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The Two of Swords: What are our two minds?

March 24, 2015

Two of Swords RWS2.0 Tarot eCardsLast year, I described a way to initiate thought-provoking conversations using the messages of the cards.  A great way to facilitate this process is to use my Pithy Tarot app, which provides a quick “pithy” meaning along with a card.  Today I did this and got the following meaning for the Two of Swords:

You may be of two minds on a subject, but eventually you have to choose one of them.

Here are some of my thoughts about this:

First of all, this suggested that I consider what it might mean by being of two minds.  There is the typical colloquial meaning, of course, which is that you are conflicted on a topic and it’s hard to make up your mind so you can make a decision. In fact, that is what I was intending with the above pithy meaning. But there is another way to consider this, a way that takes us deeper into a philosophical consideration of what our minds really are. That’s what I want to discuss here.

I believe that we are always “of two minds,” by which I mean that our minds are composed of two different consciousnesses, which I’ll call our robot brain and our spiritual consciousness.

On the one hand, our brains are basically very complex computers. Simply put, they are composed of hardware (the organic brain itself—the so called “gray matter’) and software (all that we have been taught, whether explicitly or implicitly, throughout our lives—such as instructions from our parents, books we have read, and the myriad experiences that shape our lives). When you look at it this way, it becomes hard to see how we could actually have any free will at all, although we recoil from that demeaning thought. However, most of our actions in our day-to-day lives are basically robotic reactions to external stimuli. Also, the thoughts that keep popping into our heads all the time are the product of that computer. Addictions are perhaps the most extreme example of this, but all of our irrational behavior comes from the dark side of this aspect of our minds. Of course, it’s not really that simple since our brains are so incredibly complex, but when you think about it in these terms, it is hard to see how we can be much more than very intricate robots. (For more about this, see an article titled, Why you don’t really have free will.) Luckily, though, this brings me to the other component of our minds.

There is another analogy we can use for our brains.  Instead of seeing them as complex computers, we may also see them as radios that pick up transmissions from our eternal soul, however you want to conceptualize that. (Some may call it an aspect of the Divine).  Thus, your spiritual consciousness is another part of your mind, the part that comes from your eternal Self. It can manifest as our intuitive or psychic sense, and it is what gives us free will to the extent to which we avail ourselves of it. Of course, we have to have the volume on that radio turned up loud enough to hear it over the drone of the computer brain. And that’s where the problem arises for most of us. The chatter of our organic computers is usually louder than the gentle whisper of our spiritual radio. So how do we change that? One suggestion is that this is the point of meditation, which seeks to quiet the organic computer so that we can hear the spiritual radio.

So … how might this affect our interpretation of this card in a reading? It may say that the problem you are facing comes from relying on your computer brain and not paying attention to your spiritual radio. In other words, it may suggest that you need to pay less attention to the robot in you and more to your soul. It also can urge you to consider that someone else is (as most of us are) acting badly because he or she has a badly programmed computer. And perhaps this will allow you to see that person in a more compassionate way.

So, what do you think? This conceptualization is an evolving explanation for me, and I would love to hear your thoughts on this too.  After all, you and I probably have two different minds on this topic. 🙂

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    By radio, our brain can be a receiver of data from multiple dimensions, then our computer brain processes this data and broadcasts its message.

    Thought provoking question, James ❤

    • Yes, I agree that it’s both. If our minds are only a computer brain, then (as detailed in the article referenced in this blog post) I have to wonder how we really can have free will.

  2. When the Two of Swords appears in a reading I draw two additional cards to expose the choices to be made.

    Bright Blessings,

  3. First, I love what Aeneas said and in all likelihood will give that technique a try in the near future.

    How a tarot practitioner interprets the Two of Swords can say a lot about his or her philosophical view on choice.

    I see the burden of harmony here. A seeker is currently pursuing two options (and thus carrying two burdens) simultaneously (because the seeker is hesitant to let either one go—at this time it feels more harmonious to carry both). However, carrying both presents a great burden on the seeker’s shoulders. To lighten the load, one of them has to go.

    Yet before you choose between the two, there is first the choice of whether you even want to let one go. In fact, the seeker does not need to choose between the two. The seeker can pursue both and have both (“have it all”), but it comes at a great price to the seeker’s shoulders. It may also cause stagnation, the inability for either of the two options to advance progressively due to the burden of the other.

    I once heard Christiana Gaudet talk about the Two of Swords, and how the figure’s arms are crossed in front of her heart, and with the suit’s association to Air, represents the need to intellectualize the choice and be objective. This is not a decision to be made with the heart, or through emotions. I hope I’m expressing what she said correctly! Anyway, after hearing her say that, I’ve always thought of the Two of Swords through that lens.

    • She’s one of only a few cards that tells us to “Stop!” and question where we are, where we are going and where do we want to get to? I’ve also had a special connection to this sword bearing, blind folded woman.


      • Ah yes, the blindfold! A very interesting aspect of the card. It may indicate something like a lack of (or resistance to) seeing the need for a decision or seeing both sides of the issue clearly. Of course, it can also indicate a need for impartiality in making a decision. (Consider that the blindfold on Lady Justice statues in front of courthouses symbolizes the (theoretical) impartiality of Justice in our courts.)

    • Regarding the way “the figure’s arms are crossed in front of her heart” I seem to recall that Rachel Pollack makes a similar observation in her seminal work on card meanings, “Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom.”

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  1. What does the Two of Swords mean? | James Ricklef's Tarot Blog
  2. A Tarot story from the Swords suit | James Ricklef's Tarot Blog

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