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The most dangerous card in the deck

I love the suit of swords, as a tarot reader it gives me a fascinating insight into the working of my client’s mind (and mine too- I regularly read for myself). But my mind has been pondering the 9 of swords recently.

My teaching style developed in my first workshops. I was very nervous and relied on a highly didactic style where I talked, and the students listened. If I allowed no questions, then I was able to be in control of the entire session. After a few sessions there was an undercurrent of unrest, and I was asked outright if I would demonstrate a spread. I planned on it being a pure illustration- but as I looked at the cards it was a spread all about me. I was left with no alternative except to explain his deeply personal spread- and it was the start of my deeply personal teaching journey with the cards.

And so, the personal stuff- I am finally attempting to process the complex PTSD following the abusive end of my marriage. And I have hit an unexpected problem. I am so used to locking away my anger (expressing anger in an abusive situation is often dangerous) that I actually don’t know how to do it. I know there is anger, but I repressed it for so long it seems (right now) totally impossible to express it. I can talk logically about what happened, and about how I feel about it. But actually, expressing the emotion- instead of logically talking about it- is a real block at this point.

I have turned to my tarot cards for help- and there is the 9 of swords, central in every reading I do for myself.

The problem with the 9 of swords can be the overwhelming feeling of futility. And futility, lack of hope, a sense of not even trying anymore is a dangerous state to be.

The swords (which I see as representing the persons thoughts) create a sense of feeling trapped- they almost feel like bars across a prison window. The tips of the blades aren’t even visible, the handles seem to overlock to create even more strength to this mental prison. And being caught in a trap of our own mind is a very dangerous place to be- the world can change, others can offer help and support, but we feel caught in our place of trauma. Hopeless.

The answer to this despair lies, as it often does, in the cards.

The 10 of swords is the next card in the sequence- and it always makes me think of the book “The body keeps the score”. The negative side of this is that if we stay trapped in this despair for too long it will affect our physical health (perhaps insomnia, headaches, exhaustion etc). But the positive side is that we can use the body to release mental anguish. This might be through physical expression, crying, shouting, shaking, physically relaxing the body, massage and the like. Sometimes if we can’t find the way to express ourselves verbally, we can express ourselves physically to ease the journey.

I see the threes of each suit as the most “intense” of the suit, and the threes can tell us a lot about the whole suit.

I love the three of swords. Those swords (thoughts and words) thrust through the unguarded heart- this is true emotional honesty and vulnerability. I know it is linked to relationship break ups- and I think that is because the phrase “we need to talk” is often a pre-cursor to a breakup.

It can be hard to express emotional vulnerability to others, especially if we are dancing between the 9 and 10 of swords. So, a useful starting point is journalling. Writing to ourselves, but still using the power of expression to start clearing the emotions.

Often the 9 of swords will pop up to just to highlight worry, anxiety- and if you can identify a particular area in your life that you are worrying about then it can be a helpful card.

But if it lingers, if it crops up over a period of time then pay attention. It can be highlighting a sense of hopelessness, or letting you know that life has moved on, but your mindset is keeping you locked in trauma. Staying trapped in trauma- even after the danger has passed- is a dangerous place.

I am well aware that my time may have been better spent journalling about my emotions- and that wiring this blog has been a fantastic distraction. I’d love to say I’m going to journal now- but I have dinner to cook for my kids. I’ll keep trying- working with the 10 and 3 of swords-to find ways to ease this emotional block.


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