dominion.  This brings with it ideas of conquering and taking over but I would rather think about these ideas in terms of personal power and, something which I struggle with a lot, the idea that I am allowed to be here and I am allowed to take up space.  I can give myself permission to go ahead with something and I can give myself validation.  I do not need to be like this cat, I do not need to seek outside myself for validation or permission or to be given the power I already inhibit.  The two of wands can be a reminder to me that I can be, and feel, empowered and that I can chose that.

This card is a territorial, war driven depiction of creating a plan to carry out your brilliant idea but as we’ll see in some of the other representations, this isn’t the only way to achieve your goals.

Wild Unknown

Against a rainbow background we have two wands which are creating a funnel.  With the rainbow representing choices and the wands narrowing things down, we can easily read this card as saying we have lots of choices and ideas and options and our only task is to reign them in and focus in on a couple.  Narrow in your focus or direction or you’ll end up like the ten of wands – pulled in ten directions and burnt out.  We are delighted to find we have lots of new ideas and now we are just whittling them down.

To turn an idea from reality, you will need to keep putting in the work though – this is only a two after all, there are still a lot of cards and challenges ahead.  But because you enjoy the work and you’re passionate about what you’re doing it won’t feel that much like work anyway!

Lumina

Step outside your comfort zone

“This is the coupling of intuitive knowing and emotional intelligence with logical action and planning.”

Where the two of swords is stuck, the two of wands is free.  Here we are moving forward, we are combining daydreaming and thinking big with to do lists and strategy.  But to do this, to really step into your dreams, you need to leave your comfort zone, only then will the planning pay off.  Really lean into the dreams, trust in your potential and follow what sets you alight.  Wands are fire after all and here you find yourself with two magic wands to carve your path with.

With these wands we can push our boundaries, channel our determination and, provided we are prepared to do the work, the world is ours for the taking!

Aside: if anyone knows anything about symbolism of the shapes in the background, please let me know!

Animal Totem Tarot

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The two of wands features the stingray and the book shares a message about the importance of swimming far and wide through the sea but with a purpose.  Swimming aimlessly is potentially deadly for many sea creatures who need to be on alert for danger.

“Gracefully, I make my way through the sea. Far and wide, near and far, but always with a destination in mind.”

We normally think of wands as a fire element but electricity and the spark of a stingray are other manifestations of this energy, also very fast and very active we are still with an element that needs us to move and do and act.  Plans need actions, achieving them requires us to take steps.  What is keeping you from taking the next step?

Associations

Mars in Aries

Both mars and aries can be considered warriors, making this a powerful combination.  Mars is about passion, aggression, assertiveness and aries is all about standing up for yourself and moving forward, very headstrong so you can see how they play off each other and make an energy which can be quite intense.  This is the part of the two of wands that wants you to charge forward, and to charge forward NOW.  I feel like looking through that lens, we can see the two of wands as a reminder to pause and assess before charging in.  You can’t fight every battle, you need to pick the right one.  You can’t do every little thing you want to, again you have to prioritise and make choices or you’ll run out of energy and other resources.

It’s also worth noting that whilst the instinct for mars in aries is to take action now, this impulse can also burn out as quickly as it flare up.  I’m not saying this is a time to stop and smell the roses, but a few seconds between idea and action might make a world of difference.

Stingray

The stingray feels quite mars in aries but less two of wands at first glance.  Their venom attacks the nerves and with the two of wands in mind, feels like the anxiousness that comes with stepping out of your comfort zone, the fear of the unknown and the worry that you may not achieve your goals.  I find it interesting that the stingray goes to a lot of trouble to blend in whilst the two of wands may be a call to do your own thing and stand out.  That said, this excerpt from my post on the stingray may be a different way of thinking about this:

“If you’ve ever seen a ray in the water, you’ll know just how graceful they are but you probably won’t get a sense of their power. In particular, some species have exceptionally strong jaws and there is an amazing picture of the jaw of a stingray over on Wikipedia.  Perhaps people are underestimating you, or you’re underestimating yourself?”

There seems to be so many ways to feel into this card of power and choices and perhaps for a card about options, this is only appropriate!

Two of cups

Cups

This suit, associated with water, is to do with emotion, intuition and matters of the heart. It is where we find creativity and imagination as well as fantasies and dreams. Cups deal with relationships and love and in the water we find reflections and can see into our inner worlds. The water in these cards often reflects our feelings and thus make for interesting readings.

