Mary El Tarot - Five of Swords

Bat Chicken

This is one of the most breathtaking and puzzling cards of the entire deck. Five watching owls crown and cloak the owl-eyed woman holding a child. Why Eve comes to mind may have something to do with the Vau on her chest. Vau or Vav is one of the Hebrew letters of the elements – meaning “Air” and the ‘son’. She holds the dark skinned hand of a figure not in the frame – Adam?

But in actuality she may, in fact, be Lilith (Chaos) whose castle of thorns would be the nesting place of owls – the owl is her sacred animal. Wisdom is what is associated with the owl, and it creates a contradiction in her mythology. Like many women in the Bible she is maligned for her strength and independence (Isaiah). She is not the good girl. She is said to be the killer of babies, but the child in this image does not look endangered. She reminds me a little of Athena and her owl from the Two of Coins. Athena was associated with the darkness. The owl hunts at night, in silence. The snowy owl, seen in the card is a symbol of the North.

I would suspect that the message here is to let wisdom lead you and not to let defeats get you down. Not everything is as you have been told.



My deck arrived today and after checking all the cards to be there then shuffling, this was the first card I picked as a daily draw. It perfectly sums up the situation.

The fives are always about conflict, trouble, concerns and difficulties (small or large), you can almost see the anguish on her face and her seeming obliviousness to the amazing and wonderful owls all around her. They completely swamp the scene, white, pure, breathtaking in their beauty and tender care of her. She seems naked underneath, perhaps that is how she feels yet they clothe her in their own radiance. Their ever watching eyes, the one thing that can see in and through the dark are mirrored in hers. The message here, for me, is, as you say Bat Chicken, to see through the difficulties, past them and be strategic about what you think or focus on. Owls are linked with wisdom and death in several cultures, yet the child seems to be the essence of new life even when all seems lost.

Having been through a few spiritual crises I can honestly say that there is always a new beginning after the darkest hour has passed. You can choose to stay in fear in the darkness or try hard to see past it, through it, learn from it, grow from it, hold faith and clasp the hand of those who support you. What births from that trial is now yours to nurture.

This is the first 5 of swords which gives me hope that (as she states in the LWB) as the 5's are as far away from beginning and completion (ace and 10) as you can get, this is about mundane, human troubles which lead us away from our path yet are necessary to overcome and learn from in order to make our dreams a reality.

I really love this card, it's honesty and truth about difficult situations.

Aces may seem like the birth but really they are but the conception, the idea - here in the 5 is the real, painful, scary birth.


Five of Swords

Covered in the protection of owls, this human figure is nude, so that makes her vulnerable. Also, she has a newborn to protect. She is wise - she sees the world through the eyes of wisdom, but she is also fierce.

Card meanings: Protection. Protection offered to you from unseen allies. Spiritual connection. A time when you have strong inner will. Strength. Vulnerability. Change. Transformation. Newness. Look to your inner self for answers. Nature. Walk your own path. Wise one. If this card appears, you may need to seek counsel from someone wise, or a wise one may appear to you. Walking on a spiritual path or on a nature path. Being a hermit. Turning inward.