Magical Thinking:

Despite what my place of employment might inspire in the popular imagination,

I’m a Gemini therefore I am an Air sign. This means that my suit, in the tarot, is Swords. It is the suit of the intellect, logic, empirical exploration. Just as I regard my ruling planet — Mercury, the planet of communication– I feel warmly about being associated with the suit of Swords.

One of my favorite things about that suit in the Tarot is the way the numbered cards increase steadily into calamity. The Ace of Swords is associated with clarity and insight. But as the cards progress, it becomes increasingly clear that the blade of the sword cuts both ways, the intellect and the mind are powerful, and just as likely to ruin the one who wields them as they are to allow that person to succeed.

The X of Swords traditionally features a person lying facedown, nine swords sticking out of their back, and one stuck in the ground. Upright, the card is associated with failure and defeat. The wisdom of the tarot dictates that a purely intellectual path results in a destitution and destruction of the spirit.

Of all four suits, it is the only one whose progression ends in tragedy.

As both a strict materialist, a sometimes-Pessimist (philosophically speaking), and a contrarian, I am inclined to point out that it would behoove the arbitors of the Tarot to dissuade a purely intellectual, empiric approach to life, as that woud swiftly put psychics, fortune-tellers, magicians, occultists, and faith leaders of all sorts out of business.

Equally true, however, is the fact that human beings, regardless of their personal philosophies, must believe in something if they are to continue to get up out of bed every morning.

Author: despina durand

part-time goth, full-time critic

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