Six of Swords: Into the Looking Glass

Six of Swords

Need to put on your lipstick? Straighten your tie? Or take a metaphorical look at yourself? If you need a mirror, make sure you use the left side of the boat for your reflection—the water’s calmer over there.

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A couple weeks ago I was telling my friend Carole Pierce how disoriented I was when I received an email from a Carol Pearce. She then told me that long ago she had been drawn to the author Carol S. Pearson—in part because of her name—and in part because she had written a neat book called The Hero Within: Six Archetypes We Live By.

When Carole recommends a book, or anything else for that matter, I must, at the very least, make a note of it. This time I hopped online and ended up ordering Pearson’s more recent book, Awakening the Heroes Within: Twelve Archetypes to Help Us Find Ourselves and Transform Our World. I can’t put it down—and quickly realized it would provide the perfect framework for a course in mythology that Carole and I will be teaching in the fall. Even I, cynic of cynics, have to admit this seems a bit synchronistic. Do you agree?

I’m very excited about the mythology course, which I’ll write about in the future, but I want to put in a plug for Awakening the Heroes Within. While it’s not a tarot book—tarot doesn’t even show up in the index—every page deepens my understanding of the major arcana. Pearson takes twelve archetypes and maps them onto the hero’s journey. She also looks at their part in the development of our Ego, Soul, and Self. It’s an accessible introduction to the principles of Jungian psychology and demonstrates, if not explicitly, the psychological depth of the cards.

You may be asking, What’s the deal with the Six of Swords? Well, there’s a quote from the book which, while talking about the Sage archetype, offers a new interpretation of the Six of Swords:

“In therapy, the Sage allows us to notice our pathological patterns, and to see the way we have been projecting our own scripts or perceptions onto the world. It observes those patterns and is capable of experiencing greater truth beyond them. The difference between reflecting reality in a relatively adequate way and through distorted thinking is like the difference between looking at the world reflected in a calm pond and in one in which the water is moving” (59).

Many tarotists note the imagery of the Six of Swords, which suggests moving to calmer waters. The card can also symbolize, in part, the need to accept the truth and move on or risk being imprisoned by a limited point of view. Taking a look at oneself and one’s circumstanses seems pretty important here, but it’s truly self-defeating if the reflection isn’t clear.

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