Tarot card art from the Rider-Waite Smith Tarot Deck
The Understanding Tarot series is written by Claire Chilvers. If you would like to read more of Claire’s articles or book a tarot reading, please visit www.clairechilvers.com or follow her on social media – @ClaireChilversTarot
Human vs. Soul: The Duality of the Twos
In my last article, which discussed the Aces of the Minor Arcana. The four suits (Swords, Cups, Wands, and Pentacles) were dropped from the sky and encouraging us to start a new adventure.
As we are working in chronological order from Ace to Ten, it is no surprise that we have now arrived at the Twos. Here we see depicted within the four suits the first step on these journeys and, although the pictures look very different, they all support similar themes.
In numerology, twos depict the duality that is within us. Our infinite soul chose to return and live a human life and, by doing so, our soul’s purpose that quietly lives within us and our very real, human existence can either work in unison or go in completely different directions.
We often sense this in a number of different ways. When we feel in tune with our intuitive soul then we often feel we are working on a higher level of consciousness, and instinctively trust our own judgment and can see messages of hope and support around us as signs or symbols.
Of course, we often go against our instincts and judgments too, and, when this happens we try and ignore the knot in our stomach that is making us anxious or the feeling of uncertainty in our minds when we can’t help thinking that
something is not quite right.
The duality lives within us, and so it is understandable that as soon as we are offered something new and begin to explore the opportunity we start to look for the positives and negatives, the pros and cons, the good and the bad, the right and the wrong, and ultimately, whether we should move forward or not on this particular path. The Two of Swords is the most obvious example of this.
The Two of Swords
In the Rider Waite deck, we see a woman who is blindfolded. She is holding two swords in the air and her arms are crossed in front of her. She is situated in what seems to be a large open space and the water behind her ripples gently and looks inviting, but there are signs that the sea bed is lined with jagged rocks as some poke out from the clear blue water, which could mean danger is close by.
If you recall, our Ace of Swords was offering clarity, an intuitive mindset that could ensure a higher consciousness is obtained. The Two of Swords is such a contrast to this message – it is the card of “What if?” which we can all relate to. How many times have we stopped a good idea in its’ tracks by immediately thinking of all the reasons why we shouldn’t do it.
This card is the epitome of the duality of the soul and human self when they are not working together. But, as with all cards in the Tarot, this should not be seen as completely negative. There are always clues that will help guide us out of the situation that is being portrayed in the card.
The lady in the card is blindfolded but, when one of our senses is restricted the other ones are heightened. Here the ability to tap into a sixth sense is being encouraged. The moon shining down upon her is another hint of this – trust the subconscious messages within.
If the lady really is ‘in the dark’ and there is no one else around, she has to trust her instincts to get herself out of this situation.
The fact that the moon is showing this is nighttime can suggest the times when we are often lying awake at night thinking through our next move. But, eventually, there will be a new day and a new start.
After all, no one can sit like that forever, eventually, they would have to put down the swords, then their hands would be free to take off the blindfold and see clearly again.
The Two of Cups
In contrast, the Two of Cups might seem like the ideal place to stay for a while, and when it appears in a reading it is often met by excitement and anticipation.
For our Cups journey, the Ace was offering the chance to experience and understand human feelings, and where better to start than with love?
As we can see by this picture, the second cup is being offered by a new person. Within our lifetime we all experience the ‘newness’ of relationships where we are learning to understand the other person and allowing them to understand us.
The emotion of love may be on the horizon, but, this card also shows the mutual trust and respect that need to be within all relationships.
The man is holding his hand out towards the woman’s cup, but it is not clear whether he is taking it for himself or offering to share his also.
That is the problem with relationships in their early stages – we are never really 100% sure if they will be equal, fair, or honest. And, of course, we are back to the duality of Twos again.
As infinite souls the prominent energy that drives us is unconditional love, but, as humans, we have experienced emotional pain and this can be hard to process.
For instance, I have had clients who have literally recoiled in disgust if this card has appeared, as they have been so emotionally scarred from a previous relationship they would never want to put themselves in this situation of giving and receiving love again.
In fact, I have known people to be suspicious of this card as they focus on the two snakes that entwine themselves above the cups and the fierce lion that hovers above them all.
These symbols are not there to cause concern. The snakes, rod, and wings are part of the Caduceus symbol and are traditionally associated with Hermes, who was a messenger but also rules over agreements. Whereas the lion is a sign of fiery passion!
