Bohemian Gothic - Six of Swords


I love love love this card. The beauty and tranquility speaks volumes to me. When I go through tough times I tend to be reserved and close myself up. In everyday snags, like at work or something, if there are problems I tend to keep a calm, cool, and collected aura while working feverishly to get back on track. Which is good, but this transfers to all aspects of my life. I saw this card and it resonated so much, almost yelled for me to pay attention.

I do not have the book, but the shadow meanings listed in the LWB had me transfixed on this card. I needed this to be shown to me and I'm so glad it was through this card. There is a time to be reserved and persevere through hard times with a calm and collected composure, but don't take that too far.

I'd love any other insight from you guys. What might the candles represent? To me is seems like it is sunrise...a dawn on a new outlook on life perhaps :)

peace yall


It is a wonderful card. The one thing I note is the mirror imagery. The two mountains in the background are mirror images, and we have the boat and everyone on it reflected in the water, the twin candles. In fact, the way the dark hills there are reflected they seem to create a path there on the water. And I'm reminded that mirrors were often used with candles to create more light. The calm waters aren't only a metaphor, they double the morning light so that more can be seen.

Like all the images in the deck, it takes the meaning of the card (calm water after rough, mental harmony, answers in sight) and not only layers it, but offers a dark version of it as well as we don't know if the woman is asleep, drugged or dead. The boatman looks fairly young and furtive; is he saving or kidnapping her? Or taking her to some final resting place? As with so many cards in this deck, there's a story going on and we've come in at the middle.

I, myself, get a Phantom of the Opera feel; I imagine him, in the dark of night, throwing on this cloak, steering his boat up to the castle (or tower? or Island?) sneaking in, getting past guards maybe? He nabs her (either as she sleeps or after putting her to sleep) and carries her down to his boat. He is in love or obsessed with her--see how carefully he arranged her in the boat? The plush cushions and velvet blankets? I think he had the boat ready not just as a get-away, but with her in mind--and given the way she lies in it, I just don't think she's been conscious for the trip.

Either way, I feel that he has, at this point, out-paddled pursuers. Somewhere along the way he lit those candles to help guide him, not worrying that they might attract the attention. Now he's reached safe, smooth waters. The shore (or his lair) is in sight. Yet we've got that mirror reflection. He's passing the area of light between the reflection of one dark hill and another. Going from dark to dark. This, as you point out, is a moment of clarity that he hasn't had before, steering through the night by candle-light. Now the rosy pink clouds of morning are reflected in those waters, a break in the hills to offers even more reflected illumination. Everything calm and clear as class, and seen in a new light.

6/Swords is about mental clarity, seeing answers, etc. Is the boatman seeing the reality after a fevered night of steering that boat by candlelight, or is the woman in the boat dreaming up the answers? Are they each other's answer?

Man, I love this deck! :D


I haven't meditated and "stepped into" a card before, but I'm super tempted to reach into this one. I didn't automatically think Phantom of the Opera with the boatman, but I can see that story now. I was way focused on her, how she is dreaming and letting her guide lead her to the next phase in her life, letting him take over. But now its a tad frightening to imagine the guide being ill willed. Makes me think about when you are changing your perspective, make sure you truly believe this way. Do not be swayed by others enthusiasm to the point of following blindly. Have "mental clarity," hee hee, as you put it.

Also, the flame of the candles seem quite horizontal. Like they are going fast, but everything else contradicts that, makes you think calm and serene.

Man o Man, I get so excited about this deck. I've not been able to attach stories to my other few decks, but this the wheels in my brain start churning!


I'm in agreement. This deck makes me re-think the cards in ways I never have before. This card, for example: usually, when I see the typical RW image, it's the person in the boat I think about. The ferryman there, I presume is just doing his job and isn't the one making the crossing to a new stage in their thinking/life. The person in the boat is making the crossing, leaving troubles behind, their baggage (the swords) carried with them.

With this deck, however, the man rowing has as much of my attention as his passenger. The reason being that the woman is not active. She's not awake and anxiously seeking that shoreline, or huddled with her swords as if she's just had a rough trip. Because she's asleep or dead, the ferryman becomes a much more important part of the story. Someone had to put her in that boat. Someone has to care about taking her...where-ever. Even if he's Charon getting her to the underworld or some servant doing his master's bidding, he's still the one who is doing his level best to get her there. He's not just a ferryman who takes passengers back and forth across the water.

The candles, the red cloak, the elegance and beauty of the passenger all speak of this being something special. Not routine. And so the Ferryman matters. His care, his speed, his focus on his passenger makes him part of the story, not part of the background.

I like that. And it really changes the card around for me to think of this crossing being for him, his seeking smooth waters and a shore to dock, as much or more than it is about his passenger having a peaceful voyage and finding safe (?) harbor.


Alex says please light a candle and walk into another room without protecting the flame. The flame will be affected by even a gentle movement and will begin to go horizontal. He says that what he is trying to show is a gentle movement of the boat - not enough to blow out the candles, but enough to affect them.

Well, I pass that on.

Alex is the one who puts the detail into my broad sketches (although in fact he did a lot of the concepts for these cards also - in many ways it's very much his deck, although he was initially very wary of working at all on a "dark" theme). He works very intensely and much of this deck was done in the middle of the night. I think not every detail has a rational explanation, but this is in many ways what I love about it. There's a lot of just "feeling" what the details should be.

I want to stay out of the conversation for a while though because I'm finding it fascinating just to listen. I'm learning a lot - and want to say thank you.


baba-prague said:
I want to stay out of the conversation for a while though because I'm finding it fascinating just to listen. I'm learning a lot - and want to say thank you.
It's you and Alex that deserve the thanks. I can't say it enough. This is a brilliant deck. I've been reading tarot cards for a while now, and it takes an extraordinary deck to make me see the cards anew and fresh, to go further and rethink them, seeing things in them I never saw before.

And you can tell Alex that he's quite right. It doesn't take that much to get a flame to go horizontal. I, myself, didn't think the boat was traveling that fast, but rather that, if anything a gentle wind might be blowing. I appreciate very much his attention to accurate detail--even if it means I have to keep taking a magnifying glass to the cards for fear of missing something important ;)