Never be afraid. Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion, against injustice and lying and greed.
William Faulkner, 1952
This week, as we cross the magical threshold of Winter into the first stirrings of Spring, we are also invited to stand on the razor’s edge of new beginnings and ways of seeing. There could hardly be a more apt guide than the Ace of Swords.
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. The Ace of Swords therefore suggests new ideas, inspiration, discovery, communication, and judgment.
The Ace of Swords is one of the only Swords cards that is not inherently unhappy. In the Waite-Smith deck, it 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 that is the portal by which we move beyond our own immediate awareness into universal consciousness.
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.
The Finger of Fate
Also, this Ace is the only one that depicts yods.
The yod is the small section of the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet, usually portrayed in the Tarot as small bits of fire. The yod is, as expert author 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 State of Things
As I write this, it appears that the CRWH (Current Resident of the White House) will not be addressing the houses of Congress and the nation on Tuesday, which would have been the traditional State of the Union date.
In the past, presidents have used this event to give the legislative branch of government their administration’s view of the state of the nation and plans for legislation.
An interesting poll from the Express-Times website (Lehigh Valley Live) asks:
The Constitution doesn’t mandate a speech to Congress. It says the president “shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union.” Before it evolved into prime-time extravaganza, many presidents sent a letter to Congress to fulfill the obligation.
We know the routine. Members of the president’s party leap to their feet repeatedly in thunderous ovation. The opposition sits in funereal silence. Instead of rallying bipartisan support for a plan of action, the event seems to galvanize the divide between the parties.
What do you think? Has the speech outlived its purpose? Is it still a worthy interaction with Congress and the American public?
The Ace of Swords would certainly echo such questions, for it reminds us that information can be a two-edged sword, and its power can be wielded for good or ill.
Giving any leader a free, internationally televised bully pulpit is a questionable practice if they are not also being held accountable. Until now, accountability, as well as simple honesty have been in short supply in this administration.
This Ace indicates those days may be over. It’s a new beginning.
Time to Cut the Crap
The sword itself is neutral, just as information is. It’s all about how it’s used that makes 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 influence others.
As the complexity of global affairs escalates, including the increasingly dramatic and strange political landscape (in Britain and the U.S., for starters), this Ace can be our liberator, demanding clarity and truth-telling. It cuts through noisy, emotional grandstanding, and demands rational discourse, fact-checking, and understanding.
Look for a new agenda, new plans, and viewpoints gaining importance. The bubbles of illusions, fantasies, and deceptions are about to be popped.
It does not matter to the Ace of Swords whether truth is convenient or not. The facts must out. It is the only way to enlightenment.
Taking Vows at Imbolc
And speaking of enlightenment, I am delighted that this is our gateway card for the changeover from the time of Endarkenment (that began at Samhain) to Enlightenment, now arriving this week at the cross-quarter holiday of Imbolc.
Not only are we transitioning from Celtic Winter to the ancient sabbat of earliest Spring, we now depart the quarter of the year that is ruled by the Element of Earth, and welcome the dawning of the Element of Air. What could be a better harbinger for Air than its very own Ace?
The time of exploring the mysteries of the Underworld now recedes, and we celebrate the upsurging of new life and rebirth.
Also named for the Goddess/Saint Brighid, this holiday marks that the light reborn at Yule is unmistakably, irrevocably strengthening. This is when we begin to see the emergence of tender green shoots and the swelling of buds in the trees. Imbolc, which may come from the Gaelic word Oimelc, meaning milk of ewe, commemorates the first fresh milk from lambing time, so vital for our ancestors’ survival.
This is a time of initiation, and we are called to speak our intention for growth and transformation in the days ahead.
How might we be called by the Sacred One(s) to step up to personal legitimacy? As we prepare our year-and-a-day vows for Imbolc, what new studies, training, and directions beckon to us?
Seeing With New Eyes
This is also the card I might choose to represent the step in peace activist and awakener Joanna Macy’s model of The Work that Reconnects that she calls, “Seeing With New Eyes:
Experiencing the reality of our inter-existence helps us see with new eyes. We can sense how intimately and inextricably we are related to all that is. We can taste our own power to change, and feel the texture of our living connections with past and future generations, and with our brother/sister species.
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, what is happening on our planet, and how to create a more just, balanced future that works for all.
In global affairs and also on a personal level, look for a turning point or breakthrough this week that brings new clarity and inspiration.
What new idea is stirring? This sharp Ace may poke us to get out of our comfort zone, which, in turn, just may save our skins.
In what ways do you hunger for a more authentic life? There is the possibility of new information, or an important decision, that could change everything.
Although the Swords often indicate conflict, don’t shy away from your own intelligence, your wisdom, and your insights. Remember that conflict, change, and even confrontation, although difficult, are not always harmful. Oftentimes, without them, there is no growth.
With courage and strength, dare to think, speak, and see clearly. Be discerning. Stay focused.
For the sake of whatever is holy to you, do not be silenced. Challenge illusion and deception. Ask questions. Slice away at whatever would deceive or mislead you.
Wield your Sword of honesty, truth, and compassion like only you can. Never be afraid.