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Philosophical Tarot — Two of Cups and Six of Swords

February 18, 2014

I am currently reading a wonderful book by Roger Housden called Twenty Poems to Bless Your Marriage, And One to Save it. The entire book, of course, suggests a great deal of meaning that we can apply to the Two of Cups, but there is one particular discussion that I want to talk about here today.  Housden says that marriage is “a pact not only to forge a life together but to forge [your] own individualities in its fire,” and he also refers to marriage as “aloneness-in-togetherness.”

Two of Cups -- Tarot of the MastersWe often see the Two of Cups as being about the union of two people, but Housden reminds us to remember our individuality too.  We’re not here to submerge ourselves in a relationship; we are here to walk together along our shared path, helping each other along the way of our own individual journeys as we do so.  This can suggest a warning in this card, to beware of losing yourself in a relationship because that does not help either of you.

Certainly, the union of two lives can enrich both, and all the love and support—the good times together—are valuable beyond measure, but there is more to a marriage than that; there are arguments and bad times too, for we are distinct individuals.  Although the number TWO suggests “union,” it also symbolizes duality and conflict.  But is that necessarily a bad thing?  We also grow and progress along our journeys through the difficulties of a marriage—the fire in which we “forge our own individualities.” In the difficult times, we have occasion to reflect upon our imperfections, for through a marriage, another person acts as a mirror. If we see such times in that light and use them as a means of self-improvement, we become better individuals who are then able to bring something of that growth back into the relationship to improve it too.

Six of Swords -- Tarot of the MastersA relationship can also be seen as a vehicle in which we travel together.  Housden says that marriage is “an ark in which the very ache of being human can be revealed and also redeemed through a conscious undertaking shared with another.”  The poetic imagery of this statement suggests the Six of Swords, and thus imbues that card with a level of meaning about our relationships that we don’t always see in it. It can say that a relationship—in hard times as well as good—is bringing you to a higher level of awareness and understanding of life.  But the part about “a conscious undertaking shared with another” is important to consider as well.  If you don’t have that consciousness of a shared undertaking, you can miss the fact that you are both in this together.  Thus, it is important to make a conscious commitment to both support and forgive, to learn from a relationship as well as to enjoy it.  The typical wedding vows make this sort of commitment (“for better or for worse…”), but we all too often forget it when the going gets tough.

So with these quotes and in these two cards we can see that marriage is a journey we take together as two individuals helping each other along our own individual journeys.

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