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Suit of Swords - RWS

Thread originally posted on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum on 23 Jan 2004, and now archived in the Forum Library.



Moongold  23 Jan 2004 
After reading Gloria’s very interesting recent thread on Swords, I took out the whole RWS thread and looked at them afresh.

Swords are weapons and very powerful symbols. They can deliver horrendous wounds. The RWS suit seems to focus on distress and pain - either self inflicted or inflicted by others.

The RWS illustrations often have problems of perspective but the swords in each card are huge, double edged things that seem to emphasize the power of mental pain. In fact, the swords often seem to overwhelm the human figures in each card.

I can’t see the open faces of the figures in any card except those dealing with defeat and deceit – V and VII of Swords. This seems to emphasize the internal nature of the pain. It cannot be shown to the world – faces and eyes in particular are covered up. I find myself feeling stifled and struggling for air yet Air is the element of the suit.

There is a pervasive air of sadness and unknowingness in almost every one of these images. In fact this whole suit seems gloomy and depressing to me this evening.

Does anyone know where the flavour of this suit came from? This sense of pain and difficulty is true of part of life, but the mind is also a glorious thing and some of my other decks especially the Tarot of the Sephiroth celebrate this in their Swords images. It emphasizes the power of the mind and the swords ain the images are idealized so you don’t get a so much of a sense of them as being weapons of destruction. The Shining Tribe renames the suit “Birds” and the Osho Zen “Clouds”. Neither of these decks has quite the same sadness and, yes, horror of the RWS.

I am interested that the predominant Tarot of the Western Word deals with the concepts of air and thinking in such a negative way. We need air to survive and thinking is that quality which distinguishes us from the animals – that which makes us human.

I went away from my meditation quite heavy hearted. No wonder I never read with this deck now.

Moongold 


gloria  23 Jan 2004 
I’m glad you started this thread Moongold.
The Rider Waite Swords I admit on the surface are rather daunting, but I also find them fascinating. That may sound a bit weird I know, but the sword being double edged, I think there has to be a positive as well as a negative side to each of them.
I have found a couple of attributes for the Ten/Swords.
Actually this was a card I ‘pulled’ today along with the Ten/Discs.(still, day nearly over)
I think you could compare this card with The Hanged Man. His hand gesture is like that of The Hierophant. Could this show do you think that through his experience of pain he has been spiritually enlightened?
The rising sun in the background. All things will pass…tomorrow is a better day!
It’s association with The Wheel and The Sun showing again that things can ‘turn themselves around.’
One thing with this image though, is that there is no blood. I mean this guy has ten swords stuck in his body. It sounds hard to believe that maybe he’s not hurt, and that it’s all in the mind. But then I start to think, has he been hurt mentally?………which takes us back to what you were saying Moongold.
This is the wonderful thing about the cards, they take our minds in so many different directions.
Gloria. 


skytwig  23 Jan 2004 
I wonder if it tends to reflect the fact that humans tend to fear the mind.... that education doesn't really teach us how to think.... now this may be more true in America than in European schooling....

However, I do find that most people I meet and deal with do not know how to think well and certainly do not know how to teach themselves (educate themselves)..... They do not know how to question and do not know how to find the answers. It is a sad, sad dilemma and it's getting worse.

I love the mind, myself, but I suspect, from my observations, that most people fear their minds..... I know they fear mine!! :laugh: Intelligent, articulate, problem solving women are a threat in the wide world of the US......

So I would think that the cards may actually be reflecting the problem of matter over mind..... people prefer emotions.... they may not like to think, they may not know how to think without getting confused!!! We do seem to be hung up on feeling good and doing things..... sports, entertainment.... they are the money makers.... philosophy and science.... they entertain very few, yet they are the exquisite joys of the mind!!!

I personally think the RWS interpretation of the swords are all off..... I think the 10 should be divinity, but that is me..... ;) 


mercenary30  23 Jan 2004 
I have wondered on a number of occassions why the suit of Swords was always so negative. The interpretations are quite different for those cards when using non illustrated pips. Unlike most of the other suits I have a hard time seeing where they came up with some of those illustrations, if they are based on interpretations of historical tarot.

So far I have concluded that in most cases, human thought that is not tempered with action or emotion is a very scary thing and tends towards a negative path. We are protective of ourselves by nature, and tend to consider the worst in a given scenario. The mind has many dark shadows, and unless things are found to do, or people around to interact with, bad things tend to happen. (Idle hands and all that stuff........) 


Lee  23 Jan 2004 
I think the gloomy interpretations of Swords come originally from fortune-telling meanings that were used for playing cards, for the suit of Spades (playing card meanings differ vastly between authors, but one thing most authors agree on is that Spades are gloomy). Interestingly, I think the attribution of Spades/Swords with negativity predates the attribution with Air or mentality in general, which I don't believe happened until *after* the RWS was created (elements aren't mentioned in Waite's book "Pictorial Key").

-- Lee 


Macavity  23 Jan 2004 
I wasn't going to say it, but isn't it exactly as others say? Favouring feeling, emotion or... anything else over (heaven forbid) logical thought? :P I think the melancholia is (rather exactly) paralleled in the Crowley Thoth deck too. For that perhaps, there are some (documented) clues that Astrology, Qabala all play a part - And perhaps too in Waite's deck, as another Golden Dawn type?

