Ritual for balance using the breath and two of Swords
In this ritual we continue working with the suit of Swords, associated with Air, and thus with ideas, information, communication, and choices. The two of this suit is often described as signifying a choice between two alternative courses of action. That understanding can lead to too much of an emphasis on discarding one alternative in order to move forward. In this ritual we will focus instead on the idea of balance. In Swords, when the two represents balance, that can mean holding two ideas simultaneously, as in being able to see both sides of a debate, or it can simply mean appreciating different possibilities without feeling pressured to commit to one course of action too quickly.
For this ritual, we will use our breath to experience different parts of the Element of Air being in balance. If you have a particular choice that you need to make, you can use this ritual to help you assess both options fully, but here it is written simply to engage with the qualities of the Tarot card.
Safety note: I suggest two simple breathing exercises below which are very safe. As always, use your best judgment. If at any time you feel dizzy or are having difficulty breathing, stop the exercise, relax, and let your body return to its baseline.
Place the two of Swords card from your favorite Tarot deck on your altar.
As you cast your circle, begin to become aware of your breath. How is your inhale? Your exhale?
Call the quarters using these words or words of your own. As you do, pay attention to the way the words and the silence fit together:
Air, in your stillness and your movement, join me. Balance my mind.
Fire, in your warmth and your light, join me. Balance my actions.
Water, in your salt and your fresh, join me. Balance my heart.
Earth, in solid rock and friable soil, join me. Balance my body.
You may invoke a goddess or a pair of goddesses as appropriate to your specific situation. If you invoke a single goddess, invite two different aspects of her to be in balance, and to help you find balance in your spirit.
Settle into a comfortable position that you can maintain for a few minutes. If you wish to set an unobtrusive timer so that you do not meditate for too long, go ahead, but make it something that you can set and forget.
Gaze at the two of Swords card on your altar. If you have a specific situation that you need to bring into balance or that you are trying to understand both sides of before you make a choice, draw your mind to that situation and then describe it to the priestess in the card.
In keeping with the theme of this ritual, I offer you a choice of two different breathing exercises. You may start with one and go on to the other if you like.
Gently bring your attention to your breath and begin counting the length of your inhalation and exhalation. Is one longer than the other? Slowly begin to make them both the same length. Change your breath by just one count at a time. For example, if you started out with your breath an inhale for three and an exhale for five, then move to inhale for four and an exhale for five, then to an inhale for five and an exhale for five. Remain here, or try to lengthen both your inhale and exhale to a count of six.
If you have a particular situation you are concentrating on, think about one aspect or choice on the inhale and another on the exhale. Can you keep your breathing even while doing so? If you want to go on to the next exercise, release your issue into the hands of the priestess in the card and solely work on your breath.
Alternate nostril breathing
Bring your right hand to your face and put your index and middle finger between your eyebrows, on your third eye. Inhale, then press your thumb gently against your right nostril to close it and exhale to your same count through your left nostril. Inhale through your left nostril, then release your thumb and use your ring finger to close off your left nostril. Exhale through your right nostril, keeping your breath even. Inhale on the right, then release your left and use your thumb to close your right nostril. Repeat.
- Use thumb.
- Exhale left, inhale left.
- Switch hand to use ring finger.
- Exhale right, inhale right.
- Switch hand to use thumb, repeat.
This will seem complicated at first. Practice makes it easier very quickly. The complicated nature is also useful because it absorbs your attention, so you’re less likely to be distracted.
Stay with this for two to five minutes. End with an exhalation through your right nostril.
When you are finished, release your breath and simply observe. What does it feel like now? How does it feel to be balanced?
Thank and dismiss the quarters with these or your own words:
Earth, thank you for helping me balance my body.
Water, thank you for helping me balance my heart.
Fire, thank you for helping me balance my actions.
Air, thank you for helping me balance my mind.
Open the circle and ground yourself. You may wish to journal about your meditation.