Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
For the third time this year (or fourth if you count that it was the transition card for 2015 into 2016), we are receiving a loud, clear, and very insistent message from the Ace of Swords.
It’s interesting that, looking back at its appearances over the years, it has a habit of visiting us on New Moons and new beginnings. And this time, the New Virgo Moon on Thursday is also a solar eclipse. And of course, as of Tuesday the 30th, Mercury has turned retrograde.
As you can see, 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.
The Aces in the Tarot represent new beginnings. Each Ace depicts the essence of its suit and therefore can be nearly as important and far-reaching as the Major Arcana cards. Aces represent the genesis and growth process, whether that growth is physical, mental, or spiritual.
Since the Swords suit relates to the element of Air, it represents the intellect, information, choices, perception, and the mind. These matters would also be strongly influenced by what is going on with the planet Mercury (read on for details).
So the Ace of Swords suggests new ideas, inspiration, discovery, communication, and passing judgment.
The Ace of Swords is one of the few Swords cards that is not inherently unhappy. In fact, it features the crown of victory, decorated with a vine of berries and an evergreen bough. These are symbols, respectively, of abundance and triumphant achievement that stand the test of time.
Just above the hand, at the hilt of the blade, we see golden yods, which bring the promise of divine blessings.
The yod is the name given to a small section of the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, and is usually portrayed in the Tarot as small bits of fire. It is, as expert Robert Place notes, “the seminal form of all the other letters in the Hebrew alphabet.”
It is also the first letter of the name of the Abrahamic Supreme Being (YHWH, pronounced “Yahway” or “Jehovah”).
And a yod in astrology is an isosceles triangle formed by two planets sextile (sixty degrees from) each other and both quincunx (one-hundred-fifty degrees from) a third, Fulcrum planet.
It is also called The Finger of God, The Eye of God, or The Finger of Fate. The latter is particularly common, since “yod” is closely related to the Hebrew word for hand (“yad“).
Thus, when yods appear in the Tarot, there is a sense of fate moving, and major forces and life-changing events are in play. Or, from another viewpoint, the Divine is interacting with events, which, either in the short term, or in the long run, will be seen as a blessing.
The Fated Days of September
This is certainly the case as we enter the month of September and this Eclipse cycle. As awesome astrologer Rhea Wolf writes:
Eclipse cycles, which we go through every six months or so, are often packed with meaningful events and surprising revelations. But sometimes, we aren’t aware of what is happening to us until later.
The month ahead will be littered with small things, those few dozen hours, and little events which later we come to realize were of utmost importance to the unfolding of our life stories. When we are faced with such extraordinary possibility, what should we do?
Open our attention completely.
To open one’s attention requires trust. If you open to the moment, you can accept whatever life has to give you.
Opening attention to what is, rather than what could be, allows you the freedom to meet life on its own terms, summoning your resources and skills for the task at hand.
My brilliant friend Elisabeth Grace also notes that this New Moon/Eclipse will be featuring, “a tense pattern with Saturn (real) and Neptune (unreal), similar to what we experienced the first week of June.”
Luckily, this Ace is the epitome of intelligence and consciousness. With it, we can cut through the crap and know what is real, and what is illusion.
The Ace of Swords insists on being honest and true. It demands impartial discernment, the need for eyes wide open, and judgment unclouded by wishful thinking.
When facts are faced with razor sharp clarity, success can be achieved. And with the unusual repetition of this card this year, it would appear it is the only way it may be.
In addition, with Mercury, the planet that rules communication, technology, business, and travel, having turned retrograde, extra precautions should be taken with the details of conversations, mechanical and electronic devices, and any trips being planned.
But happily, as Elisabeth explains in her brilliant Mercury Retrograde Survival Guide:
Contrary to popular belief, Mercury retrogrades are no reason to freak out. Mercury retrograde gets a bad rap because we are geared, in this crazy modern age, to always be thinking, doing, moving FORWARD.
You know what that gets you? BURN OUT. We need our down times, and Mercury retrograde is a perfect time to give our minds a rest. Why else would your computer, phone and/or car choose THIS time to malfunction? Because you are supposed to be slowing down. And as you slow down, it is vitally important that you FOCUS.
When Mercury is retrograde, be prepared for travel delays, scheduling screw-ups, mechanical breakdowns, computer crashes, having to repeat what you’ve just said, misunderstandings, the past coming back for a second look, surprise reunions and having to repeat what you just said.
Use your FOCUS and double check important details, like whether the restaurant you’ve chosen for a meet-up is still in business. Or whether it is booked for a commercial shoot or a private party — all of which has happened to me during Mercury retrogrades.
If you are looking for a job, Mercury retrogrades are a perfect time to reach out to people from your past. Mine your address book and trust that your contacts will be happy to hear from you.
However, do not be frustrated if your target is away on vacation or keeps rescheduling meetings. Also, triple check your emails and resumes before you hit “send,” as there is a higher probability of typos and other sloppy snafus… (read more) …
Just keep your Sword nice and sharp, Ace, and you will be fine.
And how does one keep a sword sharp? Slowly, carefully, with great deliberation, and undistracted attention.
The Razor’s Edge
The Ace, during this New Moon and eclipse period especially, means there is a new beginning occurring. After several weeks of cards that seemed to lean towards wishy-washiness, difficulty telling the truth from fantasy, and dithering over decisions, this week, we come to the razor’s edge.
As the Katha-Upanishad says, “The sharp edge of a razor is difficult to pass over; thus the wise say the path to Salvation is hard.”
But salvation is surely what we need.
Blessed by the astrological opening doorway of the Lunar nodes, the Tarot’s Divine hand that stretches forth from the clouds, and in the presence of the yods, we have the support and blessing of Guidance, if we will take up our sword of truth.
What new idea needs your attention? What is it time to cut out of your life, once and for all? What communication channels are opening, perhaps for the first time?
How might we be called by the sacred one(s) to step up to truth and honesty? What decision hangs in the balance this week?
The Ace of Swords challenges us to cut away the lies, deceits, and pretense that trap us. Whether it’s small, seemingly insignificant truth-stretching, sincere ignorance, conscientious stupidity, or Pants On Fire, dishonesty of any kind poisons our safety and well-being on every level, and must not be given a pass.
Now is the time. Consider carefully, double check the facts, then speak your impeccable truth.
A new start is in your hands.