Little bit of a different take on the Six of Swords… not just leaving something unsatisfactory behind for a new future, but leaving something unsatisfactory to the extent of being dangerous … in favor of traveling to somewhere safe.
And the journey itself not being quite as serene as the card imagery depicts … but really emphasizing the choppy waters on the right of the craft … the journey itself being dangerous the whole way through.
And then … in the following story … the ending isn’t what you are traditionally told to expect in the Six of Swords. It’s a very Swordsie ending.
‘I have thought it over, again and again,’ said Herbert, ‘and I think I know a better course than taking a Thames waterman. Take Startop. A good fellow, a skilled hand, fond of us, and enthusiastic and honourable.’
I had thought of him, more than once.
‘But how much would you tell him, Herbert?’
‘It is necessary to tell him very little. Let him suppose it a mere freak, but a secret one, until the morning comes: then let him know that there is urgent reason for your getting Provis aboard and away. You go with him?’
It had seemed to me, in the many anxious considerations I had given the point, almost indifferent what port we made for – Hamburg, Rotterdam, Antwerp – the place signified little, so that he was got out of England. Any foreign steamer that fell in our way and would take us up, would do. I had always proposed to myself to get him well down the river in the boat; certainly well beyond Gravesend, which was a critical place for search or inquiry if suspicion were afoot. As foreign steamers would leave London at about the time of high-water, our plan would be to get down the river by a previous ebb-tide, and lie by in some quiet spot until we could pull off to one. The time when one would be due where we lay, wherever that might be, could be calculated pretty nearly, if we made inquiries beforehand.
Herbert assented to all this, and we went out immediately after breakfast to pursue our investigations. We found that a steamer for Hamburg was likely to suit our purpose best, and we directed our thoughts chiefly to that vessel. But we noted down what other foreign steamers would leave London with the same tide, and we satisfied ourselves that we knew the build and colour of each. We then separated for a few hours; I, to get at once such passports as were necessary; Herbert, to see Startop at his lodgings. We both did what we had to do without any hindrance, and when we met again at one o’clock reported it done. I, for my part, was prepared with passports; Herbert had seen Startop, and he was more than ready to join.
Those two should pull a pair of oars, we settled, and I would steer; our charge would be sitter, and keep quiet; as speed was not our object, we should make way enough. We arranged that Herbert should not come home to dinner before going to Mill Pond Bank that evening; that he should not go there at all, to-morrow evening, Tuesday; that he should prepare Provis to come down to some Stairs hard by the house, on Wednesday, when he saw us approach, and not sooner; that all the arrangements with him should be concluded that Monday night; and that he should be communicated with no more in any way, until we took him on board. These precautions well understood by both of us, I went home.
In this climate of opiod devastation, I thought it would be appropriate to share parts of a newsletter I receive. The advice given below seem to me to be valuable for anyone struggling with regret in general as well.
Practice praying silently as a steady background whenever and wherever you can. Personalize and vary prayers such as this example derived from the St. Francis Prayer: Make me an instrument of thy well-being. See yourself always summoning the energy of well-being from your spiritual Source.
“Start right this minute by offering a silent prayer of gratitude for your liver, your heart, and your brain.”
– Wayne Dyer
2. Love Your Addictions
If it’s food, love it. If it’s cocaine, love it. If it’s painkillers, love them. If it’s cigarettes, love them. These are some of your greatest teachers. They’ve taught you through direct experience what it is that you no longer wish to be. They’ve taken you to the depths for some reason. This is an intelligent system you’re a part of. There are no accidents in a Universe supported by omniscience and omnipotence. Be grateful for these teachers.
If you hate them, curse them, and attempt to fight these addictions, you tip the balance toward hatred and fighting. You then continue to chase after what you don’t want because you’re in a weakened state. Fighting weakens; love empowers.
So tip the scale toward love. Be grateful for the addictions that have taught you so much. Send them a silent blessing. By doing so, you shift toward the love that you are.