I think the most anomalous is the Three of Ewords. Ain't Saturn exalted in Libra? And it's a three to boot? Duquette circumvents any potential happier note by bringing in the Qablastic observation that there can be no thought processes above the abyss - Ergo "Sorrow". Hmmm... Well, if HE says so (And I do genuinely admire Mr. D) but sometimes, even to me, the story wears a bit thin? :D

I don't think there isn't a GREAT deal of rime nor reason, but I believe there is some! Maybe we should become pip deck readers based on "just" numerology and suite...

Macavity 


WolfyJames  23 Jan 2004 
Double-edge swords are great weapons, it requires to be finely skilled to be able to use them without harming others or yourself along with them. Swords involve fights and conflicts, whether they are external or internal. The blade is also a cold matter, it is heartless, like the mind (air). Not only is the mind detached from matter (earth), it is also detached from the heart (water). There is no life in air, nothing but cold thoughts, cold logic, no warmth at all. No wonder why it causes pain and despair. Air without the other elements is worthless. Air is within the world of the Dead, it has nothing to do with the world of the living. Life is contained within the other elements but not in this one. Air is a lot of maybes, it's not concrete and real. The mind in itself can't do anything, it needs a body (earth) to express it. 


skytwig  23 Jan 2004 
Interesting, wolfy.....

But fire cannot burn without air.....

And life does not exist without breath..... 


WolfyJames  23 Jan 2004 
All elements, taken at 100%, are complete disaster. Fire destroys everything on its path, water kills by drowning and choking you (with your emotions) and earth loses you on the cold path of materialism or on the warm path of sensuality. All elements need to combine with the others to be good. 


mercenary30  23 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by skytwig
Interesting, wolfy.....

But fire cannot burn without air.....

And life does not exist without breath.....


Even water must have air in it to support life.

Normal function occurs while those elements interact. But the mind/air left to its own devices with out temperment, tends to lean on what most people would call 'the dark side.' Just like Judge Dredd....hehe 


Moongold  23 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally quoted by Gloria
The Rider Waite Swords I admit on the surface are rather daunting, but I also find them fascinating. That may sound a bit weird I know, but the sword being double edged, I think there has to be a positive as well as a negative side to each of them.


Yes, I find the RWS deck fascinating as well. I am very interested in Pixie Colman Smith and her work and I know RWS cannot be dismissed at all.

The point that you and others have made about the double edged sword is interesting and if one knows enough and is confident then one can use that very powerfully in readings. Doing that, however, seems to go beyond the intent of the image. Or can we say that RWS begins from a fundamentally pessimistic view of the human spirit? That I could accept as a more logical explanation. That premise allows some creative leaps with the concept of potentiality or duality.

The other thing that has just occurred to me, and all of you have touched on it, is that Swords are just one suit. There are three others that balance the picture. It still does not say much that is positive about thinking per se, but then thinking alone doesn’t necessarily get us very far.

Moongold 


ros  26 Jan 2004 
I agree that air or swords are only one is the subject.

Reason is a function of the conscious mind. With swords ruling air or our thoughts, swords show how our keen perception is working for us. Swords have the ability to judge both sides and to make assessments. The sword divides the facts & makes the reason for the assessment. (does this make sense?)

I notice air sign people also can change to subject of a conversation without you knowing. I have caught on to this . They are sharp with their words.

Swords make us think or makes us aware, that our thoughts have been changed or altered.

Mabee the sword suit wants us not to see but to use our mind because there are not many "eyes" showing in the suit.The sense of discrimination, perception & or intelligence using our mind. 


skytwig  26 Jan 2004 
You know, there is an interesting concept that underlies the decisions made in creating the cards, especially the swords. and that is that the human being is essentially devious and bad.

Think about it..... why would we tend to believe that the mind, without the influence of the heart, will always go to the dark side?

I don't believe that, personally. I believe we are all basically good and simply choose to explore darkness to become more complete beings......

Why is the 10 swords not something grand, like a discovery or a thesis completed or an outline for a book finally done? Get my drift?

Why do we assume that thinking "gets us in trouble"?

I love my mind. I love thinking. I love analyzing and solving problems and coming up with better ways to do things. I think the mind is an incredible gift.....

I sometimes think these card creators do not understand the wonder of the mind...... :( 


ros  26 Jan 2004 
Yes I agree with skytwig
Also we do not know where the minds of these people were either that long ago that started all of this.

Why do we search the darkness of our minds? To Balance all our goodness. Sometimes we have to be bad to be good! 


Moongold  26 Jan 2004 
Some decks do have illustrations which do lend themselves to more positive interpretations.

Tarot of the Sephiroth, for example, shows 10 swords in the shape of the Tree of Life.

Tarot of the Spirit speaks about transcending old ways of thought, with the assumption that you have learned to think in the ways of nature and your thought are clear. You go on to another stage

Even the Thoth can be interpreted more positively. 10 Swords ly atop a scene coloured in orange energy and zinging with activity, action. One can see this as bringing order and form to thinking. without losing creativity. I'm not sure that Crowleuy would agree with this but this is how I see it.

Of course the non-scenic pips leave the way quite open to interpretation using elements, numerology etc.

Moongold 


Imagemaker  26 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Sometimes we have to be bad to be good!


I've always liked the line "sometimes we have to be what we are not, to learn what we are." 


mercenary30  26 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by skytwig
You know, there is an interesting concept that underlies the decisions made in creating the cards, especially the swords. and that is that the human being is essentially devious and bad.

Think about it..... why would we tend to believe that the mind, without the influence of the heart, will always go to the dark side?

I don't believe that, personally. I believe we are all basically good and simply choose to explore darkness to become more complete beings......

Why is the 10 swords not something grand, like a discovery or a thesis completed or an outline for a book finally done? Get my drift?

