Monday, April 13, 2015

2 of Swords: Eye of the Hurricane

The 2 of Swords is a great card.  It speaks eloquently of an experience we've all had at one time or another in our lives; a very specific moment, a frame of mind whose presence in the deck demonstrates so well just how aptly the Tarot can highlight our at-times subtle, yet poignant, dilemmas. So what does it mean? Denial? Avoidance? Inner peace? Inability to make a decision? Yeah, sure, it can be all of those things, and yet its cooked-down essence is far more interesting than any of those things.

First I want to briefly discuss that essence, and then I want to explore a few different manifestations of it across a selection of decks....

The 2 of Swords is actually rather painful, or at best uncomfortable. I like the "inner peace" idea, but the peace here not a harmonic one; it is more of a tentative pause, or momentary withdrawal from a struggle, kind of like the eye of a hurricane. But the hurricane is not a tempest ripping trees out by the roots around you; rather it occurs within you. If anything, the "peace" is what happens around you while your insides are threatening to knock you to your knees. Someone could look at you and see a perfectly calm, relaxed individual, never sensing the turmoil happening within.

The 2 of Swords is about facing a decision, yes. A decision between two crucial options where one is neither considerably better, nor considerably worse, than the other.....and yet, in the end, you must choose one, or else risk one of them being chosen for you (which isn't really the way you want to go down, now is it!).

In effect this is a formal "draw" of the intellect. In some cases there may be some amount of denial, but oftentimes there is perfect clarity about what is to be done (this, or that), but the seeming impossibility of the choice to be made leads the person in question to put it off for as long as possible.

This is the essence of the 2 of Swords.

Silver Witchcraft Tarot

I love this version from the Silver Witchcraft Tarot. This woman sits in the snow as if frozen in time, an athame in each hand. Roses or daisies? She is blindfolded and can't see the outcome of the decision that she will have to make. She weighs the blades in either hand, trying to sense which might be best, but their heft is the same. Butterflies surround each blade, suggesting that perhaps either choice will be okay when all is said and done. And in the end, when she finally makes her choice, she will only see roses, or daisies. She won't see what might have been, only what is. Fortunately, both flowers are beautiful, both smell sweet - they are different from each other, but both offer something positive.

Anna K Tarot

The depiction in the Anna K Tarot is quite apt for the energy of this card. A man stands inside the warmth of a building, perhaps his home. He looks away from the open and unguarded doorway, where two swords stand blocking the raging sea beyond. The moon shines above, his feelings are in uproar. The two swords almost seem to protect him, but they can't really do the job; the sand is already pushing inside. This man is taking a final moment of tranquility to gather his thoughts, but very soon he'll have to face his decision, pulling the swords out of the ground, and confronting the moon beyond.

Deviant Moon Tarot

The Deviant Moon 2 of Swords shows the inner battle being fought between two equally viable, and perhaps equally challenging, possibilities. There is a single pair of legs, with two torsos facing each other - a man battling himself. What I like about this version is that it highlights the inner conflict inherent in being at a crossroads where one path must be selected, and though the potential consequences may be great, they are essentially unknowable. There is no clear, best way.

When this card appears in a reading you might ask yourself:

What decision am I struggling to make?
What might help me achieve clarity regarding my current situation? 
What are the positives in each option?
What, if any, are my deal-breakers?
What can I live with, even if it isn't ideal?
What am I most afraid of?
How realistic are my fears?  

Don't forget that sometimes it's best to let things simmer for a while. If you aren't pressed to sign a contract, put it on the back burner for some time and try to see the forest for the trees: drink good tea, watch some bad T.V., and come back to the issue when the pressure has eased. You never know what helpful insights will pop up when you set your intellect to "idle" for a little while.


  1. Great post Olivia! I like it how you highlight the subtle difference between your versions of the Tow of Swords. When i started reading you post "Sophie's choice" came to mind. I think one of literature's most striking examples of an impossible dilemma.

    1. Thanks, Ellen! I am going to have to read Sophie's Choice - I hate to say it but I'm familiar only with the title!!!

  2. I especially love the Deviant Moon's Two of Swords... "A man battling himself". Great post! And "Sophie's Choice" is a great example of what this card means.

    1. Thanks, Victoria! Yeah, I really like the Deviant Moon's depiction as well :) For someone who loves reading good literature I'm feeling a bit embarrassed to say I have not read Sophie's Choice, so I'll be putting that on my list! :)

  3. Oh dear, I just looked the storyline up, :-( !!!!!!!!!!! Maybe I won't read it :-(((((((((((( SO sad!!!!!!!!!!!! But yeah, I see what you ladies mean about the relationship with this card!

  4. I do love that Deviant Moon variant! As a Gemini, I feel that way quite a lot :D I like your suggestion that sitting with the uncertainty for a while is no bad choice, allowing time for new thoughts and options to appear...