You can rationalize all you want – there are other ways of knowing the world. Seated at the edge of a misty pool, the High Priestess gazes into the bottomless depths of the soul. She is the physical manifestation of intuition, but she’s not a person. She’s a force within you, the part that knows without knowing and answers without speaking.
But she doesn’t work for nothing. She craves solitude and silence to gauge the minute ripples of the subconscious. Away from the bustle of the world, she operates in mystery and stillness. You cannot hurry her along, you cannot sway her with desperate demands. She moves at her own pace, and wields her power by patience. Answers will come, but not when you want them or in the form you expect. To reach this particular kind of wisdom, waiting and listening is the only course of action.
Take a deep breath. You’re about to be submerged.
Overflowing, directionless, almost numbing in its intensity. It came from nowhere and now it’s bubbling up inside you, unstoppable. It courses through you, out of you, into you. It splashes on everything, and it shines with a light that seems impossible.
What are you going to do with it? Can you use these feelings for anything – share them, verbalise them, paint them? You have been given a gift that you can keep or pay forward – but even if you just bask in this flow of inexplicable happiness, the people who see you shine will reflect your light: owning it is the same as giving it away. The more you pour into that cup, the more there is to pour.
A choice. How to make that choice? It’s all confusion! A snarly forest of thoughts that you can’t find your way out of.
But wait… What if you shut down everything not connected to The Choice? What if you cover your eyes and breathe deeply and weigh the alternatives in hands made more alert by the absence of distractions? By allowing yourself to really concentrate, to find your own quiet amid the endless, mindless chatter, you can see the two opposites more clearly. Maybe now you can see, within the diamond-sharp perfection of your mind, which path is better.
Or perhaps you can even see a compromise?
The horror. This is almost as bad as it gets – in fact, it’s as bad as it gets before the breakdown. It’s all the bad thoughts at once. Every worry, every stressful fear, every grief that builds up until you can’t think, can’t move, can’t breathe. It’s no use telling someone in this field of fire to ‘let it go’, ‘stop over-thinking’, or ‘keep their chin up’. As soon as they try to move in any direction at all, the swords cut them. They’re literally at the end of their tether.
So what can you do? I don’t know. Wait it out? Wait for help? Remove one sword at a time, cutting yourself for every movement, blood pouring down your hands and arms? All I know is, this card confirms what you’re feeling. It doesn’t sugarcoat or tell you to suck it up. It understands. There’s no way around it: sometimes everything is shit. Sometimes it hurts just to be alive. And every attempt to break out of your cage of negative thoughts slices open another artery.
A rebel and a free-thinker. A girl who sees through the bullshit – all the bullshit, even the well-meaning bullshit. Can be a pain in the arse, a know-it-all, a party-pooper. But never let it be said that her heart clouds her mind.
Oh my, this is a cool one. Walks her own path and chooses loneliness over a cage. Her sword is still small, because she doesn’t know everything, and she can jump to the wrong conclusions because it’s just so fun to jump. But tell her how she’s wrong, backed up with facts, and she’ll have no trouble changing her mind. After all, her mind is her biggest asset, and who wouldn’t want to develop that?
Pow! A new idea. A flash in the darkness. A clear thought, cutting through the bullshit. That is the Ace of Swords. Pure mental energy, sheer ingenuity. Ideas that illuminate the deepest night.
It hasn’t been put to the test yet. That comes later. Right now it’s just there, like a bright light that beckons and excites. Enjoy the newness!
In popular culture, like movies, the Death card is often used for effect to symbolize – yup, you guessed it: literal, physical death. Which it almost never means in an actual reading. Serious interpretations view the Death card as a more general ending, as leaving something behind, cutting ties and burying the old to make way for something new.
Of course it can still be scary, and still give rise to grief. Big changes are often hard to process, and you may have to prepare for a period of mourning before you move on. But even though Death puts an end to something, it’s not The End. On the other side of sorrow there’s a new beginning, and in the long run, leaving the past behind will likely feel like a relief.