Repulsive! Horrible! Ugly! Yuck! What is this card trying to say? A picture of maggots eating the last bits of flesh from a jaw bone. I love this card!
The Tarot offers so many portals through which we may travel through, searching for meaning. The suit of swords is a favorite of mine, because it relates to the realm of the mind. The mind is mostly a place of suffering – with some denial, confusion and a pinch of inner peace thrown in for spice. This 9 of Swords is so rich in imagery and intensity that it begs us to “get it”!
Astrologically, the 9 of swords refers to the planet of Mars in the sign of Gemini. Mars is the planet of action and aggression. Gemini is a sign that is about picking things apart, often into minutae. I find it fascinating that Kim Krans, creator of the Wild Unknown deck, has chosen this image of Maggots for the 9 of swords. She rocks! (thats a pun because she is a rock star, too)
Here we have an image of something completely common, natural and part of every day life and death. But like other aspects of the life/death cycle that we find ugly (waste elimination, menstruation, giving birth and even aging) ,we have isolated ourselves from the truth, beauty and power of these aspects of life. The eyeballs say “look!” See! This is where we are at! This is as real as anything else.
The Swords cards in Tarot, as symbols of different mental states, relate to the patterns that our minds operate on. If we are conscious and interested in improving our experience of life as it is, we are interested in becoming aware of the unconscious thought patterns that do not serve us well.
This process of awareness can be frightening and uncomfortable at times. Where did the pattern come from? Most likely, our patterns are formed when we are very young, in reaction to the treatment we received from the adults around us. We made meaning of certain events and operate based on that meaning. Usually, the meaning we created was not accurate, and we are operating on untrue assumptions. In order to root out the original pattern, it is necessary that we dig up the corpse of our childhood and look at some of the painful events that lead us to make certain meanings. This is not fun, but it is a necessary step if we are really concerned with shifting our current behavior patterns.
I like to think that this card helps remind us to make sure that the Maggots are hard at work decomposing our old selves – so that we can be sure the old selves, full of rich nutrients – wisdom, growth, awareness and painful experiences – can be composted into the soil that will grow our new selves – stronger, more resilient, more productive and fruitful!
Lets not be afraid of the process of death and decomposition! It is important and has it’s own beauty.
Here is a song my mother used to sing to us as children – and now I sing it to my kids. Thanks, Mom , for your wisdom, humor and disguised shamanic teachings.