I rung in 2015 this year with a small tarot party of old and new friends, all of us filling up my kitchen table with tea and sass and little charms and laughter, a few tears, and of course a gaggle of tarot decks. It was lovely and fun and super orienting – and a little surprising! It has me actually excited to talk about something that’s often spoken of in tones of dread, confusion, disappointment, or bewilderment.
That’s right: let’s talk about Swords.
Or some aspects of them, anyway. I think talking about swords, despite their (rightful) reputation for pain, vulnerability, grief and distress, is an apt way to come into the new year. Because New Years generally has us doing a lot of swords-y activities from the quiet space after the holidaze and before 2015 gets into action:
Taking stock. Looking back and making some judgements about how things went. Taking accountability for our parts in all that. Looking forward and crafting visions of how we’d like things to go. Taking responsibility for nurturing those visions into reality. Setting goals. Breaking those goals down into pieces, making plans, committing to taking steps. Discerning and choosing. Dreaming and scheming.
The thing about swords – particularly the Ace, the quintessential sword that holds all the possibilities of swordiness – is that they cut both ways. And how we treat ourselves in going about these things is a great litmus test for how we are using sword energy. Do our resolutions hold us with their promise, inspire us, give us definition and motivation and evolve with us as we get into action? Or do our resolutions become another weapon that turns on us, another reason to cut ourselves down, punishing us when we slip or fail or don’t achieve something the way we hoped?
Swords talk about mentality – our thoughts, beliefs, fears, judgements, goals, unconscious scripts, critical thinking, ideas, inspiration, vision, discernment, communication, language – and our relationship to these things in ourselves and each other. They can also be about how these things interact with particularly intense and deep emotions – how they support or impede us in the thick of those feelings. Swords are tools, too, and they can be used in service to ourselves. I think it’s very common to feel at the mercy of one’s thoughts – whether they are oppressive one-liners that run on loop, or unconscious beliefs that continually undercut our ability to make change, or suffering that cuts so deep it feels impossible to think through and cuts us to pieces instead. Our relationship to these dynamics are very much connected to how we feel empowered to make the changes we want in our lives. Sometimes, it’s revolutionary just to remember that you can pick up the sword and use it to cut yourself out of such patterns, and to reflect on them instead of being pinned down by them.
Take your deck and lay out the sword cards (or google up some images). Do any remind you of how you talk to yourself, how you react when things don’t go your way, how you treat yourself when you feel like you’re doing a bad job of something, or what happens when you try to make a change?
Do any images remind you of tools you have, skills you’re learning, different perspectives available, helpful stances to practice? Is there anywhere in the images you feel a sense of balance, lightness, or empowerment?
Can you give yourself permission to be with the Ace of Swords – and remember what it’s like to feel empowered and purposeful? Or know that things will change as the new year gets into gear, and you are capable of discerning and then making whatever adaptations are necessary, and this is not failure but its own kind of strength?
Even the word resolution acknowledges that things change: resolution is re + solve – to loosen, free, figure out or cut apart again. Hidden in the word itself is the implication of swords at their cutting, discerning, liberating best. A resolution is not a bond, which one is punished for breaking. It is acknowledging that even when you think you know something’s form, it will dissolve into pieces and become something else again – which you can then examine, learn from, make new decisions about. It is knowing that there is more than one solution. It is realizing that judgement and accountability are processes in motion, with plenty of opportunities for taking responsibility in new ways.
I know I’ll keep checking in with the Ace of Swords this year as a reminder of all this, and of how my relationship with swords energy is of just service to me and my own vision. I offer this meditation to you in hopes it sparks some interesting thoughts and helpful ideas for you as well. Please share them in the comments, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the suit of swords and how you use its imagery.
And of course, cheers to your 2015!
Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.