Lesson 52 – Three of Swords

Enter in silence today.  Take your seat without a word.  This is hallowed ground.

The heartbreak card.

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You know what this feels like; raw, torn open, the rage, the chest-tearing pain, the cried- out exhaustion, the sleepless nights.

I’m not going to tell you what this card “means”. When you pull this you, or the person you’re reading for, will likely know what it refers to.  Some cards represent this as a card of retreat, and this is often needed to restore the soul after this level of loss.

Remember bereavements can take many forms, be gentle with yourself, compassionate.

Tread lightly.  Give yourself time.

Exercise 52

  • If you relate to this card at present, for any reason, allow yourself some space and grace for healing.
  • Imagine a spirit guide or angel coming to you and oh-so-gently removing each of these swords from your heart, and afterwards soothing the wounds with herbs and balm.
  • I read recently that grief does not leave us, it is the price we pay for love.  If you grieve deeply, you have loved deeply.  Breath in.  Breathe out.
  • I asked my guides recently about someone I love who is very sick.  They were silent for a long time.  Then they told me this: “Afterwards, when this is all over, you will not face a barren wasteland…But it will be winter for a long time.” It takes time.

Lesson 51 – Two of Swords

Ironically today’s post came to me as I sat in an actual schoolroom.  The students were taking tests and while I was supporting there was time to look out at the trees coming into leaf and the coolness of May sunshine and picture the two of swords.

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Let us begin with a traditional image (indicates PowerPoint presentation at the front of our imaginary classroom.) What do you notice?  Yes,  woman, seated.  Yes, two swords, crossed in front of her.  A blindfold, yes.  That she is sitting in front of a body of water.  Good.

What do we think this can teach us, when we turn this card up in a reading for ourselves, or someone else how would we read it?

I feel like there is some Hanged Man energy here, suspension, waiting, poise before action, consideration.  Also a visual echo of the Justice card, blindfolded, swords.  I have always read this card as the need to pause before action,  as about choices, and even about knowing a  choice and needing to make it, rather than keep on waiting.

Until this morning I didn’t put myself in the card.  Imagine you are sat on this seat, blindfolded,  holding two swords crossed, perfectly still.

The first thing I sense is discomfort,  the physical effort of remaining poised while holding two swords in such a controlled fashion.  My arms are already aching.  The second thing I am aware of is the blindfold.  I can’t see.  Maybe I literally can’t see the wood for the trees.  Maybe this is not a positive waiting, but a stalemate, I can’t do anything about it, you see, because I have to hold these swords here.

Wrong! I had a real sense of needing to get out of my own way when I was staring out of the window earlier.  Who says you have to do it this way?  Put down the swords.  Take off the blindfold.  Stretch.  Get on with it. There is a time to reflect, to pause, to suspend action in order to make a wise choice.  But if not careful this can become an escape, a safe place, the waiting room for the rest of our lives.  Take a deep breath.  Choose one of your options.  Move on.

Exercise 51

  • How do you feel about waiting? Do you tend to be impulsive and jump at the first option, or agonize over choices?
  • Try sitting in this pose, eyes covered or closed, holding two wooden spoons crossed across your body.  Does this physical practice tell you anything else about how you will read this card (feel free to wait until there’s no-one else home **winks**).

Lesson 50 – Ace of Swords

I am late to class today, rushing in after the bell, papers flying around me.  This is due to procrastination on my part.  How to begin this next part of the journey?  Too much time in my head, pondering.  Which is, of course, very “swords”.

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Let’s turn to our cards and see what we notice.  Several of the decks I am working with today feature a single sword, in the air.  One is crowned with gold, energy radiating out into the sky.  One is watched closely by a mouse clinging on to a dandelion as dandelion seeds float up into the sky.  One shows a bare tree, stark and full of edges, with a nest in its branches, holding a single egg.

The images speak to me of something sharp, something which cuts, which can be uncomfortable, but which also inspires.  Swords are images of strength and power, they can cut away the old; when we do energetic cord-cutting work, we often visualise a sword cutting the links we no longer need.  A sword bestows knighthood, it is an emblem of authority. In Arthurian legend it is the sword which shows the true king.  The associated images in my cards – seeds, eggs – show the creative potential of this ace.

This to me is the flash of inspiration, the powerful idea which captures our imagination and spurs us on.  It might be a political or environmental cause, an idea for business, or a realisation about our own self-development or circumstances.

Whatever it is it will change us and take us out of our comfort zone.

