It’s an all-Swords reading this week.
This means that your mind, your intellect, your beliefs – and what you say and how you act based on these – are the main contenders.
It also means that there is an imbalance in favour of the mind; and you are being called on to identify it, and to take responsibility for it.
The problem – and it could feel overwhelming at times – is a Swords problem.
The solution, too – and it is as graceful and fragilely beautiful as the figure who embodies it – is a Swords solution.
As I said: an all-Swords reading. Swords bar the way, and Swords are your way through.
I’m not going to mince words. This is not a time to mince words. And anyway, with an all-Swords reading – and Swords cards such as these – wordiness and nice-ness and dancing around what matters serve no purpose, and do not reflect the nature of the cards they are describing.
At the same time, I write with the intention that these words are grounded in, and spoken with the voice of, compassion – again like a figure in this reading who embodies that quality. I write with the intention that they offer something else as well: something useful, a tool, an entry-way into deeper understanding.
Not hope, though. These cards don’t deal in hope. In fact, two of these cards define the end of hope – and that may not mean what you think it means. It may be that hope has been an interference and not the white knight you were wishing it to be. You see, hope deals in the future, and hope can be a way of escaping or riding out the present without needing to look at it and scrutinise it – and to feel it.
But unless you look at the present fully, you will neither be able to understand it and integrate it, nor will you see what is looking right back at you behind the façades that have separated you from it. Separated you from her. (Whether you are male, female, or anywhere between the two, this ‘her’ still holds true, as you’ll see.)
So to the card on the left, the Ten of Swords. Deck creator Carl Röhrig has been particularly descriptive with this card, and gives this version of the Ten of Swords a distinctive edge to its interpretation. First, a little theory, though. It offers vital context to the interpretation.
Each suit from Two through Ten describes the evolution of the quality of that suit in our world. Starting at Two, different meanings and layers of complexity are introduced as we move further up the numbers, ending at Ten – at which point the suit is ripe and ready to shift into the next suit. So the Tens represent a kind of fullness – a fullness-to-the-point-of-overflow – of their suit.
The Ten of Swords is the surrender of the mind, both in terms of surrendering it to the next suit, Disks, but also in terms of an internal surrender.
Here, there is a specific edge to the interpretation of the card which you can see clearly when you look at the figures and read the writing on the card. The images are grotesque, disjointed. The writing has two clear English phrases: “broken heart” and “fear of madness.”
Both of these are connected with the card to the right, the Three of Swords, which we’ll get to in a moment. For now, let’s go back into the freak-show of the Ten.
Bear in mind that Tens describe a fullness-to-the-point-of-overflow. The Ten of Swords is where the mind and what it generates spill over, uncontained by and separated from logic, creativity, heart-felt knowing, or reality.
The mind can bring discernment, curiosity, reason, insight, quicksilver thinking. And, when it is left to its own devices and able to feed exclusively off what it produces without question and without verifying its sources – sources outside and within – it can produce the very states illustrated on the Ten of Swords.
The Ten is not madness itself, but fear of madness. That mind has been whirring and whirring, spinning its yarns, feeding its own fears, conjuring up disjointed elements of a puzzle concocted from a certain kind of obsessing, and forcing those pieces to fit together.
Here’s where the surrender comes in – and it is a specific kind of surrender. It is the surrender into mindlessness or a stepping or crashing out of the mental boxing ring – where a part of you realises that the mind is a tool that cuts both ways: it can be a valuable subject when it defers to your authority, or, when left to run the show, it can be a tyrant.
Finally, the whole ugly scene is dragged out of the darkness, and the charade is revealed for what it is. The “Ruin” of the card’s title is the destruction of a thought pattern, or a belief, or a state of being beholden to what your mind has been telling you. What is implied is a state of release – that there is an opportunity to clear what has come up, and to free yourself from it. Not by turning away, but by bringing more of yourself to the table. (More on that later.)
But, first, why the Ten? Where did it all start? My felt sense when I look at the reading is that it started with an experience that is described by the card on the right, the Three of Swords.
The Three of Swords is traditionally a card of love triangles, and the pain and sorrow of exclusion based on that. However, there’s more to the Three than this, and it describes a larger love triangle, and a deeper sense of exclusion. It is the card of existential alone-ness. It is the card that encapsulates the feeling of being turned out of Eden. The mind, once in harmony, learns that life is complex, and there are choices to be made, and, with those choices, there is differentiation, and with differentiation there is separation.
