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To attain knowledge, add things everyday.
To attain wisdom, remove things every day.
Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Ching
This week ushers in the new year for a over a quarter of the planet’s population, who celebrate on the second New Moon after Winter Solstice. I admit that I was secretly hoping for clearer guidance than this. So, should we gladly welcome the Two of Swords? Or not?
Yes? No? Maybe?
In the Tarot, the twos are usually about duality, particularly choices between this and that, either/or, and one or the other. The Swords in the Tarot are ruled by the element of Air, which is concerned with the mind, intellect, attitude, and communication.
Yet, so much of this picture is dominated by Water, which is often about our dreams, subconscious, and emotions. What may lurk beneath the deep blue behind her? She seems to be a guardian challenging us before we can access those mysterious depths.
Are they even real?
As my faithful readers will know, this is one of artist Pamela Colman Smith’s “stage” cards. In the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, the thin, double horizontal line running across the card makes it appear that the figure is on an artificial platform. This interpretation is reinforced by the fact that “Pixie” Smith was renowned for her talent in stage design and theater productions.
So is the scene behind the blindfolded figure a stage backdrop?
With a hint of artifice in this mysteriously tense scene, we must ask ourselves — what drama is unfolding, and to what end?
The woman might slowly be arriving at a decision, but for the moment, it appears to be a stalemate. Although her position is stable, the swords she holds are enormous, and certainly she won’t be able to maintain that position for very long.
To See, or Not to See
The woman in the Two of Swords has often been compared to the Justice card.
But Justice is crowned as royalty. She is sheltered by two columns that are very like the columns of Solomon’s Temple that we see in The High Priestess, with whom she is connected by numerology. She gazes directly at us, her expression one of no nonsense.
Yet Justice’s robe is crimson, suggesting that to truly be in balance, she acknowledges her passions. Combining both intellect and emotion, she is able to see all sides of the facts and weigh her verdicts.
The drape of the curtain makes the yellow background look as if the Sun is shining down upon her.
Unlike Justice, the woman in the Two of Swords is in white, which in Western magickal traditions is associated with the etheric. White also represents purity, the Moon, and is often worn in initiatory rituals and ceremonies. However, there is a hint of that yellow Sun, in the slippers she is wearing. She may be “grounded,” then, in the hope, good fortune, and the success we associate with the Sun.
She sits on a stone bench, under a waxing new crescent Moon by a dark seaside. Unlike the R-W-S version of Justice, she is blindfolded, unable to see. Is her vision closed in order to produce inner illumination? Or is it because she fears to see the realities of the world?
Nor does she hold the scales of balanced consideration and choices. Instead, her arms are crossed defensively in front of her heart, cutting off her feelings, allowing nothing to come in or go out.
How well can we make a choice if both our hearts and eyes are closed?
The Aquarius New Moon
On Monday, the Sun moves into brilliant, iconoclast Aquarius, with the New Moon following hot on her heels on Friday.
As mentioned, this New Moon marks the Lunar New Year (sometimes known as “Chinese” New Year, but celebrated throughout most of Asia, as well as in the many cities throughout the globe that have large Asian populations).
This is a card that often comes up when we feel we must block our emotions and make a purely rational decision. It may also appear when we feel stuck and indecisive, as if we need more and more and more information before we can move forward.
Or we may vacillate between choice A and choice B, when what we really want is “None of the above.”
But the upcoming Aquarius New Moon offers insight for navigating the challenges of the Two of Swords. As Cafe Astrology author Annie Heese tells us:
This is a time during which we should solve problems that require thinking “outside of the box”; look to the future with a brand new, positive, and hopeful vision; brainstorm and socialize; focus on extending a friendly hand, receiving support, and expressing platonic love for those around us; give our emotions and passions a “break”, as we develop more objectivity and some detachment from past haunts; learn how something (or someone) works; revitalize ourselves through experiences that are new or simply different; reach out to people in our social circle and in our community, and recognize the value of our friendships and social networks; recognize that some level of detachment and distancing ourselves from our habits and attachment to the past will help us break away from destructive behaviors that are holding us back.
With this potent Aquarius energy, we have the chance to make progressive changes in our lives. For some of us, circumstances are such that we need to pay more attention to these matters.
This New Moon’s square to Uranus suggests a rebellious time when abrupt moves are possible. We’re especially concerned with progress and freedom now. All major planets are direct, and there appear to be fewer blocks to progress.
So we need not disregard the Airy power of Swords and the mind, but harness this fresh start for more objectivity, clarity, perspective, and more humane fellowship. Plus, we can utilize Uranus’ gifts of breaking away from indecision and stale routines.
Sitting on the edge between land and sea, blinded and closed off is not only unwise at this time, it is not sustainable. (I hope that the U.S. Senate Republicans will recognize the ultimate folly of such an approach this week).
The Gifts and Limitations of Mind
The Two of Swords is also a card that shows how impossible it can be to make up our mind about things that have little to do with the mind at all. The mind is a great gift, but it is only one tool for navigating our life’s journey, and sometimes it is not the best one.
Still, we make our lists of pros and cons. We rationalize, argue, and refuse to listen to our hearts, thinking that we should trust hard data more than feelings.
How many times have you been faced with a choice that looks good “on paper,” but in your gut, you know it’s not the right thing at all? When you ignore those prompts, is there something you are afraid of knowing?
And how do you know what you know? What body cues unfailingly respond to the truth? What does a psychic “hit” feel like for you? Do you feel shivers or goosebumps when something rings true?
Pay attention. Your mind may crave more information, but your inner guidance may well know that is just noise and distraction. Listen with all your senses.
The Hesitation Blues
As much as we might want to close our eyes and fade into the background, something eventually will need to happen. We postpone and avoid deciding at our peril.
This week, if you find yourself “between a rock and a hard place,” feeling like you need to make a difficult choice you wish you didn’t have to, this card offers some illumination.
Consider the ways you may be closing your eyes or your heart because of knowledge that is not logical or analytical. There is a very good chance that non-logical information is precisely what you need, in order to proceed with wisdom.
Could it also be that this is but a bit of drama, a scene being played out more for effect than authenticity? What is really going on “backstage?”
What should we add, in order to know? What should we take away, in order to see? Choose something. Or perhaps sidestep the whole idea of choosing altogether. What would happen if you just let it go?
Fearful indecision is a slow poison. Analysis paralysis gets you nowhere. Receive what is being disclosed to you.
You can’t close off your heart with your swords forever. Open your eyes. Open your spirit.
The small, quiet, and very probably illogical voice you are hearing is likely to be your own Wisdom calling you.