The supreme end of education is expert discernment of all things — the power to tell the good from the bad, the genuine from the counterfeit, and to prefer the good and the genuine to the bad and the counterfeit.
~ Samuel Johnson
It was with great curiosity that I pulled our card for this week. After all, it will be our companion as we say goodbye to 2015, while it opens the door to 2016.
And for that dual task, what better gift could we receive than the two-edged Ace of Swords?
The Aces in the Tarot represent new beginnings (perfect for the New Year). Aces initiate the growth process, whether that growth is physical, mental or spiritual.
And each Ace depicts the essential energy of its suit. Since the Swords suit relates to the element of Air, and represents intellect, ideas, choices, and the mind, the Ace of Swords suggests new ideas, inspiration, facts, communication, and judgment.
The Ace of Swords in the Waite-Smith deck shows a hand issuing from a cloud, grasping a sword, the point of which is encircled by a crown.
There are many interpretations of this crown – it may represent victory or authority, material success, or perhaps even the Crown Chakra, since the intellect is the most common way by which we move beyond our own immediate experience.
Just above the hand, at the hilt of the blade, we see golden yods, which you may recall we also saw in The Tower in early November. The yods bring the promise of divine blessings.
The Grand Irrationality
As you are aware, information can be a two-edged sword, and its power can be wielded for good or ill.
The sword itself is neutral, just as information is; it is how it’s used that makes all the difference.
The Ace of Swords is a particularly decisive card and holds the possibility of noble words and deeds. It promises clear vision and freedom from confusion. It can enable personal brilliance and the ability to understand others.
As the pressure in global affairs increases, including the increasingly dramatic and strange U.S. presidential campaign, this Ace is our liberator, demanding clarity and truth-telling. It cuts through noisy, emotional grandstanding, and demands rational discourse, fact-checking, and understanding.
As astrologer Robert Wilkinson has discussed for many years, we are living in the time of the “Grand Irrationality,” which is “a long wave configuration set into motion every time a planet makes a conjunction, septile, biseptile, or triseptile to Neptune and Pluto.”
Last week’s Christmas Full Moon pulsed this energy once again. He writes, “Since 1993, at one point or another, everyone on Earth has experienced a nonstop energy of having to choose, at the bottom of our beings, the path to evolution or devolution, progress or regress, love or fear, joy or control. It’s why things have been so weird, irrational, and hard-edged.”
It’s also why over and over, we are seeing choices being made that are completely contrary to our personal or global best interests, or which are based on make-believe rhetoric.
It’s precisely the energy that’s feeding the daily news stories that leave us dumbfounded with shock, because they seem completely crazy.
The Grand Irrationality is propping up the facade of business as usual, that denies there is any such thing as global climate change. It feeds the false, air-brushed infotainment world that ignores the system-wide racism, misogyny, poverty, and violence that is the everyday reality for many of our human family.
But this sharp Ace, being shown to us by the hand of Mystery, is a gift that may poke us to get out of our shock, denial, or despair and maybe even save ourselves.
Rather than abdicate sensibility, it urges us to use our magnificent gift of intelligence. And it warns us to beware of those who wish to downplay or even ridicule education and reason.
When something or someone triggers you, stop, breathe, and scrutinize the facts.
Some Swords-y New Year’s Celebrations
The Ace of Swords is an invitation for new ideas, a new way of seeing, and starting important communications — ideal for this New Year’s week.
For instance, many people I know have gotten away from the tradition of making resolutions. After years of attempts, usually with mixed results at best, even the word can feel tiresome and half defeated before we start.
Instead, there are many alternative ideas gaining popularity about how to make intentional changes at this turning of the calendar page, and actually succeed.
For instance, some folks like to choose a word to represent their vision for the coming year. Most frequently, this is done by some sort of random process, or even by divination, like pulling a word from a collection of terms and words written on scraps of paper.
There are even business and creativity coaches who now offer their own variations of this Word of the Year practice as part of their services.
This is a brilliantly Swords-y thing to do, since the Swords are the suit of words, knowledge, and communication.
Some also like to incorporate ritual for what they are saying goodbye to, and may write a list (again with the Swords!) of what they wish to release, and then burn it in a sacred fire ceremony.
For people who keep journals, the new year is often when they will crack open a brand new one. Journaling is incredibly therapeutic and often inspiring. Keeping Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages is a habit that drives countless creative people.
Or else this is a great time to start a gratitude journal, if you haven’t before. It’s one of the most powerful, sure-fire magical tools I can ever recommend for you.
Several astrologers I follow have noted that the Moon in Virgo on New Year’s Eve will support us following through on our intentions this year, especially if they are thoughtfully planned, and involve the areas that Virgo rules, such as health, organization, service, and skill.
Luna slips into a brief Void of Course chill-out right after midnight (Eastern time), but then for the rest of New Year’s Day will be in Libra — another supportive sign for bringing more harmony, fairness, and balance into our lives.
Time for a Newer, Truer Story
In this week of in-between, how can the Ace of Swords give you the gift of clear discernment, candid truth-telling, and envisioning a more authentic future?
In global affairs and also on a personal level, look for a turning point or breakthrough this week that brings new insight, perspective, and knowledge.
This card may herald new, possibly aggressive beginnings that promise victory, success, and the settling of old conflicts. It may also indicate a complete change of mind and/or lifestyle.
Now is the time to envision and live a new story. Old scripts and perceptions that are painful, outdated, and dysfunctional must make way for a more honest narrative about who we are.
Although the Swords often indicate conflict, don’t shy away from new ideas, new wisdom, or your own authenticity. Remember that conflict, change, and even confrontation, although difficult, are not always harmful; without them, there is no growth.
As you gaze into the coming year’s possibilities, remember it is your birthright to know truth from deception, good from bad, and to naturally desire what is right and genuine.
Let us educate ourselves, and make honest, expert discernment our highest priority for the times ahead.
New Year’s blessings to you.