2 of Swords

remain objective

Twos introduce an other in duality + airy Swords represent the mental realm of ideas.

from Touchstone Tarot by Kat Black

And so, in the upright or balanced position of the Two of Swords, we are balancing opposing views, striving to see both sides. Can they be reconciled? Must a choice be made, or can we hold the two in balance? In many modern decks, the figure is blindfolded, reminding us to trust our inner knowing for the truth and to remain objective; don’t allow emotion to cloud our judgement.

In resistance, we cannot remain impartial. Info or ideas inconsistent with our beliefs are dismissed or rationalized; cognitive dissonance.

In excess, we remain in indecision, stifled by self-doubt.

Questions we might ask when this card appears include

  • Are you feeling pulled in two different directions?
  • Is there another side of something that you’re refusing to see?
  • What factors or events from your past may be influencing your decision?

What else? Of course, this is just a sampling of this card’s spectrum, and you may have other insights. How do you see this card? How has it come up for you? Feel free to share in comments.

2 of Cups

look into the mirror of the other

Twos take us from the sole oneness of Ace to the introduction of an other + watery Cups represent feelings and relationships.

from Murder of Crows Tarot, by Corrado Roi

And so, in its upright or balanced position on the spectrum, the Two of Cups is a coming together in relationship — whether a partnership of some sort or as the integration of parts within the self. It invites us to look into the mirror of the other and see ourselves reflected back. Can you accept what you see? This card’s most fundamental message relates to the age-old advice that you will not find love in another if you can’t find it within yourself. It’s important to remember that this card isn’t necessarily about romantic love, but about relationships and love of all kinds, including self.

In resistance, we find incompatibility between the two, or we separate. We may be rejecting a part of ourselves. It may also hint at an independence which rejects others.

In excess, we become dependent on another to compensate for a perceived lack in ourselves which we see reflected. Co-dependency.

Questions we may ask when this card comes up include

  • What part is preventing you from reaching out due to pride or fear?
  • What attracts you to another person in friendship, collaboration, love, etc.?
  • What irks you in another person in friendship, collaboration, love, etc.?
  • What painful event from the past do you need to make peace with in order to heal and move on?
  • How do you balance solitude and connection with others?

What else? Of course, this is just a sampling of this card’s spectrum, and you may have other insights. How do you see this card? How has it come up for you? Feel free to share in comments.

Ace of Pentacles

take the first step in manifesting your idea

Aces are offerings or opportunities of the highest potential of the suit + Pentacles deal with the physical domain of earth, and how we as spiritual beings navigate the material world.

from Darkness of Light (1st ed.)

And so the Ace of Pentacles, Disks, or Coins is the potential or foundation for manifesting in the earthly realm. It asks us to get out of our head and implement that thought, desire, idea; take the first step to give it concrete expression. (This is the Ace that brings the others to tangible form.). This journey will likely take time and require tending, like the seed we plant in the soil of our garden and nurture.

In resistance, we’re stuck. We just can’t move beyond our thoughts and dreams. What holds us back from taking the first step toward manifesting? Perhaps we doubt our ability to manifest.

In excess, is there an overemphasis on the material or physical, of security, or some other aspect of earth?

Questions that we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include:

  • What seeds are you planting?
  • What prevents you from pursuing your soul’s work?
  • Do you feel secure? Is there a part of you that does not?
  • How is your health? Do you get the physical exercise and nutrition that your body needs? How is your relationship with food?
  • Do you have a need for more time connecting with nature?

But of course that’s just a beginning. How do you see this card? How has it come up for you? What is your favorite depiction of the Ace of Pentacles, and how are its shadow aspects portrayed?

Ace of Swords

bring forward your ideas; speak your truth

Aces are offerings or opportunities of the highest potential of the suit + Swords deal with the mental realm of air, and our belief systems.

from the Medieval Scapini Tarot

And so, the Ace of Swords offers an opportunity to bring forward whatever it is that needs to be expressed through us. There may be a challenge to our belief system, perhaps new info or a choice (note that the sword is often double-edged); but the mind is open and we have the clarity to express our ideas and speak our truth.

In resistance, we may not feel ready to articulate. We may be confused or foggy, or don’t have all of the information, yet.

In excess, we may be overthinking.

Questions that we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include:

  • What keeps you from expressing your ideas? Is there a part that holds you back from realizing your potential? Why?
  • What holds your tongue from speaking your truth? Where did these limiting beliefs come from?

But of course that’s just a beginning. How do you see this card? How has it come up for you? What is your favorite depiction of the Ace of Swords, and how are its shadow aspects portrayed?

Ace of Cups

expand our capacity for compassion and healing

Aces are offerings or opportunities of the highest potential of the suit + Cups rule the domain of water, representing our emotional experiences and how we relate to others.

from Sola Busca Revisited by Tarot by Seven

And so the Ace of Cups reminds us to expand our capacity for compassion and fulfillment in whatever situation is coming up (whether toward self or others). It offers us a chance to more deeply consider what we’re available to receive or take part in.

In resistance, we withdraw. Our heart isn’t available for connection with others, this new experience, or acceptance (again, whether socially or of the self).

In excess, we may hold unrealistic ideals in this new experience or relationship. Are we a little starry-eyed?

Questions that we may be prompted to ask when this card comes up include:

  • How connected are you with your subconscious parts? How can you better connect with and accommodate their needs ?
  • How connected are you with your spirituality or a higher power? What do you hope to cultivate in spiritual practice?
  • What parts of you feel the need to protect your heart?

But of course that’s just a beginning. How do you see this card? How has it come up for you? What is your favorite depiction of the Ace of Cups, and how are its shadow aspects portrayed?

Ace of Wands

reach out and take hold of that energy

One of the things I’ve noticed in books and other writings on shadow work is that they only talk about the trumps, as though the pips are insignificant in these matters. On the contrary; I think the cards that represent our daily interactions and feelings and responses are those we should explore first when trying to better understand the parts of our psyche. So, in this new series on the cards to include shadow meanings, we’ll start with the pips and then go into courts, finishing up with the trumps.

Aces are often considered some of the most amorphous of the cards. As the beginning of the suit, Aces represent the possibilities of their element — and that can seem wide open. If we consider the imagery used in the Smith-Waite decks, the Aces show an article of the suit (wand, cup, sword, or pentacle) held by a hand emerging from a cloud, indicating that there is an offering here. Will we accept it? Are we ready to step up and take it? That’s really the directive of the Aces, isn’t it? Are we going to reach out and take hold of it? What are we going to do with it? What we’re asked to confront in the shadows of this card is what is holding us back?

from Soprafino, by il Meneghello

And so, in fiery Wands, the Ace is raring to go. It’s the spark of desire, the motivation to reach up and grab that energy or desire so that we may actualize it in our lives.

In the spectrum of this card, that positive initiative is in the balanced center. On one end of the spectrum, where there is resistance, we hold back, reluctant to take what is offered. Are we not ready yet? Do we feel incapable? We may miss the opportunity out of fear, complacency, or a lack of focus. Our task here is to identify what may be holding us back.

On the other end, where there is excess, it may be counterproductive by generating hasty, impetuous, or bold behavior. By placing too much importance on it, we may jump the gun and miss the opportunity.

Questions that we may want to ask when this card comes up include:

  • Is there some fear or doubt holding you back?
  • Is there a desire you’re reluctant to allow out?
  • Are you procrastinating about something? What part of you is that serving?

But of course that’s just a beginning. How do you see this card? How has it come up for you? What is your favorite depiction of the Ace of Wands?