Why do we assume that thinking "gets us in trouble"?

I love my mind. I love thinking. I love analyzing and solving problems and coming up with better ways to do things. I think the mind is an incredible gift.....

I sometimes think these card creators do not understand the wonder of the mind...... :(


I can't agree with you more. BUT, I believe that the number of people who truly do enjoy 'thinking' at that level are in the minority. 


Major Tom  27 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by skytwig
You know, there is an interesting concept that underlies the decisions made in creating the cards, especially the swords. and that is that the human being is essentially devious and bad.


I'd like to challange this assertion. :)

I think many people have negative thought patterns, that is, things they repeat to themselves that are self limiting. "That person hates me". "I don't deserve this". "I am not worthy".

The RWS illustrations show us the results of these negative thought patterns. I think the swords suite is a lesson in how to think.

We all live in our own heads so our thoughts form our world and how we experience it. ;) 


Moongold  27 Jan 2004 
Skytwig and I, in slightly different ways, are simply saying that the RWS Swords suit has a basic assumption that thinking is negative and consequently human beings in this suit are represented in this way. I don't agree with you that this suit teaches you HOW to think. It simply illustrates aspects of negative thinking.

That is OK but it is one perspective only. Other decks have a more positive perspective or show paths of more potential and flexibility. Some others still have some fairly grim Swords illustrations, having followed the RWS themes.

It does not detract from RWS but it is useful to understand this about it. I prefer to read with other decks, but love the RWS because of its historical place and Pixie Colman Smith's art work.

Moongold 


Thirteen  27 Jan 2004 
I have to agree with Major Tom. There is an element of "Think too much" in Swords which lead to the negative. The negative is not automatic in this sense, but rather a perception, how the person sees the world, sees themselves, thinks out the position they're in.

I wonder if that double-edged sword might be "glass half-full" vs. "glass half-empty." Certain RWS deck is dour. Waite was, I gather, a fairly dour person with a half-empty outlook. He puts the worst possible spin he can, I think, on the swords.

And, as pointed out, predictions on illness and nightmares aside, there are decks that celebrate the discovery, science and cleverness of swords, Thoth most particularly (RE: six of swords). This also, of course, includes the cleverness of fast talking and deviousness. But it's not absolute. Swords can cut with lies, but also pierce with truth. A sword is a weapon, yes, but also that by which people protect themselves and others, pledge themselves ("on my word!"), even exersize and play (fencing).

Quote:
Originally posted by skytwig
Think about it..... why would we tend to believe that the mind, without the influence of the heart, will always go to the dark side?


Most of this is prejudice against those who are very smart. But there is some validity in it. There has been some research recently into a certain type of mild autism (can't recal the name) which produces geniuses who have a real problem with empathy--as if they were empathy blind. People who live in their heads, who love nothing better than to solve problems and create amazing inventions don't always think or care about how their discoveries will be used. Da Vinci made war machines. So did Arcimedes.

If we presume that Swords are Air, represenative of the mind, then they are all that the mind can do, including create weapons--like better and better swords.

Quote:
I love my mind. I love thinking. I love analyzing and solving problems and coming up with better ways to do things. I think the mind is an incredible gift


I love my mind too, and I agree it's an incredible gift. But it back in the 19th century a doctor said, something to the effect, "have care for the animal who licks your hand," meaning, be kind to the dogs you do experimental surgery on. Sometimes the heart interferes with the mind--I know that thanks to those dogs certain members of my family are alive today. I don't know that I'd want the doctors so tender hearted that they'd never tried such surgeries. On the other hand, without the heart, a brilliant mind can end up allowing that consuming need to learn, invent, and discover drive them to do something unconsionable, and, yes, evil. I still wonder if the Russian Scientists really needed to send that poor dog up into space, to die alone, thirsty and starving, in order for us to eventually put a man in orbit. 


Imagemaker  27 Jan 2004 
Quote:
a certain type of mild autism (can't recal the name) which produces geniuses who have a real problem with empathy--as if they were empathy blind.


That's Asberger's Syndrome--people who have high language and analysis skills but no emotional skills. The most amazing quote I ever heard about it was a TIME article where a software engineer said it wasn't until he read about the condition that he found out that people get information from other people's facial expressions. He had never known that!

Part of the problem for dividing human qualities into 4 suits is that if creative/emotional thought is in cups and earthly/business thought is in pentacles and work/task thoughts are in wands, it only leaves the negative/attack thoughts (to self and others) to be in swords. I mean . . . mind has them ALL. 


Thirteen  27 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by Imagemaker
Part of the problem for dividing human qualities into 4 suits is that if creative/emotional thought is in cups and earthly/business thought is in pentacles and work/task thoughts are in wands, it only leaves the negative/attack thoughts (to self and others) to be in swords. I mean . . . mind has them ALL.


This is true. As Dr. Ruth use to say, "It's all in the mind!" I think the problem is a matter of semantics. Of calling swords "Mind" when what we really mean is language (verbal and written--and all that goes with it, arguments, dialogue, theories, trickery) science and invention, including things we invent that scare us, like doubts and fears.

One of my favorite tv shows right now is Monk about a obsessive compulsive detective--all Swords. He's all brilliant puzzle solving ability, fears and worries (thinking too much). He also lacks empathy. The character is not without a heart, not at all! but as a Tarot reader I'd say he was sword heavy in the extreme.

