One of the fun assignments in my tarot workshops is for everyone to produce a sketch of a personal tarot card, based on discoveries and imagery that came to them during the program. There is no shortage of material, since our Tarot for Dreamers playshops include theater and performance, journeys through the doorways of the cards, monologues in the voices of both major and minor arcana as well as readings for ourselves and each other in many different styles.
In my tarot workshop last weekend, I produced sketches of several cards, including a Priestess inspired by the snake journey I described in my last article here. The card that demanded my closest attention was the Four of Swords. In a Celtic Cross spread, it had come up in the position of my Hopes and Fears. I had seen it in the same place before, in another recent reading, and realized that I needed to explore why this number card - a benign one in the sometimes scary and clanking procession of the Swords - might speak to me of my Hopes and Fears.
My personal name for the Four of Swords is Rest. My catch phrase for it is "Time Off". Weapons are laid down or hung up on the walls. We have moved beyond the pain and grief and possible self-laceration of the Three of Swords; we are not yet menaced by the terrible mental strife of the Five of Swords. A period of calm and relaxation might certainly figure among my hopes; why would is also be a source of fear?
In one of our exercises, I drummed for the group, inviting our participants to step through the frame of a selected card, as through a door, to learn more about the character of the card within its own realm. When I let my mind travel through the frame of the Four of Swords, I saw metal pens hanging on a wall. They were the Zebra F-402 pens, inexpensive but elegant, that I generally use. I strolled from a writing nook through an open doorway into a rather Hawaiian scene with a sandy beach, palm trees, a lounger near the water. A great place for rest and relaxation, imagined or physical. Then why the fear? I looked back into the writing space and saw one of my pens lying on top of an unfinished manuscript. Ah, yes. Now I saw it. The writer in me - who might be the creator and producer in other contexts also - fears rest periods because he knows that starting up a project that has been left for a while requires overcoming the heavy weight of inertia.
So I produced a personal version of the Four of Swords with the hope of delightful R&R, but also the implied fear of that pen laid to rest across the unfinished book.