The Thoth Tarot & Barbara Walker Tarot- 5 of Swords-Defeat:
The Four 5s of the Tarot:
GEBURAH, Severity, is the fifth Sephiroth on the Qabalistic Tree of Life. Across from Geburah is Chesed, the 4th Sephiroth on the Tree. He is Her
perfect balanced mate, he builds up and she tears down. As Chesed is
loving and merciful, Geburah is terrible in her demanding of due. Yet,
she is also active Mars, the Warrior King. Thus this red Intelligent
Energy, is female in receptive behavior and Masculine in expressive
behavior. Geburah is the Destroyer, The Warrior King, The Power of
Judgment, the Clarifier and the Eliminator of the Useless. Those familiar with the Hindu mysteries, would call her Kali Ma.
Geburah's symbols are: The Pentagon, the Five Pedaled Rose of the Tudors. The Sword and the Spear, the Scourge and chain. Her planet is Mars and the color is red.
be the most difficult Sephiroth ( State of Intelligent Energy) to
approach because of her difficult and often overwhelming lessons. Yet,
Geburah, is a necessary corrective in our lives, as she tears away all that is useless, outdated or undesirable.
There is a tendency to think of Geburah/Mars/Saturn
as evil, as do some of Kali Ma's worshipers; However, her Severe lessons are such
that they are akin to burning down a diseased forest, so that new health
trees may emerge. Sure, the balances that She instigates, are painful,
even devastating, but again, necessary to keep balance in the Universe
of, the Spirit, the Mind, the Emotions and the Body.
The Four Fives
in the Tarot, are all in someway, connected to Severity and Strife, the
degree of this severity depends on the suit the Card is in. Yet, no
matter how squeamish we are, many of us realize that it is the truly
difficult situations that teach us the most. I for one, have not failed
to learn from such.
So here we can say that Geburah
supports our strength, for when we weaken and succumb to "comfort zones"
(fear of vulnerability), She tears them away, exposing them for the
fraudulent behavior they are (I think some, call this "Tough Love"). The
strict discipline of Geburah is a corrective process that is
both necessary and positive. Therefore, this aspect of the All Mother, conveys the ability to judge clearly
and the willingness to be judged, as described in the Qabalistic
Hermetic axiom," Watch the Watcher, Examine the Examiner, Judge the
Chesed, the 4th Sephiroth, is called Mercy, his qualities of mercy must be controlled by the Sentinel qualities of Geburah,
or they will overflow into an evil imbalance of force. Sometimes Mercy
must be checked, such as one must learn from their own mistakes, rather
than have someone always correcting their mistakes for them as a form of
pain avoidance. In the Psyche of "freedom of choice", everyone has the right to learn from their disease! Discernment demands it, and the Tree of Wisdom sprouts from correcting our own error.
It is the
continual flowing cycles, because of the constant interaction of
Geburah and Chesed, that keeps the rhythm of life moving forward;
The adept must
initiated in Geburah, before Chesed. For one must have perfect control
before being immersed in the abundance of Chesed, the Architect. Thus,
the attribute of Great Power,
is derived from Geburah. The Power
is Great, because Geburah is related to both Kether and Binah. That
Unity, is the source of this outward flowing power. Binah, who is "will to form", gives form
birth potential and Geburah gives it death potential so that beginnings
have ends. One can say that Geburah is the Force of Time, i.e
Cronus/Saturn, who is often shown as one who "eats its young".
In sacred texts,
Geburah is also shown as a Masculine bearded Warrior in his/her
chariot, relating to Mars, therefore both Martial and Saturnine force
are his/her attributes.
Yet the primary qualitie
s of Geburah are feminine
, these feminine qualities are suggested by the rose of Venus, the five
pedaled rose of the Tudors. Venus is also the Planet closely related to
Mars, as the forces of Mars are transmitted from Geburah, through
Tiphareth ( Beauty) and into Netzach (Victory) of which Venus
is assigned. In Myth, Venus and Mars are married to one another.