Thus, the other suits really should be defined as different aspects of the mind:
Cups are empathy and deep feelings, like sorrow, also psyhic abilities--sensing what's going to happen to others and other worldly things. A fixation on the unmaterial world, on feeling too much, that can lead to madness or addiction.
Wands--if we accept them as fire--are passions, things that excite and motivate us to action, including religious fever.
Pentacles include the body, but also include greed, a fixation on the material world, and luck.

All in the mind, but different parts of it.

In the movie Catch Me If You Can there's a wonderful scene where the main character (Leonardo DiCapprio) goes through all four suits:
Cups: He sees a beautiful woman (Jennifer Gardner) and being young and still fairly innocent, he addresses her rather like a high school kid seeking a date (Cups: honest liking, heart on his sleeve).
Wands: It turns out the woman is a high class prostitute. She asks him what he would pay to spend the night with her. The rate goes up and up, as Leo clearly grows more lustful of her. Gentle wooing is out, action is in. The bidding for her is exciting.
Swords: A price is established, but Leo has only a check. He's about to rush out to cash it, when the prostitute bargains for the check. They agreed on$1000, the check is for $1400--she'll take the check and give him $400 cash. At this point, Leo changes gears once again. She manipulated him, and he went with it--but now he's tricking her. It's a bogus check.

Being a con man who thrives on deceit, on playing mind games, this is the strongest aphrodisiac for Leo's character. In the end:

Pentacles: He gets the object of his desire AND free money. 


ros  29 Jan 2004 
I have questioned a few air sign people who have administrative jobs. They are good at paperwork & discernment. I sometimes think that air signs think first before anything else. They can solve problems with clarity. Clear as in Crystal.(Ace of Swords) They are comfortable with their logic & that is where there strength is.

e.g. air signs have to think about why they feel the way they do, where water signs are emotional first then they use their thoughts to centre themselves.

Mabee the swords just mean that our thoughts take over an issue before all our other senses. Water people their emotions come first, Fire their energy & earth their grounding.

I think also swords are direct where other signs are more subtle.

Just some more ideas. 


Imagemaker  29 Jan 2004 
Quote:

e.g. air signs have to think about why they feel the way they do, where water signs are emotional first then they use their thoughts to centre themselves.


This is so true for me (Libra). Direct hit, Ros! 


nodntap  29 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by WolfyJames
Double-edge swords are great weapons, it requires to be finely skilled to be able to use them without harming others or yourself along with them. Swords involve fights and conflicts, whether they are external or internal. The blade is also a cold matter, it is heartless, like the mind (air). Not only is the mind detached from matter (earth), it is also detached from the heart (water). There is no life in air, nothing but cold thoughts, cold logic, no warmth at all. No wonder why it causes pain and despair. Air without the other elements is worthless. Air is within the world of the Dead, it has nothing to do with the world of the living. Life is contained within the other elements but not in this one. Air is a lot of maybes, it's not concrete and real. The mind in itself can't do anything, it needs a body (earth) to express it.



What total nonsense. There is no life WITHOUT Air. Try breathing in Earth, in Water, and in Fire without aid of any type. At least try to use a little common sense. Why would the dead need Air, they are dead after all?

Don S.
Tarot Studies Web Site
http://www.nodntap.net/tarot/

Tarot Studies List
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Tarot_Studies/ 


WolfyJames  29 Jan 2004 
This was a metaphor. I'm a air sign and believe me, it's freezing up there, it's dead, it's painful and I'm choking. 


firemaiden  29 Jan 2004 
Your friendly moderator here:
Links to personal websites belong in the profile (not in posts)

Please remember to be courteous when posting.
Thank you. 


Diana  29 Jan 2004 
WolfyJames: And a beautiful metaphor it was indeed. 


WolfyJames  29 Jan 2004 
I simply described, as an air sign, how I feel. Thanks! ;) 


nodntap  29 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by WolfyJames
This was a metaphor. I'm a air sign and believe me, it's freezing up there, it's dead, it's painful and I'm choking.



I'm an Air sign too. Many folks consider it - the flakey one - Gemini, because we never seem to finish anything. Which in my case is true.

Air sign people are almost always lonely people, even when there are dozens of people around.

We can't turn off our thoughts. We have a hard time sleeping because of our motor minds and constant thoughts (9 of Swords). We build bars around us to keep others out, to keep from getting hurt (8 of swords).

Many Air (Sword) sign folks are bi-polar. And the last thing we want is to have others think we are stupid or incompedent. Most of us are loud - so we don't get overlooked, or the mouse in the corner - afriad to speak so others don't think we are idiots because we often say the wrong thing, or say it badly.

Most Air sign folks have problems with emotions (Water), we hate being tied down (Earth), and we are probably the least motivated (Fire) people (signs) of all. We live in our minds, we are tortured by our thoughts, and we can't seem to turn off the constant barriage of thoughts, ideas, and impressions which beat upon our brains, consciousness, and subconsciousness.

According to what I have read Waite disliked the Minors and thought them more or less beneath him. But .. at the same time he knew their worth and could not simply ignore them.

Waite was born Oct 2, 1857, which means he was a Libra - a Cardinal AIR sign. Libra is supposedly about balance, something I don't think Waite ever found.

So yes, it's cold and painful at times - as well as being choking at times, but dead? It's anything but dead since our mind's can't stop long enough to be dead.

Now you all can't kind of figure out where waite's images for Swords might have come from.

Sorry about being discourteous and the URL's. Boot me - I'm used to it since I seem to terrify people.

