Healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God.
~ Ram Dass
This week, which promises lots of transition, potential agitation, and possibly even “sequestration,” the Six of Swords comes calling.
Tarot scholar Rachel Pollack notes that this Six is a classic example of how illustrator Pamela Colman Smith’s images could illuminate, and even surpass, Arthur Waite’s own interpretations. [By the way, a belated Happy 135th Birthday to Pixie Smith (Saturday, Feb. 16). ]
Waite was rather literal in his interpretation, calling this card a journey by water and pretty much leaving it at that.
But Smith has given it a mythic depth that hints of Charon, the ferryman who crosses the River Styx, carrying the shrouded dead as they depart the land of mortal life. Or he could be a boatman guiding the woman and child to the shores of Avalon.
There is a sense of sorrow and even resignation, of “quiet passage through long difficulty,” as Rachel notes. But there is also a deep peacefulness here. As they glide towards the lands in the distance, they float lightly, not weighed down, despite their sharp cargo.
Although the swords are stuck through the bottom of the vessel, they do not appear to be in danger of sinking, hinting at how we may eventually adapt to even the most perilous or painful circumstances. The churning, troubled waters behind give way to serene pools ahead.
Notice that the cloaked adult figure is hunched over, gazing downward, like there is a weight on his or her shoulders. It is a demeanor of despair and even defeat.
Yet, as Tarot expert Paul Quinn notes, the oar’s position can be seen as a dividing line between the child and ferryman, and the hooded figure. This makes it more obvious that the child and ferryman are united, mirroring one another’s demeanor. They are upright, less burdened, and looking forward to the shores in the distance.
This is one of only two Swords cards depicting more than one person. But unlike the Five, there is no conflict here; we are not alone on this journey.
As is the case with all cards that feature multiple figures, we must ask ourselves which one of these most closely resembles us. Who is the helper that keeps the balance as he steers the boat to new shores? Who is the child who looks ahead? Who is the shrouded one, bent over with care?
This card is one that shows a time of quiet change. Perhaps this is literal travel, or a time of spiritual movement.
Although Swords are the realm of the mind, perception, and communication, the boatman poles the vessel through the waters of dreams and the unconscious. And it may well be that the ferryman’s pole is a Wand of magic and creativity.
So we have Air, Fire and Water combining to help us make this journey. But the lands ahead (Earth) are only barely differentiated from the waters. Their solidity, or the outcome of this voyage, remains uncertain.
This week, astrologer Diane Lang, of Libra Seeking Balance, writes:
The pace this week is bound to be slow with Saturn in Scorpio stationing retrograde on Monday and Mercury in Pisces stationing retrograde on Saturday. Rushing around is far more likely to result in frustration than progress and a deliberate pace will be better than a fast one.
Unless you have a chart well grounded with plenty of earth, staying grounded in reality may be tricky this week.
Between the Sun entering Pisces and conjoining Neptune midweek, the Saturn station and Mercury barely moving in Pisces, maintaining focus is not going to be easy. We have all the usual Mercury related challenges plus the dreaminess of Neptune’s influence…
Get extra sleep if you can and pay attention to your dreams . . . always a good idea with so many planets in Pisces. Disagreements could get very strange because arguments will tend to be circular and with no clear point.
Be careful out there this week and practice patience, tolerance and kindness. See you on the other side!
What lies ahead for you on the other side? Speed, impatience, and drama could jeopardize the progress of this voyage.
In what ways might you now be processing a time of sorrow, mourning, or recovery? Perhaps this is a chance for you to get some distance, in order to gain perspective.
What transits are you making? Has some difficulty now set you on a course for change? What recent loss has obliged you to hand over the steering to others?
Is it possible that you have been carrying some grief for so long that you barely notice it anymore? Healing takes time, and this is given to you now.
This week, as was the case last week, we are in a Gateway of transition, between what has been, and what still awaits. We are given this time to undergo an important rite of passage. What hope may await on the shores ahead?
While it may be difficult to yet see our destination clearly, we are long past looking backwards.
There is no way but forward.