4 of Swords

retreat, take time to think

Fours offer stability + Swords represent our mind and its thoughts.

from Murder of Crows Tarot

In its centered position on the spectrum, the Four of Swords brings the opportunity to take a time-out to reflect on or reconcile an issue (see the Three of Swords). The stained glass may hint at a spiritual element, suggesting a time to call on our guides. Pamela Coleman-Smith’s depiction shows the medieval practice whereof knights would sometimes commission their tombs and lie on them before (or after) battle to pray (or reflect). A repose to quiet the mind or recuperate, mentally. Sometimes, we need radio silence for a proper mental reset.

In resistance, we’re not taking the time needed to clear our mind and de-stress. Unable to relax.

In excess, we’re fixed in a state of stagnation, perhaps an escape from responsibilities. This card may also indicate a forced rest.

Questions to consider when this card comes up may include

  • Do you need a mental health day? Do you deny yourself of this need out of guilt?
  • Is there something you’re trying to escape from, mentally?
  • What resources do you have in place for times of stress?

What else can we consider in this card? There is much to contemplate (see what I did, there?) and you may have other insights. Feel free to share them in comments.

3 of Swords

Separate your emotional response from the rational

Threes are the response or reaction to the two + Swords relate to our thoughts and mental processing.

from the Herbcrafters Tarot

And so the center or balanced position of the Three of Swords shows realization and reminds us to consider our response. We may realize the truth about something (piercing an illusion?); but here we are reminded to separate ourselves from our emotional response in order to examine what might be objectively true.  Reality as we know it occurs in the space between stimulus and response. Victor Frankl said “Between stimulus and response, there’s a space, and in that space is the power to choose our response, and in our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

This is not a card of emotion, but of realization and truth informing us of how to proceed (remember, threes expand). Consider it, turn it over in your mind, integrate information, and you will then know how to proceed with clarity and grace.

In resistance, the truth may be difficult and we may try to protect ourselves by refusing to see it.

In excess, we’re triggered and we react. What may be a better response?

Questions to consider when this card comes up may include

  • Is there a situation which could benefit by putting things in perspective?
  • Is there a situation you see as a crisis which could instead be an opportunity? How can you step toward that?
  • Is there someone with whom you could clear the air?
  • Has a part been activated and could use some tending?

What else? There are so many more, depending on the spread and surrounding cards. How has this card come up for you? What insight have you gained from it?

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 the issue 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.

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?