Two Of Swords

Two of Swords by Meghan Oona Clifford web

Two Of Swords, Or: In Which Aubry and Meghan Oona Vow To Clearly See Exactly What Is And To Swiftly Cut Away All Obstacles.
2010 | original 20″ x 30″ | mixed media on acid-free paper vellum

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This piece proved cathartic to create, as I got to examine the powerful Female Destroyer archetype, the flip side of Creative Femininity. Hindu’s Mother Kali and warrior Durga, the Greeks’ jealous Hera and warrior Artemis, Dzogchen’s protectress Ekajati, and Tantra’s wrathful Dakinis all embody this energy. This type of female force exists even in our primal earthly experience of destructive earthquakes, floods and volcanos.

Calling upon the destructive feminine remedied my Midwestern Terminal Niceness, a nurtured condition mostly beneficial but at times troublesome due to taking inappropriately deferential positions in times of confrontation.

The Two of Swords (more below) became the perfect title because it focused not on vengeance but more on balancing out dual energetics by relying on one’s inner tools to cut away obstacles when necessary.

The aim, at least for me when applying these archetypal solutions, is first to remember the full range of human options available to us within our being. Then to cultivate the skillful means necessary to employ those various modes when necessary, with compassion, for the benefit of the greatest amount of people in whichever the situation, including ourselves.

The Kartika, the Tibetan Tantric ritual knife worn on my bracelet in this piece, came with me to every show on tour last year. It’s now retired, so to celebrate my graduation to the Double Vajra, I wanted to explore it’s symbolism a bit to thank it for activating these specific energies from within my being.

( The Kartika (Skt.) or curved knife symbolizes the cutting of conventional wisdom by the ultimate insight into emptiness. Is is usually present as a pair, together with the skullcup, filled with wisdom nectar. On a more simple level, the skull is a reminder of impermanence. Between the knife and the handle is a makara-head, a mythical monster.

And more about the Two of Swords, in traditional Tarot symbolism ( A female figure sits blindfolded, as she calmly balances two swords across her shoulders. Behind her is a large body of water and above her is the moon.

The woman’s seated position, in combination with the crescent moon, recalls the High Priestess card, and we find a link as well in this card’s representation of the characteristic feminine strength of intuition. The woman’s blindfold and the sea show a necessity to rely not on immediate stimuli but on deeper thoughts and feelings, that part of the unconscious mind that we call our higher self.

Her seated position, when conceptually paired with the balanced swords and the blindfold, may also recall the Justice card. Yet here the concept of justice is not one of retribution, but of making decisions that are balanced, moral and that we trust to be harmonious within and without ourselves.

Unlike the “hoodwinked” woman held captive on the Eight of Swords, this card depicts a woman in control. The scene and the discipline of her pose do more to suggest that she has placed the blindfold on herself, as is done in many cultures, ritualistically, to encourage reliance on the other senses (for example the use of blindfolds in martial arts).

The woman is blind in her situation, but she is safe, not only unafraid, but centered. She wields powerful weapons, but they are not held in a position that is threatening to her or anyone else. The moon and the sea reinforce this sense of calm and equanimity.

detail and inspiration:

Two of Swords detail 3


I dedicate the Two Of Swords to transcending the limits, obstacles, fears, manipulation and lies imposed on us, to clearly identify the roots of ignorance and suffering in others and ourselves, and to cut them off at the source with compassion. May our lives be full of balance, serenity, equanimity, bliss, awareness, and skillful means, and may we find refuge in dear friends evolving on this same path.

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