Exercise 50

Some journal prompts and a small practical exercise:

  • What do swords mean to you?  Are they emblems of death, power, or works of art, showing the skill of the smith, who forges and balances the blade?
  • What does this mean for your work with swords?
  • Where could you use sword energy to clear out old mental habits and create space?
  • When in your life have you had an “ace of swords” moment, a flash of inspiration or realisation, which changed everything?
  • We have dandelion clocks in abundance in the U.K at the moment.  If you can find one take it and blow the seeds into the ether to mark the start of your journey with the swords…dandelion-3416140__340

Lesson 48 – Swords

The class is subdued today, I can see people are trying to be upbeat but there’s  sense of trepidation.  Tarot cards are just cards, with images, but if you’ve worked with them at all you will likely have that same feeling I do when I see a sword, oh boy, deep breath, this could be uncomfortable.

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Swords are linked to the air element, and often this is described as our mental life, thoughts, ideas, plans, rationalism.  These things can feel constraining and they can also, in our lived experiences, lead us into difficult places, worry, overthinking, being focussed on the past or future, living in that slightly detached space of our “heads”.

There’s a different side to air though, which often gets missed and which I had neglected until a recent course of study pointed it out.  Air is the element of imagination, air is the element of life, breath, of inspiration.  Air is light, breezy, a strong wind will “blow the cobwebs away”.

Before beginning work on this suit spend a little time with the element air, play with it, connect with it, see what it has to teach you.

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Exercise 48

Blow bubbles

Blow up a balloon and then, before you tie it, let it go and watch it fly

Fly a kite

Make a paper aeroplane

Practice connecting to your breath in meditation

Light incense and watch the smoke as it curls and dances

Use your imagination to draw/ paint/ mould something which makes you think of air.

Collect feathers.

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Lesson 47 – King Pentacles

Settle down lovely ones. Notices first in today’s class.  I’ve posted this in the group but wanted to flag it up here too, in case you’re new to school and missed the earlier posting.  This is a self-paced class.  If you’re just finding us now then scroll back to Lesson One and jump in there, read the post, and then do as much or as little of the suggested practices as works for you.  There are no deadlines, tarot is a journey and evolves as you do, your life informs your tarot practice and study, and vice versa.  If you would like to share about your journey or ask questions then you can join the group, and I will pick it up there.

So now, get comfortable, and let’s take a pause.  We are finishing our journey through the Pentacles today.  We’ve considered the elemental aspect of this suit, and how these cards speak of our daily experiences in relation to practicalities, our health, work, finances and so forth.

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I’m working from the King of Earth in The Wanderers Tarot, a man stands in silhouette on a hill watching the sun rise.  He looks like master of all he surveys.  Perhaps it is his lands that he watches over, perhaps, in some way, he is the mirror of the sun, providing life, warmth, strength for his tribe.

To me he looks like a farmer, a steward and guardian of the land, one who knows the earth; what will grow and thrive, one who can listen to the wisdom of weather and wild things and use these to produce an abundant harvest. If we sat down with him, around a fire, steaming mugs of coffee in our hands, he would be able to tell us about being rooted in our own place and space, the importance of listening to our bodies and the natural world, of good nutrition and healthful exercise.

If he were a tree I imagine him as an oak, deeply rooted in the earth.

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Exercise 47

  • Take a medicine walk, notice what grows where you live, what do these plants teach you.  Observe any birds or creatures you see, wild or domesticated.  Notice the weather.  The world is our teacher.  Share photos of what you find in the group.
  • How deeply are you rooted in your physical space? Even if it is a temporary location, how can you root for the duration of your stay?
  • Take a health check; how’s your sleep pattern, fluid intake, nutrition? Is there one healthful change you can make?

Lesson 46 – Queen of Earth

I like this card.  This is who I aspire to be in the tarot.  I do this when I host a family meal, or tend the seedlings in the greenhouse; when I prepare for a healing session or create a potion or crystal grid to bring comfort and support.

Rooted, grounded, a matriarch or crone, the one who tends the hearth, stirs the pot, grows the vegetable garden, tends herbs.  The one who has a hearty meal ready and can accomodate unexpected guests, who is there to offer healing while all the time staying centred.  One who listens to the rhythms of the natural world and allows them to steer her path.  Perhaps she is crafty, a potter, or weaver.  Perhaps she knows the secret of getting hens to lay or the best time to plant beans.  Maybe she knows the secrets of birth or death: a priestess, but practical.

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Exercise 46

  • Whatever your own gender identity how can you embody the Queen of Earth/ Pentacles today?
  • What would she be like as a friend?
  • What can she teach you?
  • If you’re inspired to take some action, creating, tending, finding a practical expression of this energy, come and share in the group.