2 November 18: Five of Swords

Nobody wins. It’s every man for himself at this pointDon’t hate the game, hate the player.

This is one of those cards that make you wince when you turn it over. The uneven, restless, unresolved number 5 itself is a hint at what this card is about. 5 can only be 3+2 or 4+1 or 5+0 and it’s early and I hate math anyway so if there’s more combinations  whatever, but you get the idea. One side of the scale is going to be heavier than the other no matter what the hell we do with this card.

This sucks, it really does. There is no common consensus possible here, only conflict. This is a card of bitter failure and defeat, but also a card of ‘pseudo winning’.

The scene on this unwelcome card of the Minor Arcana representing the suit of Air (Gemini, Libra and Aquarius) is tense and uncomfortable. In the foreground is a human in a billowing, black hooded robe, face obscured, shouldering 2 swords with his left hand and one more in his right watching 2 other humans retreat, having tossed their own swords at his feet. One is even on his knees in prayer: get me the hell away from him. Take anything you want, just leave us alone. The angry red sun is halfway down over an angry red sea, they’ve wasted half the day on this unwinnable war. All we can see under the bully’s hoodie is a sly smile, and the sky over his or her head is a bright, sunny yellow. At least somebody’s happy here. This is a person who wants to win for the sake of winning, at any and all costs. He already has 3 swords, why does he need the others as well? He may win, but probably won’t find anyone who will want to celebrate with him. This is a bitter victory, if you can even call it that. These people didn’t even fight back, How could they? He has more swords.

Here is the origin of the term ‘every man for himself’ from the Urban Dictionary:

“British military origin. In Armed Forces terms, this formal order is a specific command sometimes issued in a case where the strategic situation has become hopeless, the collapse of a force is imminent, and there is no chance of relief. Once given, the order suspends certain aspects of military discipline, allowing each individual to surrender, flee, or continue fighting independently according to their individual circumstances, without regard to previous battle orders.”

As I said, 5 is never going to be a nice, even, balanced 4 or 6, so it’s already a losing battle for both sides. Sharp, ‘cross’ words – the surrendered swords lie on the ground forming a cross – everyone is at ‘cross-purposes’ here.

We don’t know the story behind all this mess. This card can and sometimes does point out to us a need to put ourselves first and not concern ourselves so much with the needs of others. When you are told to put your mask on first in case of an in-flight emergency before helping others, you are not being an air hog, you’re simply no good to anyone if you’re not breathing . This is that.

This is like being the sole survivor of a plane crash.

Not really anything to celebrate.



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