A solitary female figure wearing a white robe sits blindfolded on a bench at the shore of an expansive lake dotted with islands. In each of her crossed arms is a sword. A crescent moon shines overhead.
If the Ace of Swords symbolizes the awakening of consciousness, the Two represents the “separation” of consciousness—of ego divided from the true Self—that occurs as we pass through childhood and adolescence into adulthood. Most of us don’t notice this process when it is happening, hence many of us go through life blinded to the reality of the “split mind” until a psychic meltdown occurs, typically in mid-life. When this happens, we need to reconcile the opposing forces in our psyches to achieve a proper state of conscious equilibrium. This requires the ability to look within ourselves, and honestly weigh our strengths and weaknesses as the blindfolded woman “weighs” the swords in her hands. This usually requires a “season in the wilderness” in a quiet place where we can be alone with our thoughts, hence her solitude in the dead of night, and the presence of the islands, safe havens to which the seeker can retreat. Eventually, the blindfold can be removed, and daylight restored to our inner mind. The moon that waxes and wanes reminds us, too, of the possibility of change that can help propel us from one stage of our lives to one more productive and gratifying if we simple ask the higher powers for guidance.
Rachel Pollack notes the woman’s posture as conveying a sense of constriction and defensiveness, and qualities such as those are surefire signs of a mind divided against itself. We see examples of this today in America, where many people stockpile guns in anticipation of some chaotic breakdown in the social order. Yet the more firepower they amass, the less safe and secure they actually feel! Sometimes, then, the only way to get past this state of psychic stalemate is for us to admit our own ego-driven misperceptions, chastening as it may be for us; it’s an integral step in the process of psychic reintegration.
Granted, ego is a necessary component in the individuation process, for it gives us our first sense of who we are—it helps to “set us apart” from others to achieve lofty personal goals. However, as we mature, we hopefully begin to see that we are not truly “separate” from others, that we are all infinitesimal parts of an ever-expanding universal soul: and that keeping ourselves ego-separated from our brothers also keeps us in state of separation from God.
On the subject, there is always the possibility that Arthur Waite simply intended us to see the swords forming a letter V, which corresponds to the Hebrew letter vav; literally, a “tent peg” but generally, a “hook,” “nail” or other fastener that provides structural integrity to a dwelling or house. In the Trumps Major, the letter vav is represented by Christ’s vicar on earth:
The High Priest is the conduit between the consciousness of the Divine and the consciousness of man. That “union of the minds”—between God and ourselves—is perhaps what the figure in the Two of Swords represents within our individual psyches.
Meanings in a reading can include: ego and Self in harmonious accord, balance of the opposites, reflection after struggle, personal reevaluation, a time for introspection and prayer, or the will to enlightenment; but also spiritual blindness, the “split mind,” a defensiveness, “fear of the dark”, or personal stagnation and inertia. As we mature and become more “comfortable in our own skin,” we learn to be less protective of ourselves and more trusting of others. If this doesn’t happen, complications can occur.