Ritual for problem-solving using the Seven of Swords

The Motherpeace drawing of the Seven of Swords card reminds me of a problem-solving exercise. The fox, an animal known for her cunning, uses the swords as tools to overcome a difficult obstacle in pursuit of her goal. (See the Motherpeace image of this card by selecting 7 of Swords from the drop-down menu.)

In this ritual, I suggest that you choose a situation where you need to overcome an obstacle. Think carefully about the steps you can take to make progress. The intention here is not to have the obstacle magically disappear, it’s to empower you to find your way over it with ingenuity. That may involve using some unexpected tools – like repurposing swords to make steps!

We will use the power of Air to invoke ingenuity for the steps you need to take. This ritual incorporates the nature of Air as words that we used for the Ace of Swords and the power of breath that we explored in the Two of Swords. You also have the option to incorporate another tool of Air such as incense or a feather if you like.

Ritual:

Set up your altar with paper and a pen, the Seven of Swords image, and incense or a feather if you want.

Cast the circle using your pen as a wand. Take a deep, even breath and ground and center.

Call the Quarters using these words or your own:

Air, fill my breath and words with the ingenuity I need to shape my intention. Hail and welcome, Air!

Fire, ignite my ideas with the energy I need to carry them out. Hail and welcome, Fire!

Water, flow through my intentions with the understanding I need to find my solutions. Hail and welcome, Water!

Earth, ground my intention with the strength I need to see it through. Hail and welcome, Earth!

Optionally, invoke Athena who grants inspiration and ingenuity to human beings, or another goddess who watches over Air and problem-solving:

Athena, the help of the crafty, I invoke you! Athena, you have ever been the advisor and mentor of those who solve problems using ingenuity and inventiveness. Athena, lend your aid to me at this time, in this place, with this work I undertake. Hail and welcome, Athena!

Use your pen and paper to describe the steps you will take to overcome the obstacle or solve the situation you have chosen. You may need to meditate on your intention for a little while, or it could come to you immediately. Your description could be a sketch depicting your next action, or a list of things you will do, or any kind of representation. Don’t concentrate on the obstacle or issue; keep your visualization focused on how you will solve the problem.

When you are satisfied with your visualization of your next steps, take a few deep breaths. If you will be using a tool (pen, feather, or incense) pick it up, and breathe over it. As you breathe in, gather the power of Air within you; as you breathe out, feel that power combine with Athena’s blessings.

Breathe in, pass your tool or your hand over your depiction, and breathe out, visualizing your problem-solving and saying “By the breath of one, so mote it be.

Repeat: By the breath of two, etc., to “By the breath of seven, so mote it be!

Thank Athena using these words or your own:

Athena, with breath and mind you inspire my ingenuity and empower my solutions, and for that I thank you. Wise goddess, go if you must, but stay if you will. Hail and farewell, Athena!

Thank and dismiss the quarters using these words or your own:

Earth, thank you for the strength to ground my intention. Hail and farewell, Earth!

Water, thank you for the understanding to create my solutions. Hail and farewell, Water!

Fire, thank you for the energy to put my intention into action. Hail and farewell, Fire!

Air, thank you for the ingenuity to craft my own solutions. Hail and farewell, Air!

Open the circle using your pen as a wand.

Ground yourself again. Start putting your intention into action as soon as possible.

Ritual for Balance using the Two of Swords

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.

Ritual:

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.

Balanced breath

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.

Shorter:

  • 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.

Ritual for Inspiration using the Ace of Swords

The full moon is coming up! As some of you may have noticed, this month’s full moon falls on Valentines. Let me take a moment to repeat my public service announcements about why you should not do “love spells” because they’re generally ethically contemptible and they also often go awry.