Don 


WolfyJames  29 Jan 2004 
Well, looks like you just described me, except for the bipolar thing, but the rest is so true. I have a lot of Gemini in me (in my chart, true, but I'm Aquarius), I rarely finish what I start. I have the butterfly Syndrom, the Peter Pan Syndrom. And I always say the wrong thing, or so badly it's a disaster anyway, so I do keep my mouth shut, the only wise thing to do. I think personaly that life is contained in the heart (water) or dynamism (fire), even earth contains life, but not air. This is just a personal opinion. 


Major Tom  29 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by nodntap
Sorry about being discourteous and the URL's. Boot me - I'm used to it since I seem to terrify people.

Don


My friend Paula isn't try to frighten you Don.

There's room for everyone here. That's the point. :laugh: 


Imagemaker  29 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Most of us are loud - so we don't get overlooked, or the mouse in the corner - afriad to speak so others don't think we are idiots because we often say the wrong thing, or say it badly.

Sorry about being discourteous


I can find my history in this description, for sure.

And we understand your air sign made you speak the way you did :D Onward to higher ground . . . 


nodntap  29 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by WolfyJames
Well, looks like you just described me, except for the bipolar thing, but the rest is so true. I have a lot of Gemini in me (in my chart, true, but I'm Aquarius), I rarely finish what I start. I have the butterfly Syndrom, the Peter Pan Syndrom. And I always say the wrong thing, or so badly it's a disaster anyway, so I do keep my mouth shut, the only wise thing to do. I think personaly that life is contained in the heart (water) or dynamism (fire), even earth contains life, but not air. This is just a personal opinion.



Are you sure you don't have extreme highs and lows. Go from being happy - even estatic to highly depressed? From your posts it sure sounds like it.

The only things that keep me going are my bizarre sense or humor and my wife of 37 years. Together the two keep me somewhat grounded.

Another thing folks need to consider about the Waite suit of swords is that the human species thrives on stress and conflict brought about many times by their own self-imposed mental attitudes. Getting pass them is our way of growing and becoming wiser creatures. I personally call the suit of Swords/Air the anti-intellect - except in the cases of the Ace and the Court cards.

Ever notice when you open some new decks the order goes Ace -King (Courts then Pips). Why do you think that might be?

The Aces are the purity of the suits. The Pips to one degree or another - for good or bad take their meanings from each of the Aces.

So to do the Court cards. For me there is no relationship between the Pips 2 through 10 and the Court cards. Only the Aces relate to the Court cards.

If you look - the Ace of each suit and the King of each suit are almost identical. The Queens take the Aces and look at them with an emotional (Water) outlook. The Kinghts with a motivational/active (Fire) outlook. The Pages with a groundedness (Earth) outlook.

How else do you explain the rather negative aspects of the Sword/Air Pips 2 to 10 and the more positive aspects of the Sword/Air Court cards?

Both individully derive their meanings from the Ace of Swords. And except for the Aces the Pips and Courts are two separate entities.

Don 


WolfyJames  29 Jan 2004 
It's not bipolar, it's cyclo something. Not as intense as bipolar. My father is bipolar, one of my friend is bipolar, so I know what it is. 


ros  29 Jan 2004 
The logic of the swords may be cutting at times. Remember swords are the words in which we reason with.
s(words)

Air people are good with their words.

"Have a great week
and may all our days be special
and may we have many happy years after we lose all our marbles". 


Moongold  29 Jan 2004 
Carl Jung said:

the air is the pure uncorrupted element, in its kind the most worthy, being uncommonly light and invisible, but inside heavy, visible and solid. Enclosed within it is the spirit of the Highest that moved over the waters before the Creation, according to the testimony of the Holy Scripture: "And....he did fly upon the wings of the wind". All things are integrated in this element by the imagination of the fire CW 12 397.

Jung said that air is the life of everything, and the son of wisdom is born in the air. It is said the air is the mediator between the fire (Sol) and the water (Luna) by reason of its heat and moisture.

You know ..... what the alchemists and other commentators seem to say is that each element can't exist without the others, and that the different relationships have different meanings and evoke different qualities in each other. This is a kind of unifying thought - that as different as we are, how much we need and enhance each other. I am a Fire person - wildly so - and what would I do without my Scorpio companion/lover?

I know little about alchemy but there seems to be a lot to be learned here in understanding the elements and the suits.

Moongold 


ros  29 Jan 2004 
P.S.
Wouldn't the world be boring if we were all the same?

We would never see any other side of anything.That is why we need to mix & blend to understand in our own way. 


skytwig  29 Jan 2004 
I was thinking ( :eek: ) that a sword requires careful handling.... that it is a very sharp tool, but an efficient one..... it does not take a lot of work to get the sword to effectively slice something.... it is just a matter of correct placement.....

So the sword is something we must learn to handle, to master....

Thinking is an art.... decisive thinking is essentially a challenge that takes, for many of us, a lifetime to learn! :) 


ros  29 Jan 2004 
One more thing!
If we could take the elements & look at them,

Air would be the top, fire in the middle, water laying low & the earth on the bottom.This is where they work in their own comfort zone. eg. Air up by the clouds

Air, fire & water all need to be contained or directed.

Earth feels all the effect of the other elements.Earth people are said to be grounded. 


Thirteen  29 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by Moongold the alchemists and other commentators seem to say is that each element can't exist without the others, and that the different relationships have different meanings and evoke different qualities in each other. This is a kind of unifying thought - that as different as we are, how much we need and enhance each other.


Which is perhaps the most important point. However much we discuss Swords as a certain part of the mind--that part of words and logic and invention--we rarely read single cards. A daily card yes, but tarot cards are usually read in spreads which show the interaction, the alchemy as you say, of different elements.