3. Love Yourself
This is the natural outgrowth of choosing to love your addictions. Think of your body as a sacred temple, and extend reverence as a form of love. Be aware of, and grateful for, every organ, every drop of blood, every appendage, and every cell that constitutes your body. Start right this minute by offering a silent prayer of gratitude for your liver, your heart, and your brain. Just say: Thank you, God, for this glorious gift. I treasure it, and with your help, today I will begin the process of loving it unconditionally. If you still feel attracted to substances that you despise, say this silent prayer before ingesting them. Love will ultimately become the added weight that rebalances your life.
One of my favorite American poets, Henry W. Longfellow, tells us: “He that respects himself is safe from others; he wears a coat of mail that none can pierce.” When we truly respect and love ourselves, it’s as if we have a shield of flexible armor made of metal rings and loops of chain that protects us from the addictive otherthat’s been a part of our life.
4. Remove All Shame
You’ve done nothing wrong. You haven’t failed—you’ve only produced results. The question isn’t about how bad you’ve been; it’s about what you intend to do with the results you’ve produced. If you opt for shame and guilt, you choose the one emotional reaction that will disempower you more than any other. Whatever your present-moment status in relation to your addictions, it’s all perfect. You had to go through the traumas you went through. You had to disappoint the people you’ve mistreated. You had to get this far down. You needed this out-of-balance energy in order to aid you in generating the energy to get you to the higher place where you’re now headed.
You are still a Divine being in the eyes of God, despite any weaknesses that you feel are incongruous with God’s love. You needed all of those experiences, and now that you’re contemplating leaving them behind and rejoining your spiritual Source of well-being, shame will only hamper you and send you back to that absurdly imbalanced world where you never get enough of what you don’t want.
5. Live from a New Knowing
Finally, create a space within yourself, somewhere very private that only you and God are privy to. In this inner space, post the words I Know. This is your invisible connection to God, where purity and well-being define your new addiction-free self. Regardless of how many people distrust you and remind you of how many times in the past you’ve failed to live up to your promises, this is your space of knowing.
From this unshakable space, ask for Divine guidance. Ask to have the ecstatic energy of purity and well-being flow directly to your heart. If you slip, retreat immediately to this space of knowing. Forgive yourself and see yourself surrounded by God’s love, holding you in balance once again. As a man who has been there, I can promise you that you’ll be provided with all of the guidance, direction, and strength that you need—and you’ll get what you dowant rather than what you do not want.
To learn more about the Devil Tarot card, see Biddy Tarot’s take on it here.
To book a Tarot reading for yourself or your pet, email Fiery K. at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone/text 410.490.6357 if you are in the United States.
from Betty Ford: First Lady, Women’s Advocate, Survivor, Trailblazer, by Lisa McCubbin:
That night, Clara cooked pot roast, and the family had dinner together. “It was like the family was a family once again,” Susan recalled. “It was like everything had been torn down, and there was nothing to hide anymore.”
They’d walked through fire and come out alive. Now it was time for the truly hard work to begin.
“Guilty Conscience”- is a key phrase I never really connected with the Nine of Swords until seeing the above graphic after listening to the various parts in Great Expectations where the protagonist Pip is tormented by anxiety after committing some heinous (to him) deed that he was sure he was going to be punished for. The first glimpse we get of the Nine of Swords in Pip’s experience is after he has agreed to steal food and a file for an escaped convict:
from Chapter Two:
“My thoughts strayed from that question as I looked disconsolately at the fire. For, the fugitive out on the marshes with the ironed leg, the mysterious young man, the file, the food, and the dreadful pledge I was under to commit a larceny on those sheltering premises, rose before me in the avenging coals.” (Dickens)
“Conscience is a dreadful thing when it accuses man or boy; but when, in the case of a boy, that secret burden cooperates with another secret burden down the leg of his trousers, it is (as I can testify) a great punishment. The guilty knowledge that I was going to rob Mrs. Joe – I never thought I was going to rob Joe, for I never thought of any of the housekeeping property as his – united to the necessity of always keeping one hand on my bread-and-butter as I sat, or when I was ordered about the kitchen on any small errand, almost drove me out of my mind. Then, as the marsh winds made the fire glow and flare I thought I heard the voice outside, of the man with the iron on his leg who had sworn me to secrecy, declaring that he couldn’t and wouldn’t starve until to-morrow, but must be fed now. At other times, I thought, What if the young man who was with so much difficulty restrained from imbruing his hands in me, should yield to a constitutional impatience, or should mistake the time, and should think himself accredited to my heart and liver to-night, instead of to-morrow! If ever anybody’s hair stood on end with terror, mine must have done so then. But, perhaps, nobody’s ever did?
