Two of Swords

The Two of Swords gives us a picture of what it can look like to turn inwards, to our own thoughts, and then beyond them. It’s about shutting out distractions and really quieting all the voices outside and inside our own minds.

It’s rare to experience a truly quiet mind. We are constantly receiving messages, constantly communicating on many levels. It’s easy to take on others’ viewpoints and forget to feel our way through to our own. The Two of Swords is about claiming that space – sometimes to the degree of cutting ourselves off completely – so that we can listen to our own truths. (This can, by the same token, be about focusing too far within, and losing track of the wider situation.) Little Red Tarot

You’ve risen above the situation, or so you think. Stubbornly you hold what you know to be true. Yet by refusing to see something else, are you missing what might also be true.

Traditionally the two of swords is a blind folded figure who has to make a choice. It is unclear if the woman sitting on a chair in the water is blindfolded because she cannot choose. Is she stubbornly holding on to an ingrained belief? Perhaps she doesn’t know which way to turn or what to think.

I drew this card as a part of the Tree of Life Spread. The card was lying amid the roots of the tree at number four and the spread called upon me to consider the role of the father figure in my life.

Bearing in mind that I am seventy and grew up in an era when women were repressed, men held all significant positions of power and Germaine Greer was writing ‘The Female Enuch’, I am surprisingly ambivalent on this subject. Having said this, I may be guilty of stubbornly holding on to what my experience has taught me.

When I was small my father was a relatively shadowy figure. He worked as a labourer at the Co-operative Milk Factory which processed the milk that came in from local dairy farms. His hours were long and he often had to work shifts that went through the night. When he wasn’t at the factory he was tending the garden that fed us and raising ‘poddy’ calves to help bring in a bit of extra money. His only real leisure was playing cricket and umpiring football of a Saturday. It was my mother who ran the household with an iron rod and never hesitated to let us know that marrying Dad had not been one of her better moves.

As I grew older I became more aware of my father’s undying support of me. Unlike so many men in the 1950’s he valued education for girls and wanted me to have every opportunity. He was willing to make sacrifices to ensure that I gained a full education and had every opportunity to follow my dream of becoming a teacher.  I vividly remember his jubilance when I was the Dux of our small secondary school and gained a place at University.

So, as I position myself, blindfolded on this chair I am literally trying to decipher what I really believe. As I sit on this chair, clinging to my view, I am not experiencing some kind of impasse, but rather I am experiencing dispassionate impartiality. I know a sword is nearby, I know the history. I know that there is a dark side to paternalism! However, I also know that a candle is burning to shed light on another side of the story.

Despite growing up in a society where women were repressed and men dominated all positions of power I have never felt that all men behaved in a negative way. Quite the contrary! I have been fortunate enough to know and work alongside many good men who have made huge contributions to society.

It is important to remember that Jung, who originated the term “archetype” was very careful to point out that the archetypes are invariably bi-polar, that is, they have both a positive and negative aspects. As a consequence, we see representations of the positive mother archetype within images of the Virgin Mary, while the negative mother is frequently depicted in decidedly ugly witches.

Ultimately, as I meditate upon this representation of the two of swords and consider the father archetype, I feel obliged to note that the positive role of the father archetype is alive and well – in the form of men like my son who has taken a huge role in the care of his young son.  I would not want individual men, like him, feeling ambivalent about stepping into the paternal role simply because this role is so frequently painted as almost entirely negative.

For Reflection in Your Journal

  • What views do you suspect you stubbornly hold on to?
  • Draw your father’s shoes! Meditate upon them and consider the choices he has made, the forces that have influenced him. How does this impact on your perception of him?