A new week, a new reading. Right?
Not so fast, you enthusiastic traveller, you. Your desire to power yourself towards the experience promised by The Star last week and the flow and connection it symbolises is understandable.
First, however, it is time to work through another strand in the spider’s web, another piece of the puzzle – a puzzle that has you at the heart of it.
This week’s reading, you see, is far closer to last week’s than may first seem apparent. It may be closer than feels entirely comfortable. It is close for a purpose, though, and that is to get into a particularly fusty, dusty corner of the psyche to brush the metaphorical cobwebs away.
There is a place that needs the light – that is demanding it – and that, friend, is very probably the source of your discomfort. This may not be the kind of work that you run at with open arms (then again, who knows?). It’s more like the psychological equivalent of suiting up for a quick, but entirely necessary, dunk into the sewers.
But if there’s anyone equipped to fill this role, it is you.
If there is anyone who is going to benefit from it, it is you too. And perhaps many more besides.
So let’s suit up together and take a look. It might not be what you think. It rarely is. But it can be convincing – convincing enough to ensure you don’t come closer.
Because why would something try to elude your attention if it didn’t feel threatened? Why would something apparently invincible want to hide in a corner? Are you playing hide-and-go-seek with a boogey man that’s more Boo Radley than Beelzebub? Has Beelzebub grown tired of having to carry all of your unclaimed baggage for you?
Time to tidy up.
Last week, the reading comprised a Four, Eight, and Major Arcana: the Four of Disks, the Eight of Disks, and The Star. This week, we have another Four, Eight, and Major: the Four of Swords, the Eight of Cups, and The Tower.
Fours are pauses, and while last week’s Four of Disks was a consolidation of Power, with a tendency to cling too tightly for fear of letting go of what you have, this week the pause has a different quality.
Embodying the idea of “time out,” the Four of Swords comes with an implicit warning: step back, move inside, give yourself time to regroup and to reconnect with what matters. The war (of words – sometimes more) may wage in the world outside (in the form of the Three and Five of Swords, as two experiences flanking the Four of Swords), but it would serve you to move away from the front-lines to reconsider your position with yourself and with what matters most.
This is a reconsideration of Soul, and how your beliefs, and what you say – and what you do based on these – serve it.
It is a reminder of who and what you choose to follow, and a realignment with an inner will that keeps you nourished and from which you can draw when you need it.
Ignoring the “time out” not only depletes your reserves, but diminishes your discernment. And here is why you need both:
On the left of the reading, you have The Tower. This card is foundational to what’s happening, and is linked to The Star (still yet to appear on the horizon) because in the Major Arcana The Tower (card 16) makes way for The Star (card 17). Your showdown with Beelzebub in The Devil (card 15 in the Majors, implied here because it comes before The Tower and The Star) means that you can no longer foist your baggage into some dark recess or some ‘other’ in the hope that you can avoid taking responsibility for it.
The Devil has made damned sure you knew there was something that was yours that you needed to own, as shameful or distasteful – sometimes as wondrous, even – as it might have been. Through this discovery, something that was out of integrity has had to fall away; it could no longer stand because the foundations of your experience of yourself and your life shifted, just as you can no longer tolerate or bear an aspect of yourself that has been propped up by false expectation or representation. That is The Tower in a nutshell: a striking down, a cutting back, an act of burning or disintegration. Maybe you were the conscious initiator. Maybe it felt like it was coming at you from outside. Maybe it happened not to you, but close enough for you to feel the earth shake.
There is a “no going back” quality to The Tower that has wiped the slate clean and cleared out the channels so that what is true can be restored. The Four of Swords comes at just the right time, because now is not the time to act – or, more accurately, not to REact.
Now is the time to stop, rest, allow the silt to settle, and sense the clarity of what approaches even if you can’t see it yet.
And it may still take some time because what you are dealing with alongside The Tower, and what the Four is also here to assist you with, is the Eight of Cups.
Welcome to the sewer – and you wouldn’t have found it had the experience of The Tower not revealed what was lying in its foundations.
The Eight of Cups is what happens when you’ve created all manner of diversions (or perhaps one or two favoured ones) to keep some form of pain or disappointment at bay. This is a dream unrealised, a longing unexpressed, a desire held down and in check, and the fallout of emotions that come with that experience.
To revisit that dream is also to revisit the emotions that come with it. It would mean having to contemplate that emotional baggage circling in reclaim – the baggage that’s waiting for you to say, “Yes. That’s mine.”
It takes a lot of energy to keep that baggage doing its merry-go-round on the carousel. It’s energy that could re-enliven the waters in the Eight so that they could flow again. It is energy that comes from ‘correct action’ and the decision not to run away, or to build castles in the air – but to be still, and to acknowledge where something blocked can once again run free.
The thing about that water in the Eight of Cups is this: it carries the golden threads of true path. In spite of everything, those threads persist. You separate them out by suiting up and getting a little dirty. Or a lot dirty. You reconnect with them by taking the time you need to stop fighting – others, yourself, those ridiculous battles that have no winners – so that, paradoxically, you see what the fight is really about – and what is worth fighting for.
That indolence is an old story, and you know it well. Which is why you know how well to avoid it.
You also, now, know how to address it. It may be far simpler than you think; that baggage may be lighter than you imagined. It may be more complex, but you’re also perfectly equipped to ask for assistance, and I’d suggest you do that, whether it be a witness, someone to hold your hand, someone who is able to hold you in their presence while you attend to what is yours, or someone who knows this subterranean land well – a therapist, a counsellor, a guide.
Now is the time. The Star follows The Tower, and if these later Majors teach anything, it is that they appear because you have it in you to roll up your sleeves and get on with the task. Whether you know it or not, you have been preparing for this; you have everything you need, including a voice to ask for assistance.
This is sludge; this is old. This has already happened – probably further back than you think. What’s calling up ahead in The Star is brilliant and hums with life, and it is leading you through a swampland that, like any hero, you must cross if you want to reach the other side.
The Four of Swords’ crisp contours, its defined edges, its muted but living colours, and the light in the distance, is the mechanism that you use to make that swampland crossing: a suspension of mental conflict, a deferring to a wisdom that speaks in a quieter, more hallowed voice than those vying for your attention on the battlefield.
A place where you have space to negotiate the Eight of Cups without identifying with old emotional patterns that have had a tendency to pull you in and under.
The Four gives you room to do that intricate soul work of taking what is really yours, and leaving the rest. Follow that golden thread. It may feel like a lot is shifting, on the move, perhaps some of it fallen away, but now you have the ability to see your next step.
And, right now, that’s all you need to see.
Astrology Correspondences: The Tower (Mars), Four of Swords (Jupiter in Libra), Eight of Cups (Saturn in Pisces)