Two of Swords


What a precarious and quite horrific situation the woman in Robin's "Two of Swords" has found herself in. Not a place where most folks would want to be, that's for sure. But I'll bet that many people have experienced what the woman might be feeling in the Two of Swords...fear, terror, needing to defend oneself, hopelessness, loneliness, isolation, etc. Perched on what Robin intended to be the "ruins of a castle," it looks like if she moves even a muscle she'll slip into the depths of dark and turbulent waters. Add to that the fact that she's blindfolded, holding two long and no doubt sharp swords and that she's wearing enough cloth to billow out and ensnare fish if she goes down for the count (ie. she'll take others with her...). And one can't miss the indigo to black coloring of the card itself, magnifying the thought that the sun is not going to shine anytime soon in this situation if it remains as is.

The two, stone arches that rise out from the water near the woman often remind me of a sea serpent arching its back. In other words, more grief is waiting for her if she does fall in. Robin mentioned in her book that she chose castle ruins because, "...she probably feels like her life is in ruins around her, or about to be." Robin continues that she put the stone arches in the pic to " there are open doorways, if she looks for them." Keeping in sync with how Robin encourages us in her book to read the cards the way we see them at each reading, not necessarily keeping with how the symbols spoke to her as she drew them...IF I see the stone arch itself, I may see the whole serpent idea I described above; IF I see the opening of the stone arch, I may see hope for escape from the present situation. And of course, perhaps neither the arches nor the openings will hold relevance for a reading, if they are not noticed.

The two swords, held with crossed arms over the woman's chest can offer a glimmer of hope for the situation as well. They may point out that the querent or someone in the querent's life really does hold the key to getting out of such an undesirable situation, IF they can clear their head and use whatever knowledge they already possess or knowledge they can get a grasp of quickly. I say quickly because the danger in this card often appears to be immediate and decisive action may be in order. The blades of the swords are sharp, however, and so caution must still prevail. Possibly there may be pain involved with whatever is learned/acknowledged or even with the road one decides to take or must take. Holding the swords over her chest may indicate she knows how to protect herself and has the means to do so (ie. the swords themselves...either literally or figuratively.)

The blindfold has meant several different things to me (depending on the reading, spread, where it falls, question, etc.) The querent could be oblivious that danger is engulfing or is about to take over his/her life. Someone else may be keeping pertinent information away from the querent. Or the answer lies within the querent themselves, if only he/she would trust his/her own intuition and gut feeling. Maybe the querent knows the right path to take but refuses to see how to travel it and refuses to accept any pain that may accompany such a path.

There's so much more that can be said about the Two of Swords. I find it a fascinating card and often look at it as some kind of warning.


The 2 of Swords is such a striking card- it seems to me to be the very embodiment of a gothic novella. The unfortunate lady is perched above the raging waters, between two cliffs- "between a rock and a hard place". There are no easy answers for her. However, she does have two choices, though both may seem equally unpleasant or even treacherous. Even in this place of seeming powerlessness, she retains her dignity and loveliness. This is not an ordinary calf for the slaughter, though she does seem to be the sacrificial virgin, in the way that Andromeda was chained to the cliff to be eaten by a monster. The difference is that the 2 of Swords is armed and unchained. She will not be rescued, but that is fine, because in all honesty, she isn't a damsel in distress anyway. She is weighing the consequences- and coming to a decision of which sword to drop, in order that she may remove her blindfold.

When I first saw this card, it seemed so familiar, and I tried to place where I had seen it or something similar. Just today, as I was thumbing through the trumps, I found her. #2, the High Priestess! Of course, here she is in better circumstance. She is at the height of her power as indicated by the fullness of the moon- she has become fully matured. I believe that this is one possible future of the two of Swords. If she can be wily, make the correct choice, and make it out of this testing with her wits about her, she can become a healer, a visionary, a wise one.

Of course, the other possibility is the 8 of Swords- tied up, unable to move forward. Of course, in the eight of swords, she still could free herself. I think that the way a person would go from the 2 to the 8 of Swords would be to choose to do nothing for fear of making the wrong choice.

If the 2 of Swords were to present itself in a reading, I would glean that there is a difficult decision to be made, and the questioner is not confident in any solution. If the High Priestess or the 8 of Swords were also in the reading, I would give that a special consideration.


I also found myself associating the woman in this card with the High Priestess (although, I guess it could just be Robin Wood encoding two different instances of intuition using the same symbols). For me, the blindfold makes me wonder if she's not sure how she got here, or that maybe she was led here an left as some sort of initiatory test.

Her crossed arms look defensive, as if she's protecting her heart: Robin Wood does say she probably knows which decision she should make, so perhaps one thing keeping her from choosing is that--while rational analysis hasn't settled the issue for her--she also doesn't trust her feelings. Robin Wood compares the position of the swords to a pair of calipers, to show that the woman has the measure of her problem. To me, they also look like the open blades of a pair of scissors: if her problem seems like a Gordian Knot, maybe she just needs to follow Alexander and cut through it.

