Happy May Day and/or Blessed Beltane! Welcome to this blog hop from wherever you have wandered, be it from Chloe’s fine inspirations or Olivia’s deep thoughts.
And now of for the disturbing bits. 😉
For every bloom, there is a fruit, for every fruit, there is a rot, for every rot, there is the bed from which a new flower will rise. The everlasting Earthly cycle of life and death and life, of the coming together and the falling apart. The Tarot reflects these archetypal processes taken from our seasons, taken from our ancestral cycle of giving life (our own children or crops in the fields) and then hunting/gathering/harvesting/taking life (not our children’s, we hope, but other animals and plants).
Most of the time, I see folks focusing on the Major Arcana for those big disturbing events in life, from the disruptions of the Tower to the chains of the Devil and the final losses of Death. Big nasties. Entropy in action (entropy means things falling apart at the cosmic level).
But, hey, losses and disruptions are also part of our day-to-day life. One thing I’ve always wondered is how to integrate the “challenging” cards of the Minor Arcana with a daily draw (Gee, am I really going to have ten wounds in me by the end of the day?) or a down-to-Earth question about how my new business will fare in its launch next week.
The problem I see with cards like the Ten of Swords or the Three of Swords or the Five of Cups is how to make sure they are interpreted at the scale of the actual question. Not every disturbance is life shaking. But still, seeing the Ten of Swords in a daily draw does take one back a bit, at least if the deck is fully illustrated and follows the tradition of the RWS.
I really find these Minor Arcana cards like the Ten of Swords and Three of Swords (from Robin Wood’s lovely deck) much more disturbing than the Tower or Death from the Major Arcana. I don’t know if it’s the blood or the piercing of bodily objects in those cards when illustrated in the RWS tradition or what, but I always cringe. It just seems so…personal. I really feel that pain.
I have to make sure when I’m doing a reading, though, that I don’t overreact to these cards. Everything to me is about relating the cards to the question and to each other; without context and relationship, these “disturbing” cards can easily be blown out of proportion to their actual message of guidance through a difficult challenge, whether it’s the ending of a relationship (Three of Swords), or just the close to a day filled with ten small annoyances that need to be released (Ten of Swords).
I’m currently studying my new Mary-el deck, which has many visual challenges compared to other decks I’ve encountered (see my previous post for a taster of my impressions). Many “disturbing” cards, this deck has, and yet, and yet, there’s a system, I’m finding (more Thoth-system than RWS, though).
And the Ten of Swords and Three of Swords in this deck? Not anything like what one would expect, given Marie White’s courage in depicting the Earthly essence of human experience in her art. The Three of Swords has no bloody heart, just a dove carrying the swords of light down into the Earth to manifest, but the dove will be sacrificed upon landing, so the sorrow of this card remains.
And the Ten of Swords? Well, Marie has turned it into a smaller version of the Death card, with the old Reaper wielding his ruinous tool from the back of a horse. There’s a sense of motion rather than the bloody stop of the RWS man lying still and stabbed by those ten blades. Reminds me of the Nazgul from the Lord of the Rings. Sweeping you up and then sucking the soul out of you.
Life’s blood flowing out, loss. All the disturbing cards of the Tarot reflect our human condition, of course. But I agree with Marie that our losses, our entropic moments, are part of a continuing movement toward new horizons, new dawns, new manifestations as the RWS’s Ten of Swords hints at in the background. But sacrifices are necessary to keep the cycle going, both daily and in the “larger” events of life. So, we must be disturbed in order to make the change, release the old, and be ready for the new.
The trick seems to be to take that sweep of the scythe with a smile and move on without whatever is being lost. 🙂
Happy (slightly disturbed) trails as you move on to other perspectives on cards that make us pause in our dance around the maypole. 🙂