Sun in Taurus square Pluto in Aquarius – April 20, 2023
The Six of Swords
This week we continue our exploration of the relationship between astrological transits and the Tarot. It’s interesting to note that the origin of the Tarot deck was actually a trick-style card game from which all contemporary trump card games — like Bridge and Hearts — are derived. According to most sources, the first use of the Tarot deck for divination wasn’t until sometime in the 19th century. I mention this because of the kindred application of semiotics and meaning-making imbued in both astrology and Tarot. The world around us is a palette of infinite information, the distinction between using the stars as a tool for geographic navigation or a map for penetrating the enigmatic purpose of our personal or collective existence is simply our orientation to the data. With Tarot, what began as simply a pursuit of social interaction and entertainment evolved into an oracular method of storytelling. I say this as a gentle reminder to myself, and anyone reading, that while there might be an inherent mysticism suffusing the essence of these esoteric arts, at the end of the day the power they hold is the gravitas we give to them through our intention and engagement. Perhaps, its inception as a game can also encourage us to see it as a type of cosmic play, rather than any kind of fatalistic burden or sentence.
The Sun-Pluto square is one of obvious inner tension and potential conflict. To make a bad pun — or a great Dad joke — squares are always a little edgy. For better or for worse, this is generally an internal conflict. Whether we can have inner conflict without pulling anyone (especially those in closest proximity) into the drama of personal suffering, is another question. What we do to others, we oft do to ourselves first. Just because it’s inner conflict, doesn’t mean it isn’t in relation to some external circumstances. The asset of the hard edge is that it makes a good tool for cutting, like Occam’s Razor or the sword of the Tarot. It forces a decision and is an exercise of discernment. On the other hand, this relationship can be abrasive as there’s no great way to take the edge off.
The Aquarian and Taurian qualities of this transit imply an antagonistic dynamic between inclinations for transformation and stability. If we are to be the effective alchemist of our life’s circumstances, we must develop mastery over the application of the elements at play: When do we apply which method, how much, and how often? Neither transformation nor stability is a panacea to be applied in all circumstances and situations. If we’re perpetually in a state of change, we will likely deplete ourselves —the fire that burns away the excess can also consume us. On the other hand, if we’re stuck and unwilling to adapt to life’s perennial fluctuations even our best groove can become a rut. As these two signatures meet on a hard angle, it is likely we’ll feel this tension mentally and emotionally.
We’re talking about Pluto here, so our response to this transit will likely be to move through as opposed to staying put. Perhaps some situation is asking us to evolve and to leave behind the familiar in order to access another level of life. Sensing the Aquarian wind beneath our wings can be uncomfortable and scary when we’re finally feeling nourished at the root. Is this really time to leave the nest?
In the Tarot, the Six of Swords depicts a voyage. While the imagery of the Tarot is never explicit, the mood of the card is certainly not uplifting. This is clearly not a celebratory vacation we’re embarking on. If anything, there is an air of a more permanent relocation — the ending of an era in a particular station in exchange for a journey into the unknown. The shrouded figure next to the child implies a kind of hiding or feeling of forlornness. Are we escaping some unavoidable threat? Has some unfortunate social circumstance or betrayal forced us to leave? Whether or not we’re leaving out of our own volition, there is some element of reluctance at play.
As the Buddhist adage tells us, “pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.” However, with respect to the Six of Swords and the Sun-Pluto square, we might say that “change is inevitable, suffering is optional.” And even then, unless we’re a fully-realized being — we’re probably going to suffer as well. The best that most of us can do is try to mitigate the suffering through awareness and agency. Understanding the energetics at play is helpful, but doesn’t guarantee we make it through unscathed. We can see the wave coming, have the skills to surf it, and still get pummeled by the wave. Sometimes, the forces of nature overpower us no matter how prepared we are.
In this instance, mitigation tactics look like the aforementioned quality of discernment and application of a transformative mindset. Optimism works best when it’s sincere but that doesn’t mean we can’t encourage ourselves toward authenticity by intellectually recognizing that we have no idea what lies ahead of us in the unknown waters beyond. Every single one of us had to leave the womb at birth, and as such have been faced with the intense emotions surrounding environmental upheaval. We’ve done it before, we can do it again — even if we fervently scream for our mothers the whole time.
For the love of god, do not take me too literally here — especially because I have Pluto in Scorpio in my 12thhouse — but I’ll be looking to go as gracefully as possible under this Sun-Pluto square. The cloaked person riding the vessel of the Six of Swords might be feeling a degree of regret, but when leaving prevents further pain or perhaps a kind of death, I’d rather go with my tail between my legs than not go at all. At least there’s life left on the open waters. We don’t always know what shores we’re embarking on when we set sail, but sometimes there’s nothing more thrilling and revitalizing than the spontaneity of a new and unexpected adventure.
May we remember that no effort is ever wasted. Taurus invokes us to build a home at all costs — no matter how long we’re fated to live in it. Pluto would have us abandon — or perhaps burn down — said home if it wasn’t in alignment with our life’s deeper purpose. We can reconcile these two energies by intentionally investing in the spaces in which we reside — building a community, planting a garden, turning our house into a home — but also be willing to leave it all behind at a moment’s notice as an exercise in the highest exhibition of trust that whatever we’ve cultivated outside of ourselves is simply a reflection of what’s within, that which we take with us everywhere, no matter where we go. Sometimes, we can’t see what’s been holding us back until we’ve already left the situation — spaciousness can provide that kind of clarity. Just because the decision to move on felt like a loss at the moment, doesn’t mean we won’t look back on it as a net gain.
Art: Demeter and Persephone by Walter Crane