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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Old English Tarot: 10 of Swords

In today's blog entry, Helen Howell continues her exploration of cards from the Old English Tarot by Maggie Kneen (U.S. Games Systems, Inc.)

Old English Tarot
10 of Swords
by Helen Howell


The Old English 10 of Swords just like the Rider Waite card, leaves us in no doubt that something is coming to an end. Both cards show us an image that we cannot mistake the meaning of. However, the images do tell a slightly differing story. Let’s take a look at the more traditional Rider Waite card first.

Rider-Waite Tarot (US Games)
In this image we see a man that lies face down with ten swords sticking into his back - you could say he is pinned down by some sort of personal pain. But it is worth noting that the fingers on his visible hand appear to be held in the sign of forgiveness/blessing (benediction). This indicates, at least to me, that in order to move on from this situation, and allow this ending to take place, one has to realise that it is over, finished with, etc. Because this is a number 10 card (1+0 = 1), it represents for us endings and beginnings all in one number.

The key element, I think, of the Rider Waite image is that whatever has caused one the pain, the only way to begin again is to forgive and move on. Because when we forgive what we do is actually free ourselves. So the image of the man shows us that he’s already been stabbed in the back. What else could happen? The worst is probably over, and now is the time to recover from it.

The Old English however, doesn’t appear to show us any recovery. What we get is a stormy sea and a sinking ship. I see no life boats, do you? How do you recover from that? What this card suggests to me is that some disaster has taken place. What was or is, has now come to an end. I get the sense that unlike the Rider Waite image, which tends to give me a sense of personal pain, the Old English image speaks more of some material loss – unless, of course, we put ourselves on the actual ship. But there is nothing to depict this. We are left in no doubt that this could foretell for us some sort of trouble or loss.

But wait! If we look closer at the image, we will see in the background there is land, and if we place ourselves in the ship then perhaps that is an indication that we can swim to safety. One just has to acknowledge they are on a sinking ship to get off in time to save themselves. So hidden in this image is the suggestion of recovery, and an ending and a beginning.

It appears then that the Old English has more in common with its traditional brother the Rider Waite than I first thought.

I think the fundamental message that both these cards bring home to us is that the worst is over and that we need to make an effort to bring it to its conclusion before a new beginning can be embarked on. How does one do that? By recognising that whatever it is, is over. The choice is always our own.

LWB: Ruin, desolation, trouble, sorrow.
Reversed: Benefit, temporary gain, passing success.

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