This week our focus is on the 2 of Swords. As always, I encourage you to get ahold of your deck if you have one, or all of your decks if you have many, and spend some time observing the card. This is not a defining what you see exercise, but instead simply looking at the card.
This is almost like meditation in a way. You’re focusing your attention on the card while allowing any thoughts about it to rise and pass, without shifting focus. At the end of this exercise, take a recording device, whatever that may before you, and note anything that popped up in the card for you. Consider any particular symbols, colors, imagery that tried to get your attention. At this point, don’t try to interpret it, simply note it.
I have eight decks for this exercise, of which you’ll be able to see non-judgmental observation below
The standard Rider-Waite deck shows a woman in a grey gown on a stone block on a grey, man-made ledge. Behind her is a rippling water with jagged rocks protruding from the water, while green hills are in the distance. The sky is blue, though a dull blue, as if just at dusk. A crescent moon hangs in the sky. The woman is blindfolded, facing the reader, and holds two massive swords across her chest, which reach out and touch either side of the card.
The Spiral Tarot similarly depicts a woman in a light-colored dress, though hers is white, and she wears white gloves. Instead of being forward facing, she walks forward and to the right side of the card, feeling with her feet, her way along a tight rope over the crashing waves on a shore. Beyond her the sea is calm. It is night, and the stars are out, surrounding a crescent moon. She too holds two swords across her chest while she navigating the rope blindfolded.
The Vampire Tarot shows a statue of a vampire with hair curling back into a spiral. It hugs itself tight, holding the swords close to its face with its eyes closed.
The Faerie Tarot shows a faerie holding two swords across her chest with a thin veil across her closed eyes. She wears a purple gown, and has long curling blond hair. There are two tapestries behind her: a red-orange one to the right of the card and an indigo tapestry to the left. On either side a winter scene can be seen in the background.
The Thoth Tarot is somewhat simplistic, and shows two long swords crossing each other against a background of geometric patterns. The backdrop is yellow which fades downward into green. Where the swords cross, a rose opens. Below the rose is a dagger with the glyph for Libra at its tip, while above the rose is another dagger with a crescent moon at it’s tip. Both daggers face upward. The hilts of the swords each have an angel upright and kneeled in prayer, and upside down, kneeling and in prayer. The Keyword of the card is ‘Peace’.
The Prisma Vision Tarot shows an individual in a snowy land, barefoot, and sitting on a tree stump. The figure faces to the top left corner of the card, and wears a mask over their eyes. The figure appears to be facing an orange butterfly that hovers between the tips of the swords. They hold the two swords out from their body, but the swords still cross. A crescent moon angles downward at the figure.
The Impressionist Tarot adapted Vincent van Gough’s The Night Cafe (1888), focussing only on the pool table and altering the cue sticks to two swords. The pool table is the main focus, and n people are around, only the two lights overhead, a table with a vase in the background, and a bottle on the floor.
As you go through the various cards, what do you notice that is a running theme in imagery? What do you notice tends to differ? Which of the images resonates with you? Why?
Spend time considering your own tarot decks, and do your own comparison. Shrae what you find in the comments!
The Aquarian Tarot in a Tin by Italian-born, American-raised David Palladini, was published originally in 1970 by U.S. Games Systems Inc, and then republished again in 2016 in a smaller size. Named after the Age of Aquarius, the Aquarian Tarot is a midieval depiction of the Rider-Waite Tarot system. The images are closer, and thus might give the impression of being more character-based rather than relying on symbolism. This intimate deck provides a stark reflection of the human condition in it’s journey through the tarot.
Faerie Tarot by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc, 2008. Hertz is a French artist, and the creator of several other beautiful tarot decks. The Faerie Tarot was ‘inspired by the flora and fauna of the French countryside,’ and ‘invites you to see the world in a delightful new way…blending fantasy, whimsy, and nature.’
Impressionist Tarot by Arturo Picca (artist) and Corrine Kenner (author), published by Lo Scarabeo in 2015. This deck takes works of classic impressionist paintings and recreates them to fit the meanings of the tarot. It pulls from works of Edonard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gough, and Paul Gauguin. A truly beautiful deck, especially for those who have interest in the art world.
Prisma Visions Tarot by James R. Eads, 3rd ed., published in 2016. The deck itself is beautiful, though perhaps not for the beginning tarot reader. The suits all fit together to create a master picture displaying the energy and progression of the suits. The figures and images flow from one card to the next, showing movement within the stationary cards.
Rider-Waite by A. E. Waite. The deck used in these photos is currently out of print. I won’t say much about this deck, as it is fairly standard and probably one of the most produced decks. It serves as a standard for many tarot readers and artists, depicting classic images relating in part to the original playing cards that tarot developed from.
The Spiral Tarot by Kay Steventon. With turn-of-the-20th-century style art, this deck takes from the classic Rider-Waite deck and brings it up to the late 1800-early 1900’s, a time of industry and contemplation for the western world as it moved forward into a more technological era. I am a little biased toward this deck as it’s been my main deck for 15 years. The cards are thick with additional symbolism that can be tricky to pick out of the traditional Rider-Waite, and adds layers of Greek myth throughout the Major Arcana.
Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley (designer and author) and Lady Frieda Harris (artist), published by U. S. Games Systems, Inc., in 1978. This deck takes from most esoteric imagery, and requires the reader of the deck to have deep, initiate knowledge of the symbolism used. There is nothing within the cards that is without meaning. However, on a more surface level, the deck draws from Egyptian symbolism and from the style of the Marseille Tarot (mostly seen within the Minor Arcana). For those looking for deeper understandings of the universe, I recommend this deck. I would caution that this deck is highly advanced, and might be avoided for the budding reader.
Vampire Tarot – by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. in 2000. As mentioned above in reference to the Faerie Tarot, Hertze is a French artist who gained her notability through the publication of her tarot decks. The Vampire Tarot was a bestselling deck upon its release, and plays on more gothic symbolism, providing more jarring interpretations to allow for the accepting of negative forces within the world to compliment the positive forces. The deck brings together myths and legends in the form of vampires, which ‘gives tarot readers a macabre passport’ into the world of divination.