Cups fulfil their purpose by receiving and holding water or emotions or even space

Twos

In tarot, twos can, appropriately, go two ways.  They can be about union and partnerships or they can be about choices and opposition.  With this in mind though, we can also see them as being able balance or finding the middle ground.

Twos are also linked with the high priestess, the two from the major arcana.  I’ve not done a post about her yet but she is often about intuition and looking inwards for answers which is a very watery idea so we can really understand a lot about the two of cups by feeling into her energy.  She is a card that sings with sacred, feminine wisdom.  She is balance and harmony and peaceful stillness.  Yet she is also about awakening what lies inside you, revealing that which is hidden.  This dichotomy gives us a hint of what we will find across the twos.

Decks

RWS

In this card we have two people, facing each other, holding a cup towards the others cup watched over by an winged lion.  Rachel Pollack describes this as a lesser version of the lovers card which again has two people, this time naked and again watched over this time by an angel.  The latter shows a mature relationship, strengthened over time, where as the former is the beginning of a relationship, the early stages.  The two of cups can also show friendships and other kinds of relationships, not just romantic or sexual heterosexual couples.

The winged lion hovers above the caduceus of Hermes, a symbol of healing and wisdom, could this be about the healing that comes from interacting with other people?

If we remember the age and context of the RWS deck and follow the gender stereotypes, we find the card features both masculine and feminine energies and ideas coming together to make a whole.  Together the couple are more than the sum of their parts.  What can you achieve when you join forces with another person?

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Pagan Cats

There are some similarities here with the RWS card but I much prefer this imagery.  We do not know the sex of the cats for a start and instead of the winged lion we have the moon which is associated with the high priestess.  The cross that joins the moon with the cups and joins the two cards could be read as a religious symbol but I like the idea of it uniting the cats with the high priestess and the overflowing contents of the cups.  Aeclectic Tarot have a very different take…

“Even the sexual sacrament is hinted at in the 2 of Chalices as the starry sword enters the cup in imitation of the sexual act.”

I’ll let you take it as you like…

Wild Unknown

In the image we find two roses which are dependant on each other to stand up, whilst the two of cups is normally seen as the love card, is this actually a warning?  One way you can become interwined, unhealthily, with another is when your identity becomes tied up in who you are as related to them.  This can be the case in relationships where one person gives care to the other and they become carer, mother, young carer etc.

Are things as they seem?  If you look closer the roses don’t have thorns.  Does this mean everything is sweetness and wonderful or does it mean they are a façade?  I’m going to unpick the symbolism of roses later on.

We could also see the two roses as mutually supporting each other instead of being ‘dependant’ and the negative connetations we tend to ascribe to that.  NB, I am not saying depending on people is a negative thing, very few of us are fully independent and instead we are interdependent and that is healthy as we are humans and humans are social creatures.  Perhaps it is an invitation to let yourself be vulnerable with another person.  Or perhaps the other person is you – do you need to work on your relationship with yourself?  Perhaps you need to integrate part of yourself or acknowledge and care for an aspect of yourself.

More traditional interpretations are around love, romance, attraction, passion…  as well as letting go of relationships which cause you pain.

Lumina

Connection and balance.  Yin and Yang.

This version of the two of cups is similar in design to the two of swords, both show an image reflected and both feature birds with outstretched wings.  Here though we have swans and between the swans are two cups, both overflowing but with different colours.

The little white book mentions balance but this is a different sort of balance to that of the two of pentacles.  That was about balancing more physical things – different tasks, different responsibilities.  This card is more about balancing relationships and whilst no relationship is always completely equal there is a natural ebb and flow, give and take, self and other that establishes itself.

A relationship but that doesn’t necessarily mean romantic or intimate, we have one on one relationships with many people in our lives.  These might be friendships, work relationships, family relationships etc.  If the relationship is unbalanced this might show as communication issues, as dishonesty or just feeling out of flow.  If this is the case it might be necessary to look below the surface.  As I mentioned with the wild unknown, it’s always possible that the relationship which is out of sync is the one you have with yourself.

