About ‘Thinking of the Soul’ and the Swords in the Tarot

The Soul never thinks without a picture


Every time I come across a quote somewhere, I think of a Tarot card. This is not surprising since the Tarot consists of a thick pack of one-liners from ‘the things your mother used to say’ to statements by the great philosophers and natural scientists. But, because the ancient Greeks had a great influence on our current thinking and actions, they are the best to go with!

Tarot Card Two of Swords from the Waite-Smith deck

When I read this quote from Aristotle, the first Tarot card that popped into my head was the Two of Swords. But when I started to delve a bit more into the background of this quote, I gained another nice insight regarding the swords in the Tarot

The Swords are often – unfairly – interpreted in terms of rational thinking. In everyday interpretations, this is then – also wrongly – placed opposite to ‘feeling’.

It is well known that the Swords (and the element of air in general) has a much deeper symbolism than logical thinking.  Air is a medium, a connector. The element air ‘feeds’ the other elements (earth, water and fire); For instance, when there is not enough air in the earth, roots of plants will stop growing and they will die. When Hydrogen (H2) cannot bind to air (O), there will be no water that is necessary to maintain life on earth. Fire that does not receive oxygen extuiguishes.

The Swords, or the intellect, in the Tarot therefore symbolizes the ability to connect things, to think creatively, to fantasize, to make plans, to discover patterns and to reflect. ‘Logical’ thinking also belongs to this domain, but is just a small part. With a Sword you can separate things such as main and secondary issues (think of the Hebrew letter Zain). You can also cut away bullshit with your Sword. Finally, the sword depicts mental strength, a not to be underestimated super-power that unfortunately can also work at a disadvantage.

The Swords are often considered ‘negative’ and I have set a goal for myself to stand up for this ‘underdog’. All elements are equally important in life and therefore also in the Tarot. Waite may have put a bit of a depressive spin on it, but I won’t let that distract me.

Please find a quote from Eliphas Lévi below. It is taken from his well known ‘paradoxes’ (Paradox V: Reason is God)

THIS should be placed first. It is before everything: it is self-existent, it exists even for those who do not know it, as the Sun for the Blind, but to see it, feel it, understand it, this is the triumph of the understanding in man; it is the definite result of all the travail of thought and all the aspirations of Faith. In the principle is Reason, and Reason is in God, and God is Reason. All is made by it, and without it is nothing made. It is the true light that enlightens us from our birth: it shines even in the darkness, but the darkness does not close it in.

These words are the oracle of Reason itself, and they occur, as all know, at the commencement of the Gospel of St. John.

Without this Reason nothing exists; everything has its reason for existing, even unreason, which serves as a background to reason as the shadow does to the light.

True magic is a scientific force placed at the service of Reason.

Eliphas Lévi

This makes me think of many more Tarot Cards! I will write about them in a future blogpost.