“[T]he still point of the center of the fixed stimulates germination and the awakening of the heart.”
This is the 2016 Midwinter Tarot Blog Hop, titled “Awaken the Heart” and coordinated by our lovely wrangler, Joy Vernon. Check out the master list of all Blog Hop participants here. To my left shoulder is JoannaKate of A Journey with the Thoth Tarot and to my right is Arwen of Tarot by Arwen.
All participants were to take the above quote and run with it. The astrological correspondence for today is the 15th degree of the sign Aquarius, the fixed center of a fixed sign, with Aquarius expressed in Key 17: The Star card in the Major Arcana of tarot. The Star card is about “Awakening the Heart,” per Qabalistic correspondences subscribed to by the Golden Dawn. We can also look at the three decans of Aquarius in the Minor Arcana– the Five of Swords, Six of Swords, and Seven of Swords. Or let’s talk about how this mid-winter time of the year is a time of birthing– the quickening of seeds into the earth and the first litters of animals.
Those were the prompts we were given. We blogger participants were to take those prompts and write about something tarot-related. I’d like to talk about the Five, Six, and Seven of Swords in the Rider-Waite-Smith. For me–and the astrological correspondences may differ from reader to reader–the Five of Swords is Venus in Aquarius; the Six of Swords is Mercury in Aquarius; and the Seven of Swords is the Moon in Aquarius.
Perhaps these cards don’t immediately call to your mind an “awakening of the heart,” but in each of these cards, we see individuals who are on the verge of reaching that “still point” of their own center. In each scene, a specific spiritual seed is being planted in that moment that has been captured on the card.
In the Five of Swords, the figure in the foreground is beaming with victory for having defeated others, but we onlookers can finish that narrative– he is about to realize quite quickly that he is alone at the top, without friends, without camaraderie. Is his winning worth what he has lost? We know that he is about to experience an awakening of his heart, of realizing that winning isn’t everything.
As for the figures in the background who have been defeated, we can picture the next scene for each of these fellows. What do we ourselves do right after failure? We find a quiet corner to be alone and to lick our wounds. There is a moment of dark uncertainty, of not knowing exactly where we’ll go next with our lives, because defeat can feel like death. Yet it is this defeat (and also the realization that victory by unethical means puts us at an uneasy position of no support) that stimulates germination, triggering a growth within us. These figures are each at a still point, and to get past the defeat (and loneliness), there is no choice but to find their own center and then go from there. It is through an awakening of the heart that we get past our failures (or our ignorance) and move on. To me, the Venus in Aquarius correspondence speaks of an emotional awakening to come.
In the Six of Swords, the vast waters ahead of the figures in the boat represent that still point we head to when we’re trying to put distance between us and our past. While the Five of Swords shows us reaching the still point to experience an awakening of the heart, the Six of Swords shows us trying desperately to grasp at the still point, without success, because the boat is in movement, and we are in transit.
The hooded figure in the boat is said to be running away from a troubled past, with a prognostication that the future will bring smoother sailing. There is a paradox here, however. By the condition of the boat being in the water, the water cannot be smooth. The boat’s movement causes the rippling. Thus, the wisdom to be gained here is that so long as the boat is in movement, there can be no smooth waters. A still point at the center of the lake is required. That lake is a metaphor for our body of thoughts, the mind, noting the Mercury in Aquarius correspondence for the card. It is that future point when the figures in the boat come to a still point, no longer in transit, that their personal centers can become fixed and an awakening of their hearts can happen.
In the Seven of Swords, we see in the background the opposite of being fixed– we see the impermanence of the tents. If the Five of Swords is about an inevitable awakening to happen brought on by the circumstances we’re dealt with, and the Six of Swords is about the paradox of not being able to attain awakening when you run desperately to get to it, then the Seven of Swords, the Moon in Aquarius, is addressing what needs to happen at the subconscious level, noting the moon’s astrological attribution to our subconscious and the inner realm.
Toward an awakening is at the periphery of the consciousness for each of the figures in these cards, except the figure in the Seven of Swords. Even the victor in the Five of Swords is going to be forced toward awakening as soon as he realizes the isolation and loneliness that comes with his form of victory. But the figure in the Seven of Swords is unaware. The Moon in Aquarius correspondence for the Seven of Swords tells us that much is trapped in the subconscious. The figure in the Seven of Swords is entangled in the acts of both the Five and Six of Swords–simultaneously trying to gain an unfair advantage and trying to run away from trouble.
Yet I like to say that while the acts of the victor in the Five of Swords are intentional, they are not so by the figure in the Seven of Swords. Here is someone mischievous, but not devious. I do not see red hat red boots guy as malicious. He believes life has dealt him an unfair hand and he’s just trying to take control and gain his own edge. However, that is not stillness. His path is a far removed path from awakening of the heart. When the Seven of Swords appears in a reading, we must face our own disquiet and realize what we’re doing is not toward spiritual growth. We must take a deep dive into our subconscious to figure out what’s really motivating us.
The Five of Swords, with the numerical value five being closest to the “center,” also shows people who are closest to an awakening. As we move from the Six to the Seven, we move away from that center, and so germination cannot take hold. We can each identify with either the runaways in the Six of Swords or the runaway in the Seven of Swords. At every point, we identify with one or the other–each run an attempt to get to someplace better, but the Aquarian essence contains the true answer: finding the fixed position is what will awaken the heart.