The Three of Swords – A One Page Guide

Of the Three of Swords, Waite says the divinatory meanings include “all that the design signifies naturally, being too simple and obvious to call for specific enumeration.” While that may be true, like all things tarot, there are layers beneath the surface awaiting discovery. The first thing we note about the illustration is that there is no human figure. Of the minor arcana corresponding to the 36 decans, it is one of only two such cards. What we will find beneath the thrice pierced heart is a balance, as of the scale of Libra, between the masculine Saturn, ruler of the decan, and the feminine Venus, the planetary ruler of Libra. And though Saturn and Venus may be evenly matched, Binah, the very feminine qabalistic influence, tips the scales to the feminine. We’ll also find a very interesting male/female, lover/beloved dynamic in the upright and reversed divinatory meanings. Is the illustration a representation of a detached and removed love? Yes, I think so, and in fact, I think we can even say that Waite implies a direction in that separation: the beloved left the lover. In this series on the minor arcana I have many times applauded the genius of Colman Smith and far less so Waite. In this case, though, Colman Smith has copied another design, and Waite has done something particularly original with the divinatory meanings.

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The Two of Swords – A One Page Guide

The blindfolded swordswoman of the Two of Swords can only be a metaphor, but for what? Why is she blindfolded? Why two swords? Why is the composition symmetrical except for the Moon? I believe that Waite wishes us to perceive the message of the RWS Two of Swords as that the balance of two types of justice, divine and human, manifests itself in peace and harmony, even though both types of justice can countenance cruelty. But if inside oneself and one’s circle of friends we maintain balance and harmony, such a balance can be a “beneficent force.”

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The Four of Swords – A One Page Guide

The Four of Swords’ depiction of the tomb of a Knight outwardly conveys soldiering and death. Yet if we look at the upper left, we see a scene that is likely to be an Annunciation scene: a scene of birth. The astrological influences include strong life-giving entities in Venus and The Empress. The female deities, then, are key to understanding the Four of Swords. The Transit of Venus is a celestial event at which time Venus changes identity from evening star to morning star, from preceding the Sun to following the Sun. Venus’ movement is the metaphor for the Divine Feminine rising–Aphrodite rising from the sea at Cypress. Waite’s divinatory meanings communicate a fork in the road, a bi-directional path for his soldier. He moves forward by falling behind; by putting down his weapon so that he can pray. In Chesed, the qabalistic influence, we see the “mechanics” of the process. Chesed can be said to represent another “bi-directional” arrangement: a contract between God and the people. This is the “piety of people towards God, as well as grace, favor or mercy of God towards people.” The card is a “snapshot” of two vectors in the “lives” of the dead Knight. And the transit of Venus is a metaphor by which we can depict two opposing vectors in the same snapshot; or two opposing divinatory meanings.

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