This can be played out in a love triangle situation – or any situation where there is a conflict over what is “mine” and “not mine,” “yours” and “not yours.”
This can have an impact on the heart, yes, and on physical belongings, but the conflict starts at the level of the mind. The beauty of the you/me of duality – a precarious balancing act – makes way for how the mind responds when another element is brought into play.
The mind, being what it is, tends to want to be in charge and favour its owner – you – with the privilege of ownership. Until it realises that this does not always happen. Mummy and Daddy’s bedroom door is closed to the child. Access is denied. It is a primal story that is woven through myth and through myriad lives, and played out time and again in subsequent interactions. It can feel like the deepest sense of loss. Even when that no longer makes sense; even when the reality is that, as adults, we are empowered to see and believe things differently, and we are empowered to understand that that sense of separation may be at its most harsh not in reality, but in our response to reality.
Where are you still standing outside a metaphorical door, feeling an outsider, in a way that is all-too-familiar to you? Where are you seeing things out of scale so that you believe you are unable to reach up to open the door and find a way out and through?
And where is this playing into the Ten of Swords – where that outsidership, and an identity built up on that, are revealing themselves to you? Where the only sane step is to take full responsibility for your experience and your current role in it?
So, finally, on to that tool and entryway into deeper understanding. And she lies at centre: the Queen of Swords.
Holding the potential as the individuated (i.e. grown-up, adult), yin aspect of the mind, the Queen of Swords is empowered through the revelation of truth. Her truth, who she is. She exercises her authority through the dropping of masks that have not only hidden who she is, but have also separated her from herself and others.
The Queen of Swords knows in her heart of hearts – as ‘water’ (Cups) of air – that insanity is pretending to be anything other than who she is.
But who is she? And who are you in your heart of hearts? That is a voyage of discovery; it is not revealed all at once, nor can it be.
But what can begin is looking at where the Three and the Ten of Swords are active in your life, knowing that they are revealing something about you in them, even if it is what you are NOT.
That revelation may come with a drive towards a personal accountability for what they have created in your life – but that is also in the realm of the Queen of Swords: self-knowledge and self-revelation, she understands, are a process, not a single-action – and the process involves a heart-centred approach to the mind. In other words, she knows she has to feel what is coming up in her mind, and not simply think about it. Thinking begets thinking begets more thinking – and the card on the left is a good reminder of where that can lead.
The Queen feels her way back to her true self. She feels what she feels, and she names it – sensitivities of others be damned – and, in that action, another layer of the story falls away.
What was stagnant, rigid, downright insane, is replaced by what is fleshy, alive, fundamentally beautiful.
Beauty is what is real, not what you have believed beauty should be. What you have believed beauty should be is what has been ugly – and you’ve tried time and time again to be admitted, to be let in, by fitting that particular notion of ‘beauty’.
The belief was that you were not good enough, and never beautiful enough; experiences taught and told you to internalise this belief; and the attempts to rectify this have escalated to the point where you can see they will never work.
That’s because you were always good enough, and you were always beautiful enough. But now it’s up to you to find a way to believe that, to know it, and to live it.
While the Ten and Three of Swords are associated with the mind, the idea that you can deal with the reality of what they stir up by telling yourself it’s “all in your head” and hence it should be simple to address is another idea slung at you by the same mind. Beliefs and behaviour patterns and ways of seeing the world take years to entrench themselves, and they can take a long time to disentangle from too. I often say that this disentangling, really, is the great work of our lives, and if it feels hard that’s because it is hard. So ask for help. This is not a sign of weakness or of giving up (and if either of these phrases is familiar to you, you can remind yourself, once more, that this is the mind talking): it is a sign that you are ready to become accountable. You do not have to feel isolated. Isolation, too, is a choice, and it can be powerful and compelling. Reach out to someone who you trust in your heart of hearts, and that might include contacting someone you can talk to in a therapeutic setting.
Astrology Correspondences: Ten of Swords (Sun in Gemini), Queen of Swords (the watery aspect of air), Three of Swords (Saturn in Libra)