In the Six of Swords, we see a man steering a boat carrying a hunched over woman, a young boy and many Swords. The people on the card appear to have left their familiar shores behind and are now on a journey to a new place (this could be a new place psychologically), amidst many thoughts from the past and hopes for the future.
Today there might be a sense of moving to new shores (physically or emotionally). Who are you in this card? Why are you on this journey and do you know where you are hoping to go?
There are three different people in this card, all showing a different way of dealing with the situation. The Woman is hunched over, the man is steering the boat and the boy appears to watch what is happening. If we look at a negative meaning for this card we most likely feel drawn to the woman on the card as she seems to not have a say in where she is going. Maybe she doesn’t know why she has to go, or this journey, moving to new shores is a difficult emotional journey for her.
If you have read more entries on this website you will know that I am an immigrant, I moved from Europe to Australia leaving all my family behind. Some days it has been an exciting adventure, other days it has been a hard emotional process. But more than a decade after immigrating, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
In the Osho Zen the deck takes on the more negative approach calling the card “the burden” indicating that we are run by should’s and should not’s and it feels like we are carrying a heavy weight around with us. I think part of the Rider Wait and a similar deck like the Robin Wood focus on the more positive aspects of the card and show that there is an element of adventure in this whole process.
The Crowley deck shows us a neat symmetrical shape made with the swords and it calls this card Science, indicating that logic will prevail when making decisions (as it is a Swords card after all).
Note: Especially with the Air element in the Tarot which is represented as a Sword card in the Rider Waite deck, there is a lot of ‘argument’ and there are several different ideas about weather Swords should represent Air and what else could be used. This leads us into a fairly advanced Tarot conversation - at this stage remember that Swords in the Rider Waite deck does not necessarily mean swords in another deck. Tarot creators could have changed Swords with Wands or replaced Swords with rainbows or crystals to name a few. This is not wrong or right it is another way of thinking about the different elements used in the Minor Arcana of the Tarot cards.
If you have multiple decks, it might be interesting to have a look at how the Swords are represented.