Above her, the horns of the waxing crescent Moon more or less reflect the points of the swords. Maybe this hints at other people's or other forces' choices, opposed to hers, perhaps hidden or treacherous, operating above or beyond her sphere of influence? Or warns her to choose soon, before the Universe chooses for her.


Hi to all,

Well the first thing that comes to mind is a person about to comitt suicide.
I know a friend who was going to and he had a choice. I can see that this card could be about being able to try to have the tools and people are tryi8ng to stop here. Also she may have gotten herself into this.
Also, this person was blind, who I knew.
What do you think


Hi Vhrsn,

This sounds like a personal reading and not a general comment about the symbolism in the Robin Wood deck's version of this card.

If this is so then I suggest that you post the whole reading in the Your Readings forum.
This study group is for speaking about the symbolism specific to this deck.

Sulis - Tarot Study Groups moderator


This was speaking from experience and relating the card's image as a whole to the experience.

I'd also see this card as being able to try to get past obstacles by doing things by feel, as the person is blindfolded in the card.


This is what I get out of this card:
Being stuck (on the inside), not connected with emotions or not knowing what to do with them. (The water – emotion – is wild and there are rocks = danger)
She’s got her arms crossed in front of her heart chakra, meaning she’s cannot/will not connect emotionally. She’s completely tensed up: her legs are closed (if one sits relaxed this is not the case), and her hair is enveloping her as if even her hair is shielding her from the outside world.
She doesn’t know what to do, so she’s shut down and nothing much seems to be happening. There are however a lot of mental processes going on: the highlights on the swords give me the impression that the emphasis is on thinking and as the swords are crossed they imply contradicting thoughts and feelings. (hence the confusion) I think the cause of the problem are troubled emotions, as she seems to be sitting directly above the wild water, she seems to be surrounded by it. The water doesn’t flow freely either, the rocky passage is very narrow. This indicates to me that it will take some time before the emotions will calm down and become clear. The narrow passage indicates a narrow view and nothing much “new and refreshing” can come in, well, not easily anyway. Maybe the narrow passage means narrow minded?
I do feel this is all working towards a solution though, not downfall: the moon is waxing.

Warm wishes



In Robin Wood there are 2 cards that are poles apart in how they affect and inspire me. One is the Hierophant, the 2 of Swords is the other.

She is an enigma, she just fills me with questions.

As a picture I see her seated in the remains of a crumbling gothic castle high on a cliff above a turbulent and stormy sea. I expect lightning flashes and thunder, howling winds and words whipped into nothingness by the storm.

How long has she been here?
Was the castle a whole structure that has just gently decayed around her?
Her eyes are covered - is she blindfolded or bandaged. Is it to prevent her vision clouding her judgement or an attempt to heal the damage of all she has witnessed?
The 2 swords speak of balance, her whole poise is one of calm - grim, yes, she smiles not. She is determined, not swayed by outside events. I do not see the crossed arms as being a closing but rather a natural position - one that can be supported without draining the strength. Her position is formal in as much as it is upright and composed, but why?

I often try to step inside a card and look around - here I think the key lies in what is in front of her - and what is behind. We can see one side but not the other.

What is curious is that this card pops up for me time and again when reading for women who are involved in healing and general woo-woo stuff. I won't get specific because we all follow different paths.

Last night I was doing a reading for someone I have never met and do not know and who has been only briefly described to me. I'd finished the reading and was just moving the deck to one side so I could leave the cards out for morning. I put the deck down and the top card literally floated off to the left. Just a physical effect of the move, but like pop-outs I always pay attention - guess who? 2 swords ;-)

in light



I recently pulled this card because it came to me in a flash of insight as to where I feel I am right now.

The woman is sitting on a stone ledge isolated from everything. Her feet are bare and she is wearing what appears to be a night dress - as if been awakened from sleep and forced to sit on a cold stone ledge in the middle of the biting cold waters around her. Her jaw is firmly set and her resolve to see things through is as hard as the steel of the blades she carries crossed in front of her.

If she was in armour or at least had shoes on she would be less vulnerable but she still has her swords so she is not defenceless. She is just not as prepared as she'd like to be.

The swords are sharp and they are all she has at this moment. She relies on them to keep her out of harms way. She can't take the blindfold off because to do so would mean putting one or both of the swords down which she does not want to do as she is not prepared to let her only defence out of her grasp.

It is cold. the skies are grey and threaten storms. The sea is choppy and there is a wind blowing. But she sits there and endures the elements. It is almost like she is meditating on her next move and the blindfold actually helps her this way as it removes outside distractions around her and forces her to use her other senses to figure the next move out.


I agree that this card have a gothic feel to it. The swords are more dangerous from an airborne menace. Beside that, she seems pretty much vulnerable and isolated.