In war, resolution; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity.
Sir Winston Churchill
Blah. There, yes, I said it. If any of the cards are my least favorite, this is one. Because I really hate bullying, and my Libra ascendant just cannot abide cheating.
Yet, as I have said many times and emphasize in my classes, there are no “good” or “bad” Tarot cards, really; just very instructive ones. And this card certainly has a lot to say.
As is the tendency with the Minor Arcana Fives, as well as most of the Swords suit, this card depicts conflict and strife. So here we have a double-whammy of trouble.
The sky is stormy, with jagged, threatening clouds. The man in the foreground gloats as the others retreat in defeat, perhaps even humiliation. At his feet are their two swords, the spoils of his victory.
Yet he bears three already – an unfair advantage that tells us his victory is less than chivalrous.
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 proud to see themselves as now being in command.
Who Are You?
Although unpleasant, this card happens to most of us, sooner or later. As in all Tarot cards with multiple figures, one is invited to ask, “Which one am I?” In this one, especially, consider which of the players do you most identify with at this time.
(I deliberately use the term “players,” since this is another of Pamela Colman Smith’s “stage cards.”)
The two men near the water have survived a total drubbing. They had more manpower, but the smirking winner was more heavily armed, perhaps due to some kind of trickery, almost certainly some unfair advantage.
Despite your best efforts, this card unpleasantly indicates that you may have recently, or are about to lose out to someone who opposes you.
Have you been defeated or cheated out of success by a wily and cunning opponent? Do you feel you have suffered a setback because of someone’s cowardliness, cruelty, or malice? Perhaps now is the time to walk away while you can.
But do not despair, or give in to bitterness. Learn from this, and remember that tomorrow is another day.
On the other hand, perhaps this card is for those who see themselves as the winners. Perhaps you feel you have won an important battle, in which the odds seemed against you.
But arrogance and pride often come hand in hand with a difficult victory such as this, and you must be careful not to think you are invincible.
How completely must you see your enemies laid low, in order to feel satisfied? Is your victory ethical? Gloating, humiliating, and taunting those who you have bested is vulgar behavior unworthy of real champions.
Besides, it only serves to strengthen your opponent’s resolve to fight more fiercely next time. One may be the most powerful, with the biggest weapons, but to treat an adversary with disrespect is a fatal weakness that will come back to haunt him.
Beware. As Churchill instructed, magnanimity in victory is long-term wisdom.
And he should know. How different the 20th century might have been had World War I not been followed by the brutal economic punishments inflicted to teach Germany a lesson, but instead something like the Marshall Plan that followed WWII.
This week, both Mercury and Venus change signs. On Tuesday the 6th, they both move from dreamy, sensitive Pisces to aggressive Aries.
When Mercury, planet of communication and ideas shifts to the influence of Aries, God of war, you can expect passionate ideas, words expressed (perhaps bombastically) without caution, spontaneous decisions made without a lot of consideration for consequences, and eager plans launched.
It is worth mentioning, too, that Mercury will be in Aries throughout its retrograde period which begins March 22.
Simultaneously, Venus, planet ruled by the Goddess of love, beauty, and prosperity, departs the gentle, considerate embrace of Pisces. Astrologer Austin Coppock writes:
Aries is considered to be one of the more difficult signs for Venus. Astrological tradition states that Venus is in her “detriment” in Aries, meaning that it is difficult for the planet’s essential energy to manifest through the matrix of the sign.
Each sign represents an energy distribution pattern, and in Aries, the pattern concentrates energy on the self in order manifest the self’s potential. It is not a cooperation-based stage of development.
Aries is individualistic, brash, and more interested in actions than feelings. It emphasizes the exploration of self-reliance at the cost of interdependence.
In Aries, Venus is in Mars’ territory. Although force, conviction, and energy abound, there is little harmony to appreciate and mediate in the home of the war God.
It is a difficult territory for the lady to govern. Venus is the Goddess of heartfelt and often sensual connection.
It is interesting that in world myth, Mars is often a solo character, denied lasting conjugal union. Ares, the Greek God of war, had no consort, only a series of affairs.
Since the Swords of the Tarot represent thought, words, attitudes, and perceptions, this card seems apropos for those situations when someone shoots off their mouth, attacks out of sheer meanness, and is selfish (either as a lover — Venus — or in the realm of ideas — Mercury).
The problem comes when they not only hoodwink their victims to get their way, but are also unapologetic and spiteful about it.
Lately when I think of bullies, I think both of the systemic sexual harassment and predatory behaviors in business and entertainment, as well as the cabal of world leaders who are feeding off of the fears and economic stresses of the wider populations.
Both have flourished by insisting that it’s all or nothing: we must comply with their agendas, or risk ostracism, failure, and worse.
This either-or scenario is a lie, of course, and the Five of Swords is easily read as lies told to undercut the adversary.
In particular, P45 last week gleefully launched what he intends as a trade war that could have painful consequences on our international partnerships and economies.
As MarketWatch reported on Sunday:
If you are among those who were stunned by President Donald Trump’s uninformed comments on trade last week, albeit via his favorite policy forum, Twitter, it’s worse than you thought.
Let’s start with Trump. “Trade wars are good, and easy to win,” Trump tweeted on March 2, a day after surprising even his closest advisers with an impromptu announcement that he was planning to slap a 25% tariff on imported steel and 10% on aluminum imports.
By now, nothing about Trump’s views on trade should shock us. After all, Trump has been consistent on one, and only one, issue dating back to the 1980s. And that’s his staunch opposition to free trade: his belief that international trade is a zero-sum-game, and that only countries with trade surpluses are winners…
Like all tariffs, those proposed by Trump would produce a group of concentrated winners (domestic steel and aluminum manufacturing industries and their employees) and diffuse losers (everyone else: U.S. consumers and industries that use imported steel and aluminum in the production of finished goods).
Not only is this “capitalist cronyism” at its worst, it is likely to lead to a ripple effect of unnecessary hardship for people across the board.
But who cares? The concentrated powers at the top are poised to make a killing off the spoils of this war.
Honor, Respect, and Integrity
In your own world this week, guard against people who are, because of their own weaknesses, prone to underhanded behavior. They may especially favor sniping with poisonous innuendos.
Try not to make enemies if there is disagreement, but instead, approach any potential conflict with candor and scrupulous honesty. If possible, first stretch out the hand of diplomacy.
Beware of your own temptations towards malicious gossip, half-truths with an agenda, or gloating over any advantage you may currently enjoy in a competitive situation. Acting with integrity is true strength.
On the other hand, have you been hurt or cheated out of something by a wily or sneaky opponent? Do you feel you have suffered because of someone’s selfishness, 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 cautious about people who would wield their power in underhanded, dishonest ways, as well as any urge to do so on your part. Infamy and trickery are floating in the air.
Winning at any price will not really vanquish a competitor. People will always remember how they were made to feel. This is why sooner or later, the payback always comes. Fairness and justice, eventually, must be served. Especially this year.
So to all bullies and cheaters – be on notice: #TimesUp.