Ritual for inspiration

The ritual for inspiration centers on the Ace of Swords card from the Tarot. Swords are the suit associated with Air, which represents ideas, information, communication, and choices. Since aces represent the gift of a new infusion of that suit’s energy, for this ritual we’re going to call on the Muses to gift us with inspiration in the form of writing. We’ll use a pen instead of a sword – remember the old saying – and give ourselves an opportunity to express any and all ideas that come to us.

Specifically, for this ritual we’ll engage in free writing. You’ll need a pen or pencil that you like and can write with quickly and smoothly. Make sure you have plenty of ink or that you have a backup; the point is to keep writing, so you don’t want to be interrupted by breaking a pencil point or a pen running dry. You’ll also need plenty of blank paper. I suggest regular unlined printer paper, at least ten sheets or so. You’ll write more than you think, and you may start writing in larger handwriting in order to keep up with the speed of your thoughts. Don’t worry about how it looks, and don’t try to keep it neat, straight, or beautiful. Plan to do your writing in ritual space, so pre-position a book or lap desk to write on, along with a comfortable place to sit. You can use a desk or your altar, as long as there’s no computer on the desk to distract you, and you can sit comfortably. The focus is the writing!

You’ll also want to have a timer to encourage you to keep writing. You can use a regular kitchen timer or any kind of digital timer as long as it won’t distract you. You want to be able to keep writing until you hear the timer go off; you don’t want to be checking the timer or clock every few seconds, because that disrupts the flow of writing. Set the timer for two to five minutes.

Writing during this ritual is like brainstorming: nothing is out of bounds. You can write about your day, your dog, your dinner, or even start writing “I don’t know what to write…” as long as you keep going from there. Let go and let the words flow.

You may want to have the Ace of Swords from your favorite deck on your altar as a visual inspiration. You may also want to listen to the song “Musa venit carmine” by the Mediaeval Baebes and consider using that line as a chant to invoke the Muses:

Ritual:

Use your pen as a magical tool to cast your circle.

Call the Quarters using these words or your own:

Powers of the East, Element of Air, source of new beginnings, I call you to blow through me with inspiration. Hail and welcome!

Powers of the South, Element of Fire, our motive force, I call you to fuel the energy to engage my inspiration. Hail and welcome!

Powers of the West, Element of Water, feelings that run deep, I call you to flow through my inspiration. Hail and welcome!

Powers of the North, Element of Earth, our grounding and stability, I call you to help me capture a form of my inspiration. Hail and welcome!

Invoke the Muses. You might concentrate on the image of the Ace of Swords, and imagine the sword opening a pathway for the Muses to come to you. You might chant “Musa venit carmine,” meaning “The Muses inspire our song.” Or you might simply breathe deeply, engaging the Element of Air in your own body, and say:

Muses, goddesses of inspiration, breathe into my mind and into my pen

Then free write for two to five minutes!

After the timer goes off, keep writing to finish your current thought. Then breathe again, grounding yourself. How do you feel inside yourself after doing this? Excited? Drained? Something else?

Take a few minutes to go back through your writing and circle anything you may want to work with after ritual. Don’t try to reorganize it into a complete piece; just pull out the ideas, phrases, or words that represent ideas you should work with more in the coming month.

When you are finished, put your writing on your altar or in front of your altar and bow to the card, bow to the Muses, and bow to your writing, the product of their inspiration in you.

Muses, goddesses of inspiration, thank you for the fresh breath of these ideas.

Dismiss the Quarters using these words or your own:

Powers of the North, Element of Earth, I give thanks for your help recording my inspiration into a stable form. Go now with my thanks and praise. Hail and farewell!

Powers of the West, Element of Water, I give thanks for the deep swells of emotion that interact with my inspiration. Go now with my thanks and praise. Hail and farewell!

Powers of the South, Element of Fire, I give thanks for the energy that drives my inspiration. Go now with my thanks and praise. Hail and farewell!

Powers of the East, Element of Air, I give thanks for the fresh breath of inspiration and the words to express it. Go now with my thanks and praise. Hail and farewell!

Open your circle using your pen.

Ground yourself again.