Thursday, 8 October 2015

Libra in the Druidcraft’s Minor Arcana: The Three of Swords

Today we move on to the Three of Swords, linked to Saturn in Libra.  It also corresponds to the second ten-day period in Libra – this year, that’s from about the 3rd October through to the 12th (see Elizabeth Hazel’s excellent Tarot Decoded, published by Weiser, 2004, for more on Planetary and Zodiacal dignities).

Just to recap: Libra is the cardinal Air sign, so we’re looking at creative energy around activity involving thought, ideas, logic, reason.  It’s about partnerships of all kinds, but the emphasis is on the contractual side of things – wanting to ensure equality and fairness within the relationship, be it personal or professional – rather than the romance and passion.  Libra is ruled by Venus, so often takes on the role of peacemaker or mediator.

But here we have Saturn in Libra!  One of the things that Saturn symbolizes is the imposition of limits and restrictions. Sometimes this works to our advantage – where would we be without some boundaries in place? But sometimes it feels as though it’s working against us.  Through the connection to Kronos (the Greek counterpart to the Roman god Saturn), we have a link to time and chronology as well.
Interestingly, Saturn is what we call ‘exalted’ (not to be confused with rulership) in Libra, meaning that it’s very comfortable in this sign.  Saturn in Libra represents the ability to establish and maintain relationships on an equal footing.  Through the ‘time-management’ quality of Saturn, it also symbolizes the ability to organize and structure relationships based on harmony and balance.  Discipline plays a big part in maintaining these partnerships, in which promises and commitments are honoured.

A connection to the Three of Swords isn’t obvious, is it?  Traditionally, we’ve come to think of this card as representing a release of tension, and the need to accept that disappointment and pain are an inevitable part of life’s journey.  I like Rachel Pollack’s view on this: that the way to deal with sorrow is to take it into our hearts, accept it, and to go beyond it.  We see that in the traditional images in this card - often shown as a heart being pierced by arrows.  I think too of Venus, Libra's ruler, when I see the heart; she represents harmony, which is what we're after here - the bringing into balance of sorrow and joy, if you like.

To me, the links to Saturn are the time and discipline elements – recognizing that there are times and situations where things have to change, and that sometimes it takes time and self-discipline to accept that, no matter how sad or painful the circumstances.  I’ve heard it said that joy and sorrow come from the same place, which conjures up the images of the scales of Libra; sorrow has to be balanced by joy, through a process of resolution – all very Libran themes.

Druidcraft Tarot (trimmed)
So, can we see any of this in the Druidcraft’s Three of Swords? The image is relatively traditional in that it depicts three swords and a heart-shaped stone. Unlike the RWS deck, the swords are not shown piercing the heart, and there are no drops of blood to be seen. Instead, the swords rest on the heart-stone, tips pointing skyward. To anyone versed in Druid lore, the shape they form reflect the Druid symbol for the Awen, the inspiration (in-spire = inhale, perhaps – the intake of Air as well as ideas) that allows us to grow and transform.

The number 3 comes from adding 1 and 2 together, so we have the combining of the one-ness and the duality – the creation of a third ‘being’. The creators of the Druidcraft, Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, talk of the Threes representing fertility, harvest, and fulfilment, so combined with the suit of Swords we have the ‘harvest’ of conflict and challenge: sorrow or suffering. But from that heartache comes a wisdom, the knowledge that some form of healing can come from this.  Here’s the Saturn in Libra, then – the maturity that comes through trials and tribulations, the understanding that it takes time to heal, and for things to change. 

This, on the same day that I learn about the death of a wonderful woman who will be sadly missed. Our circle of friends will be dealing with that heartache and challenge for some time... Sending love and light to Ewa and all who knew her.

Druidcraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Libra in the Druidcraft’s Minor Arcana: The Two of Swords

Now let’s turn to the Minor Arcana.  In the astrological correspondence system that I follow, Libra is linked to the Two, Three and Four of Swords. Today I’m going to look at the Two of Swords, which corresponds to the Moon in Libra. It also corresponds to the first 10 days of Libra – this year, from the 23rd September to 3rd October.

