Friday, 13 August 2010

Variations on the 3 of Swords Part 3

For this third post in what seems to have become a series, I want to look at non-human, or non-Sword representations of the 3 of Swords, and what these can say to us.

For example, the 3 of Swords from the Halloween Tarot uses bats instead of swords.  My first interpretation of this is based on associations with bats as creatures which can get tangled in hair, suggesting a tangling of thoughts, and as animals which may suck blood, with the inference of sucking life.  Thus a very dark interpretation of this card would be of sadness and even terror caused by something which brings feelings of confusion and a sense of your vitality being drained from you by these issues.  However, this is a very dark interpretation for a deck which is, fundamentally, quite mild and amusing.  Perhaps a more contextually appropriate way of seeing this card is in terms of our own shadowy thoughts causing us to feel weighed down and unhappy.

Another card which shows animals, and swords, comes from Lisa Hunt's Celtic Dragon Tarot.  One interesting aspect of this deck is that the suit of swords is associated with fire, rather than the air association which is most often made.  This is very visible in this particular card, where the fiery heart of energy created by the dragons looks almost as though it is going to implode as they lance in towards each other.

This feels to me like warring parts of oneself, different ideas about how to do things or what to feel.  There is so much energy here, but all turned inward in a very destructive, self-attacking way.  Shoulds and oughts can create this kind of energy, with multiple pressures building a high level of tension.  I imagine an inner dialogue detailing all the mistakes one made in a given situation, all the things one should have done but didn't, all the good qualities one doesn't possess, or the negative traits one accuses oneself of.  This seems so hurtful, yet it is a vicious cycle which I think many of us may recognise.

Another variation which I find most powerful is the Gay Tarot 3 of Swords.  Here we see three broken umbrellas dumped by the side of the road in the rain.  To me, this card speaks of being old, broken and unwanted - a very subtle yet striking depiction of painful emotions.

In our current economic situation, where many belong to the long-term unemployed, how easy it may be to fall into this self-perception - no-one wants me, I'm useless, what's the point.  It also makes me think about the way our society treats old people.  In many other cultures, elders are valued for their knowledge, experience and wisdom.  They are an important part of their families and their society.  Yet in our Western world, the old are often devalued, seen as a burden, shunted off to old-people's homes.

I find it striking how deeply sad these non-human images can be.  Is it because they are more allegorical that they can be so tragic?  How do these images make you feel, and how would you interpret them?  What do they add to your understanding of the 3 of Swords?

Images from the Halloween Tarot, the Celtic Dragon Tarot and the Gay Tarot.

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