Animal Totem Tarot

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A hermit crab is shown on this version of the two of cups and is chilling out with his friend the anemone, apparently friends for live!  The anemone protects the crab in return for free accommodation and they make a (non romantic) match in heaven!

“It shows the coming together of two energies to create a mutually beneficial outcome.”
– Animal Totem Tarot

This version of the two of cups really emphasises the focus on friendships and on the give and take that goes on within them, the healthy exchange of energy within a two way relationship and the understanding that equality doesn’t mean things need to be identical.  What you offer your friend is likely to look very different to what they offer you.  Perhaps they can afford to splash out for your coffee and cake when you can’t but perhaps what you bring to the relationship is creative ideas or a listening ear.  We all have something different to offer.  At the same time though, I feel like the crab and the anemone realise that there are some people who take and take and never give and these people are not worth it.

Associations

Venus in Cancer and the Crab

Venus in cancer speaks to me of nurturing relationships, of love expressed through caring and being attentive to feelings of loved ones.  There is an importance placed on security and comfort within relationships and a sensitivity which can feel like moodiness.  The crab from the animal totem represents cancer and because of this we can lean into the idea of self protective boundaries and the need to retreat from time to time.  Crabs have soft, squidgy insides and these need to be looked after or the hard shell will come between them and their loved ones.

Whilst the crab in the animal totem card is a hermit crab, because it’s also the sign of cancer, I’m going to look more generally at crabs.  Whilst it isn’t the case for hermit crabs, generally crabs have shells. This hard layer doesn’t grow with them, instead they have to moult, a process coordinated by their hormones. As they prepare to moult, the old shell starts to soften and erode and a new shell starts to form underneath it. When it is time to moult, the crab takes in a lot of water, expands and cracks open the old shell. They then have to get out of the shell, a process which can take hours, and which can be difficult – imagine trying to get yourself out of your skin! Once they’re entirely out of the old shell, eyes, legs and all, they have to hide. They are incredibly soft and vulnerable at this point and need to avoid predators until their new shell has hardened.

This feels like a huge metaphor for so many aspects of our lives and I’m not going to unpick the process much, but I want to note that there is merit in avoiding people who are likely to hurt you when you aren’t in a strong place. It is ok to practice self protection when you are vulnerable. It is ok to set boundaries.

Whilst shells provide excellent armour, they can also act as a divide between us and the world. Are you feeling connected to what is going on around you? Are you putting up walls to protect yourself? Are these walls helpful or hurtful right now? Are you letting anyone see beneath your shell?  The two of cups encourages us to open up, to let someone in and to trust another with our true self.

Swan

Since writing the post about the swan I’ve got my animal totem tarot which has the swan as the lovers card, so relevant here!

“When we come together it is not so that we can fill something in each other, but instead, stand in our own glory and know that together we can create something magical.  Let the contrast of our individual states create the perfection in our togetherness.”
– Animal Totem

Roses

Obviously roses are the flower of love but they are also associated with balance and passion.  In mythology they are associated with Aphrodite the goddess of love.  They adorned her head, feet and neck and it was said a rose bush grew where her lover was slain.  Similarly, in Christianity it was said a rose bush grew where Jesus died.  Thus roses are also about devotion.

Despite all this love and such, roses can actually be deadly.  There is a disease called sporotrichosis which is caused when a fungus is forced under the skin by a rose thorn (or other sharp infected thing).  It tends to affect the skin and because it is spread by roses, it’s referred to as rose thorn disease or rose gardeners disease.

Of course, even if you don’t get sporotrichosis, being pricked by a rose isn’t all that fun…  Where there is love there is pain…

Rose Quartz

Where there is love, there is often rose quartz, a crystal associated with all kinds of love – family, friends, partners – especially unconditional love.

Apparently Cupid gave the gift of love to humans in the form of a rose quartz and returning again to Aphrodite, it was said that the stone was turned pink by the blood she spilt trying to save her lover and thus the stone became a symbol of everlasting love.

More than love, the crystal is alleged to help you to forgive, to understand, to see things from different perspectives and hence to have a healthy relationship.  This may also be helpful in having a more compassionate relationship with yourself – you deserve forgiveness, understanding and unconditional self love as well.

I hope throughout these different ways of looking at the two of cups, you’ve seen that it’s not just about romantic relationships, it’s also about friends and family and, sometimes more importantly, about how you relate to and love yourself.