Libra is the cardinal Air sign, so we’re looking at creative energy around activity involving thought, ideas, logic, reason.  Libra, as we’ve already seen in previous posts, is also about partnerships of all kinds, but the emphasis isn’t on the passion but rather on the contractual side of things – wanting to ensure equality and fairness within the relationship, be it personal or professional.  Libra, through its rulership by Venus, is the peacemaker, the lover of harmony and refinement.

The Moon is associated with the element of Water, through its rulership of Cancer, and so we have a link to the watery realm of feelings and emotion.  The Moon in Libra, then, will bring sensitivity to what could otherwise be a quite detached, ‘airy’ approach to relationship.  The Moon in Libra will want to protect and nurture those partnerships, and will quite probably be very aware of their partner’s emotions and how they might react to situations. They may also be very vulnerable to their own emotions!

Druidcraft Tarot (detail)
So how might this play out in the Two of Swords? The Druidcraft follows the tradition of the blindfolded woman and the crossed swords, but here she turns her back to us, facing instead into the forest.  Two paths stretch out before her, both leading into the forest - but where they will end up is unclear.
The blindfold, I think, serves two purposes.  Is she hiding, and in so doing, protecting herself (the Moon), from the challenges and difficult decisions (Libra) facing her?  The challenges are in front of her but by choosing to cover her eyes, she doesn’t have to face them. She’s at a crossroads – shown by the diverging path but also the crossed swords she holds in front of her. Hiding from reality takes a lot of effort, though, and that effort can’t be maintained indefinitely; those two swords will become too heavy. 
The other way to approach this is to see the wearing of the blindfold as a means of shutting out external influences. By drawing on intuition rather than over-protection (using the Moon’s energy in a different way), a way forward can be clearly seen. She senses the right time to make the decision, the right time to take action, to challenge or to mediate.

Either way, we are still dealing with opposition (the Two), two opposing points of view, which need to be reconciled.  The Libran qualities of peace (also connected to the Moon) and harmony (through Venus’ rulership) are required in the form of mediation and/or diplomacy.  If not an actual opposition, it will be a dilemma – a wavering between two options (the Libran ‘indecisiveness’, which I think isn’t really indecisiveness – more that there are so many things to weigh up that time is required). 

We’re asked here to question, to use our mental awareness – the cardinal, airy qualities of Libra as well as the instinct of the Moon – to decide what is just and fair.  In that way, the scales will be balanced, bringing a sense of ‘peace’ and resolution.

Druidcraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections

Monday, 28 September 2015

Libra in the Druidcraft’s Major Arcana

Let’s start our exploration of Libra in the Druidcraft tarot with the Major Arcana.  In my previous post, I mentioned the idea of balance in various traditions – Egyptian and Greek mythology, Christianity – all of which use scales to symbolize the weighing up of whatever’s ‘in the balance’.  That, and the use of the blindfold in some of the imagery, leads us to the Justice card.  

The Druidcraft’s image of Justice shows Brigh, a judge and Druid in pre-Christian Ireland.  In her left hand we see the sword of truth; it points upwards, connecting it to the power of both Air and Spirit.  The element of Air is associated with reason and intelligence, both required when faced with a decision – and the fact that the sword is double-edged represents that need to ‘cut’ one way or another. 
Justice - Druidcraft Tarot (detail)
In her right hand she holds a set of scales, representing the need to weigh our choices carefully, using our powers of discrimination.  They also symbolize the present – the ‘here and now’ – perfectly balanced between past and future – just as the card itself is perfectly balanced, falling at the centre of the Fool’s Journey.  

I like the inclusion of the owl – the symbol of wisdom; a bird that can see in the dark, representing the ability to discern what’s hidden.  And down in the bottom right-hand corner, there’s a spider in a web – a reminder that everything is connected and that nothing exists, or is decided, without considering other causes and effects.  Equality, balance, fairness – so yes, the Druidcraft’s Justice does fit in with Libran qualities!

Druidcraft Tarot created by Philip Carr-Gomm and Stephanie Carr-Gomm, illustrated by Will Worthington, published by Connections