By Sarah Taylor
The presence of the Six of Swords at the centre of this week’s spread indicates that the oppressive forces of the Eight and Nine of Swords in the past few readings have eased, and a new experience is emerging. This experience is informed and contained by two very different states, which are acting as ‘ushers’, as it were: the Three of Cups and The High Priestess, which frame a journey from one place to another.
The Three of Cups, part of the minor arcana, describes community and heart-based inclusiveness more than any other card in the tarot deck. It embodies celebration, fecundity, love among (moreso than “between”) people.
As a minor arcana card, its focus is on our everyday interactions. We live out the Three of Cups when we come together in a joint cause that has at its basis a love of self and others. It is supportive and stable — look at the configuration of the three figures and the cups they hold above them. There is a symmetry to the card that implies balance.
Three is also a sacred number: think of the significance of three in fairy tales — three wishes, for example — and in the Holy Trinity. Here, three is not a crowd. It is a dance of co-operation and magic.
When we are in the Three of Cups, we are very much in and of the world in which we live. We feel a part of things; we pick up on the rhythm of the movement of others, of love, of soul.
On the other side of the Six of Swords lies The High Priestess, which offers a very different encounter — that of the encounter with ourselves as we connect to what lies beyond us, however we choose to understand it.
The High Priestess dwells in the liminal world between matter and spirit. The High Priestess is solitary, but she is not alone. As feminine counterpart to The Magician in the major arcana, she is the receptive force that communes with the unseen. If we are to be Magicians in balance — aligned with a Will that is higher than ours — then The High Priestess describes the way to alignment.
The High Priestess collects; The Magician creates. When One (The Magician, as card number 1) and Two (The High Priestess, as card number 2) come together, they have the potential to create Three: we move down into matter, into the physical world. This is indicated by the pomegranates on the backdrop in The High Priestess, which become part of the dress of the next card in the major arcana, The Empress, who rules over the natural world.
The High Priestess is governed by the Moon. She reflects divine knowledge, which we can then put to use in our everyday lives. When we work with divinatory tools, for example, we are working in the realm of The High Priestess. But knowing is one thing; doing is the other. When we act on our inner knowing — our inner connection to Spirit — we are co-creating our lives.
Here, therefore, we have the support of both our outer lives in the form of togetherness (Three of Cups), and our mystical union with the Other (The High Priestess). This opens up a pathway that is described in the card at centre, which denotes a passage away from troubled waters — waters that helped us to find our calmer centres — and towards something that we cannot yet see, but which is moving towards us as we are moving towards it. Here, the surface of the flow that carries us is smooth; we have everything and everyone we need; we may not be able to see past our own thinking (the six swords standing, point down, in front of the seated figures in the boat), but we can tell that the waves have softened and the vessel is steady and true.
We have felt fear before: we have felt it trap us and hold us in isolation. We are no longer isolated; we are in transition.
Between the Three of Cups and the The High Priestess lies the mystery. There lies the way, into uncharted waters and new lands, new experiences.
Astrology/Elemental correspondences: Three of Cups (Mercury in Cancer), Six of Swords (Mercury in Aquarius), The High Priestess (The Moon)
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