The suit of swords relates to our mental, analytical consciousness, how we problem solve and on a circumstantial level, our issues of conflict. Our first reaction to that is often negative, but all of the elements are tools that we have the opportunity to use constructively. Working with conflict is challenging but if we are willing to grow, we can see it as an area of rich resource, protection, articulation and ultimately healthy exchange.
There are times in life when we have to take a stand, maybe in protecting ourselves, others, an ideal or principle. If we didnt have differences we would never learn. Sometimes in the great school of life it’s like going out for the debating team. We can learn to have differences, debates and even conflicts in a healthy way. A relationship with no degree of conflict isn’t much of a relationship. Sometimes even when we may be in agreement we have to mututally deal with conflict situations. although we may be on the same side of an issue, our approaches might be different.
How we deal with conflict is often learned behavior. Some of us grew up in households where there was a lot of direct conflict, maybe yelling or fighting was an everyday occurance. Others may have had a background where conflict was submerged or repressed. Either of those extremes would be unhealthy. Learning to deal with conflict, whether it’s standing up to a bully or seeing where our own energy has been intimidating to to others is an important part of inner work.
In my own journey I have had to overcome some old bad defensive habits. Like most people I can have my own rationalizations of things. Believing I’m a nice person, wanting others to like me and avoiding confrontation has sometimes got me into some fine messes. I have come to learn (and am still learning) that sometimes you have to take a stand, set a boundary, state a conviction, be willing to take a reaction and to not shy away from some forms of conflict. Along with all of this is the old axiom “choose your battles”.
When swords are predominant in a reading there are often issues of conflict that need to be addressed and dealt with. One of the things that Tarot also illustrates, particularly in the Rider Waite deck, is the inter relation of the elements within each other. There is often an emotional tone to the sword cards, how can there not be? Our feelings are aroused in situations of conflict. But inner work is also about knowing the right tool for the job. The three of swords particularly is a card of tough emotional decisions. Often when I am describing this in a reading I say “tough emotional ( I put my hand on my heart) decisions (I put my hand on my head). So it’s rather like the head has to say to the heart “I know you’re upset, so you’d better let me drive”.
There are some beautiful, peaceful and constructive elements in the suit of swords. The two, the four and the six have no direct conflict going on. I could point out too that there are as many signs of upset or turmoil in the other suits (i.e. ALL of the fives, the seven of wands) also we could see some situations where an absence of swords has created a stagnation. When there are NO swords in a reading it can sometimes be quite telling. If there seems to be a brooding, morose quality (i.e. King of cups reversed, the 4 of cups ill aspected) it may be that there is more of a negative situation in the absence of boundaries than there would be if a good healthy argument were to take place. If we just hold conflict in it can affect our physical health, our emotional well being and our overall security. The four of swords can relate to meditation or sometimes I refer to it as “rest amidst battle”.
When we don’t work with what the swords suit represents we can sometimes attract conflict energy. This isnt really all that unusual. If a person seems to have a pattern of attracting or being attracted to difficult, intimidating or abusive conditions -whether directly to the person or indirectly to others, one has to wonder what kind of logic is at work. Often getting professional counselling can be a vital step when these patterns have become particularly life affecting. The use of such resource is POSITIVE sword energy at work. When we make a coscious choice to be safe. To learn to set healthy boundaries our lives go through a profound transformation. With that change comes a responsibility to own our strength, rather than seeking it in unhealthy situations or relationships.
At the same time, a refusal to own up to our own conflict energy, to continue to allow abusive or negative behavior on the part of others is a big failing. Something I see quite often is that we are sometimes not just attracted to a person, but also who we feel we are in relation to the situation. Some people can get used to getting their needs met in a victim role. Dont get me wrong, Im not talking so much about anyone deserving to be a victim but we sometimes have to look at how we can negatively re-inforce that sense of self, not just in the particular relationship but also how we take that into other ties. A saying that I feel is quite often overused in this and only addresses a surface aspect is; “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing expecting a different result”. This buzz phrase sometimes annoys me. It’s like saying just dont date mean guys…well duh. I think we have to sometimes look at what’s behind the attraction. the bigger question is what is the payoff that deep down we keep needing to go back to? What are we re-inforcing and then what can we give or work with that more truly addresses our need for growth? There is often a good instinct or need, like being loved, feeling safe or protected that is behind our choices. Sometimes that good instinct has been simply going to the wrong address.
When we start owning our own strength and instincts we can stop giving our power up to the wrong people and patterns. This doesnt mean we dont need people, it means we can better meet those needs. We can share, give and recieve more freely, with less baggage, less negative attachment.
Breaking through that attachment can be difficult.I sometimes run into people that can really use their victimhood or martyrdom as a weapon.I sometimes have to challenge that, but people so caught up in self rationalization are not very open. If the person is not open to seeing their part in things, or refuses to work with resources that can help, choosing instead to suffer and inflict that suffering on others, then this is sometimes one of the rare occaisons where I have to say I cannot be a resource. It is significant that these are the types that are also more inclined to be invested in the idea of curses or some sort of external”force”. Saddly they are a pretty easy mark for unscrupulous people (and systems) that mutually re-inforce those beliefs.
A tough lesson I’ve had to see is that forgiveness cannot be true if it just means allowing the same situation to happen again. Letting abusive energy back into an area where it demonstrates an inability to be co-operative or reasonable is like lettting a rabid Rottweiller loose in a dog park. I cannot be responsible FOR another person but I do have to be responsible TO them, to myself and the other things affected. The nines in all of the suits are where we see underlying patterns, the things we can allow to go on bringing those same results or break the pattern and free our potential.
Some situations need resolution, and a kind of finality. We can learn from experience and say “no more”. The ten of swords is a card of dramatic finality. The issues have been analyzed and analyzed, one could almost say “done to death”. In the background though a new day is dawning, a new chapter beginning. In accepting an ending we can move forward.
Again these are only some random thoughts. I have included the cards as illustrations but these comments are not all specific to each and this is by no means the sole interpretations of the cards. More to come!