Two of Pentacles

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Pentacles

Pentacles are about the material aspects of the world such as health, things we own, abundance and work.  They are also about how these are manifested into reality such as practical, steady planning and a step by step approach.  As well as being the worldly things, the things you can own or touch, pentacles can also be about the things that you can sense, sense based experiences, nature and the environment.  There is a groundedness to the pentacles and a stability that lends itself to tending to the aspects of daily life such as health maintenance and food.  This suit embodies the idea that a flourishing outer world extends from a flourishing inner world.  Putting on your own oxygen mask in on a plane before helping others is a high expression of pentacle energy. This is helping and being generous with yourself but tending to self first in order to do this.

“Pentacles, as either magic signs or money, can influence the world without physically moving”
– Rachel Pollack

Where pentacles can be about prosperity, they can also be greed, possessiveness and materialism and an obsession with money for money’s sake.  It can also be about the power that comes with money and owning things and thinking about what Pollack said, this can be a very strong way of influencing the world without physically moving.

Twos

In tarot, twos can go two ways, appropriately!  They can be about union and partnerships or they can be about choices and opposition as they were with the two of swords.  With this in mind, we can also see them as being able balance or finding the middle ground.

Twos are also linked with the high priestess, the two from the major arcana, who is associated with intuition, the feminine and looking inwards for wisdom.  She is often depicted in a way that suggests balance and harmony.

Decks

RWS

The two of pentacles shows a juggler spinning two pentacles and is an image we can read in two ways.  Firstly, he could be seen as enjoying himself, having fun and being playful but an alternative reading could see him precariously balancing the pentacles, trying to hold things up in the air.  We also see here the infinity sign made of ribbon which appears above the head of the magician and above the woman on the strength card.  Looking at the meaning of the card we could see the infinity sign here as a reminder that we are always balancing things in our lives and/or that there are infinite things we need to balance.

Reversed, Waite tells us this card means ‘simulated enjoyment’, not stimulated enjoyment as I repeated read it… Here we find ourselves putting on a mask, going through the motions, pretending to others that we’re having fun.  This almost always leads to dropped juggling balls…

Michelle Tea says that flexibility is the main message of this card.  The more flexible we can be, the better we will handle things, the better able we are to keep the balls in the air, but also this is a time where we find adapting easy.  She also makes a point which really chimes with me.  That if you spend too long focussing just on one thing, you can end up dropping all the balls you have in the air, including the one you’re focused on.

“Push yourself through too many hours or days of work and your brain starts to push back. Ideas that once flowed easily dry up, and tasks that you should be able to perform quickly become excruciatingly difficult.”
Inc.com

Pagan Cats

The pagan cat is shown staring off to the side whilst standing on a chequered board on top of what looks like a wooden platform, in the distances is the sea and things are stormy; two boats are struggling on epic waves.  The cat seems unaware of this and also unaware of the two golden discs his paws are on, one contains a goldfish and the other a mouse.  Having said that, one paw is on the mouse’s tail and the others is dipping into the fish bowl so he’s not completely unaware…  Note also we have the infinity sign from the RWS deck.

He seems to be distracted which is a different take to the rest of the decks which focus more on balance and juggling, although we could see the cat as juggling and balancing things so well that he has the freedom to look away…  Perhaps he could even try taking on more responsibilities or projects and balance more things!

Wild Unknown

At first look, the wild unknown two of pentacles is very different to the RWS and pagan cats cards in that there is no obvious juggling or balancing going on, instead we have a black and white butterfly but this contains the infinity sign and within the loops of the infinity sign we find the two pentacles.  Note also that the card is black and white whilst the infinity sign is rainbow shaded.  The black and white suggests to be a yin and yang type of idea, that we need both work and play to make us balance and this is echoed by the symmetry of the image.

With this in mind where do you need to find more balance?  Where are you out of balance?  Are you being pulled in different directions? These are important questions to ask yourself when this card shows up.

Metamorphosis and the related transformation and change will be discussed below when I unpick the butterfly in relation to the two of pentacles.

Lumina

Keeping an even balance

Like the other cards, this deck focuses on the juggling side of things but more so about balancing your inner and outer worlds.  I really like the line in the book that says “from your internal to external worlds you are feeling uplifted and yet stretched”.  With this there is the recognition that you can be challenged internally and externally and also, given the theme of balance we have the idea that stretching of the inner or outer world can through us off balance.  If we are very challenged internally, our external world might suffer.

