“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.”
The Minotaur (Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays)
It’s been a long time since this card came calling, but in this current period of prolonged intensity, it is a welcome one. Say hello this week to the Four of Swords.
The Fours in the Tarot are about stabilizing, grounding, and completion of a cycle. They refer back to the big Four of the Major Arcana – The Emperor. They all offer information about our authority and personal sovereignty.
In the Swords suit, which rules the mind, perception, and thought, we often see conflict and strife. But the Four offers its quieting influence, indicating a time of seclusion, rest, and even the renunciation of busy worldly pursuits.
Tarot artist and scholar Robert Place writes that this card reflects a practice called “incubation,” in which ancient mystics would lie as if lifeless, imitating the state of death, sometimes for days, in order to induce visions and deep trance. Such practices are common in magical and spiritual initiations even to this day.
As buoyantly extroverted as these days ahead of Summer Solstice may be, with the Sun in friendly, chatty Gemini, the Four of Swords indicates that just now, we would be better served by introspection, solitude, and even a time out.
What soul-flight do you need during this time of change and growth? Are you being called to dream-journey? Is this a period of initiation for you?
What is needed, so that you can tap into your deepest levels of knowing?
Unlike the Nine of Swords, which portrays troubled sleep, dark grieving, and even nightmares, the Four is lighter, more gentle and peaceful.
Note that the Four is located in a sacred space. So, a spiritual retreat, especially one that emphasizes silence, could bring you needed solace, insight, and renewal.
Take a Break
With the rhetoric of the American elections at a blistering crescendo, with news and views firehosing into our lives non-stop, not to mention the ongoing escapades of the cult of personality, maybe this would be a good time for a media fast.
We certainly live in times of ever-escalating change and conflict, and intensity is the new normal. Super-charged, over-stimulated, caffeine- and adrenaline-amped, wired-in 24/7, we spend every waking minute immersed in a cacophony of opinion, infotainment, distraction, and the commoditization of consciousness.
But if we never unplug or take a time out, how can we know what we really think?
When I have worked the steps of Julia Cameron’s inspirational classic, The Artist’s Way, I have always found the most challenging AND rewarding portion to be the Reading Deprivation week.
As an obsessive reader, putting my books, magazines, and devices away for a week is agonizing … at first!
But every time, wonderful changes stir in my mind and spirit. I begin to hear my own voice — stronger, clearer, unedited. My creative genius can come through with less distortion and competition.
Who Gets Into Your Head?
It is imperative that we be more judicious with what we allow into our mind’s eye.
Whose voices, opinions, and images are disturbing your inner peace? What would happen if you turned them all off for a little while?
The Four of Swords offers the overextended a breather from the danger of overload and burnout. It suggests we would be wise to have more clarity about what we are all about, and then edit accordingly what is allowed into our field of consciousness.
Is this week’s card a nudge for you to step back for some reflective time? Can you carve out, not just an hour or two of meditation, but a true retreat from the world?
Do you need time for quiet reflection? Solitary meditation and prayer may bring you new understanding. This is a time to hear your own voice, know your own opinions, see your own authentic visions.
What rest do you need right now? What quiet healing is available, if only you will turn within for a little while?
Patience and Preparedness
The Four of Swords suggests patience. In fact, its gifts may come disguised as delay.
Look for opportunities to exercise forbearance or even disengage from a conflict, in order to let time pass.
The ongoing challenges of Mars retrograding in Scorpio are making communication and boundaries very difficult for some people. I am seeing tempers simmering near the boiling point for many, or playing out in snarky, passive-aggressive behavior.
Our card suggests a well-considered pause before plunging into the frantic pace and commitments that are doubtless tugging on your sleeve.
Seek peacefulness. We all need to be alone sometimes — to incubate new ideas, to re-calibrate our inner compass, to vision-quest, and to receive the answers to our seeking.
Allow yourself the gift of taking your time. Sort out what only you alone can, offering yourself an untroubled retreat within your own private sacred space.
Thus will you be better prepared for more engaged days that surely lie ahead.