Life and people may be "sword heavy" (air heavy), but they're rarely purely so. An Ace of Swords doesn't usually stand alone nor take control the entire reading. It usually makes a comment on only one aspect of a person's life or personality--and if connected with another card (say, 2/Cups) can alchemically create something new. Ace Sword = new words. 2/Cups = love at first sight. Together: someone inspiried by someone he's just met to new eloquence; a poet finding inspiriation for new love sonnets, perhaps.

We can discuss the swords by themselves, but they're not usually going to be read that way. A good thing to remember. 


Dexter  31 Jan 2004 
There are a few old saying that come to mind when I think of swords. "Mind over Matter", which right away brings to mind conflict and struggle. But in the reverse we have "Thinking with your heart instead of your head," being the head the better choice. Also having a sharp tonque, a cutting wit etc.

I am also an Air sign being a Libra and I have unfortunately too numerous times to mention opened my mouth just to change feet.

We are constantly having to make decisions that if we solely relied on our thoughts without using the other suits to temper them would result in some disasterous results.

I find that the swords make me stop and "think" about what I am about to say or do. They make me think of the choices and concequences of my actions, thoughts or words.

Dexter 


firemaiden  31 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by Dexter
I am also an Air sign being a Libra and I have unfortunately too numerous times to mention opened my mouth just to change feet.


Dexter, that was very witty indeed!! ROFL 


Imagemaker  31 Jan 2004 
Quote:
that a sword requires careful handling.... that it is a very sharp tool, but an efficient one..... it does not take a lot of work to get the sword to effectively slice something


I've always thought of swords this way, too, but just as I was reading this I remembered visiting a museum where we could heft the old medieval swords--they were SO heavy and unwieldy and uncontrollable (for me)--and not sharp at all, just like flat metal bats.

So I started thinking about heavy, unmoveable thoughts that just weigh on us until we sink . . . another form of sword? 


skytwig  31 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by Imagemaker
I remembered visiting a museum where we could heft the old medieval swords--they were SO heavy and unwieldy and uncontrollable (for me)--and not sharp at all, just like flat metal bats.

So I started thinking about heavy, unmoveable thoughts that just weigh on us until we sink . . . another form of sword?
Yes.... very much so.... Swords take a special kind of skill and strength.... Unfortunately, thinking is not a priority today.... we are taught to repeat the expected answers, not to question. Children who speak out and question are usually labled troublemakers.... That is unfortunate, we have probably suppressed many geniuses who could have helped the world.....

As to the unweildiness you described, I would think that points to that morbid, self involved thinking that has become moldy with inactivity...... 


Thirteen  31 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by Imagemaker
So I started thinking about heavy, unmoveable thoughts that just weigh on us until we sink . . . another form of sword?


Sure. But then there are also Samurai Swords--fairly light, elegant and razor sharp. Also rapiers, sabers and fencing foils. With the medieval swords, a knight has to heft and bash at his opponent; in war enemies (who are usually wearing heavy armor) are hacked and smashed to death. With a foil, on the other hand, sword fighting becomes an art not unlike ballet, a game where a mere touch is a win--and death in duel comes from a single thrust through the heart (with an enemy wearing no armor at all).

And then, of course, there is the pen--arguably the mightest sword of all. 


skytwig  31 Jan 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by Thirteen
And then, of course, there is the pen--arguably the mightest sword of all.
Ahhhhhh...... :laugh: touche'......... 


TemperanceAngel  31 Jan 2004 
Coming in quite late, but I have found with my clients (I use RWS), that swords quite often indicate too much thinking, not enough action. Needing to manifest those great ideas.
I don't find this negative, everyone finds it difficult at times to 'still their mind' or make the thoughts real (dreams come true!)

At the same time too much thinking can be negative if it's worry or stress related.

All the elements need to be combined, sometimes Air needs to Earthed, or have some Water (emotion) come into it) or grow, energise (Wands).

Swords show quick thinking, mental agility, logical and analytical thought.

I am not and Air sign and IMHO I could do with a bit of analytical and logical thought at times :laugh: XTAX 


TemperanceAngel  01 Feb 2004 
With all that thought and mental energy, there is a need to COMMUNICATE, no communication could lead to feeling like the Eight or Nine.
Sometimes the best thing to do is to express our fears or anxieties or worries or ideas, then they don't run around in circles in our mind or tire us like the Four...
XTAX 


ros  01 Feb 2004 
Swords either can be healing or hurtful.

Swords can effect our mind & or our hearts. So they have two places where they can act on a person. It would depend on the issue how the AIR around us effects our bodies.

"the air around us"
- how we absorb the air & that comes into our energy.
- swords- the unseen energy that moves through us.

just some more ideas. 


Moongold  01 Feb 2004 
Sometimes people need to think more.

Sometimes a "cups" situation might require someone to cut through the sentiment. Sometimes a "pentacles" sitaution might need someone to lift it off the ground with a brilliant idea. Swords. Not bad by any means :). And sometimes exactly what is needed.

My initial interest was in the slant of the RWS swords. I think they indicate a particular approach or set of values that might not always be appropriate to the situation.

Which raises another point. What happens when you read with scenic decks that clearly have their own values? Do you feel comfortable in stepping outside the value boundary of the deck, and using the elements or numerology as the basis for a divergent viewpoint? But that's perhaps the subject of another thread.

Moongold 


Thirteen  01 Feb 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by Moongold My initial interest was in the slant of the RWS swords. I think they indicate a particular approach or set of values that might not always be appropriate to the situation.