In the shadow side, we are advised that we are being called back into alignment, look at where your live has fallen out of balance, where is there disharmony?  Are you over committed?  Working too hard?  Playing too hard?  As we’re dealing with the pentacles, perhaps you’re over stretching things health or money wise?

Animal Totem Tarot

I finally treated myself to this fantastic deck!!!  As it’s new I’m still leaning into it, getting to know it and finding it’s way of talking.

The two of pentacles features the Harrier Hawk and these particular pentacles are sitting on the ground glimmering and shimmering.  The message from the harrier hawk is about dealing with new challenges and how we have the resources we need to handle them.  Her time is spent juggling between family and community but she knows that she can ask for help, she is part of a team and doesn’t martyr herself.

Other decks

Where I’ve looked at other decks when considering other cards I’m not going to as I’ve got the animal totem tarot now!

Associations

Butterflies

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The wild unknown card talks to us of dualities and balance but how do these ideas relate to the butterfly?  Well, if we recall that we’re being asked to find balance we realise that to reach that state we may need to make some transformations and what better metaphor for that that metamorphosis itself?!  With this we also lean into the infinity sign featured in several of the cards – to maintain balance throughout our life we must constantly be rejuggling and reconfiguiring our lives and our selves.

The symmetry of the butterfly also lends itself to the idea of the whole being greater than the sum of two parts which is touched on with the black and white or the yin/yang of the image.

Daisies

Daisies come with a dichotomy.  They are both gentle and kind but also powerful and they have astringent properties.  They are both a symbol of love and yet we find myths where people have turned into daisies to avoid unwanted advances from unwanted lovers.

This duality is seen again when we learn that daisies are something called composite flowers which means that they are made up of two separate flowers; there is an inner section which is one flower and this is surrounded by rays of petals which are actually a second flower.  This combination has been said to symbolise true love as they blend together so well.  It also feels like a good way to think about the balance of different parts of us such as our inner worlds and outer worlds or the blending of our work self and our home self.  Both parts of the daisy wouldn’t cope without having the other there, a concept which echoes the ideas found within the symmetry of the butterfly.

Jupiter in Capricorn

An potentially awkward pair, these guys require careful choreography – or juggling – to maximise their potential.  Jupiter in Capricorn attracts good luck when organising, when working hard and when being disciplined.  As we are in the suit of pentacles and Capricorn is an earth sign, good things will come when you are practical and employ a step by step plan, carried out slow and steadily, to reach your goals.

Be cautious, be patient and what you envision (and work for) will come.

2 of Swords

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Swords/Air

Swords are the suit of the air, of the mind, of communication and the mental realm.  They are about matters of logic, knowledge and ambition.  Strategy and planning, truth and justice are all sword qualities.  Swords are about learning and thinking but as they are about the inner mind, they also deal with worries and nightmares, the shadow side of all that thinking energy.  This suit, like the swords that represent them, have two edges; light and shadow.  Creation and destruction.  Imagination and anxiety.  Decisiveness and indecision.

“You don’t always have to chop with the sword of truth. You can point with it too.”
– Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird (quoted on Little Red Tarot)

The nature of swords is to fight but instead, as Lamott makes reference to, you can use the sword in other ways.  You can use the related intellect and instead out manoeuvre your opponent or your nemesis using your mind instead.  The suit of swords is also about communication, possibly making the saying the pen is mightier than the sword appropriate at times.

Whilst we normally think of cups as the emotional suit, swords and air bring with them mental conflict.  Michelle Tea notes that “the swords suit has a tense relationship with the realm of emotions.  In some readings of the Two of Swords, it represents a problem whose solving requires strict logic; you must not rule with your heart in this moment, but with what you know to be intellectually true”.

Twos

In tarot, twos can go two ways.  They can be about union and partnerships or they can be about choices and opposition.  With this in mind though, we can also see them as being able balance or finding the middle ground.

Twos are also linked with the high priestess, the two from the major arcana.  I’ve not done a post about her yet but she is often about intuition and looking inwards for answers.  She is a card that sings with sacred, feminine wisdom.  She is balance and harmony and peaceful stillness.  Yet she is also about awakening what lies inside you, revealing that which is hidden.  This dichotomy gives us a hint of what we will find across the twos.

