Scenes in the Tarot: Six of Swords

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Little bit of a different take on the Six of Swords… not just leaving something unsatisfactory behind for a new future, but leaving something unsatisfactory to the extent of being dangerous … in favor of traveling to somewhere safe. 

And the journey itself not being quite as serene as the card imagery depicts … but really emphasizing the choppy waters on the right of the craft … the journey itself being dangerous the whole way through. 

And then … in the following story … the ending isn’t what you are traditionally told to expect in the Six of Swords. It’s a very Swordsie ending.


“And now indeed I felt as if my last anchor were loosening its hold, and I should soon be driving with the winds and waves. “
– Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens


And taken from Chapter 52 of the same:

‘I have thought it over, again and again,’ said Herbert, ‘and I think I know a better course than taking a Thames waterman. Take Startop. A good fellow, a skilled hand, fond of us, and enthusiastic and honourable.’

I had thought of him, more than once.

‘But how much would you tell him, Herbert?’ 

‘It is necessary to tell him very little. Let him suppose it a mere freak, but a secret one, until the morning comes: then let him know that there is urgent reason for your getting Provis aboard and away. You go with him?’ 

‘No doubt.’


It had seemed to me, in the many anxious considerations I had given the point, almost indifferent what port we made for – Hamburg, Rotterdam, Antwerp – the place signified little, so that he was got out of England. Any foreign steamer that fell in our way and would take us up, would do. I had always proposed to myself to get him well down the river in the boat; certainly well beyond Gravesend, which was a critical place for search or inquiry if suspicion were afoot. As foreign steamers would leave London at about the time of high-water, our plan would be to get down the river by a previous ebb-tide, and lie by in some quiet spot until we could pull off to one. The time when one would be due where we lay, wherever that might be, could be calculated pretty nearly, if we made inquiries beforehand.

Herbert assented to all this, and we went out immediately after breakfast to pursue our investigations. We found that a steamer for Hamburg was likely to suit our purpose best, and we directed our thoughts chiefly to that vessel. But we noted down what other foreign steamers would leave London with the same tide, and we satisfied ourselves that we knew the build and colour of each. We then separated for a few hours; I, to get at once such passports as were necessary; Herbert, to see Startop at his lodgings. We both did what we had to do without any hindrance, and when we met again at one o’clock reported it done. I, for my part, was prepared with passports; Herbert had seen Startop, and he was more than ready to join.

Those two should pull a pair of oars, we settled, and I would steer; our charge would be sitter, and keep quiet; as speed was not our object, we should make way enough. We arranged that Herbert should not come home to dinner before going to Mill Pond Bank that evening; that he should not go there at all, to-morrow evening, Tuesday; that he should prepare Provis to come down to some Stairs hard by the house, on Wednesday, when he saw us approach, and not sooner; that all the arrangements with him should be concluded that Monday night; and that he should be communicated with no more in any way, until we took him on board. These precautions well understood by both of us, I went home.


6 swords bldg beautiful souls

*Also posted in Fiery K. Tarot


Why I’m Obsessed with GE

havershim at dressing table

Well, there’s Mrs. Havershim, for one thing. That’s the most obvious one, though the one I only just now realized, after months of listening to the audiobook in bed at night. So obvious, so in denial. (There’s some DickensSpeak for you).

Mrs. Havershim, with her one wedding shoe still sitting at her dressing table, with her wedding cake petrified and covered in spider webs.

“But I saw that everything within my view which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its lustre and was faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes. I saw that the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman, and that the figure upon which it now hung loose had shrunk to skin and bone. Once, I had been taken to see some ghastly waxwork at the Fair, representing I know not what impossible personage lying in state. Once, I had been taken to one of our old marsh churches to see a skeleton in the ashes of a rich dress that had been dug out of a vault under the church pavement. Now, waxwork and skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me.” (Dickens)

This is me, sitting here two years after my ex moved out, still grieving at the provocation of any minute memory floating through my head.


“It was then I began to understand that everything in the room had stopped, like the watch and the clock, a long time ago. I noticed that Miss Havisham put down the jewel exactly on the spot from which she had taken it up. As Estella dealt the cards, I glanced at the dressing-table again, and saw that the shoe upon it, once white, now yellow, had never been worn. I glanced down at the foot from which the shoe was absent, and saw that the silk stocking on it, once white, now yellow, had been trodden ragged. Without this arrest of everything, this standing still of all the pale decayed objects, not even the withered bridal dress on the collapsed form could have looked so like grave-clothes, or the long veil so like a shroud.”

This morning I was going to do something (dusting the dog, actually) with talcum powder. This provoked intrusive memories of having fun with my son doing my hair (with talcum powder – and there is a logical explanation for that, by the way!), and then provoked the equally unwanted hindsight that while my ex laughed at that at the time …   I now know it must have annoyed his hidden control freak nature to no end. He wasn’t into kids having fun or making messes, and I now  marvel at his ability to pretend otherwise while living with me and mine.

“Coming of Age”? Maybe. I didn’t think so at first, because I’ve already “come of age” a few times in my life travels (travails? travels? who knows). But then I realized that maybe we “come of age” many times in our lives, not just one. We are always learning and hitting new levels of maturity in our growth processes. So it’s possible I am also currently “coming of age” yet again. Entering a new realm of maturity after having been through the intensive growth process of the last two years.

Which means that really, anyone would enjoy this story, readers or not. It is literally a timeless classic of enduring themes. The themes are universal and able to appeal to any age, to any generation, to any time period. But that’s the brilliance of Dickens and all his stories. For someone that left school at the age of 12 to enter the workforce, and never returned to it, that’s some amazing work to have accomplished.

At any rate, I have wondered at times why I feel such a compulsion to listen to this story over and over and over again. And I supposed I’ve found two of the reasons. Looking at Miss Havershim and thinking “why doesn’t she just live the life she has right now?” helps me in my own journey to healing.

“You can’t hold onto the past and the future at the same time. It will tear you apart! Learn what needs to be learned, but forget the past and strain forward for what lies ahead.”Pastor Arlie Whitlow


Interesting blogs on similar topic:

Lessons from Miss Havisham and Great Expectations by Pastor Arlie Whitlow

Describing a Memorable Character: Miss Havisham, by Andrea Lundgren