Oh, absolutely. As I think I've said before, Waite was a pretty dour sort. The RWS is not, for the most part, a happy deck. In fact, the happiest cards in that deck usually feature children, interestingly. Waite certainly had a Victorian/Edwardian frame of mind there--the innocence and joys of the nursery (in that Mary Poppin's sense of a sanctuary for well-to-do, upper middle class children), and how sad it is that we must leave it behind and grow up. The world beyond it is a veil of tears, sorrows, up and down, trials and tribulations...blah, blah, blah...

And, to add to that, Waite certainly heaped the tears, sorrows and tribulations into the suit of Swords. Laid it on with a trowel just to be sure there was enough bitterness mixed in with the...um, mildly sweet. I imagine that talking to him must have been like talking to Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. I'm in absolute agreement that RWS swords put the worst possible outcome on a situation--and may not be appropriate to say even if valid.

Quote:
Which raises another point. What happens when you read with scenic decks that clearly have their own values? Do you feel comfortable in stepping outside the value boundary of the deck, and using the elements or numerology as the basis for a divergent viewpoint?


Yeah, it probably is another thread, but just to keep it in line--I certainly have no problem adjusting from the RWS view of swords to the Thoth view which is more intellectual and less "doom and gloom." There are decks out there that are not tarot decks. But I find that even the most liberal in Tarot image (like the Moon Garden's use of Fireflies rather than Swords) usually (not always, but usually) stick within the boundries of generally accepted meaning. And I can usually find a way to associate the image with what I already know.

Of course, often, after I make that association, I will absorb whatever new spin the deck and its images might have put on that meaning. If I agree with the new spin, I'll absorb it. If not...I'll ignore it or not use the deck. But there's no doubt in my mind that the deck I use puts the spin on the reading. If I use RWS, it's gonna be hard to put a happy face on those swords. Whereas, if I use Moon Garden, it's going to be far easier.

I'll add a story here: I had a friend who wanted to read tarot cards--had learned how way back--but the RWS' swords were so depressing and frightening to her that she refused to pick up a deck. As most other decks used swords she avoided them as well. It wasn't that she wanted to avoid the negative, it's just that she had a very sick husband, and she didn't need to be constantly reminded that the love of her life might die by RWS' doom & gloom images.

I got her the Moon Garden deck and she was delighted with the fireflys--not a sword in sight. Going back to Mary Poppins, sometimes a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. 


skytwig  01 Feb 2004 
I want to thank everyone who contributed to this thread. It has really made me think! :laugh: (In a very good and productive way..... :) )

THANX! 


Moongold  01 Feb 2004 
See, Skytwig.................a few Swords never go astray.....hahahaha! 


nodntap  01 Feb 2004 
The Suit Octaves

For the last couple of years I have been working on my own suit Octaves.

Material Octave
Higher Octave .. Lower Octave
... Pentacles ........... Wands ....

Emotional Octave
Higher Octave .. Lower Octave
... Cups ................ Swords .......

Wands (Fire) represents the striving for material success and Pentacles (Earth) is actually having attained material success.

Swords are feelings and emotions in disarray and in conflict and Cups are about attaining happy and stable emotions and feelings.

So Swords (Air) are the lower Octave of emotions and feelings while Cups (Water) is the Higher Octave of emotions and feelings.

Compare the cards (2 to 10) in the suits of Cups and Swords in the RWS deck and you will find that many/most are diametrically oppposed to one another. They they don't oppose they actually enhance - like the 5 of Swords meaning of an 'unhealthy mental attitude' will lead to the 'misery and grief' of the 5 of Cups.

I use the different suit/elements of the Octaves to find the 'Shadow' aspects of a particular card - for good or ill. For example, if you were to draw the 3 of Swords and found that the seeker was indeed heartbroken and lonely you might advise them to seek out friends to help them through their difficulties (3 of Cups).

The pain and ruin of the 10 of Swords can be handled better with the help of family, friends, and the love and caring offered in the 10 of Cups.

On the other hand if you drew the 10 of Cups the 10 of Swords might be telling the seeker not to take family, friends, love and caring for granted, or to misuse these things or you could end up in a state of ruin and pain. In other words don't 'turn your back' on these things for the swords in the back on the 10 of Swords could very well be self-inflicted.

Don 


Moongold  02 Feb 2004 
Greetings Don, and welcome to Aeclectic ~

It seems as though you're developing quite a unique approach with the idea of Octaves . Octaves are musical scales are they not?

I am interested in your concept of swords but have one question. Does it not show bias with values as does the RWS, and could you not get into the same difficulties? I guess I see Swords as being more positive than RWS.

I may have misunderstood your meaning, and please excuse me if I have.. I'd very much like to know more and to see the images. There is also aforum here on Deck Creation where you might like to explore the ideas around this more.

Thanks heaps for joining the discussion :).

Moongold 


nodntap  03 Feb 2004 
oc·tave
n.

Music
The interval of eight diatonic degrees between two tones of the same name, the higher of which has twice as many vibrations per second as the lower.

A tone that is eight diatonic degrees above or below another given tone.

Two tones eight diatonic degrees apart that are sounded together.

The consonance that results when two tones eight diatonic degrees apart are sounded.

A series of tones included within this interval or the keys of an instrument that produce such a series.

An organ stop that produces tones an octave above those usually produced by the keys played.

The interval between any two frequencies having a ratio of 2 to 1.

Ecclesiastical
The eighth day after a feast day, counting the feast day as one.

The entire period between a feast day and the eighth day following it.

A group or series of eight.

