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Saturday, 12 September 2015

Journaling with the Five of Swords - Fountain Tarot

Fountain Tarot, 2014
Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
                                 ~Proverbs 16:18 KJV

That's the first thing that came to mind when I drew this card today from Fountain Tarot (2014). It's the Five of Swords. 

This is an unusual interpretation of the RWS image. Instead of a victor smirking in the foreground holding his five swords as the vanquished slink off in defeat, here we have obscure 'shapes' in the background and this weird, lanky guy who looks like he's had some sort of nervous breakdown after spending a sleepless week working out string theory. And do those shoes have velcro? I think they do! So, buddy, you got nothing to feel smug about! 

Now, what does the companion book have to say about this unpleasant-looking dude balancing on handles of translucent ice blades? 

'Two glum figures stand in the background while the victor balances tenuously on his spoils,' it reads. 'Victories get polluted when your personal integrity is compromised. Nobody wins in this situation, and the backlash can be horrible.' 

What I want to know is, how did he get up there in the first place? And why did those two blobs in the back give up their swords to such a weedy-looking character? 

On a more serious note, I find an interesting take on this card in Benebell Wen's 'Holistic Tarot', and I think it is particularly applicable to the Fountain Tarot version of this card:

'Deep down this is a seeker who feels he or she was born with unfair disadvantages, that others are more privileged. There is a subconscious, unacknowledged resentment because of that. This is not a card about entitlement. Rather, it is a card about being resentful for not having what others have, and thus doing everything in one's power to get what others have. The Seeker thinks he has won, but the storm is just coming' (pages 190-191). 

If we look at the card again, we can see how the main figure of the card has alienated himself from the so-called 'defeated', and the spoils of his 'victory' are almost 'not there' -- it's like they're imaginary. His victory is something that clearly he thought was virtually impossible -- like balancing on the points of swords. Now he's reveling in it.

'The Five of Swords shows a cunning character who profits off others or misappropriates. [It] also gives a sense that the Seeker is using a proverbial sledgehammer to crack a nut, using more force than is required, and in that disproportion will suffer undesirable consequences,' continues Wen (page 191). 

There certainly seems to be only one outcome for the figure in this card. He cannot stay balanced on those swords forever, or even for more than a split second. When he comes down in a crash, he will have five sharp, two-edged blades above, below and all around him. Bad deal! 

We can use this card as the trigger for some deep self-exploration:

In what ways do I feel that I have unfair disadvantages? 

What do I perceive in others as privilege, and how do I harbor resentment for that? How does that resentment manifest in my attitude? In my thoughts? In my responses? 

What are my motivations for my current goals? Am I working toward something because I perceive it as something I need in order to keep up with the Joneses? Do I even really want this thing? 

In what way am I 'using a sledgehammer to crack a nut'? What could be the consequences if I continue in this vein? 


  1. Really enjoyed your "take" on this card. Very insightful and interesting interpretation. xx

    1. Thanks, that was Benebell Wen's take, but I'm glad you liked it!

  2. Funny post and really good questions at the end! The motivations question gets me today, but maybe that's just cos I'm tired...

    1. :) I only wish that were true. I guess I get over it fast, though, or plough on regardless :D

  3. I like the questions in the end a lot. Like Chloe says, the motivation question is rather confronting

    1. The whole card is rather confronting, and according to Mary K Greer's book, it is one of my 'life' cards. Blech.