We will start to see, as we move through the different depictions of the two of swords, that this tuning into oneself is one way of answering the call of the card.

Different decks

Rider Waite Smith

The two of swords from the RWS tarot depicts a blindfolded woman with a sword in each hand and her arms crossed.  Behind her is the ocean, craggy islands and a vast sky, empty except for a crescent moon.  I feel like we can take this scene by looking at three stages in the scene; the woman, the sea and the sky.

The woman appears to have chosen her blindfold, she has deliberately closed her eyes.  What might this represent to the reader?  Perhaps you have consciously withdrawn in order to make a decision without distraction.  Or are you subconsciously closing your eyes to your choices or in denial?  Sometimes we shut ourselves off physically or emotionally as a way of handling decisions – we put our head in the sand, or blindfold ourselves so we don’t have to engage.  We can also push problems or choices we don’t want to make away from ourselves and if we look at the woman we find a position which could be considered defensive, crossing her heart in a protective way so that nothing can get near.  Conversely the crossed arms could be a deliberate, temporary, carving out of space and time so that she can think things through – there is something in her position that I find somewhat intentional and zenlike.

We saw that twos can be about choices and balance and here we find the two swords facing away from each other, is there a tension here?  Are they symbolic of the two paths ahead of the woman?

Behind her we find the sea, choppy and filled with rocks and islands that could become hazardous for ships.  In tarot, we often find that the state of water is reflective of the emotional state of the querant.  Here we see a lot of emotional turmoil and perhaps this is why the choice or decision is so difficult?  Or are we being swayed by those emotions?  Another way to view this is to note how still and calm the woman is in the face of such emotions.  If the woman is in denial, we could view the choppy seas as a sign that the problem she is hiding from is growing and growing and the chance of hitting the rocks is increasing… It is time to made a decision, to choose a path and to move on from this place of inaction.  Toss a coin if you have to but don’t stay here.

Above the sea spans a sky, empty except for a crescent moon.  Interestingly the sky is a light blue, the sky of day, whilst the moon is obviously normally found at night.  Perhaps this hints that logic won’t always work here.  The moon is about illusions and dreams and things not being as they seem and a moon in the day feels like it exaggerates that message.

Tarot of Pagan Cats

The Tarot of Pagan Cats normally follows the RWS deck in it’s imagery but here it has departed quite significantly.  There is no blindfolded character and the cat is not holding two swords.  Despite that, the little white book gives this card the same meaning.  Again, it’s about conflict, this time its specified that it’s between heart and mind.  The cat is walking a tightrope between the two swords, the two choices but his head (and tail) are held high.

These swords are parallel suggesting equally valid paths and it may be worth noting that the cat is both black and white here.  We find the crescent moon depicted but this time in a night sky and whilst there are islands in the ocean, they are smoother, less dangerous and the waves aren’t as choppy as the RWS card.  This all confirms the cat’s confidence about this decision, he knows he’s got this.  I feel like this deviation from the RWS card shows the importance of listening to your intuition when it comes to which deck to use for a reading as the conversation can take on a rather different tone.

Wild Unknown

Another different depiction here.  In the RWS we had two swords facing away from each other and in the pagan cats the swords are parallel, here we find the swords are facing towards and crossing each other.  They form a dark X against a sky with an eclipsed sun.  The moon on the previous cards is now full and is obscuring light, the clarity.

When I first saw this card I read the sun as straining behind the moon to be seen and that if I uncrossed the swords, or made a decision, I would be able enjoy the light and see things clearly again.  I’ve also had readings which have shown the card as a situation where we want to understand things but we don’t necessarily want to understand things as they actually are and we find ourselves straining to impose our mentally constructed version of reality onto the world around us.

Lumina

Wow, this portrayal is so different to the rest of them.  Here we have parallel swords, as in the pagan cats, but instead of being vertical they are horizontal and instead of being held by the same person they are each wielded by a bird and they appear to be in a stalemate situation.  Alternatively, we could see a mirror image deal going on here.  Appropriately, the image is a bit confusing.