It was Christmas Eve, and I had to stir the pudding for next day, with a copper-stick, from seven to eight by the Dutch clock. I tried it with the load upon my leg (and that made me think afresh of the man with the load on his leg), and found the tendency of exercise to bring the bread-and butter out at my ankle, quite unmanageable. Happily, I slipped away, and deposited that part of my conscience in my garret bedroom.”
“I was never allowed a candle to light me to bed, and, as I went upstairs in the dark, with my head tingling – from Mrs. Joe’s thimble having played the tambourine upon it, to accompany her last words – I felt fearfully sensible of the great convenience that the Hulks were handy for me. I was clearly on my way there. I had begun by asking questions, and I was going to rob Mrs. Joe.
Since that time, which is far enough away now, I have often thought that few people know what secrecy there is in the young, under terror. No matter how unreasonable the terror, so that it be terror. I was in mortal terror of the young man who wanted my heart and liver; I was in mortal terror of my interlocutor with the ironed leg; I was in mortal terror of myself, from whom an awful promise had been extracted; I had no hope of deliverance through my all powerful sister, who repulsed me at every turn; I am afraid to think of what I might have done, on requirement, in the secrecy of my terror.
If I slept at all that night, it was only to imagine myself drifting down the river on a strong spring-tide, to the Hulks; a ghostly pirate calling out to me through a speaking-trumpet, as I passed the gibbet-station, that I had better come ashore and be hanged there at once, and not put it off. I was afraid to sleep, even if I had been inclined, for I knew that at the first faint dawn of morning I must rob the pantry. There was no doing it in the night, for there was no getting a light by easy friction then; to have got one, I must have struck it out of flint and steel, and have made a noise like
the very pirate himself rattling his chains.
As soon as the great black velvet pall outside my little window was shot with grey, I got up and went down stairs; every board upon the way, and every crack in every board,
calling after me, ‘Stop thief!’ and ‘Get up, Mrs. Joe!’ In the pantry, which was far more abundantly supplied than usual, owing to the season, I was very much alarmed, by a hare hanging up by the heels, whom I rather thought I caught, when my back was half turned, winking. I had no time for verification, no time for selection, no time for anything, for I had no time to spare. “
And at some point I”m going to have to explore why there are so many swords in Great Expectations. So far – swords cards are all I”m reminded of. No other suits. Just swords. And I’ve got another post coming on a Nine of Swords connection now too!
In this scene Pip’s sister is working her way up into a hysteria, and according to Pip it’s VERY calculated the entire way through. Having been in similar situations, I will defend her and say it’s more likely she’s NOT as in control of herself as Pip thinks, and most likely is standing in the back of her own head, helpless to stop the momentum. In any case, still a decent example of drama for it’s own sake.
(spacing / paragraph length differences and italics are my own to highlight the text)
Taken from Chapter 15 of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens:
My sister had been standing silent in the yard, within hearing – she was a most unscrupulous spy and listener – and she instantly looked in at one of the windows.
‘Like you, you fool!’ said she to Joe, ‘giving holidays to great idle hulkers like that. You are a rich man, upon my life, to waste wages in that way. I wish I was his master!’
‘You’d be everybody’s master, if you durst,’ retorted Orlick, with an ill-favoured grin.
(“Let her alone,’ said Joe.)
