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World Spirit: Six of Swords

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World Spirit: Six of Swords


In their book "The World Spirit Tarot" Jessica Godino and Lauren O'Leary pay homage to Pamela 'Pixie' Coleman Smith whose Rider-Waite Tarot Lauren calls "unsurpassable." Although the influence of another Golden Dawn artist, Frieda Harris, who worked with Aleister Crowley on the Thoth Tarot, is mentioned, Lauren drew mostly from the designs of Smith, creating a fresh rendition of a familiar RWS scene.

But in some cases, in adding new symbols and images to create a deck with people of many colors and cultures, she "created an entirely new scenario . . ."

The Six of Swords is one of the cards with an entirely new scenario.

It is worth comparing the World Spirit card with the RWS Six of Swords. In a strange and powerful image, Smith depicts a boat at twilight with a boatman poling shrouded figures towards a distant wooded isle. The water on the left side of the boat is glassy smooth, but it is troubled on the right. ("A great silence fills this card, like the silence of Salvador Dali's paintings." Rachel Pollack, "Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom.")

Now look at the World Spirit card. We see a group of figures under the shadows of the pale crescent of the moon. The wild way the dark clouds are scudding across the night sky show it is windy, and if the clouds thicken it will soon be dark and possibly stormy. The wind is seen again in the chop of the water, waves breaking against the boat, which has oars in oarlocks. The water away from the pier will be too deep to pole this boat on its journey, and the water will be even more choppy away from the pier.

Briefly, a man on the pier hands things down to a figue in the boat, who tosses them hastily into the bow where six swords stand around a trunk and bundles. A woman and child watch, their expressions anxious. A seagull also witnesses the unfolding scene. There is a large eye painted on the bow of the boat.

In their book and the book's bibliography, and in interviews Jessica and Lauren mention the influence of Rachel Pollack. It is interesting that in "Seventy-Eight . . ." Rachel calls the Six of Swords one of the "Gate" cards. She explains that RWS images greatly encourage an awareness of the spiritual energy always present within the constantly shifting patterns of the world. But, she says, some cards in the RWS deck do more that teach such awareness, but ". . . taken the right way, can help produce it." She calls these cards "Gates."

She notes of these cards that "They all share certain characteristics: complex, often contradictory, meanings, and a myth-like Strangeness which no allegorical interpretation can completely penetrate. . . . Sometimes the Strangeness of a Gate will lie on the surface, but in other cards it only becomes apparent after we have analysed the card intellectually. . ."

Well, there's lots more about Gate cards in "Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom," but I just want to mention the World Spirit Six of Swords also as a Gate card, and one of the cards where Lauren created an entirely new scenario and an image I find equally as strange and powerful as the RWS.

(This may be getting a little too long, and I want to post it, so I'll continue in a Six of Swords, Part II. I'm really trying to explore what's going on here.)

Talisman
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World Spirit: Six of Swords, Part II


In her book "The Complete Tarot Reader" author Teresa C. Michelsen suggests one way to study Tarot cards called the Golden Dawn Tableu. Set the Fool aside, and place the rest of the Major Arcana in order into three rows of seven cards each, then arrange the Minor Arcana by putting each one under its correct number. So, all the Aces, number 1 in each suit, are placed under the Magician, Major Arcana #1, all the Twos under the High Priestess, and so on. (For further exploration Teresa explains various paths through the tableau and ways to look at the cards.) Rachel Pollack also uses this tableu in commenting on the cards in "Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom."

All this is pretty clear. Look at the Magician and all the Aces, and the key word "beginnings" or "seeds" works just fine.

But now look at the sixes: The Lovers, Major Arcana VI, and the Pentacles, Wands and Cups cards fall into place just fine. A key word often suggested for the sixes is "harmony." Do you see harmony when you look at the World Spirit Six of Swords ? Or the RWS card ? (I should find a way to ask Thirteen about this, but she'd probably say, "Do your homework, Talisman." Well, I'm trying. Have been for a few days.)

Looked at one way, there is a sense of urgency, maybe even desperation, in the World Spirit Six of Swords. Why are these people commencing a boat trip on a wild night when the wind is sending clouds in tatters across the sky ? If you look at the amount of stuff stowed in the bow of the boat, including that large trunk, you see that this is no casual expedition. Perhaps they are taking everything they can, because they are not coming back. And sometimes the dark of night and all those swords in the bow suggests an element of danger. Perhaps they are fleeing something.

The woman on the pier clutches her cloak about her tightly. Perhaps it is cold. If so, it will be a lot colder out on the open water, away from the pier. Or perhaps she may be trying to shelter herself from the night or even other eyes that may be watching. The scene has a surreptitous and stealthy feel.

