Tarot of Change: 10 of Swords


Justice – Tarot – Wonderings

I’ve often thought about making a Tarot of Social Change. From my work with movements for peace and justice and my own fascination with the history of change making, I’ve gotten a view into the mechanics, personalities, and deeper forces that make change move and shift the societies in which it takes hold.

And I’m inspired to start musing about such a deck today by change that is in the making this very moment in Egypt where a people’s movement that is calling for democratic reform and working its best to hold peaceful protests. These people are changing the country and the region with reverberations for the whole world. I think of the people filling Tahrir Square and believe it can be a potent image for the 10 of Air / Swords.

Air is the element that carriers sound and implies communication. Those protesting for change are sending their message loudly and clearly to the world. They keep repeating that they want their lives and the lives of their children to improve, they want democratic reform, and they aim is to be peaceful in their protesting. These are simple and very powerful ideas. Air is the suit of the power of the mind and of ideas to take hold of us.

10 is a number of transitions. A cycle has been completed and something achieved, and now it is time for a new cycle to begin. The exact fulfillment of the protestors’ goals is unclear at this moment, but their actions so far have changed their society. 10 is made up of two numbers 1 and 0. 1 obviously implies these new beginnings. 0 is a number of mystery and in the Tarot’s Major Arcana the number of the Fool who dares to leap into new territory. An interpretation of the Fool and thus the 0 that I like is that you must take action that may look foolish in the eyes of the world, but is essential to the development of our soul.

The suit of Swords in many decks is rather fearsome. In the Rider Waite Smith (RWS), the man has been attacked and could possibly be dead. I am thinking here of the violence that erupted this week lead by the pro-Mubarak forces. This is the challenge of deep transitions. Something has to be given up. In people’s protests all over the world, we see people risking their comfort, their safety, their very lives for the ideals of peace, justice, and democracy. The sun that you can see rising in the RWS reminds us that this kind of bravery will be rewarded in some way. All over the world, people are benefiting from their ancestors having stood up for deep ideals and striving for a better life. This is the sun that shines on us today. Let us be grateful to all who have made this struggle and all those who are making that struggle today. They call us to our highest visions.

[Note:  Image is from Slate and accompanied an article by Sarah Topol who is doing interesting reporting from Egypt.  See her article entitled “We Are Making Our Future.”]

Leave a Comment

March 5, 2011, 11:35 pm Paris

I sense a challenge in finding 78 representative aspects of social change with enough differentiation to actually be worthy of a deck, but with your inner eye, I think you could at the very least do a “Current Events” deck that ring true.

March 7, 2011, 1:14 am Carolyn Cushing

Ah, I think you are making an interesting challenge! I like challenges, but I think “little” project will just be simmering on the back burner to come up for a boil periodically.

July 13, 2011, 8:49 pm Diana Pei Wu

i LOVE the idea of a deck for social justice! i’m sure there are lots of aspects, actually, not just of moments in social movements, but also moments in any struggle (like, building coalitions, the challenges of dealing constructively with (individual) racist or sexist behavior within a group …

July 15, 2011, 12:09 am Carolyn

So glad that you like the idea, Diana! it could actually be a tool for us when we get stuck in the complexities of our change making process! And there is the woman who works in my building who would be a fabulous artist to do the deck. She is doing this Roots to Resistance Project. You can see her work on her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/rootstoresistance. I did run into her the other day and mention it, but this is still pretty much a fantasy in my head. You know Tarot, no? What do you think of Ella Baker as the High Priestess? I think that this connection was what got me dreaming about this deck in the first place.

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