The reaction that this card gets is often very telling of the emotional journey that needs to be undertaken.
Giving and receiving love should be the easiest thing for us to do, as our souls are guided by love. The harsh reality is that for many people it isn’t. This picture of love is shown so early in the Cups journey to remind us, firstly, of its importance, but, secondly, that it is possible for everyone.
To allow someone new into our lives, be it as a partner, friendship, or working relationship, can mean that deep-rooted feelings of mistrust, hurt, grief or disappointment need to be processed before we can be part of a partnership such as the one pictured in the card.
But, again the signs are there to show us it is possible. The woman has a headdress of laurels – a sign of success. The man’s headdress is of red roses – a sign of love. And, of course, love can conquer all.
The Two of Wands
The Two of Wands shows us duality in a different sense. The man in the picture is holding one of the wands in his hand, whereas the other is fixed to the wall of his castle home. As the Wands are a symbol of action, this can be a very literal move of location or a move towards the world that you wish to create.
The irony that he is holding the world in his hands and looking out to the landscape beyond gives us the obvious doubt that comes when broadening our horizons or pushing out of our comfort zone.
The landscape we saw in the Ace of Wands is very similar to the one seen in this picture. The forest, mountains, and large expanse of water give the impression there are many obstacles on this journey. Yet, here in the Twos, it seems that the landscape has become closer. The man is at the point where he must venture forward or stay where he is.
Should he stay or should he go? He is certainly dressed for adventure in his traveling cloak and is staring intently at the way forward. It would feel like a missed opportunity if he did not go.
Again, our soul often puts adventures in our paths, but our human self often lets them pass by. I imagine we all know the regret of at least one missed opportunity.
The wands are linked to our creative side. If the wands are urging us to ignite our passions and this often leads us to places that we could never imagine, the whole journey is not going to be shown to us at this early stage.
The card suggests that by continuing on this journey, it may require leaving something behind (the wand attached to the castle may not be able to come too). But, that is very much like our creativity which grows into much more.
Talented footballers or ballerinas often have to leave their homes at early ages to join academies if they are determined to become professional. Musicians, artists, and writers can work perfectly well in the privacy of their own homes but need to get out and experience life to enhance and bring depth to their work.
If the wands are your choice of suit and your ambitions and passions are what drive you then this pause whilst you prepare your journey will be as long as you allow it to be.
Two of Pentacles
Lastly, we have the duality of the pentacles, and I always feel a little sorry for the man in this picture; possibly because it is a situation that I have related to many times in my life. The juggling of finances and responsibilities and the feeling that things will never get any easier is a difficult place to be.
This is a very different picture to the promise of abundance offered in the Ace of Pentacles card. However, we were warned that pentacles are slow to reward, and this card reminds us that there is plenty of hard work required to obtain material success.
Splitting the coin in two brings the duality and juggling with them is an ideal way of showing this. Paying off debts, saving for a future event, investing in a new business that is taking time to establish, or paying tuition fees to study whilst holding down a job are all ways of this card playing out in real life.
The ships in the distance sailing on turbulent waters are a very good indication of why the journey of the pentacles can feel a little overwhelming.
The saying ‘waiting for a ship to come in’, is an old one that doesn’t seem to have much relevance today. But, when merchants invested in goods from overseas, they could sometimes have their whole fortune tied up in a ship that may or may not make it to dry land. Sometimes it may feel like the ship will never arrive, but, there are clues to suggest positives outcomes too.
Between the two pentacles is a green line which is the infinity sign. Within the Tarot, this sign appears in two other cards and they are both Major Arcana cards. The Magician – who teaches us we have the power to manifest anything, and Strength – which we find in times of adversity.
The infinity sign teaches us that life moves in cycles and when we are in this Two of Pentacles situation, it can feel like we are stuck but we never stay in the same place forever and become stronger once we move on to easier times. And, for anyone who has learned to juggle will know, the more practice the easier it gets.
The situation here can be mastered – with time, which unfortunately will always be the case with the pentacles whether we like it or not.
Collectively, the Twos teach us to begin our journey by connecting with ourselves and the two parts that make us whole. Once we have overcome the obstacles we face whilst doing this, we can move on to the next phase and see what the threes have on offer.
If you would like to read more of Claire’s articles or book a tarot reading, please visit her website