‘I’d be a match for all noodles and all rogues,’ returned my sister, beginning to work herself into a mighty rage. ‘And I couldn’t be a match for the noodles, without being a match for your master, who’s the dunder-headed king of the noodles. And I couldn’t be a match for the rogues, without being a match for you, who are the blackest-looking and the worst rogue between this and France. Now!’
‘You’re a foul shrew, Mother Gargery, growled the journeyman. ‘If that makes a judge of rogues, you ought to be a good’un.’
(“Let her alone, will you?’ said Joe.)
‘What did you say?’ cried my sister, beginning to scream. ‘What did you say? What did that fellow Orlick say to me, Pip? What did he call me, with my husband standing by? O! O! O!’ Each of these exclamations was a shriek; and I must remark of my sister, what is equally true of all the violent women I have ever seen, that passion was no excuse for her, because it is undeniable that instead of lapsing into passion, she consciously and deliberately took extraordinary pains to force herself into it, and became blindly furious by regular stages; ‘what was the name he gave me before the base man who swore to defend me? O! Hold me! O!’
‘Ah-h-h!’ growled the journeyman, between his teeth, ‘I’d hold you, if you was my wife. I’d hold you under the pump, and choke it out of you.’
(“I tell you, let her alone,’ said Joe.)
‘Oh! To hear him!’ cried my sister, with a clap of her hands and a scream together -which was her next stage. ‘To hear the names he’s giving me! That Orlick! In my own house! Me, a married woman! With my husband standing by! O! O!’ Here my sister, after a fit of clappings and screamings, beat her hands upon her bosom and upon her knees, and threw her cap off, and pulled her hair down – which were the last stages on her road to frenzy. Being by this time a perfect Fury and a complete success, she made a dash at
the door, which I had fortunately locked.
What could the wretched Joe do now, after his disregarded parenthetical interruptions, but stand up to his journeyman, and ask him what he meant by interfering betwixt himself and Mrs. Joe; and further whether he was man enough to come on? Old Orlick felt that the situation admitted of nothing less than coming on, and was on his defense
straightway; so, without so much as pulling off their singed and burnt aprons, they went at one another, like two giants. But, if any man in that neighbourhood could stand up long against Joe, I never saw the man. Orlick, as if he had been of no more account than the pale young gentleman, was very soon among the coal-dust, and in no hurry to come out of it. Then, Joe unlocked the door and picked up my sister, who had dropped insensible at the window (but who had seen the fight first, I think), and who was carried into the house and laid down, and who was recommended to revive, and would do nothing but struggle and clench her hands in Joe’s hair. Then, came that singular calm and silence which succeed all uproars; and then, with the vague sensation which I have always connected with such a lull – namely, that it was Sunday, and somebody was dead – I went up-stairs to dress myself.
When I came down again, I found Joe and Orlick sweeping up, without any other traces of discomposure than a slit in one of Orlick’s nostrils, which was neither expressive nor ornamental. A pot of beer had appeared from the Jolly Bargemen, and they were sharing it by turns in a peaceable manner. The lull had a sedative and philosophical influence on Joe, who followed me out into the road to say, as a parting observation that might do me good, ‘On the Rampage, Pip, and off the Rampage, Pip – such is Life!’
When I started learning to read Tarot, it was with the Sacred Circle deck by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason, and the primary keyword they chose to go with the card is
Franklin and Mason advise tact and diplomacy in dealing with situations if this card appears. In essence, to choose your words wisely in order to convey the illusion you wish to be believed. This scene from the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens reminds me of the Seven of Swords because it’s like Diplomacy Run Amuck!
Poor Joe Gargery is out of his element in this scene, and copes the only way he knows how, which is to fling every high sounding word and phrase he can think of around to use a lot of words to say very little real content. Kind of like the Dark Side of Writing. Joe is also trying to hide that he feels inadequate to the task at hand … like an animal puffing itself up to appear larger than it really is when it’s threatened. That’s where the tie to the traditional meaning of this card is – to
And now for the Seen of Swords scene:
‘You are the husband,’ repeated Miss Havisham, ‘of the sister of this boy?’
