Tarot Tattoo

August 15th, 2016 § Comments Off on Tarot Tattoo § permalink

Take a look at the video below from Tattoo Wonderland in Brooklyn, New York … it’s a pretty amazing 9 of Swords …

Pessimism and the 9 of Swords

November 9th, 2015 § 6 comments § permalink


In Tarot, the 9 of Swords is a pretty pessimistic card.

The Rider Waite Smith version, for instance, shows someone sitting up in bed, hands to face, with 9 ghostly swords floating behind them as they worry about all the things that might go wrong.

Though certainly unsettling to see, this card is typically pointing to a state of mind as opposed to a state of reality. It’s a sword card after all, and at least in my reading system, it’s more about a way of thinking than a way of physically being.

But dark as it might be, is the state of mind described by the 9 of Swords always ‘bad’? Not to suggest that a constant state of anxiety is good, but could there be something positive to say about pessimism and looking at the world from a non-cheery perspective?

Yes, at least according to writer Alain de Botton and director Claudio Salas in their School of Life video The Wisdom of Pessimism.

Take a look at it for yourself and see what you think. It certainly gave me a new perspective on the 9 of Swords.

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9 of Swords

October 18th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

9 of Swords from the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot

In Tarot, the 9 of Swords is one of the darker cards in the deck.

In the Rider-Waite-Smith version, the image shows someone sitting up in bed, with their head in their hands, and 9 swords hovering malevolently in the air around them.

There’s a strong sense of anxiety associated with this card, and an internalization of fears and/or depression.

Quite literally, it describes the type of obsessive worries that can keep us up at night and make us fearful of everything around us.

As unpleasant as it is though, in my own experience, the 9 of Swords typically points to fears that are much larger in the mind than they are in reality.

If we could possibly just get some sleep, and see things in the light of day, we’d likely laugh at the monsters we feared the night before. Unfortunately though, it’s not always so easy.

The wonderful short film below called Upstairs, by Matthias Hoegg, illustrates this type of 9 of Swords energy. If you let your mind get carried away, even the most innocent sound can set off a torrent of fears.

Please visit the Upstairs video page for more info on the film.

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Dreaming With the Tarot

May 24th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Tarot readings are a lot like dreams. They both arise from our unconscious and bring forward issues important for our conscious selves to examine.

We could say that a Tarot reading is a consciously induced dream, meant to organize our thoughts, recognize our shadows, and motivate us to action.

Thinking about this got me to thinking about how the Tarot itself illustrates dreaming. What are the ‘dream’ cards?

#17 The Star from the Rider Waite Smith Tarot

#17 The Star

The first card to come to mind was the Star. She might be described as a process of renewal through the night.

Pouring water into the pool, she brings motion to our unconscious, gently stirring the dark waters.

The Star is ‘wish fulfillment’, the type of dream we don’t want to wake from. She reflects back our soul’s beauty like a mirror.

#18 The Moon from the Rider Waite Smith Tarot

#18 The Moon

But dreams aren’t always so pleasant. From the Star we move on to the Moon. This is where the intense work begins.

The Moon represents the deepest part of our unconscious coming up into awareness, like the crab in the card rising out of the sea.

There’s fear here. Exploring the dream landscape can be a frightening journey. It’s scary to face our deepest selves. We keep them hidden for a reason.

Like the Star, this is a major card, one that forces us to take notice. It’s connected numerologically with #9, the Hermit.

And as the Hermit reminds us, finding the courage to face our shadows is part of the path to inner wisdom.

9 of Swords from the Rider Waite Smith Tarot

9 of Swords

The 9 of Swords is another dream card. But it points directly to nightmares, or the inability to sleep due to anxiety gone wild. There’s no escape because it’s all in the mind.

This card is also connected to the Hermit through the number 9.

Once again we’re presented with the idea that facing our unconscious self, our unacknowledged shadows, is part of dream-work and the pursuit of wisdom. It’s just not always fun.

#9 The Hermit from the Rider Waite Smith Tarot

#9 The Hermit

And then there’s the Hermit himself. He’s not sleeping or dreaming, but wandering around in the dark with a lantern and a walking stick.

Is he the Sand Man, leading the way to our dreams, to the deepest parts of our unconscious?

4 of Swords from the Rider Waite Smith Tarot

4 of Swords

The 4 of Swords also suggests dreaming. An armoured figure lays on a stone slab, as if in perpetual sleep.

Other than the slab and the figure, the stained glass window is the only real colour in the scene. I’ve often thought of it as the dreams of the sleeping man.

It’s his connection to the spirit, or the world beneath his armour and beyond the three swords that hang above him. Through dreaming he’s able to release sorrow and prepare to move forward.

2 of Swords from the Rider Waite Smith Taort

2 of Swords

The 2 of Swords might also be a dream card. You can imagine the woman pictured to be lucid dreaming, or in deep meditation.

She sits at night, blindfolded before the sea. Safe on the beach between earth and ocean.

Like the swords she’s holding, her mind is balanced. The dream state and waking state are working in tandem.

#2 The High Priestess from the Rider Waite Smith Tarot

#2 High Priestess

And finally there’s the High Priestess, with the moon at her feet and a dress that trails off like a stream. She’s like a dream herself, flowing and not quite tangible.

She guards the secrets of life and death, wakefulness and sleep, and passes easily between the realms.

If anyone understands dreaming, it’s her. She can lead us through it all.

Induce a dream for yourself now using the Tarot dream cards as your guide:

1) The Star – What do you wish your dreams would tell you?
2) The Moon – What do you hope they’ll keep hidden?
3) 9 of Swords – What’s keeping you up at night? Is it really that scary?
4) The Hermit – Where can you find your guide?
5) 4 of Swords – How might you come to a truce with yourself? How can you connect to your spirit?
6) 2 of Swords – How can you rebalance your consciousness with your unconscious?
7) The High Priestess – What lesson have you been given now?

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