And look at the way the waves are breaking against the bow of the boat. If it is that rough in the lee of the pier, close to shore, you know it is going to be really rough once they reach open water. On a night so wild and in such choppy water they'll need that large eye painted on the bow to see in uncertain waters ahead. If they had a choice, surely they would not be beginning what the amount of luggage indicates will be a long journey on a stormy night.

Does any of this suggest "harmony" to you ? Can you think of any other key word that would fit The Lovers and all the sixes ? Including this World Spirit card ? I like Rachel Pollack's idea of Gate cards, and for me, this card is certainly one.

So, having said all that, what does it mean ? How do you view it when it comes up in a spread you are reading ?

Well, if you accept it, Arthur Waite offers up a simple formula in his book, "The Pictorial Key." He says the card means "journey by water, route, way, expedient. . . . The freight is light." (Just makes me wonder if he ever really looked at the card.)

And here is what Jessica Godino says: (I'll quote more than a bit of this just in case someone stumbles across this thread who does not have the World Spirit deck.)

"The Six of Swords is about journeys of all kinds . . . a trip . . . a change of consciousness, a passage from one level of understanding to another . . . exloring the realms on the other side of day, through dreams . . .

"The time has comed to leave old pain, places and patterns behind. Even if you think you're not ready, action of some kind is essential. You know the steps you need to take to leave a difficult or dangerous situation . . . Whatever path you choose, trust your inner compass to guide you. Though the future is uncertain, the hardest part may be getting over your fear of moving into unknown territory . . . "

I haven't even mentioned any traditionally accepted meanings behind all the symbols one can discover in this card. In fact I'm certain you'll concur that I've barely scratched the surface. That's why I love the World Spirit deck. There is always so much there in these simple-at-a-glance but oh so rich and complex cards.

I'm looking forward to what others may say about this particular card.

Talisman
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Only the echoes


Alas, I've come too late to this study group. Apparently everyone has gone stampeding off to the next new thing, and I hear only the echoes of my footsteps in the now empty halls.

Liberating, in a way, I guess.

Years ago, when a strike shut down all the newspapers in New York City, the late, great sportswriter Red Smith was asked how he felt about the strike. "I hate it," he said. "How do I know what I think if I can't read what I write?"

To go even further off-topic, Red Smith authored another of my favorite quotes: "Writing is easy," he wrote. "You just stare at the typewriter until little beads of blood form on your forehead."

So, I'll just keep coming back to the study group occasionally to post away, so I can see what I think.

Talisman
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Cool You have a passenger


Talisman - I came across your very interesting study this morning and it is a synchronicity - so I declare. Your long and thoughtful post has found a grateful listener.

The Six of Swords was apparently greatly understated by the old king; there's much more to it than he let us in on. I got a COS reading in which this card is very predominant. The implication in it is my receiving specific guidance dependent on my willingness, cooperation and attention (rowing the boat) but not trying to make something happen (the impulse to rock the boat, and the calm water on one side and rough on the other).

The deck that was used portrays an angel or guide figure floating over the water who points to the small beam of light on the distant shore - guidance from a benign and spiritual being. This reading is very recent and I have not yet learned which deck this card is in, but there is an image available on one of the posts in the COS~being_chrysalis & brenmck~Jan 29 - Feb 4 thread. It is very much worth a look because the card picture verifies all that you have mentioned. This image has been with me since I first pulled it up, and I know eventually I'll have to have this deck. It is the most expressive rendition of the Six of Swords for my eyes that I have seen. This card has come up for me frequently recently, and thanks to this reading I am finally seeing it fully - the negative, rather despairing aura that I used to project on it is completely gone.

Thanks for this. ~B~
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I'll still participate in this group from time to time.

I'm not using my World Spirit deck at the moment - haven't used it for ages actually but since doing this One Deck Study with the International Icon tarot, the decks that I'm missing most from my 'Woking Decks' are the ones that are different from the RWS; the World Spirit is one deck that I'm missing a lot.

So, onto the 6 of Swords:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Talisman
Does any of this suggest "harmony" to you ? Can you think of any other key word that would fit The Lovers and all the sixes ? Including this World Spirit card ? I like Rachel Pollack's idea of Gate cards, and for me, this card is certainly one.
I don't see harmony in this card either - yet but they do look as if they are escaping something - they do look as if they are in search of harmony.
This perilous boat journey that they are about to undertake with what looks like an awful lot of their worldly goods looks to be life changing.
Presumably they are leaving a bad situation so presumably they are in search of something better - something more harmonious.