A group of eight lines of poetry, especially the first eight lines of a
Petrarchan sonnet. Also called octet.

A poem or stanza containing eight lines.

Sports A rotating parry in fencing.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[middle english, eighth day after a feast day, from old french, from medieval latin octva (dis), from latin, feminine of octvus, eighth, from oct, eight; see okt(u) in indo-european roots.]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Note: 4-Elements with 2 states (upright and reversed, or positive and negative) = 8

Don 


nodntap  03 Feb 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by Moongold
Greetings Don, and welcome to Aeclectic ~

I am interested in your concept of swords but have one question. Does it not show bias with values as does the RWS, and could you not get into the same difficulties? I guess I see Swords as being more positive than RWS.

Moongold



So what cards do you use for misery, grief, pain, heartbreak, and so on - if not the suit of Swords? The suit of Swords had bad connotations long before Waite and the RWS deck. Papus even goes so far as to call the 3 of Swords - hatred.

See Bill Butler's book, 'Dictionary of the Tarot'.

Don 


Moongold  03 Feb 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by nodntap
So what cards do you use for misery, grief, pain, heartbreak, and so on - if not the suit of Swords? The suit of Swords had bad connotations long before Waite and the RWS deck. Papus even goes so far as to call the 3 of Swords - hatred.

I guess it depends on which framework you use.

I associate Swords with air. Air is commonly associated with thinking, not sorrow per se. This is the point about the RWS Swords – they are all presented with overtones of sorrow or mental pain. I’m not saying this is wrong, simply that it is one view. Clearly RWS aims to illustrate mental sorrow, strain or pain in some way. In itself, there is nothing the matter with that. It is a choice the deck creators made

There are other views that Swords can also have more positive connotations via their association with the element air - thinking. Thinking is a good, positive, wonderful quality. Swords can also be purifying instruments, cutting away disease and corruption, cutting through unnecessary sentimentality. The sword is made of metal, itself the result of tempering and purifying processes. So Swords and thinking can actually be very noble, good qualities. Both things can have negative associations as well, like most things.

Cups can illustrate the negative emotions. 5 and 8 Cups do that quite well in RWS. 9 Cups can even do that – smugness for example. The scenic Pentacles in RWS can do that too – 5 Pentacles is the classic example but others in the suit could be interpreted this way as well. Wands is another suit where you could quite well detect sorrow and pain.

I was thinking last night that in non-scenic pips reversals could represent pain and other negative qualities. For example, the Ace Swords Rx or 10 Swords Rx could illustrate “mindlessnessness” which is how I tend to regard addiction. 7 Swords Rx could illustrate despair – when a person stops searching for hope or faith. This would be using a combination of elemental and numerological associations.

So, Don, I am really just talking about alternatives – not saying anything is preferable.

Thank you for explaining the many meanings of octaves. In esoteric numerology, eight is associated with power, will, control, responsibility and karma. That in itself is very interesting.

I look forward to hearing more about your deck. :)

My best wishes,

Moongold 


nodntap  03 Feb 2004 


So, Don, I am really just talking about alternatives – not saying anything is preferable.

** I understand that. I just toss things out. You should see my 'Elemental Stress Factor Tables', or my 'different look at the elements', or my "positonal Dignities', [grin].

http://www.nodntap.net/tarot/eds/elemental_stress_factors.shtml
http://www.nodntap.net/tarot/different_look_at_the_suits.shtml
http://www.nodntap.net/tarot/eds/pds_1.shtml
http://www.nodntap.net/tarot/eds/pds_2.shtml

The above are learning URL's so I hope they are okay. If not let me know and I won't send anymore.

Thank you for explaining the many meanings of octaves. In esoteric numerology, eight is associated with power, will, control, responsibility and karma. That in itself is very interesting.

** 8 is also the number of 'money'. On the subject of numbers have you ever used 'Numerological Dignities'?

I look forward to hearing more about your deck. :)

** What deck? I'm not designing a deck and if I were I'd make The Sun card #1 simply because all life stems from the sun and to me at least The Sun and Aces combine better than the Aces and Magician. The Lovers I'd put at card #2 because it's a card of duality and choices and is a natural at card #2 - compare The Lovers and the 2's of each suit in the RWS deck and you will see what I mean. The High Priestess as card #2 just makes little to no sense to me. The Empress would be better at card #6 since the number 6 deals with family, healing, and so on.

It's a real shame few web sites or books deal with the adverse aspects of the numbers 0 through 9, 10, 11, 33, and so on. Usually only the Karmic Debt numbers are dealt with in an adverse manner.

Moongold
-----------------------------
Don 


Moongold  03 Feb 2004 
Quote:
Originally posted by nodntap
** What deck? I'm not designing a deck and if I were I'd make The Sun card #1 simply because all life stems from the sun and to me at least The Sun and Aces combine better than the Aces and Magician. The Lovers I'd put at card #2 because it's a card of duality and choices and is a natural at card #2 - compare The Lovers and the 2's of each suit in the RWS deck and you will see what I mean. The High Priestess as card #2 just makes little to no sense to me. The Empress would be better at card #6 since the number 6 deals with family, healing, and so on.


Ah............... I made an assumption that you were somehow involved in the design of anew deck! My apologies.

Thanks for the links. There's quite a lot of reading there. Can't get to it all now but will on the week end.


Moongold 


The Suit of Swords - RWS thread was originally posted on 23 Jan 2004 in the Using Tarot Cards board, and is now archived in the Forum Library. Read the threads in Using Tarot Cards, or read more archived threads.

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