The aftermath of calamity and the Tarot Sixes

I’d long been ruminating about the nature of the Tarot Sixes, when the recent carnage in Connecticut, (USA), occurred.

The boat that will take the woman and child to safety is aimed away from turbulent waters. The implication with the Six of Swords is that, after the painful loss in the Five, there will be better days ahead, but first we have to get out of here. Escape is implied with this card, as is loss, and thinking over one's bad decisions.

The boat that will take the woman and child to safety is aimed away from turbulent waters. The implication with the Six of Swords is that, after the painful loss in the Five, there will be better days ahead, but first we have to get out of here. Escape is implied with this card, as is loss, and thinking over one’s bad decisions.

In the aftermath of the loss of lives, I’m focusing specifically on tarot decks that foreground children. This is not hard to do, because you’ll find that children frequently appear in the Sixes.

In the Sixes, we tend to look back; to reflect; to be reminded of; to remember; to feel the poignance of loss, but also the sweetness of the past, especially the innocence of childhood. We also see the Sixes come up reversed when we’re dwelling on the past, when we’re rethinking a decision, when we’re stuck in regret.

The Sixes are a poignant reminder of children’s unworldliness, and the continuity of hope, even in times of deepest despair. After the conflict of the Fives, the Sixes presage smoother times ahead, no matter how severe the setback or challenge brought about in the contentious Fives.

The images of small children we see in most versions of the Six of Cups is one I had already planned to talk about, as was the image of the survivors in the Six of Swords.

The Six of Swords imagery in particular is a “bridge over troubled water”. Every time I’ve seen it, it makes me think of sorrows that are now in the past, that we’re moving away from, albeit slowly. Although there has clearly been a defeat, there is the sense that we’re approaching calmer waters, calmer shores, and respite from our troubles.

When you pull a Six from the deck, consider where in your life you need to be reminded of something from your past. Again, don’t go overboard; don’t become so caught up in the past (as you might see in a reversed Six of Cups) that you forget to live in the present. Although the experience presaged by the Six of Cups is comforting, reminding us of the comforts of home and childhood, the comfort brought by all the Sixes comes with a challenge.

Six of Cups in the Shadowscapes Tarot. Childhood innocence, good intentions, noble impulses, simple joys and pleasures.

Traditionally, in the Tarot, the number six is ruled by the planet Venus. The symbolism behind the number Six is legend. With Venus as its ruler, Six represents harmony, balance, sincerity, love, and truth.  

Six naturally reveals solutions for us, but with the caveat that we’ll have to adapt. If the nature of the Six’s alignment with Venus tells us anything, it is that Aphrodite’s message was one of making an attempt at community spirit, and trying to get along.

gaian-tarot-six-earth

Six of Earth in Gaian Tarot, depicting a community outdoor market

Venus, of course, as the goddess most often associated with the needs of the material body, offers and asks for everything to do with materiality.

This is where the Six of Pentacles (ruled by the earth element) asks us to be generous, but also not to ask for too much in return. In other words, the Six is a number implying give and take, reciprocity, and generosity of spirit.

Sixes beckon us to administer compassion and consciously choose forgiveness in a situation. Forgiveness and empathy are highlighted in the nature of the Six in Tarot. We invoke the Six when we need to use delicate diplomacy contending with sensitive matters. The spiritual meaning of the number Six also deals with enlightenment; specifically “lighting” our path in areas we require spiritual and mental balance.

When we “win,” as we do in the traditional Six of Wands (which comes after the battle scene of the Five) we must not gloat, or feel entitled or “better than” those below us. Instead, remembering the balance and equality of Venus’ number, we must remember to empathize; we must remember to put ourselves in the shoes of the person looking up to us and remember where we came from and what we still have to learn. In many ways, the message of the Six is to both look back to our past and to appreciate what we’ve gained, at the same time.

An unusual depiction of Six of Wands with children, from the Inner Child tarot

An unusual depiction of Six of Wands with children, from the Inner Child tarot

The faery maidens in the Inner Child tarot bring forth their song and dance to usher in, not only spring, but the fertility of their creative powers. This seems a more beneficial view of the Six of Wands than the traditional ‘conquerer’ who rides proudly on horseback above the townspeople at the feet of his horse.

Instead, in the Inner Child tarot, these faeries honor the apex of a jubilant new consciousness that is blossoming before them. This is a time to express your passionate side and realize that you are a vital part of the continually moving circle of life.

In this card, six little people dance around a Maypole. The significance of
the Maypole dance was to honor the fertile season of spring. The dance, which
spiraled around the pole with ribbons and flowers, was an acknowledgment of the
sacred womb of humanity.

These rites of passage or holy times are meant to be harbingers of unity and to strengthen the well-being of the community. They also serve to expand global consciousness and cross-cultural awareness.

Interestingly, 2013 will be a “six” year. Take a look at Hans Decoz’s numerological website, where the professional numerologist gives us predictions for 2013, based on its Six-ness. He begins his analysis:

2013 is a 6 Universal Year—in a nutshell, the 6 is a loving, caring, responsible, warm, humane, and compassionate number that directs most of its energy to small, closely-knit groups; family, community, friends. The ties that bind us bind us even closer during a 6 Year. But it has its drawbacks. It tends to be overly protective and divisive (us versus them). It has difficulty being objective, tends to meddle in other people’s affairs, and is gullible in all the wrong ways. Read more here.