Happy International Tarot Day! Welcome to Soul Sparks for those new to my blog, and welcome back to those not new here! I am so excited to be part of the first ever International Tarot Day Blog Hop! Now that Shandra from EcstaticGoddess.com has expertly enlightened you on the Five of Swords, let’s take a look at the Six of Swords, and how we can see it illustrated in film.
As a society, our films, our music, our arts and entertainment reflect our archetypes back to us in a way that helps us relate to the characters. We see ourselves in certain roles going through difficult times and when they pull through to the happy ending, it gives us hope that we too, are strong enough to endure until our happy ending. But before we get to the films, let’s review what the Six of Swords is generally about.
In the typical Rider/Waite/Smith version, a boat carrying three people from unsettled or rough water into smooth and calm water is depicted. The man is propelling and steering while a woman and child sit sadly facing six swords stuck Excaliber-style into the bottom of it without sinking the vessel. When this card shows up in a reading, it generally carries the message of not just travel over water, but overcoming the baggage you have acquired to leave a bad or stressful situation for a better one, even if you are sad about leaving. It not only relates to the outward physical journey one embarks on but also the inward emotional journey that usually accompanies it. One will many times feel divinely guided as they make this move just as the man depicted encourages the boat forward and determines its direction. This is just a quick overview of the Six of Swords for the purpose we are here for today; there is of course more to this card in the symbology and as with all Tarot cards, it falls on the reader to use their intuition within the context of the spread as it relates to their client. With that said, let’s move on to the films!
I want to talk about two films most will be familiar with as they have been around for awhile, so don’t worry, no spoilers! Titanic and Under the Tuscan Sun are both, at the bare minimum, movies about women who travel across water to lead lives different than what they had imagined for themselves. In the beginning of both movies, we are shown how each woman, Rose in Titanic and Frances in Under the Tuscan Sun, experiences Five of Swords-type situations of humiliation and defeat by others who take on the role of bully or at the very least, take advantage of their vulnerability.
Let’s forget for a moment that Titanic was a monumental film that tackled a significant event in history to focus on the fictional character at the center of it all, Rose. I remember being enthralled by Rose, played by Kate Winslet. I related very closely to her experience as a young woman. Pressured by her mother and society to be someone she was not, it was imperative to be polite at all costs, to marry the right kind of man (with money of course), to dress appropriately, to sit quietly and not draw attention to herself and on and on, all while suppressing her feelings, emotions, and burning passion for life! Feeling suffocated to the point of no hope, she tries to take back control of her life in the only way she knows how in the throes of desperation, by trying to end it. Standing outside the rail of the ship looking down at the churning, freezing water, in comes her guide played by Leonardo DiCaprio. Jack, his character, guides Rose back to herself, away from those churning waters (you might at this point be saying, “uh yeah, straight towards an iceberg!” but come on, hang in there with me! ;). Jack reintroduces Rose to herself, her inner child, the innocent, natural, joyful, fun-loving and carefree part of herself that got buried under everyone else’s expectations. Jack is the man guiding Rose’s journey, and the child in the boat represents Rose’s inner child. Now, yes, they do end up hitting an iceberg and Jack does die, and that totally sucks! BUT, in the end, Rose gets to live life as she wants, by her rules and no one else’s! Sometimes it takes all the humiliation and defeat and bullying of the Five of Swords to push you into the Six. She overcomes that baggage of humiliation, defeat, abuse, manipulation, and finally a broken heart to get to those beautiful, peaceful, calm waters where she is free to be whomever she wants, which gets illustrated nicely as upon landing, she takes on Jack‘s surname.
In Titanic, Rose literally takes a boat across water just like in the card, however nowadays, when interpreting the Six of Swords in a reading, it can refer to any mode of travel across water. In Under the Tuscan Sun, Frances hops on a plane, ‘cause, you know, it’s 2003 at that point! Frances, a woman whose life comes crashing down around her when she finds out her husband has been cheating on her, decides in her humiliation and defeat to pack her swords, er, I mean bags, and fly across the ocean and take a tour of Italy. While on a bus tour, she impulsively decides to purchase an Italian villa in need of some major remodeling. Now indulge me for just a moment while I go a bit off track - I also do dream interpretations. In dreams, houses represent ourselves and the fact that this house is in serious need of repair, just like Frances herself, does not escape my attention! Ok, back to the point. Although Frances’s journey back to herself takes place mostly on land, it is this journey back to herself, where the waters are always more peaceful, led or guided by several characters from the local town that is important here. Each one of those characters, by bringing out a part of Frances that had long been buried by the expectations and neglect of those around her, i.e. her nurturing side as she develops close relationships and feeds and begins to care for the contractors repairing her house, and her wild side as she indulges in a brief affair with a hot Italian guy who sweeps her off her feet to name two examples, helps her to rebuild herself, her house, and her life so that she can finally leave behind the troubled waters/emotions of her failed marriage and safely land on a distant shore. Both of these women were headed to foreign lands, physical and emotional places that were previously unknown to them, but when they landed, they soon found themselves surrounded by the still waters of their peace of mind as they worked to build new, more authentic lives for themselves.
So as we have seen here in these two brief examples, the Six of Swords is not always simply a superficial card of physical travel across water, but many times a journey inwardly in search of harmony and balance as they relate to all sixes in the Tarot, leading to authenticity, oftentimes divinely guided if we can just be still enough to allow for it. This is by no means meant to be an exhaustive piece on the Six of Swords, but my own interpretation based on my own experiences with the card. In my own personal life, this card came up for me a lot at a time in my life where I had just gotten married, and we (my husband, my young daughter and I… so a man, mother and child) were preparing to move to a new home…across the river! For me, it was absolutely life-changing because I was leaving behind an extremely stressful life full of emotional upheaval and very much based on me being who everyone else needed me to be, for a much more peaceful, authentic life, so Rose and Frances’s stories resonate with me to my core. However, it is also worth mentioning that though I chose to discuss movies with female starring roles and briefly my own personal experience, this is not a gender specific archetype. Our brothers are just as likely to experience being the passenger in the Six of Swords boat as our sisters. Much love to anyone who finds themselves there, because I know it’s a difficult but rewarding journey.
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I so hope you have enjoyed our adventure with the Six of Swords! I have thoroughly enjoyed guiding you through it and would now like to encourage you to visit Tiffany at Mywanderingfool.com for an exploration of the next leg of our journey through the Tarot, the Seven of Swords!