Five sided symbols
are related to Geburah, such as the invoking and banishing pentagram
and the pentagon. The five elemental points of the pentagram are only
brought into balanced power in the individual who is relentless in their
self-discipline. As any Power line electrician knows, intense focus,
and unwavering handling of immense power, is essential for job
longevity. Therefore the true forces
of the individual must be
under the control of the Spirit (symbolized by the highest point on the
Pentagram) for the individual to truly experience the mutable nature of
the personality in the Higher Self of Tiphareth. The resulting immersion
into the Fires of Truth
, burn away all that is unworthy of Higher Self
in the personality. The Burning Truth
is often initiated in a brutal silence of self
The other symbols
of Geburah, such as the Spear represents a swift and complete destruction while the Scourge
and the Chain
symbolize a continual application of Force.
Sword of Geburah
, represents the sharp edged power of the individual
under impeccable self control. The strength of severity is the
individuals greatest weapon for cleaving away the delusion of man-made
definitions and/or all that is unworthy of them.
understand this "defeat" of our old personal identity patterns (Upside
down Pentagram) we must understand what happens to unattended fire
(Spirit); it can either go out or become a conflagration. What happens
to non-moving water/ consciousness? It either turns into a mire and
goes putrid or evaporates away.
To keep this from happening to the
Divine Creative's Force and Form Children, Geburah (The Divine
Feminine) has invented the Conscious Energy State of Severity-where
strife and defeat supply the "jolt of movement" necessary to get the
stagnant personality moving again. Therefore, this severity is "Tough Love".
on the Tree of Life) always supply disruption. In this case, Venus
rules Aquarius which implies weakness rather than excess of strength that is
the cause of the disaster.
In the Thoth 5 of Swords-Defeat
, the intellect has been enfeeble by sentiment and has become overly passive
Treachery may also be implied. The Five of Swords is shown in a
sinister state of the inverted pentagram which is a sign of
matter/personality dominating the will of Spirit. In this case even more
sinister as none of the swords have hilts that resemble any of the
others, and their blades are bent or broken and give the impression of
drooping. As virtue declines (virtue is always being true to your inner
self) corruption takes over until all is in disorder. There is no Rose
of enlightenment in this card, since it is all destroyed now.
The Tarot 5 of Swords is Defeat, because of the
influence of the 5th Sephiroth-Geburah, whose meaning is Severity. Thus,
Geburah,#5, always produces disruption to any suit.
In the 5
of Swords there is also the fact that Venus is now ruling Aquarius, such
a ruling produces a passive weakness rather than an excess of strength.
Treachery may also be implied, the normally cutting edge wit is also
enfeebled by sentiment, making treachery even more disastrous to the
Inverting the pentagram
, is a sinister
sign of "things being turned upside-down", where thoughts of success
have been defeated by unseen severity. The Thoth Deck 5 of Swords, also
represents "self-defeating" thoughts, as the hilts of the 5 swords are
individually different, implying confused thinking, making matters even
The Swords are 'drooping" and chipped,
representing old thoughts being kept long after their usefulness;
thoughts, that never worked in the first place, the combination of which
can only bring defeat.The Great Balancing Blue Rose of the Mother
(Wisdom), is totally missing from this card, and only the 'blood" of
Geburah forms the pentagram outline. This is the Cleansing Blood, that
destroys the old, putrid and useless "software" of the personality,
in-order to build anew. As you can see, this is a severe action to a
personality whose denial is its sole support.
This is all very sinister, but as luck would have it, it is the
beginning of an understanding that past "self thoughts" are either too
dependent on the reactions of others, and/or by seeking
self-value through others, we are unable to be ourselves. By serving
two masters, we've divided our power, therefore, we can only arrive defeated in purpose.
The lesson here,
that I often tell my clients, is that you've been created because you are good enough for The Divine Creative! By seeking approval from those who cannot build you nor have control over their own identities, you can never be the you
that was created in the first place! I AM Me, is our Trinity of
Self....Not I Am "wana-be" somebody! Me, is the invention of I AM's
self-awareness and is a understanding full of probability, so it is okay
to experiment with self-identity. Just remember the axiom, 'think ill
be ill, think well be well" ...You've already been well thought
of----that is why you exist! It really is okay to love being you!
