I think it’s pretty safe to say that we are living in some unprecedented times. I feel exceptionally privileged to have a safe home and adequate supplies for a period of isolation, but like many, I’m experiencing feelings of fear and worry about the state of the world. As someone who has lived with anxiety disorder for more than half my life, I’ve worked hard at developing tools for self-care, including my tarot practice. Turning to my cards in times of anxiety has become almost reflexive, and in the hopes that it might bring you a sense of clarity as well, I wanted to share a spread I’ve developed using an ally for uncertain times, the Two of Swords.
Swords are ruled by air, and as such are often indicative of our mental health, while the Two asks specifically, how do we operate in times of uncertainty?
In her book Queering the Tarot, Cassandra Snow describes the Two of Swords as “a card that most often shows up in times of indecision due to the gravity of the choice at hand, or for situations where we’ve exhausted our options and are at a stalemate.” Aleisha Fitz of Mesquite Tarot puts it more simply: “rock, hard place.” For me, this card often arises when I am placing too much weight on outside information, or find myself seeking unknowable information (ie., divining another person’s motives, worrying about something which has not yet happened, etc.).
When illustrating what is commonly referred to as the Rider Waite tarot deck, Pamela Colman Smith was given free rein to design the minor arcana. With that in mind, I believe she has given us a clear message in this card’s powerful symbolism. In PCS’s interpretation of the Two of Swords we see a blindfolded figure balancing two swords upon their shoulders. Behind them is a body of water under a waxing crescent moon.
Whenever I pull this card, I’m reminded of a dear friend’s insight: “Balance is a verb.” While we can often think of balance as a sort of stasis, unmoving, it actually requires active participation—add a little of this to the scales, subtract a little of that. What can we do to better balance our mental scales right now? We find some insight in the figure’s surroundings: we are best guided when tapping into the waters of our intuition. This may feel like a nascent skill for many of us, and that’s okay—the waxing moon indicates that this will grow full with time.
For me, listening to the Two of Swords right now means consciously limiting my media exposure and making contact with those I care about, while also being sure to spend extra time in self-care.
What follows is a simple spread to better attune us to the message of the Two of Swords, by using it as an “anchor” for the rest of our reading.
To begin, remove the Two of Swords from your deck. After meditating with the card, noting any particular responses it evokes—this is a great opportunity to journal your feelings. After reflecting, use the Two of Swords as the anchor for your reading, shuffling and drawing 3 more cards to arrange below.
- To achieve a sense of balance, what may I release?
- What may I add?
- A message from my intuition
Please feel free to share your readings on social media, tagging @hedgewitchbotanicals to be sure that I can see them!