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Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Thrust, parry, retreat -- the lonely battle of Ego

Thoth Tarot
I'm seeing this card as a warning today. The Princess of Swords here is defending something, leaning back against it, something she is trying to keep from crumbling down in dust around her. What is she defending? And why is this card a warning to me?

The Swords suit is the suit of the intellect, and the Golden Dawn links it to Ruach on the Tree of Life. (The theory is, we've got three components: Nephesch, our physical bodies and existence, Neschamah, our spirit or cosmic consciousness, and Ruach, our intellect or ego, which lies between Nephesch at the bottom of the tree and Neschamah at the top. It is our personal identity, the 'I', the 'Self'. And it can cause lots of trouble, because it thinks it's the only one here, and it can get very defensive.So, the Princess of Swords is defending her identity, and her identity is made up of many illusions. But -- they're all she's got. Or so she thinks.

'When we identify with the Ruach,' writes DuQuette, 'we also separate ourselves from the higher parts of our souls that represent greater realities and levels of consciousness than our Ruach can comprehend. Consequently, the Ruach does everything it can to keep its grasp on our identity. This is why Eastern mystics warn that the mind is a great enemy.'

And just who is it who fights on behalf of the Ruach?  'When the battle begins, the Ruach naturally sends out its finest swordswoman -- a warrior princess who manifests everything that is inherent in her lord, the Ace of Swords, a mighty champion of the mind -- a Minerva, an Artemis, a Valkyrie --the Princess of Swords.'

In my case in particular today, I see her as a warning to stop working against myself by identifying too much with the details of my ego, or as Eckhart Tolle calls it, the 'false self':
'Identification with thoughts and the emotions that go with those thoughts creates a false mind-made sense of self, conditioned by the past: the "little me" and its story. This false self is never happy or fulfilled for long. Its normal state is one of unease, fear, insufficiency, and nonfulfillment. It says it looks for happiness, and yet it continuously creates conflict and unhappiness. In fact, it needs conflict and "enemies" to sustain the sense of separateness that ensures its continued survival. The false self lives mainly through memory and anticipation. Past and future are its main preoccupation. ... if you continuously miss the now – resist it, dislike it, try to get away from it, reduce it to a means to an end, then you miss the essence of your life, and you are stuck in a dream world of images, concepts, labels, interpretations, judgments – the conditioned content of your mind that you take to be "yourself." And so you are disconnected from the fullness of life that is the "suchness" of this moment,' says Eckhart Tolle. 
I did this all day yesterday, worrying and making up stories in my mind, through 'memory and anticipation'. I certainly spent a lot of time stuck in a 'dream world of concepts, labels, interpretations and judgments.' The Knight of Swords presented himself to me, and I took his shadow side. And so in drawing the Princess of Swords today, I see myself fighting to defend the 'little me' stories I made up all day yesterday. I even said to someone yesterday, 'I feel like I'm digging my own grave.'  I spent a lot of time regretting decisions from the past, and anticipating woe in the future. This card today warns me that I will continue to defend this fairy story today if I don't watch out. And the ego doesn't want me to realize its stories are all made up. It wants me to keep feeding them, because it thinks that's all there is. If I wake up from delusion, what will there be? 
Thankfully, there are higher, different parts of myself. I can watch Ego from outside itself, and step back from it. 
I will do my best to do that today. 


  1. I've had the same experience the last two days. When I finally stopped feeding these anxious thoughts things changed for the better and I did find some "peace of mind" again. My warrior retreated.
    I hope you will enter peacefulness of the present moment many times today

  2. I wonder if there's something astrological going on at the moment? While working with the book 'Tarot for Yourself' yesterday I was flooded with good and bad memories from the past. The insight that came with this wasn't exactly news to me. The experience was so powerful it made me cry for the stories I'd told myself over the years and how harmful some of them were. They still have the power to haunt me.

    Hope you get to cut your stories loose today and that you find peace of mind in the present.