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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Journey through My Decks: Six of Swords

In this series of posts, I plan to discuss all of the Tarot cards in order, using a different deck for each card. Today I'm exploring the SIX OF SWORDS from the Sharman-Caselli Tarot by Juliet Sharman-Burke with illustrations by Giovanni Caselli (Eddison Sadd Editions).

Sharman-Caselli Tarot (Eddison Sadd)

In her book, The New Complete Book of Tarot (illustrated with the Sharman-Caselli deck and published by St. Martin's Griffin), Juliet Sharman-Burke tells us that "Six is the number of equilibrium and harmony. The six-pointed star is made of two triangles: one points up towards the spirit or heavens; the other points down towards the body or earth. This symbolizes balance between them."

The suit of Swords, on the other hand, is not known for harmony or equilibrium. Often it represents difficulties or changes that can be hard to experience or understand. On the Six of Swords we see a ferryman taking two people across the water to a distant shore. The water on the right-hand side of the boat is choppy and rough, whereas the water on the other side is calm. The people appear to be moving away from difficulties toward more peaceful times.

Book T* calls this card The Lord of Earned Success and associates it with the planet Mercury (the mind) in Aquarius (a masculine, fixed Air sign whose motto is sometimes said to be "I Know"). Meanings are: "Success after anxiety and trouble; self-esteem, beauty, conceit, but sometimes modesty therewith; dominance, patience, labour, etc."

Thus we see the disruption of the Swords blending with the harmony of the Six. Tension and anxiety are released after a period of stress and strain. Harmony is a distinct possibility instead of a dream that is beyond our grasp.

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About the Deck: The Sharman-Caselli deck draws from both the 1910 Waite deck and the Visconti-Sforza Tarot, which dates back to the mid-fifteenth century. Juliet Sharman-Burke describes her deck as "psychological in orientation," using the Fool's journey through the stages of life as a backdrop, "drawing on the notion that as humans we share collective experiences that are archetypal and are all reflected in the Tarot."


* Book T   The Tarot (an initiatory manual for the OGD) Comprising Manuscripts N, O, P, Q, R, and an Unlettered Theoricus Adeptus Minor Instruction, A Description of the Cards of the Tarot with their Attributions; Including a Method of Divination by Their Use.

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