dual meanings

as i continue to reflect on what tarot is and why it's important to me, i was delighted to pull a card for my daily reading that seems to embrace all the beautiful difficulties and contradictions of this practice: the two of swords. IMG_0289this powerful card features two dark swords, identical in strength and size, locked together. a fiery eclipse hovers over their meeting point, with dark lines of energy pulsing away from their crossing.

this depiction in the wild unknown is very different from the more traditional images of a woman standing blindfolded, holding a sword in each hand, contemplating and considering what she cannot see. where the wild unknown image feels like conflict or a stalemate, the original image feels peaceful, contemplative, like the woman featured is pushing other things out of the way to focus on what matters. i love the duality of this card, the variety of meanings that can be drawn from it. two opposing forces clashing, with no one able to move forward, all that energy stalled by an contradictory force. but they could also be unified, lending one another strength, joining those strong forces together to achieve a common goal or purpose. there's such focus, a beautiful balance and symmetry that speaks to a completely different energy.

week one of beth's alternative tarot course includes a lengthy list of questions, all centered around tarot, including history, meaning, purpose, abilities, and how that connects to me as a reader. and when i consider what drew me to tarot in the first place, this card is a perfect example: i love the duality, the hidden meanings, the way that every card feels full of possibilities. obviously the suits and courts, the major and minor cards, all have patterns and inherent symbolism that lends each card to specific meanings. but all of that is open to interpretation, allowing individual readers to listen to the cards and hear their message.

mother-of-cupsthe appeal of the beautiful mystery and elusive nature of tarot is what compelled me to choose the mother of cups as my personal card for the duration of this course. it was a strong influence in my reader's reading a few days ago and is a card i've written about many times already. her wisdom, natural intuition, empathy, solitude, and psychic abilities are appealing and inspiring to me, and represent much of what i hope to gain from learning tarot. this card makes me feel powerful and strong, reminds me to listen and find wisdom in stillness, and gives me courage to trust my instincts and my intuition.

 

balance & blockages

some days it's hard to find the time for tarot - i strive to do daily readings but it's not always simple to find a quiet pocket of time to draw a card, meditate and ponder its meaning, and spend a few minutes writing and reflecting on how it can advise me on my day. but other days, like today, i seem to have endless time stretching before me, and my daily card challenges me to keep questioning and working through it. today's card is the two of swords. two-of-swords

this is a card that i always seem to struggle with, which is both ironic and fascinating. the card itself in traditional interpretations means blockage, stalemate, stalled progress. the swords represent two opposing forces, their energy high but forcing each other to stay in their position. the eclipse in the center beautifully illustrates shadows and confusion, the moon blocking the light of the sun, allowing us to look directly at it but making it hard to comprehend what our vision tells us.

however, when i draw this card my instincts tell me something else. i always seem to see balance, symmetry, equal forces, and steely focus. the swords may be crossed, they may be pushing against each other, but even with the stunning eclipse in the background they are single-minded in their attention and efforts.

i was delighted to read that beth sees a similar duality - and the samples of the two of swords in other decks seem to offer a variety of interpretations. whether its a willful pushing away of realities to focus on a single issue or decision, or a naive avoidance of a problem, there is both strength and withdrawal in this card. sometimes we have to push daily distractions out of our mind and put all of our energy towards preparing, making a strong decision, steading ourselves. but denial is a strong instinct, and it can be easy to mistake steady focus with putting our heads in the sand about real issues, and ignoring challenges that won't go away until they're dealt with. (if you're out there reading this, i'd love to hear your interpretations and personal intuitions about this card in the comments!)

wanting more on what i may be blocking or ignoring (whether intentionally or not), i pulled a clarification card and was rewarded with an old friend: the eight of pentacles.

eight-of-pentacles

like the ten of wands or the ace of swords, this is a card that comes up a lot for me in both daily readings and larger spreads. the spider is steady, calm, and always working - she isn't distracted by what's around her but instead is hyper-focused on her craft and her mission, and weaves intricate, beautiful webs as often as possible. this card reminds us that hard work and perseverance are what bring us closer to our goals. for me it also represents getting out there and pushing myself to continue to improve my photography, whether by seeking new clients or creating personal projects that push me outside my comfort zone and help me develop my artistic style and professional skills.

centering the two of swords around my professional work makes this daily reading much more clear. while i love what i do, things seem to be slowing down or stalling out these days - my regular clients, while consistently providing work, seem to be slowing down this week. i haven't shot anything new in a few months. and i haven't been pushing myself to experiment with my camera, read about new equipment or techniques, or creating recipes or projects for myself to develop my portfolio. i've let myself be distracted by the myriad of other things in my life - and while these things are important, i should put my focus back into my work for a bit.

in light of this daily reading (and given my very slow work week ahead), i'd like to do an additional spread focused on developing my career. more on the way...