Therefore, one can say that the Tarot-5 of Swords-Defeat, is also about reacting to past history and therefore supplying no future action for fear of it repeating itself.
the twisted lines
in the back ground of the Thoth Tarot Card are representative of the
distortion that fear induces into our emotional/ mental state.
The five bent swords represent
fear distorted thoughts and feelings, while the twisted red
handkerchief on the top sword, to the viewers right, symbolizes an
opening of an old wound. Old wounds tend to constrict us with fear when
they are opened by thoughts of "oh dear, not again!"
Fear of being hurt again
is prominent in this card, basically, astrologically Venus in Aquarius,
represents a fear that a new relationship will not work out,and
symbolizes fear of moving in new directions that are emotionally
important to you.
The upside down crown
(the crown is a symbol of expanded awareness) tells us that our awareness is expanding in a fear filled direction.
The sword handle of Pisces
the fish along with the red handkerchief, represents the past (age of
Pisces); old memories rising up to cloud your new awareness.
When we move in states of fear
, nothing is regenerated or renewed which is represented by the sleeping snake on the sword handle.
Aries, (the ram headed sword)
is about new directions, of which we are unable to move in as a state
of fear. We are discombobulated by fear and risk a repeat of a past
Yet, the Star (white background outline)represents our Greater Self that is trying to break
through and get us back on to living the present rather than being dead
in the past. The Thoth card seems negative, with its fear of the
unknown or of repetitive past mistakes; However, it tells us that we
are being philosophically challenged and must adapt our belief system or
lifestyle to the present unhindered by past presumptions. Life
demands transformation and transformation demands courage, which is
simply grabbing fear by the hand and saying," Come along with me little
one, we have work to do!" This card reminds us to let go and let out inner divinity propel us forward into the now.
One may ask, why is there a need for
such a nasty- Intelligent-judgmental- corrective force if we are the
Child of God? This Severity is easily explained as cutting away the
unworthy bits, so that you are the original you. But what many fail to
understand, is that if all the definitions given one, by their society,
belief systems and cultures are not one's identity, THEN we CAME IN
ALREADY KNOWING ourselves! By surrendering our "trying to be", to the Great Being we already are, we have accepted that our indoctrinated thought has defeated our ability to be present.
Yes it is true, dear
ones, truth is made manifest. Therefore, your psyche never came seeking
your truth, nor to find out who you are, the Soul/Psyche already Knows
that! By putting knowledge into form is how you became manifest! You are
Defined into being, not a being who seeks definition! You are a Divine
Creative/Psyche who proves definition by making it manifest in a soma!
Therefore, the severity of Geburah, helps us remember who we really are, and not what we pretend to be.
To reiterate: The Five of Swords, is known as Defeat,
or Lord of Defeat. Being that Venus is in Aquarius here, the normal
disruption of Geburah's strength, is not the cause of disaster! This is because weakness is the cause of the Five of Swords disaster! A weakness brought on by pacifism, and enfeebling sentiment; maybe even treachery. This treachery could be both from the past dogma, or indoctrinated programing in your own brain, or from some outside source.
Barbara Walker Tarot- 5 of Swords: Defeat,
chooses the traditional definitions of self-abasement, passive endurance, and forcibly swallowing one's pride.
Self-sacrifice was a mandatory process for enlightenment in the God-King myths. For one to gain or retain such feminine powers as insight, wisdom, verbal facility, or life giving magic, a god-king had to forcibly swallow his pride and surrender himself to the goddess.
The Old Nordic story of Odin, explains this inner process. Wounded in the side by the typical spear thrust (Christian story teller's adapted this to the Christ myth), Odin was crucified on the World Ash tree, while the trinity of Norns (3 fates) sat at the tree's roots spinning his fate. There is obvious comparison to the Qabalistic Tree of Life, for Adam Khadmon is crucified on the Tree of Life, in his side, is the 5th Sephiroth-Geburah, one of whose symbols is a spear, and the Earth, the place where time brings fate, Maid, Mother and Crone, the Trinity at the root of the Tree.
