Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.
Mary Oliver, The Uses of Sorrow
As the first full week of Autumn arrives below the Equator, and Spring unfolds in the Northern Hemisphere, the Nine of Swords puts in an appearance.
Obviously a card of sorrow, it depicts the anguish we sometimes feel in our dark hours alone. This card often speaks to, not only our own pain or fear, but our suffering on behalf of those we love.
The Nines of the Tarot are the suit’s energetic conclusion (Tens are the overflow of the suit, directing us to the next cycle). And Swords rule the mind, communications, logic, discernment, and the stories we create about the nature of what is.
Notice that the carving on the bed is of a conflict, where one figure is defeated, awaiting the final blow. On the blanket, we see roses – symbol of love and passion – interwoven with the signs of the zodiac, which points to the inclusion of others. This is also one of the few Tarot cards in which the central figure is of ambiguous gender – indicating the universal nature of this situation.
The swords behind the figure do not actually pierce him or her, but three do line up quite clearly with the heart, the throat and third eye, and the crown chakras, implying extreme spiritual distress.
Beware of Maya
As many wisdom traditions teach, we must beware the illusion that the mind is our true identity. In our secularized, materialistic culture, we have placed an unprecedented faith in logic, analysis, and the triumph of the mind over all other aspects of our identity.
Experiences common to all humans — love, creativity, grief, desire, fear, spirituality — are deconstructed and analyzed in psychological terms, as if by so doing, the mind can then explain and control them.
In Sanskrit, maya is a term given to how we forget or are distracted from our true divine nature. We identify ourselves with the body, mind, and ego rather than the Atman, the divine Self. Maya is the ignorance in which our everyday consciousness has become entangled, a veiling of the true Self.
Thus, the Nine of Swords is the ultimate result of our investment in maya. It is what the mind, bereft of feeling, physicality, energy, and soul awareness will create: nightmares, sorrow, isolation, fear, and suffering.
Dreams and Fog
This may be a time to pause and look deeply into the wells of your worry or grief, which can feel very much like a river, as my friend, astrologer Lynn Hayes mused yesterday. Will you dam it up, or will you let it flow?
Perhaps it is time to name the shadow that haunts you in the night.
This week, Elisabeth Grace cautions, “We are still in the rosy fog of [Sunday’s] meet-up between retrograde Mercury and Neptune in ‘if I believe it, it must be true’ Pisces. And right now, Mercury is — from our perspective on Spaceship Earth — slowing down and about to turn direct on Thursday at 9:59 AM ET. On April 2nd, Mercury meets up with Neptune for the third and final pass of the cycle. One can only imagine the wild fantasies that people will fall for on April Fools’ Day.”
Discussing this coming week, Lance Ferguson’s insightful Skywatch Annual Datebook agrees, noting:
As you might guess, logical Mercury is subject to confusion, illusion and making grave errors when passing through this water sign.
While Mercury is Retrograde these difficult tendencies are enhanced. And even more so when Mercury ends his Rx cycle on March 28 exactly conjunct Neptune! This is a double shot of confusion and potential trouble.
And this difficult pairing hangs out in the heavens beginning from the first exact contact on March 24 and remains a very confusing influence in our lives through April 2 when the two planets are again exactly conjunct…
If disturbing thoughts and dreams trouble you, a very Swords-y response might be to write them down.
As Lance adds, “Dreams and visions are likely to be intense [in March] with all this psychic Piscean energy in the Skywatch; it might be helpful for you to keep a dream journal. This energy is exceptionally creative and can fuel some of your best work in any artistic field.”
The Cries in the Night
Increasingly, it seems that many of us are experiencing difficulties with our sleep. Typically, the problem is not with falling asleep; it’s what one client of mine calls the “3 a.m. Club.” She describes popping wide awake around 3 in the morning, mind racing.
From what I can tell, she certainly has plenty of company.
Ranging from hyper-busy thoughts to actual anxieties, from melancholy to despair, the intensity usually dispels by morning. Only to return the next night.
What troubled dreams, premonitions, insomnia, or even nightmares are plaguing you?
I believe that those of us who are intuitively open are being impacted profoundly by the enormous changes now occurring around us. For people who are psychically sensitive, how can we not be shocked in our deep consciousness by the heartbreak, not only in the lives of those in our private spheres, but on a global basis?
In the daylight, when we are engaged in our busyness, such matters may seem far away.
But in the night, when we are alone, we feel the cries of our own hearts and our interconnected family of all that lives. How can we not be awakened by the distress of our Mother, the Earth Herself?
Buddhist teacher and deep ecology expert, Joanna Macy notes:
Refusing to feel pain…refusal to suffer, makes us stupid, and half alive. It causes us to become blind to see what is really out there. We have a sense of something being wrong, so we find another target and project our anxiety onto the nearest thing handy.
The Nine of Swords, as unhappy as it is, is a rude but necessary awakening.
What bitter news have you received, or perhaps dread to hear? What insistently calls to you in your dreams, though you wish it would not? What wrong needs to be put right?
The resolution can sometimes be found in taking remedial action (Wands). Shifting our focus to our blessings and sharing what we have can bring hopefulness and healing (Pentacles).
Or it may be that we simply need to allow ourselves to feel and accept what we are going through, and even share with an understanding friend (Cups), rather than hiding behind our daytime game face.
Denial is not only exhausting, but it doesn’t help and usually makes situations worse.
While never pleasant, this is an opportunity to deepen your compassion for yourself and for all beings. Use the tool of your mind, but do not forget you are so much more than your thoughts.
When worry troubles us, when loneliness or regrets enter our dreams, remember that such times come to all of us. No matter how it seems in the dead of night, you are not alone.
If we will open to messages from Shadow, our bleakest nights can be teachers. They reveal how painful and unhelpful the mind’s illusion of isolation is.
As an irrevocable part of the Great Wholeness, you, yourself, are a source of illumination that is untouched by the waxing or waning of events, and undiminished by even the blackest night’s whisperings.
Be at peace and allow your dawning to come.