Five of Swords

 I have a beautiful new tarot deck, the Anima Mundi tarot, and this is the card I keep pulling out of it: the five of swords (actually, last week it was the three of swords, but that bird has flown and now we’re just left with the feathers). I’ve pulled maybe six personal cards out of this new deck, and the five of swords has been at least two of them. The atmosphere here is oppressive; I saw a sky a lot like this the other day when I was racing my bike to get home ahead of the rain. You can tell it’s about to pour, only maybe not–there’s also a timelessness, a kind of interminable quality.

There’s a big sense of heaviness, for sure. Right in the middle of the card there’s also an emptiness, a missing bird who left only scattered feathers. I think a lot about missing birds, because I think of the Platonist/Sufi metaphor, the two wings that it takes to fly. The wings of the minds are roughly sense data (or data that could be collected with the senses, empirical data), and the stories that allow us to string these data points together in a way that makes sense. In between is an imaginary bird that is as real as anything, although, to be fair, we tend to overestimate the amount that anything is real. What reality is might be the imagination of something solid that is making these two wings of experience work together.

This card confused me when I got up this morning, but now I’m starting to feel it in my bones. Nothing tragic has happened, but I can’t quite settle down. Plans have changed, and I can’t adjust. Something is missing. I feel, looking at this image, a sinking in my chest and a hollowness, but also a quiet in the darkness. Quiet—yes, this card has that in spades (or swords, in the tarot).

Nobody likes this card very much, but that quiet is deep and hard-won. There’s the calm after the storm, the feeling of having really been through it and come out the other side. Maybe there’s something about shadow integration here, too: there’s some aftermath of violence for all of us in late-stage capitalism and maybe just in life, but I can’t help but notice that the swords here are a little like the shape of a door. When you choose to get up and move forward, there’s always something on the other side.