It was very aggravating; but, throughout the interview Joe persisted in addressing Me instead of Miss Havisham.
‘Which I meantersay, Pip,’ Joe now observed in a manner that was at once expressive of forcible argumentation, strict confidence, and great politeness, ‘as I hup and married your sister, and I were at the time what you might call (if you was anyways inclined) a single man.’
‘Well!’ said Miss Havisham. ‘And you have reared the boy, with the intention of taking him for your apprentice; is that so, Mr. Gargery?’
‘You know, Pip,’ replied Joe, ‘as you and me were ever friends, and it were looked for’ard to betwixt us, as being calc’lated to lead to larks. Not but what, Pip, if you had ever made objections to the business – such as its being open to black and sut, or such-like – not but what they would have been attended to, don’t you see?’
‘Has the boy,’ said Miss Havisham, ‘ever made any objection? Does he like the trade?’
‘Which it is well beknown to yourself, Pip,’ returned Joe, strengthening his former mixture of argumentation, confidence, and politeness, ‘that it were the wish of your own hart.’ (I saw the idea suddenly break upon him that he would adapt his epitaph to the occasion, before he went on to say) ‘And there weren’t no objection on your part, and Pip it were the great wish of your heart!’
It was quite in vain for me to endeavour to make him sensible that he ought to speak to Miss Havisham. The more I made faces and gestures to him to do it, the more confidential, argumentative, and polite, he persisted in being to Me.
‘Have you brought his indentures with you?’ asked Miss Havisham.
‘Well, Pip, you know,’ replied Joe, as if that were a little unreasonable, ‘you yourself see me put ‘em in my ‘at, and therefore you know as they are here.’ With which he took them out, and gave them, not to Miss Havisham, but to me. I am afraid I was ashamed of the dear good fellow – I know I was ashamed of him – when I saw that Estella stood at the back of Miss Havisham’s chair, and that her eyes laughed mischievously. I took the indentures out of his hand and gave them to Miss Havisham.
‘You expected,’ said Miss Havisham, as she looked them over, ‘no premium with the boy?’
‘Joe!’ I remonstrated; for he made no reply at all. ‘Why don’t you answer—‘
‘Pip,’ returned Joe, cutting me short as if he were hurt, ‘which I meantersay that were not a question requiring a answer betwixt yourself and me, and which you know the answer to be full well No. You know it to be No, Pip, and wherefore should I say it?’
Miss Havisham glanced at him as if she understood what he really was, better than I had thought possible, seeing what he was there; and took up a little bag from the table beside her.
‘Pip has earned a premium here,’ she said, ‘and here it is. There are five-and-twenty guineas in this bag. Give it to your master, Pip.’
As if he were absolutely out of his mind with the wonder awakened in him by her strange figure and the strange room, Joe, even at this pass, persisted in addressing me.
‘This is wery liberal on your part, Pip,’ said Joe, ‘and it is as such received and grateful welcome, though never looked for, far nor near nor nowheres. And now, old chap,’ said Joe, conveying to me a sensation, first of burning and then of freezing, for I felt as if that familiar expression were applied to Miss Havisham; ‘and now, old chap, may we do our duty! May you and me do our duty, both on us by one and another, and by them which your liberal present – have – conweyed – to be – for the satisfaction of mind – of – them as never—’ here Joe showed that he felt he had fallen into frightful difficulties, until he triumphantly rescued himself with the words, ‘and from myself far be it!’ These words had such a round and convincing sound for him that he said them twice.
taken from Chapter 13 of Great Expectations
To learn more about the traditional meanings of the Seven of Swords, click here: www.biddytarot.com.
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I love love my dog…I never understood that he felt like he blended in the background until she read him. I now know to always pay more attention when I used to take for granted he was happy. Thank you Michelle for letting me know my first dog Trixie had a part in uniting Tucker… Continue Reading →