Editor’s Note: 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. You can visit Sarah’s website here. –efc
By Sarah Taylor
Most Sundays after I’ve laid out the cards for the Weekend Tarot Reading, I step away from them for a while to give them room to come to life, communicate and interrelate with each other, and weave their narrative.
Today, when I stepped back, something slightly different happened: The cards seemed to want to talk to me, taking it in turns to give me their perspective on what they represent and where they fit in. Another point to add here is that this is not a ‘left-to-right’ reading, nor does it work on a time-line. Rather, it expresses ideas that are simultaneous, although there seems to be a hierarchy — an evolution — to these expressions in terms of what we can aim for in our own lives right now.
So I’m going to give each their own airtime to hear what they have to say, starting with the Two of Swords, then the Knight of Cups, and finally the Queen of Pentacles.
Two of Swords
“I sit here, unseeing, my mind focused behind my blindfold. My thoughts are what I depend upon. My hands, each holding a sword, are crossed over my heart, letting nothing in and nothing out; the waters behind me seem still and deep, but I sit here, apart from them — a human rock in an ocean of concrete.
“What I do, I do well: I am impartial, and I favour alliance over conflict. I am in balance. But I cannot hold this position for long: The swords are heavy, and it takes considerable effort to keep them in place. Nor can I see. My decisions are based on something in the past that I keep to, that I remember and envision. I cannot judge based on present or future circumstances. If I were to remove my blindfold, what would I see? Then again, even if I did remove my blindfold, what lies around me might be so veiled by a crescent-Moon-night that, no matter how hard I tried to focus, I wouldn’t be able to see the full picture. Perhaps it is better that I don’t. If I did, then what would have to change?
“I am the custodian of contracts, of short-lived agreements, impersonal and interpersonal nods, that achieve a sense of peace and equilibrium — but for how long and at what cost? I am passive rather than receptive: My presence is a silent maintaining of the status quo, at times invaluable, at others more than you might be willing to pay.
“Yet, I feel the Moon — on my leg, on my feet — its presence, its shadows and its meditations on the unknown, the instinctual, the intuitive, the feminine. I feel its influence over the situation. I also sense the water lapping at my back. A world of Cups making its presence felt, even as I am turned away from it. There is a world of feeling and fluidity, where nothing can be pinned down to analysis for long, which defies stasis. I can be here only so long. Soon the waxing moon will send its beams of light on to me, the tides will swell, and my position will no longer be tenable. For now, though, this is my realm, as I sit, holding, holding.”
Knight of Cups
“I love love. I love the idea of it, the feel of it, the way I can feel it course through me, a call to action. So I jump on my horse — companion on my travels — and ride out into the world, in the name of my Lady Love, in search of the grail. No-one is entirely sure what it looks like, but I’m a man of faith; I’ll know it when I see it.
“The King, my father, tells me that I’m holding all that I need already, but still I feel that something is missing. Unlike the Two of Swords, I am not blindfolded: I can see what is around and ahead of me. However, I am armoured: I have been taught, by others and through experience, that I need to protect myself in case I come to harm in my search. I also need to fight for what I want because what I want is limited, and countless others want it too. I am in competition.
“I am a lover and a fighter. See how I glisten in the Sun? Very shiny. And my wings — check out my wings! They help me move faster, lighter, in circumstances where I might otherwise feel weighed down. I am an optimist. There is nothing I cannot conquer, no land I cannot cross, once I have set my course. I have the support of my Lady the Queen back home; I hold my cup — symbol of my allegiance to her and to love — in front of me, a public display of affection. Love expressed outwardly is my fuel and I live for those moments when I can indulge in the ritual of its expression.
“In front of me is a stream, which I can ford in a few strides: There’s no need to submerge myself, no need to get unduly wet or to be swept away in currents I cannot control. I have fish on my surplice, waves on my horse’s reins. They don’t seem to entirely suited to a stream, perhaps wanting something larger, more expansive, where I might have to give up my mount and dive in. Perhaps when I find that, I can stop my search, come to rest by the ocean, a place that seems to be calling me… at least, I think I can hear it. But my quest is too important to concern myself with that right now. I need to get out there, to put myself out in the world. I must demonstrate my strong sense of honour, I want to be recognised by my peers, and — more importantly — by her. She is the presence that drives everything that I do.”
Queen of Pentacles
“I am guardian — of nature, of the physical world, of life itself. My status has been hard-won, and I have experienced every facet of human frailty and triumph on the way. I have been it all. Grasping and generous, selfless and proud, rich and poor, dependent, independent, interdependent. All of these things, and more, have brought me to where I am today, and from them, I have reached an enduring understanding of what it means to be at odds with myself and my environment, and what it takes to walk the path of Temperance.
“I am not passive, not simply active. I am receptive, alert to all possibilities. I have learned that assuming the mantle of responsibility can be as much about a surrendering to the moment as it can be about action: I know when to get up and walk, and I know when to sit still and listen for what comes to me. Both, at times, have served me well.
“I have come to realise that abundance is achieved through a state of being as well as doing. If I feel that I lack something, then that will be reflected in the world around me. If I feel full, needing nothing, my world will bring to me everything that I need. Because of this, I have come to embrace the concept of nurturing my environment as an extension of nurturing myself. We are one and the same. I harm myself, I harm my world; I look after my world, I look after myself.
“I am not the Two of Swords. I know that the Two is often a necessary moment in time, but it is temporary, like all things, and a balance that relies solely on blind reason can only last so long. I am not the Knight of Cups, as exciting as that time in my life was! Looking for love in another, seeing it reflected back, is both seductive and highly addictive. Then I realised that I wanted and needed something deeper and more enduring. I learned to find it in myself. In fact, I have learned that everything resides in me — or, rather, that everything starts with me. And, through that realisation, I have found the true gold in life, the wealth that we cannot find in jewels, status, others. I tend to that inner gold, knowing that I am tending to life itself, and when I am able to do this, I know that there is enough to share with everyone else. There is always enough.”
I was speaking with someone last night about the difference between being passive and being receptive. Being passive is the belief that your life is happening to you, with no input from you. What if that weren’t the case? What if you were happening to life? In which case, receptivity involves just as much commitment to the process of life as activity. More: Sometimes being receptive is what is being asked for. I think that lies at the centre of today’s reading — as does the Queen of Pentacles. Rather than being passive (Two of Swords) or exclusively active (Knight of Cups), the Queen has been both, and knows better. She is the initiator, the giver and the receiver. Can you do and be the same for yourself?