One keyword that I associate with The Lovers that I would definately put with this card too is CHOICE....There is a very strong elelment of choice in this image. They aren't being forced into the boat. It may have been a choice that was difficult to make because of it's enormity but the decision to go was still a choice and hopefully the results of that choice will make their lives better - that definately goes well with the theme of The Lovers for me.

Love Sulis xx
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Talisman: Appreciate the thoughtful investiture of your post regarding World Spirit's 6-Swords & provides much food for reflection.

I like the World Spirit's 6-Swords for its imagery, which is different from the RWS version I also like. & therefore both better than most other such cards.

The number 6 is composed of a straight line with a circle. It represents upright Man (straight line: the conscious; the ego) supported by his soul (circle: The I Am, the Higher Self or Superconscious). Man has learned to depend on his inner self. Acquired wisdom from the assimilation of knowledge & understanding through the earthly experiences represented by numbers 1 through 5. Moved from passionate love to compassionate love. Hence, 6 symbolic of achievement; purposefulness; a cycle completed; harmony.

Though 6-Swords in general tends to retain certain associations including that of death or passage, WS' 6-Swords poses a distinct contrast to the RWS.

The former's setting of a dark & even stormy night tends to evince high tension or urgency. Alludes to desperate circumstances to dictate escape or flight to another place.

The latter's image more of the calm before the storm breaks or the calm after all hell breaks loose. Calmness, resignation or the resolute sets its tone; its setting anywhere from the wee hours of morning whence the rest of the world asleep to sometime later in the day.

The first time I experienced World Spirit's 6-Swords was during the my stint with the Traveling AT Member Deck for Talking Tarot:

http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=47871

Amongst other things, it expressed perfectly the rescue efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; the haste, the uncertainties of the future.

As in the RWS, the forerunner of illustrated pips, there is a sense of harmony (sought) through understanding. Such understanding is what leads to decision, action, movement--all expressive of the Swords element--based on Swords representative of Air, the intellect, the mental realm. Despite the WS' dark countenance, I can see it as expressive of assimilation; transition; the herculean efforts required in the journey towards harmony or balance.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brenmck
Talisman - I came across your very interesting study this morning and it is a synchronicity - so I declare. Your long and thoughtful post has found a grateful listener.

. . . Thanks for this. ~B~
brenmck, thank you for the comments.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sulis
One keyword that I associate with The Lovers that I would definately put with this card too is CHOICE....There is a very strong elelment of choice in this image. They aren't being forced into the boat. It may have been a choice that was difficult to make because of it's enormity but the decision to go was still a choice and hopefully the results of that choice will make their lives better - that definately goes well with the theme of The Lovers for me.
But this is wonderful. And . . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by MeeWah
. . . As in the RWS, the forerunner of illustrated pips, there is a sense of harmony (sought) through understanding. Such understanding is what leads to decision, action, movement--all expressive of the Swords element--based on Swords representative of Air, the intellect, the mental realm. Despite the WS' dark countenance, I can see it as expressive of assimilation; transition; the herculean efforts required in the journey towards harmony or balance.
Oh, MeeWah, you see so clearly. While I was just stumbling around it has helped so much to have such terrific guides come along and shed a little light on the path.

Since I seem to be doing a lot of quoting here, let me add this fragment from what Jessica Godino said about the meaning of the Six of Swords: " . . . a passage from one level of understanding to another . . ."

I truly believe that is what I was offered here, and I'll bet'cha others who may read this will find it helpful also.

Talisman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Talisman
...what Jessica Godino said about the meaning of the Six of Swords: " . . . a passage from one level of understanding to another . . ."

I truly believe that is what I was offered here, and I'll bet'cha others who may read this will find it helpful also.

Talisman
I concur! In haste to set down the thoughts before they faded, I meant to include that 6-Swords particularly expressive of the acquired to developed knowledge or enlightenment. Such as occurs from assimilating experience(s); from putting 'the pieces together'; from one level of consciousness or understanding to another level.

Usually this occurs after the assimilation/integration of information or insight from the subsconscious/Superconscious; from the pool of all experiences converging to meet or emerge on the conscious level. Being that nothing occurs in the material, physical realm before it occurs on another intrinsic level--a result of the 'filter down' or 'ripple effect'--that moreorless makes the leap to the real, true assimilation/understanding. Can culminate in a 'present tense awareness' akin to a spontaneous effect of harmony or balance.

This perhaps more readily seen in the RWS 6-Swords via the contrast of the water texture from one side of the boat to another which evinces change or movement; a process: *passage; transition*. In the WS card, the contrast between the pier & the solidity of terra firma to that of the boat in open water. Hence, alludes to & expressive of the forces of yin & yang. Duality & the choices (aptly mentioned by Sulis) of 6-The Lovers.
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