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

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