Hello and welcome to TaoCraft Short Sip: Tarot for your day in the time it takes to sip from your coffee. I’m glad you are here.
When this card turned over, my first and only thought was “what the actual heckin’ heck is that?”
It’s got a horse, a sword (or maybe it is a stick) and a pissed off looking woman in a shower cap. Queen of swords maybe? Knight of wands? Bad hair day card?
At first, I didn’t even know what the card was much less what to think or say about it. Which, I think, is the message. The words “fear of the unknown” popped to mind. Which makes logical sense because I wasn’t sure if it was a knight, a queen, a sword or a wands card.
For a flash, I had a snowballing moment of fearful not-knowing. Not knowing the card means I’ll write a terrible post, so I’ll never get paying work as a Tarot reader ever again, which means decades of effort goes down the drain because I’ve wasted my life on woo woo spooky shit and oh-my-god-we’re-all-gonna-die.
That, my friends, is a living example of psychological stress and exactly what Tarot and mindfulness is designed to help.
Sometimes, the best thing you can know is that you don’t know. It prompts you to prepare, think, act and adapt.
Sometimes the worst thing you can do is let fear of the unknown drag you into dwelling on the future instead of being mindful of the present reality.
Fear of the unknown isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Fear unbridled puts your heart in prison. Fear utilized sets you free. As has been attributed to all sorts of people from Mark Twain to President Roosevelt quote courage is not the absence of fear but rather the ability to act in spite of it end quote.
Turns out all I needed to do was walk into the next room and pick up the deck guidebook and do a little googling. Looks like we might survive after all, folks!
On a small scale that’s exactly the kind of thing that goes with the Knight of Swords which is what shower cap chick turned out to be.
The Cary-Yale visconti tarot deck published by US Games in the 1980s is made up of reproduced images from a 15th century partial Tarot deck. According to author Stuart R. Kaplan as quoted by google books, the original deck is in the Cary card collection in the rare books and manuscripts library at Yale University. New cards were created to fill in the missing cards and create a full, functional deck. I don’t know if this particular card is original or a fill-in, but Kaplan also points out that the court cards in the original deck is a mixture of male and female figures, which is interesting for the time period. I don’t know about the shower cap, but it turns out that it really is an annoyed looking woman on a horse. The way she is holding the sword reminds me of an internet meme of Qui-Gon from Star Wars jumping up and drawing his light saber with the caption of “When you are home alone and you hear a noise”
Seven Dane Asmund writing as the Alleyman interprets the card as sudden opportunity, rapid movement, advice to take advantage of sudden opportunities or you could miss it. This is spot-on for the Knight of Swords imagery in every other deck I’ve seen.
So NOW what do we do? Is there anything that reconciles the Cary-Yale image and the flash about fearing the unknown with the typical daring imagery of the knight of swords we see in so many other decks?
I think the idea of being on guard combined with taking advantage of sudden opportunities builds the bridge between this very old card and the common modern interpretations for the knight of swords.
If fear of the unknown paralyses us, and keeps us from acting, then we might miss key opportunities. If fear of the unknown takes us into a new situation prepared and alert and ready to make the most of a sudden opportunity, then fear of the unknown has served us well.
Just don’t forget to take your shower cap off.
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