Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Tarot Card of the Week: Sept. 27 – Oct. 3, 2010

In the end, we will remember, not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This is the first time in all these years that I have allowed myself to be late for our Tarot Card of the Week. Many thanks for your patience while I was away.

However, I can’t say I am thrilled with what we’ve waited to get.  For many personal reasons of my own, this is one I was not happy to pull.

As is the tendency with the Minor Arcana Fives, as well as most of the Swords suit, this card depicts conflict and strife. Even renowned Tarot scholar Rachel Pollack calls this “one of the most difficult cards…one of the reasons some people find the Rider pack too negative.”

The sky is stormy, with jagged, threatening clouds.  The man in the foreground gloats as the other two figures retreat in defeat, perhaps even humiliation.

Arthur Waite wrote of it, “A disdainful man looks after two retreating and dejected figures. Their swords lie upon the ground. He carries two others on his left shoulder, and a third sword is in his right hand, point to earth. He is the master in possession of the field.” Waite assigned it an interpretation of, “Degradation, destruction, revocation, infamy, dishonour, loss, with the variants and analogues of these.”

Harsh terms for someone so happy to see themselves as now being in command.

What was the nature of this conflict? While the two had more manpower, the smirking winner was more heavily armed, perhaps due to some kind of trickery, almost certainly having some unfair advantage.

While he is very sure of himself, and he has disarmed the two in what Waite has called a dishonorable defeat, most interpretations do not assume that this situation is final.

For if there is any dominating theme to the Tarot, it is that justice must eventually out, and balance be restored. But as is so often the case, the road there may be fraught with setbacks and difficulty, as the two in the background are experiencing.

This week, tensions from the reactivation of the Grand Cross and the Saturn Pluto square by the Sun and the Moon continue. Astrologer Lara Owen explains in depth why ongoing conflicts, especially around issues of power, authority and control, continue to be triggered.

Be extra careful, then, not to make enemies, but to approach adversaries with scrupulous honesty.  Whenever possible, first stretch out the hand of peace and magnanimity.

On the other hand, have you been defeated or cheated out of something by a wily and cunning opponent? Do you feel you have suffered because of someone’s cowardliness, ego or malice? Perhaps now is the time to walk away while you can.  A strategic retreat may be the wisest move.

Take extra care to protect what is valuable to you, and be careful about people who would wield their power in underhanded, dishonest ways, as well as any temptation to do so on your part.

In one of the previous visits from this card, I quoted Abraham Lincoln, who once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Notice how people use their personal power.

Winning at any price will not really vanquish a competitor.  The payback always comes.  Fairness and justice, eventually, must be served.  When they are, where will you be in the equation?

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  • September 29, 2010, 12:07 pm cathylarsonsky

    This card disturbed me so much I had to think of a less harsh way to interpret its message. The lyric from “The Gambler” seems appropo . . . you got to know when to hold them/know when to fold them/know when to walk away/and know when to run. I am seeing the character in the foreground as the forces of materialism and conquest that dominate our culture, but also as what happens when we empower that part of our ego/monkey mind that insists that the only form of pleasure in life is “winning” and begins to plot to achieve what it wants, without consulting the heart and spirit. In this case, I identify with the ones who have walked away, toward the ocean and perhaps the revivifying forces of the natural world. There is always a time for retreat and meditation. In other lyrics from B. Dylan (loosely remembered): “rest yourself by the strength of springs/that no one can hope to hide.”

  • September 29, 2010, 10:20 pm Tara

    This is a hard one indeed… I just phoned a long time friend who shared that she and her husband have lost all of their material belongings…house, cars, etc… her daughter-in-laws dad embezzled their company money and did not pay scads of bills unbeknownst to them… They really have “nothing” but the clothes on their backs… It is weird….It made me ill as I too am a small business owner who is trusting of most people. What of it is karmic? When do we fold them? When do we run away? When do we fight?

    When is it ok to be someone in power both materially and otherwise? As you know I struggle with this power thing… humbly, to a fault.

    I am feeling very cautious already, but this put me over the edge… where are all the good people hiding out these days?

    Beth is Colorado calling my name or is that just a mirage?

    Thanks for doing what you do and thanks to the others for continually posting too!

  • September 30, 2010, 4:05 pm Sarah

    Thank you for this insightful and thought-provoking essay, Beth. I have gained so much from your online Tarot teachings. And for your comments, Cathy and Tara. There is so much to wonder about here…

    I wonder, could the figure in the foreground, alternatively, be a distributor of swords, handing them out to those in need? A sort of Robin Hood? Could he be someone who is challenged (five card) to share, rather than hoard, mental prowess (swords)? The image seems wonderfully ambiguous to me (notwithstanding Waite’s description.)

    Metaphorically, I can see the person in the foreground as a teacher, for instance, passing along tools of perception to young students. Or maybe a bright student sharing ‘sharp’/well-defined ideas in class. (The others seem, as yet, oblivious to the clarifying ‘points’ being shared. They are too deeply involved in some drama, focused on the storms and the waters– the emotional backdrop of adolescence, maybe. This does look like one of Colman Smith’s stage cards.)

    Just wanted to mention the possibility of a “flipped” scenario, with someone patient and good-natured in the foreground, and, in back, figures that are tragically/comically enthralled by staged drama.