Interestingly, Odin hung on the World Ash Tree for 9 nights, because as Barbara Walker Stated,"...nine nights, the traditional period of lying-in for parturient women, because the skills and insights he craved were formerly the exclusive property of mother's".
Odin then, descended into Hel's uterine pit, traversing " all seven nether worlds". Upon arriving in Hel's domain, he received a drink of red mead from the feminine fount of Wisdom, that is to say, he drank the "wise blood" from the Cauldron in the earth's womb. He reincarnated/resurrected as the savior-son Balder, just as Osiris rose from the dead as the savior-son Horus.
Sun/dying gods and sacred kings, were often identified with the Sun, whose Passion took place in the midwinter solstice, the darkest day of the year, when the solar deity must die to be resurrected into a new solar expression toward the life-giving spring and summer seasons. Hence, the traditional 5 of Swords Tarot Card, represented the voluntary surrender or self-sacrifice of one's ego to gain subsequent glory. This is much like the Hanged Man card, therefore, Crowley decided more on the knowledge of self-defeating thought being surrendered to the Severity of Geburah's tough love Sword, thereby being pruned of unworthy thought and resurrected as the True Self.
Also the 5 of Swords reminds us, to accept defeat and build from the experience a successful way of growth. Winter may defeat the apple tree...so it "rests and
reconsiders its options" and awaits the Spring with renewed energy. If
the apple tree just kept reliving the browning of its leaves and the
decay and fall of its apple, it would waste its energy in "painful
production" and die. However, inaction due to fear is
a common disease and easily overcome by "springing" into action----just begin! One step begins any
When the Thoth 5 of Swords card is thrown during a reading,
- The querent is usually caught in the fears of the past.
- They are experiencing a self defined prison of negative, self defeating beliefs.
- Here is defeat on a mental level, bringing humiliation and weakness.
suggestion here is to give up fighting, swallow your pride and
acknowledge your limitations, and then proceed in a new direction.
are only defeated when we stop seeking another way. So there is no 5
week or 5 month period here, since it is the querent's own mental
negativity that is involved here, and they could change perspective at
- For the next or the past five weeks, or five months; defeat, loss, malice,spite, slander, and all modes of evil speaking.
is contest finished and decided against the person, whose thoughts of
defeat, anxiety, and trouble may be generated by this defeat or help its
- The 5 of Swords also means grieving unrelentingly after pain and loss.
- There are issues of malicious, slandering, lying, and tale-bearing thoughts.
- The presence of a busy-body who enjoys separating friends; one who hates to see peace and love between others.
- Clever and quick in thought and speech, yet cruel and cowardly, is also suggested.
only could all these negatives be thought by another, but they could
also be inner thoughts of the querent towards themselves. The very
episode of low self esteem.
- Defeat, lies, malice, spite, slander, and evil-speaking.
- The contest is ended and has been decided against the querent.
is failure, trouble, avarice, grieving after pain and holding that
grief as sacred or important rather than letting go of the pain and
- Laborious relentless loss and vileness of nature.
- A busy body and separator of friends, hating to see peace and love between others.
- Cruel and cowardly, thankless and unreliable.
- Clever and quick to thought and speech.
of Pity easily aroused and unendurable. Therefor this is the Card of
the "Pity Pot", where one is so impressed by their own pain, their life
is centered around it and they can't heal or move forward. Often they
demand that everyone get down on their knees and worship their pain as a
martyrdom of holiness. Instead of " If you wish to speak to me, Stand,
for I'll not kneel to your weakness," which is a true message from
Geburah-the Divine Feminine, who supports your strength.
- This Defeated Mind requires you to grovel to weakness as some proof of holiness.
very "Self absorbed" mental state, that breeds dis-ease and discontent.
In such a state of low thinking--the god's will not hear you.
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