Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Tarot Card of the Week – Three of Swords Encore

Our pain for the world arises out of our interexistence with all life. When we hear the sounds of the Earth crying within us, we’re unblocking, not just feedback, but also the channels of felt connectedness that join us with our world.
~ Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone

from Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re In Without Going Crazy

Like an unpleasant dash of cold water in my face, I have pulled the Three of Swords again for this week of the Full Aquarius Moon.

It has been quite a while since I got any card twice in a row, and this is certainly not one I would prefer.  If you would like to read a more traditional interpretation of it, please visit last week’s post.

But sitting with it yet again, wondering what else it is needing to say to us, I can’t help but feel it is a continuation of last week’s conversation presided over by Kuan Yin.

Can’t we just take a break, watch the Olympics, and forget how the world might be going to hell in a handbasket?

Evidently, the Tarot thinks not.

With the Aquarius Full Moon and the Sun in the opposing sign of Leo this week, Annie Heese at CafeAstrology writes, “The Leo Sun is proud and intensely individual–not content with simply being just one of the team. The Aquarius Moon, while individualistic as well, values independence and the ‘team.’  The Full Moon illuminates this conflict.”

How might we now find ourselves conflicted about acting as individuals, or as a part of the group?

In 1968, Bibb Lantané and John Darley conducted what has since become a classic (and controversial) study of socialization pressures. In their work, “Group Inhibition of Bystander Intervention in Emergencies,” they describe a lab experiment in which a group of people was asked to sit in a room and fill out a questionnaire.

While they worked on the forms, smoke started pouring into the room from a wall vent. In cases where a person was in the room alone, they unfailingly responded immediately, jumping up from their seat to leave the room and look for help.

But when there were several people in the room together, they would look around the room to see how the others were responding.  If the others (who, of course, were in on the experiment) were remaining calm and continuing to fill out their questionnaires, in most cases, the subjects would pretend to ignore the smoke.

Even when they were clearly distressed, with their eyes stinging and smoke filling up the room, more than two-thirds of the subjects would persist with filling out their forms, until they were finally “rescued” by the researchers.

As Joanna Macy writes, “This experiment serves as a metaphor for our responses to planetary emergency.  If the smoke represents disturbing information, filling out the questionnaire is like continuing with Business as Usual. If we are to survive as a species, we need to understand how our active responses to danger get blocked, and also how we can prevent this from happening.”

One of the blocks, of course, is the fear that if we look at things, really do see with unedited honesty where things stand right this minute, won’t we shatter into a thousand pieces?  Won’t our hearts break to the point of overwhelm and paralysis?

I believe the Three of Swords, with its Airy emphasis on, not emotion, but thought, shows the way through such fears. When we are in danger, when bad things are happening, it directs us to see; to think; to speak; to ask; to hear; to understand.

It is profoundly draining to maintain the levels of insulation and denial necessary to pretend that all we need to do is shop some more, or elect our favorite Republicans or Democrats, or recycle our ink cartridges, or buy more organic food, and everything will turn out fine.

Deep down, you and I know that global disaster is looming. We are on the tipping point of the most ominous moment in human history.  Yet most people around us seem to be quietly filling out their questionnaires as if nothing is happening. Or else arguing about how the deck chairs on the Titanic should be re-arranged and who should be in charge.

In the work I am doing, along with the many others who are also committed to midwifing The Great Turning, I have learned that there is enormous relief possible when we admit and own our pain.

There is no simpler image in the Tarot than the Three of Swords.  In a stormy downpour, the heart is pierced through by three swords.

If our house is on fire, we must dismiss the taboo that it’s uncool to be “negative.” When we tell the simple truth, the resulting tears, anguish, and anger can free us, and others, too.

At first, yes, we may feel overwhelmed. But when we communicate from our hearts the terrible grief, fury, doubts, loss, and distress we feel, the results can be shocking and liberating.

Sometimes, only a broken heart can be persuaded to see what is and is not true. Through this admission, painful as it may be, we open with compassion to the cries of the world.

When we finally can acknowledge to each other that we are in pain, the wounds can be addressed. We now may discover we are not alone, and we empower one another to respond together to the peril we are in.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • July 30, 2012, 5:58 pm Terry

    Hi Beth,
    I thought this link might be of interest… as it helps give emphasis to what you have mentioned and touched on previously…. Perhaps the 3 of swords may be seen as warning as to how our thought energies, especially fear and despair, can pierce/swamp our more true heart energies…. Those heart energies of unconditional love, gratitude, forgiveness, that Kuan Yin and all the gods/goddesses, saints and mystics have been helping us nurture… helping us learn how to stay grounded in Gaia’s joy even while feeling and transforming the grief and sorrow around us…

    Maybe this week’s 3 of swords is really a reminder of how we can let our thoughts block the heart of Gaia’s joy and ours… Maybe we are to celebrate the gifts of the Olympics? The promise of hearts persevering? The opening ceremonies celebration of health, children, literature and music as national treasures?

    Much love,

  • July 30, 2012, 7:12 pm Thistle Brown

    I most certainly respect you. Morover, you’re far more educated and experienced than I. I have a problem: I see all cards (Crowley Thoth) as positive in one way or another while at the same time recognizing certain, well, dangers. I guess i’m much too happy. At the same time, I recognize the problems to horrors or the world we inhabit. I enjoy you on Facebook, not do I toss away the thought, opinions and enlightments of those who have showed me their capabilites. Moreoever, I’m not sufficiently educated in astrology to be questioning you — and yet, I don’t see it that way. Perhaps I’m not taking a broad view. In any case, thank you for your offering on Facebook.

  • July 31, 2012, 8:19 am Susannah

    Beth…Have you ever heard of or read anything by Parker Palmer? He popped into my head when I read your entry this week. Check out this Youtube here: about inner authority and democracy.

    Thank you! Lots to reflect on.

    Susannah 🙂

  • July 31, 2012, 10:19 am Beth

    Oh, yes, I love Parker Palmer; he’s one of my heroes. Thank you for this awesome link, Susannah!

    Dear Thistle – I am so sorry if this came off as negative. I meant for it to be an encouragement, not a downer. But I am GLAD for you to question me, and to think critically about this, and compare it to your own sensibilities! Thank you for initiating some discussion.

    And Terry – what a beautiful view of it! What you say resonates with me in a very good way. And the Sandra Ingerman essay is stunning.

    Like, “Our hearts break open in deep compassion as we witness what all of life is going through around us. In this state it becomes more challenging to touch into our true home, spirit, Self, divine light, stillness, and inner peace. But we must!!”

    Yes! Yes! Yes!

  • July 31, 2012, 1:15 pm Laurel Massé

    A good, strong post, Beth. Thank you.

  • July 31, 2012, 1:35 pm Janee

    Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa
    If we all worked on this emergency together in this global community instead of competing for diminishing resources, I believe we would naturally turn towards a peaceful, fairer more compassionate future.
    May it be so!