Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Daily Draw Gratitudes Five of Swords

Still drawing from the New Mythic Tarot, today's image comes courtesy of the Five of Swords.

Taken from the tale of the curse of the House of Atreus, here we see Orestes at the feet of the god Apollo.  The god is telling him of the murder of his father by his mother.  Clytemnestra murdered Agamemnon because he sacrificed their daughter for the sake of glory, to propitiate the goddess Hecate whom he had offended and who pinned his army in port with a storm until he agreed to the sacrifice.  Agamemnon also lied to Clytemnestra, telling her that their daughter was to be married, then killing her.  However, in good patriarchal style, here the god Apollo tells Orestes that it is his obligation to avenge his father, by killing his own mother!

How does all this relate to the Five of Swords?  From the book: "Limitations and their necessary acceptance, as portrayed in the Five of Swords, often require us to swallow false pride as well as fear... Although this can be distressing, or even depressing or apparently belittling, it is a stage which is necessary if the individual wishes to make effective the principles in which he or she believes."

Certainly, what I see here is a child faced by a winged god with a many-bladed sword - talk about feeling out of your depth!  There are dark clouds surrounding them, and the mountains around look bleak and dead.

What gratitudes, then, can be gained from this?

I am grateful for the hard lessons which help me learn my limits.

I am thankful not to feel impotent all the time.


  1. I loved reading about this and was pleased to see that the book said, "Limitations and their necessary acceptance," as I think one of the fundamental lessons of the five of swords is, about accepting and working within one's limitations of a situation.

    I also liked your gratitude quotes. "I am thankful not to feel impotent all the time." particularly sat well with me.

    I could only think of one alternative based on that fundamental lesson:

    "I am grateful to not only accept my own limitations but also be able to acknowledge those that exist outside of myself.

  2. Hi Helen,

    It's strange, other than in this deck I'd never really thought about the Five of Swords being about limitations. I'd just seen the aspect of being smug or feeling defeated. Clearly, though, when we feel defeated it is a combination of both what we were unable to achieve, and what we were faced with. So, your gratitude makes a lot of sense to me, thank you.

    I guess in existential terms, it's about being thrown into the world, into a given situation or relationship. And, perhaps more importantly, about how we react to it - we can accept our limitations with good grace, or we can feel resentful - the choice is ours.

    Hmm, much to ponder, as so often with your comments :-)

  3. Hi Chloe,

    The idea of limitations have always jumped out at me especially in depictions like the RW where two walk away and one stands supposedly in victory - the questions that comes to mind for me is - if the two had considered their limitations would they have taken on the other man? Then another question jumps out of me, did the so called winner consider how limiting it would be to win, yes he has all the swords, but the people are walking away - who wins and who loses - did anyone win at all? When we rethink a situation and work within those limitations then we have more chance of success - to me this is the fundamental message of the five of swords - I'm not saying it is the only one but I am saying it is an important one.

    I just thought I would stop by and explain my thinking here LOL

  4. Hi Helen,

    I agree I've always seen the questions "was this a battle worth fighting?" and "can you really win here?", but somehow the word limitations surprised me. Thanks for explaining your perspective, it really clarified it for me! :-)