BY MOHINI BASU
People in the cards of a Tarot deck serve to focus the attention. They may signify the querent, or other people in the querent’s life who have a say in the event which is under consideration. They may signify possibilities for the querent. Always, they help in understanding what is, or what has to be, in a given context.
Thus, it is utterly fascinating for me, when a card has nobody in it…!
In the Rider-Waite deck, there are just two cards with no one… the Three of Swords and the Eight of Wands.
All the Aces have a hand holding the symbol of the suit, signifying a start, a step to begin, a root for manifesting the power of the suit. Each and every one of the Major Arcana are peopled… yes, even The Moon has the unbirthed Man in the Moon! And according to the Tree of Life, what you don’t have is as important in shaping your perspective as what is in your face….
The Three of Swords holds a bleak vision, if we would go by our trained mind. A symbolic heart (and this is what makes it unconnected to any person) is pierced through by three swords of such overwhelming weightage that the mere visual can invoke pity. The background contributes to the bleakness… colourless, cloudy, lashing sleet. And the perfectly symmetrical symbolic heart hangs in the middle of nowhere, stabbed yet not bleeding.
In contrast, the Eight of Wands looks uplifting. Again, though our trained powers of observation, we see a bunch of eight wands up in the air… above our heads, as it would seem from the distant hills. They have apparent direction, but no apparent control exerted by any human. And also the height of their displacement makes the action of the flying wands disconnected from humans. The light in the scene is clear and strong, and the perspective is wide open.
To me, here is the connect….
Lack of people symbolises times when we have no control over the situation. It could be that we have taken some action earlier, and the consequences have been ripped out of our hands. Or it could also be that the basis of our action had been assumptions… which is a case of immaturity, and thus, we feel no connection to what is happening now. Else, and more significantly, it could be the moment when we have the opportunity to realise that we have far greater creative powers over our lives than we are willing to believe.
Nobody has broken anybody’s heart in the Three of Swords. It is a heart one has imagined…. It is an emotional box that one has defined through preferrences and dislikes. It is what we ‘think’ is our heart, and not what actually is. Thus, what is injured is an idea, a perception…. and not love. When our hearts break…. it is really not our ‘heart’ breaking. Our capacity to love is divine. Nothing destroys the divine. But our assumptions and our desires to be treated in a particular way because we are comfortable with it form an armour of egg-shells… threatened at every turn. And what more exemplary proof of that threat than the sword!!! We are easiest hurt by the words of others, whereas we need to be mature enough to realise that people speak their truth, not ours. We are just as liable to poke at other people’s ideas of self-importance, too! So, with Three of Swords, we meet our emotional immaturity and we have the opportunity to be thankful that those prods could grow us up in a hurry!
The Eight of Wands talks about our desire to control our lives being wrested out of our grip, and we are forced to learn… trust. It is when we are at our most passionate that we have the hardest grips. Nobody knows better than ourselves! And particularly, up until the previous card of Seven of Wands, we were striving, battling, pitting and pitching… and winning. We know what to do, and we are good at how to do it, right? Wrong. No matter how much you know, the divine always knows more. Indeed, in following our passion, we have chosen to be in the flow, and then, there comes a moment when it is only the flow. Trying to regain control would be a mistake… a huge one. It would only speak of fear. Letting be, letting go, letting God… That is the Eight of Wands!
When one or the other of these cards appear in a reading I am participating in, I realise that the querent stands at a threshold of growth… where he is being made to (yes, perhaps even forced to) drop his self-image and let in his divine image of far greater potential than he could imagine.
No one is here. The divine always is!