Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Weilding Swords (continued) court cards, conflict and communication and thank you Rick Mercer!

This is a continuation of the  previous article on some of the things that swords can represent - with some specific referance to the court cards - in a reading, along with some thoughts on communication and conflict that  come to mind when I think  of what this suit represents.


There are some relationships and people that have an undercurrent of hostility. When the court cards of swords are reversed (or sometimes not necessarily physically reversed, but ill aspected) this is sometimes the case. The page of swords in this mode is like a child that feels a need to act up, disruptive and unaware of boundaries. The knight in this vein is "cruising for conflict". The King of swords (again in his negative aspect) is a sometimes abusive tyrant and the Queen can be quite cutting.

The responsibilty to swords energy manifests strongly in communication. I have been more aware lately of this in social media which can be very much a swords based arena. Cyber bullying, political vehemence, sniping are rife on platforms like facebook. People like to expound on issues. It's like a personal soap box in a park with a megaphone. This can be a valuable tool, or a weapon depending on how it is used.

We have been seeing a lot lately about cyber bullying, it's not enough to just chant the old schoolyard slogan "sticks and stones can break my bones but names can never harm me". Sorry no. Names and slander, attacks on a person can hurt and are also a warning sign of greater behavioral problems. Part of what has motivated me to write this has been inspired by the recent rant by Rick Mercer about bullying and teen suicide.As someone who experienced this growing up, I couldnt agree more with him, I believe we have a responsibility to step up when we see innapropriate or hurtful communication. Here's a link to his passionate speech:
Rick Mercer on cyber bullying and teen suicide

Mercer, with his wit and strong articulation is a great example of healthy warriorship. His "rant" is not about being hurtful, it's about taking action, protecting and setting a healthy boundary. I would say he is a great example of a healthy, well aspected King of Swords.In a healthy, well balanced sense, the king is a discerning and diplomatic figure of authority. Someone who knows how to debate, make a point and be objective while still holding firm to principles. The queen is a judicial advisor, someone who knows the disciplined, sometimes "tough love" side of nurture. The knight is a rebel with a cause, a provocateur who isn't afraid of shaking up our complacency a bit. The page is a childlike protector, maybe, like a good little hall monitor, a voice worth heeding.

Wit and articulation, discernment (over judgement) and the heroic quality of irony are all hallmarks of healthy sword energy. The qualities of good warriorship are evidenced. Much like someone who has long practiced the martial arts there is not a seeking out of conflict, but also not a shying away. Violence of any kind is a last resort, more often the ability, like a bull fighter to let an opposing force run itself out or to throw itself off balance.

I love the fact that the symbol in the Rider Waite deck is a broad sword. A peaceful warrior is conscious of when to use the cutting edge, prefering more often to use the flat of the blade. In other words to invite differences of opinion, to not have to cut down an opposing view but to learn from it. Qualities of respect and to look beyond an immediate issue. A saying of my father's that I reflect on more and more as I get older is "sometimes what's more important than being right, is what gets left".

On a more formal level, the business of articulation, mediation and problem solving is where we see Swords (along with the other elements) in the process of developing policy. Any good community group or organization usually has a constitution, a mandate for how it operates and it is out of constructive conflict that we develop the policies and procedures that guide us through challenges. Rather than having to fight the same battles again and again we are able to work with our experience (this involves pentacles - see the September article on Discerning True Worth). The saying that "the pen is mightier than the sword comes to mind, but in truth the pen is just another form of sword. How we communicate and articulate ourselves runs through all the elements but in swords we have the conscious opportunity to either wage war, uphold a principle or set a boundary that allows for healthy discourse.

On a more personal level, couples learn to fight fair, to understand each others backgrounds in conflict is important, to not hit below the belt and to see where sometimes a conflict on one level may be an opportunity to work safely with other, sometimes more unconscious issues.
It's very challenging in conflict situations to not react but rather to listen and then respond. When someone who has obviously been stewing with something suddenly brings an issue forward, it helps to see they have been preparing for a while. I am an Aries ( ruled by the planet Mars) so I CAN be a hot head. I have had to learn to stand back, to say "I'll have to think about this" and (boy this is still challenging) "while you're at it, is there anything else"? Often for the person bringing the issue forward just the rassurance that they are being heard is diffusing. Sometimes though what comes our way is a tantrum. Thats when you have to stand back, sometimes walk away, give what Eckhart Tolle calls a "quality no". You can't teach pigs to sing, it only makes the pigs angry. Paying attention to the time and place can be important. Saying "could we perhaps address this differently,another place or with other people present) can help. If someone calls me at 11:00 at night that isnt good timing, Also in this age of cyber communication, not hitting send in the heat of the moment, even better saying could we discuss this in another way. If the other person is simply interested in berating and not about to show reason best to walk away. Like I said this stuff is challenging. For myself, I can be a know it all sometimes and having the last word is not always the best thing.Walking away sometimes means to give up the idea of winning, to say "well thats your opinion", or "I understand thats what you feel or think of this". Challenging eh?

Sometimes we have to fight our own battles, but relying on outside resource, whether thats as formal as calling in the law, talking to a counsellor or on a less formal but incredibly valuable level, an objective friend, are all healthy applications of swords energy. Sometimes I need feedback not just on the conflict but how it is getting addressed. There are times when we might be right in principle but very wrong in how we address it. I sometimes have to look at even how I bring the issue to that objective person. If even there I need them to agree with me or take my side, I might not be deep down so sure of my own position. Being present, really listening to others and my own reactions is a discipline, but to not do it is far more draining; like people who yell all the time that others tune out, learning to reflect and communicate without letting anger take over is work, sometimes hard work, but living less consciously takes a greater toll. After a while, like learning to walk it becomes more natural and we dont have to crawl anymore.