Talking about the two of swords reversed, the little white book says that “mental confusion and information overload is rife!”  This is something I wanted to touch on as it’s not really come through with the other representations.  We life in a world where we are surrounded by messages and information and opinions and words and words and words.  It can be hard to hear our own voice in amongst all the others and most of us don’t tend to make space for listening either.  Another way to feel into this is that being surrounded by information can mean we know too much and can see all sides or we can have so much information that we don’t realise we have the right information.

I don’t know what the birds on the cards are but given the meaning of the hawk and eagle, I like to view them as one or the other.  Both are messengers who bring perception and foresight to the game.

Other

The two of swords in norse tarot is very different again.  It has two men sitting opposite each other at a table and it looks like they’re playing chess or something similar which requires the mind to come up with paths forwards and work through them to see what obstacles could arise.  There is also something here about taking your time but not taking too long.

Whilst we’ve seen some very different depictions, there are some common themes here.  We are looking at decisions and how we face them.  As well as figuring out the decision or choice you are facing, you may need to spend some time unpicking the how and whys of your coping mechanism.  In my little white book I’ve made a note that whys -> wise.  By learning why we engage with a particular way of dealing with things we can start to learn how to approach things differently.

Other questions to explore include:

  • What are you denying, repressing or avoiding?
  • Head or heart? Logic or intuition?
  • What info do you need to make the decision?
  • Why are you struggling to decide?
  • Is anxiety clouding things?
  • Do you already known your decision but are afraid to make the leap?

Keywords

blocked, stuck, avoiding, at a standstill, intentional blindness as an emotional barrier, following blindly, conforming, stalemate, opposing forces, a situation you’ve been putting off dealing with, ambivalence, take off the blindfold and start fighting, indecision, contemplation, deliberation, considering both sides, boundaries, the calm before the storm, closing off from distractions to make a choice, comfort zone, clouded logic, overthinking

Associations

Peppermint

Whilst I mostly know about mint as an association because of the wonderful Little Red Tarot website, I have come across it elsewhere as I’ve noted it in my little white book I just didn’t note where it came from…  I have found a few more references in my googling to the suit of swords being associated with mint which reassured me that I haven’t just dragged this out of thin air!

Mint is a stimulating herb which is associated with quickening the mind and as we’ll see, the sign of libra is also about rapid fire of ideas and this could be related to the information gathering or information overwhelm of the two of swords.  The peppermint could stimulate the mind to filter through or seek out the information needed to make the decision.  It is said to clear the mind and this would set the scene for making the choice ahead.  Perhaps a peppermint tea would give you the space and the clarity you need.  Or a peppermint scent could help you cut through the fog.

It is a stimulating, invigorating plant that energises but also soothes; it is complicated, much like decision making!

Moon in libra

On a basic level, the moon is about emotions and libra is about balance and harmony.  Libra is an air sign, like swords, and the moon in an air sign brings us quick fire thinking, rapid fire ideas as well as the desire to build bridges, connect seemingly opposing ideas and find compromises.

The moon also brings us intuition and the sub-and un- conscious and then libra can bring in an air of indecision.  Because libra can see and understand multiple perspectives, they can find themselves unable to make a decision because they know there are pros and cons of all sides and as there may not be a clear cut good or right choice, their intuition can become muddled and blinded by information.

Moon in libra can be focused on trying to keep everyone happy, compromises which keep the peace and generally trying to find the middle ground.  This can lead to the person themselves getting lost and their own needs and thoughts being lost as they try to please everyone else.  This can be seen in the depictions above but does put a slightly different spin on things.  Instead of just being indecisive or stuck under an information avalanche, we find a person who has lost touch with themselves because they are focused on the happiness of others and compromises.

I feel like the energy at play here makes it hard to lean into mind or heart fully, perhaps being able to feel into both instincts and not being able to privilege one over the other.

On a more negative side, the moon in libra can lead to a person becoming argumentative as a protective mechanism.  They can provoke an argument if they feel emotionally unsafe and then instead of dealing with the emotional unsafe feeling, they can go into their quick fire, rapid idea, seeing all sides of things part of themselves and this can feel more comfortable.  In a way, this is hiding behind indecisiveness and/or the decision making process itself.  It is almost as if an issue has been summoned up so that moon in libra can busy themselves with seeing all the many sides and arguing about it.  An excellent example of paradoxically avoiding an issue by diving into the issue.