By Sarah Taylor
This is like spiritual triage. You’re being exposed to an awful lot … . I’ve got the big sword swinging.
I found this quote today, and not a moment too soon where this week’s reading is concerned. The “big sword” of discernment is asking to be swung in a matter where it seems like there is no escape from an encounter with the shadow — what we have kept a secret from ourselves.
The Devil is nothing if not intense. It represents the material that we are immersed in when we come into relatedness with another. In actuality, what we are doing is looking into a mirror provided by someone else and seeing something about ourselves that we took great pains to consign to the closet — so effectively that we didn’t even know we were doing it.
Where The Lovers is a decision made in Eden (the light of consciousness), The Devil is a (simultaneous) contract signed in the underworld. We are held bondage by the chains we have placed around our own necks. In The Devil, we are given the opportunity to see ourselves in our ‘demonic’ glory. We find something we have ‘cast out’; we take a courageous step towards the possibility of embodying the disowned — even if it feels like the step wasn’t ours, that it came out of nowhere.
So what do we do with something that may feel chaotic, or painful? How do we go through the fires that lick at our souls?
We become fire. We turn to the Page of Wands, who is birthed from the very element of fire.
The Page is the youngest member of the court cards. He is still full of wonder and awe, before it is knocked out of him in the campaigning years of the Knight. The Page of Wands is certainly in awe of the wand in his care. Look at the way he looks at it — the feathery flame in his jaunty cap as young and enthusiastic as he is to grow up and grow into it. Which he will do, in time. For now, though, he is learning. I have referred to the Page of Wands as a kid with a box of matches: he has a sense of deep curiosity that also has the potential to burn him. Maybe that’s how he learns to respect the fire that he finally embodies in the Queen and King.
What can the Page bring us right now, as we face The Devil, that his older counterparts cannot? The unarmoured, “can-do” capacity that we have as children. When we are embodying the Page of Wands, we remember the unconditional acceptance of what it was like to encounter fire, before fear set in. We approach it with a sense of adventure and possibility. We have no judgement of it.
We have no judgement of it.
Notice that the Page’s back is turned from The Devil. He offers a way out. Or, rather, a way through. What offers us the way out is the final card.
In the third card, the wand of the Page has transformed into the Ace of Swords. Once we have become fire in its most innocent form, we open ourselves to clarity. When the Ace of Swords appears in a reading, it indicates access to a perception so acute that it cuts through anything that is not able to stand in full integrity. We are gifted with insight for our time in the fiery darkness. We grow into a capacity to swing the blade that cleaves truth from fiction. We contact our own personal truth and we live it out.
But it is a choice. The Ace describes something that is fully available and in the form you need, but it is in potential. The Ace of Swords is being held out to us; it is up to us to reach out in turn to take it. This requires a maturity. It requires us to grow up out of the Page and become sovereign in our own lives. The Page of Wands is the bridge out of the darkness: we cross as open children of the fire, we step over as initiates. From there, it is time to hold something altogether weightier, and with an altogether different purpose.
Our keen perception exposes what we couldn’t see when we were in the underworld. The paradox was that we needed to go into the underworld to find it, and ascend to a new version of being.
“This is like spiritual triage.” Indeed.
Astrology/Elemental correspondences: The Devil (Capricorn), Page of Wands (the earthy aspect of fire), Ace of Swords (the pure potential of its suit)
If you want to experiment with tarot cards and don’t have any, we provide a free tarot spread generator using the Celtic Wings spread, which is based on the traditional Celtic Cross spread. This article explains how to use the spread.