Swords and Resolutions: A New Year’s Meditation

TarotTuesdayBanner

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.

RWaceofswords

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.

RWS deck's dreamy Page of Swords
RWS deck’s dreamy Page of SwordsWS

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.

queenofswordsrws
This lady is The Queen of facing even the most difficult reflections…

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?

Swordsknight 8s-rws

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?

swords
Thoth deck’s 2 of Swords & Mary El deck’s 5 of Swords

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?

AceofSwordsWildUnknownEven the word resolution acknowledges that things change: resolution isĀ 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.

That Tricky 7 of Swords

TarotTuesdayBanner

I’ve used tarot for a lot of things over the years. And I know I’m excited to have some space to write about tarot and share some of those stories here. But I find myself wondering: how to start?

This is actually how I use tarot most these days. These are not my days of fancy spreads that take over the table, or deep extended esoteric study piling up across the living room floor. Moving through my day, in the flow of it, coming across a random question and doing a quick draw to address it – to shift the energy, to take a breath, to bring some playfulness and perspective in – this is the bones of my practice lately. The cards are like neighbors who drop in for a spot of tea and gossip, sharing their view from just around the corner. They have familiar personalities and penchants, but sometimes pop over in unexpected ways.

So, how to begin? What are we up to here with Tarot Tuesdays?

7 of Swords from the Rider Waite Smith deck.
7 of Swords from the Rider Waite Smith deck.

Oof! Talk about unexpected. This fellow is the neighbor who just shows up, at the back door, with odd timing and who you can’t quite say you like, and who can sometimes be quite demanding to deal with, yet who just as often brings such rare gifts, ideas, assistance or laughs that you’re glad he’s around – and glad when you seem to be on his good side, too.

I think of this card as how Trickster shows up in everyday life – particularly in our life of the mind, how we think. When your thoughts run crafty or cunning. When you need to get out of a spot. When a little sleight of hand goes a long way. When you see the flaw in the matrix, the gap in the armor, the way around the impasse. When you use reason and logic as tools, and can see the world beyond them, rather than being caught in their blinders. When you flirt with deceit. These are 7 of Swords moments.

I have heard this guy described not just as a trickster, but as a shape-shifter. In the RWS deck, he’s the only one with those fancy fur-trimmed cap-n-boots. Sneaking around on the outskirts of the camp, on the border between wild and civilized life, he’s in some other kind of relationship with The Animal. But also with the thinking mind – these are swords being put to some other use than battle. That outfit might also mark him as himself other, from another the tribe.

This speaks a lot to me about my relationship with tarot. It brings something in from the outside, another perspective, something that feels wild and other while at the same time familiar and thoughtful – which is always kind of a gamble, where you may not get what you’re looking for at all. We all have those experiences of drawing a card and going “WTF no, lemme pull another.” In fact, this touches how I believe tarot even “works:” by giving our usual daily-ego-minds a way to step aside and get in touch with the random – with chaos, synchronicity, and the wyrd. To practice not giving into that “wtf, no” but sitting with what’s on the other side of that reaction and listening for its perspective. Letting that perspective inform our own. Looking for reflections.

What an excellent place to begin – with this unexpected encounter with the tricky edges of ourselves and our usual campsites. And with the reminder to examine our thoughts once in a while, to sneak outside their usual flow and not be so ruled by what seems like the cold, hard steel of civilized logic. And a lovely anchor for our explorations here – let’s continue to expect the unexpected!

Cheers,

Kaeti

——-

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.