To attain knowledge, add things everyday.
To attain wisdom, remove things every day.
Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching
This week that begins the new astrological year, and the celebration of Ostara, I was secretly hoping for happier inspiration than this. After all, the Sun crosses the Aries Point today, so this energy sets the tone for the next 365 days. Instead, we have pragmatic, pointed (pun intended!) guidance. So, should we gladly welcome the Two of Swords? Or not?
Yes? No? Maybe?
Actually, I rather like the idea of a Two of the Tarot showing up for one of only two times each year that light and dark are in perfect balance. As I wrote in today’s post about Ostara, this is the day when, albeit briefly, Yin and Yang are in absolute equality. After this day, in the Northern Hemisphere, the hours of light (and Yang’s dynamic, bright energy) will outweigh the night hours and Yin (passive, shadowed).
In the Tarot, the twos are usually about choices, and the Swords in the Tarot are ruled by the element of Air, which is concerned with the mind, intellect, attitude, and communication. Interestingly, the Vernal Equinox marks the beginning of Spring, which is the season ruled by Air.
Yet, so much of this picture is dominated by Water, which is often about our dreams, subconscious, and emotions. What may lurk beneath those deep waters behind her?
Are they even real?
This is the third week we’ve gotten one of artist Pamela Colman Smith’s “stage” cards. In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the thin, double horizontal line running across the card makes it appear that the figure is on an artificial platform. So is the scene behind her a theatrical backdrop?
With a hint of artifice in this mysteriously tense scene, we must ask ourselves — what drama is unfolding, and to what end?
The woman might slowly be arriving at a decision, but for the moment, it appears to be a stalemate. Although her position is stable, the swords she holds are enormous, and certainly she won’t be able to maintain that position for very long.
This is also true of the Equinoxes. While for one moment the hours of dark and light come to a perfect equality, Nature never remains in this sort of stasis. Everything is constantly giving to and receiving from everything else. A fifty-fifty equality is not necessarily the ideal, nor is it the natural way of things.
To See, or Not to See
The woman in the Two of Swords has often been compared to the Justice card.
But Justice is crowned as royalty. She is sheltered by two columns that are very like the columns of Solomon’s Temple that we see in The High Priestess, with whom she is connected by numerology. She gazes directly at us, her expression one of no nonsense.
Yet Justice’s robe is crimson, suggesting that to truly be in balance, she acknowledges her passions. Combining both intellect and emotion, she is able to see all sides of the facts and weigh her verdicts. The drape of the curtain makes the yellow background look as if the Sun is shining down upon her.
Unlike Justice, the woman in the Two of Swords is in white, which in Western magickal traditions is associated with the etheric. White also represents purity, the Moon, and is often worn in initiatory rituals and ceremonies.
She sits on a stone bench, under a waxing new crescent Moon by a dark seaside. Unlike the R-W-S version of Justice, she is blindfolded, unable to see. Is her vision closed in order to produce inner illumination? Or is it because she fears to see the realities of the world?
Nor does she hold the scales of balanced consideration and choices. Instead, her arms are crossed defensively in front of her heart, cutting off her feelings, allowing nothing to come in or go out.
How well can we make a choice if both our hearts and eyes are closed?
More Than Mind
This is a card that often comes up when we feel we must block our emotions and make a purely rational decision. It may also appear when we feel stuck and indecisive, as if we need more and more and more information before we can move forward.
Or we may vacillate between choice A and choice B, when what we really want is “None of the above.”
The Two of Swords is also a card that shows how impossible it can be to make up our mind about things that have little to do with the mind at all. The mind is a great gift, but it is only one tool for navigating our life’s journey, and sometimes it is not the best one.
Still, we make our lists of pros and cons. We rationalize, argue, and refuse to listen to our hearts, thinking that we should trust hard data more than feelings.
How many times have you been faced with a choice that looks good “on paper,” but in your gut, you know it’s not the right thing at all? When you ignore those prompts, is there something you are afraid of knowing?
And how do you know what you know? What body cues unfailingly respond to the truth? What does a psychic “hit” feel like for you? Do you feel shivers or goosebumps when something rings true?
Pay attention. Your mind may crave more information, but your inner guidance may well know that is just noise and distraction. Listen with all your senses.
The Hesitation Blues
As much as we might want to close our eyes and fade into the background, something eventually will need to happen. We postpone and avoid deciding at our peril.
This week, if you find yourself “between a rock and a hard place,” feeling like you need to make a difficult choice you wish you didn’t have to, this card offers some illumination.
Consider the ways you may be closing your eyes or your heart because of knowledge that is not logical or analytical. There is a very good chance that non-logical information is precisely what you need, in order to proceed with wisdom.
Could it also be that this is but a bit of drama, a scene being played out more for effect than authenticity? What is really going on “backstage?”
What should we add, in order to know? What should we take away, in order to see? Choose something. Or perhaps let go of choosing altogether. What would happen if you just let it go?
Fearful indecision is a slow poison. Analysis paralysis gets you nowhere. Receive what is being disclosed to you.
You can’t close off your heart with your swords forever. Open your eyes. Open your spirit.
The small, quiet, and very probably illogical voice you are hearing is likely to be your own Wisdom calling you.