Last week I had the privilege of offering readings at a very special fundraiser. My friend Mary Ellen Collins and I were the tarot readers at the 6th Annual Chefs Helping Heroes Fundraiser for the Renewal Coalition, an organization that helps wounded veterans and their families.
One of the things that can happen while doing the “cattle call” (short readings for a line of people) is that many people in the group will receive the same card.
It usually takes me a little while to realize that a repetitive card at a party is speaking to the group, as well as to the individuals who receive it.
For instance, at a Bar Association gala almost everyone received Major Arcana 11, Justice. After the sixth one I realized that I was reading exclusively for attorneys and their spouses.
At an office Christmas party, just about everyone received the Six of Pentacles. “You are such a generous person” I said once, twice, three times. Then I asked what the nature of the business was. It turned out they distributed grants for student funding.
The repetitive card that came up at the Helping Heroes event was the Six of Swords. I must have seen that card for eight people, or more, in two hours. The funny thing is, it didn’t register for me until afterwards, when Mary Ellen asked me if I had seen the Six of Swords much that evening.
As a matter of fact, I had, and clearly, so had she!
Why was the Six of Swords such a predominate card for this audience? Many of the party attendees were active military, or veterans, and their families. Everyone was there in support of wounded warriors. Still, there are other cards I might have more readily expected to see.
I call the Nine of Wands “The Wounded Warrior”. But that wasn’t the card that presented itself so forcefully.
For me, the Six of Swords is often about sailing toward smoother waters. In fortune-telling tradition, the Six of Swords is “journey over water”. It came up for at least one person to discuss an upcoming deployment.
Aleister Crowley called the Six of Swords “Science”. It’s easy for me to connect that to the Waite-Smith image. The Swords are almost floating over the water, to remind us to value logic over emotion; the essential goal of the Scientific Method.
The Esoteric Title for the Six of Swords is “Lord of Earned Success”. That certainly makes sense for the audience, both in terms of military service as well as the obvious financial means of the generous people who supported the event. It was evident from the beginning that the event was a very successful fundraiser for the cause, so that could also be “earned success”.
The specific mission of the organization is to provide no-cost retreat getaways for recovering soldiers and their families. There is no doubt, anecdotally, that this program is saving marriages, and, perhaps, even saving lives.
The “retreat” card in tarot is Four of Swords. As I consider this, I see a story emerging that give the Six of Swords profound meaning for its persistent appearance that night.
When we look at the Three, Four, Five and Six of Swords we see the story of every wounded warrior. With Three, we see the actual injury. With Four, a time of rest and recovery, With Five, the battle that every solider fights when they leave the battlefield.
Finally, in the Six of Swords we see the resolution – the soldiers’ ability to heal by allowing themselves to return to a world that makes sense to them; a world different from the world of warfare.
The job of the Renewal Coalition is to provide a space of safe normalcy for those whose lives have been anything but normal.
Whether for a group in a single evening, or over a long period for an individual, repetitive cards (or “stalker cards” or “frequent cards”) are an interesting phenomenon.
Some of them, like the Devil that appeared in each of my readings long ago during an unhealthy relationship, are like a bitch-slap from the Universe, meant to wake you to a harsh reality.
Others, like the Six of Swords at this event, take some time to contemplate.
After the event, Mary Ellen and I wondered about the Six of Swords, and what its message might be.
We agreed to each blog about it.