“How could I endure to be a man, if man were not also poet and reader of riddles… a way to new dawns.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Combining creativity and critical thinking with the tarot can provide additional perspectives and ways of resolving problems. In other words, by comparing tarot cards with one another in view to a complication, both criticality and creative thinking can be interactively blended to discover alternative approaches to the issue at hand. Allow me to demonstrate in this manner:
In the picture below we have the Two of Swords on the left. It depicts a robed woman crossing her heart and closing her eyes. We sense she needs to make a difficult choice. The shallow waters in the background suggest a lack of emotional and/or experiential depth. Her feet and the eclipsed moon are painted the same colour. There’s something hidden from sight that needs to be considered but what in the world can that be.
On the right we have the Nine of Swords. A man seated in bed is also covering his eyes. Unlike the Two of Swords his environment has been blackened with strife. All the swords are pointing east. ‘Go west life is peaceful there.’ But the other direction implies a lack of peace. There’s something about this tarot pairing that suggests an inclination to make a poor decision.
How might we reconcile this potential dilemma? Well if we add the Two of Swords with the Nine of Swords we end up with eleven, which just so happens to mark the Justice card in the major arcana of the tarot. (See diagram immediately below.) However this version of Justice is neither shutting her eyes nor crossing her chest. Unlike an eclipsed moon, the pure radiant light behind her is largely veiled to prevent others from being blinded by the light. Her upright sword (circumspective and objective truth) and measuring scales (even and fair-mindedness) are perfectly aligned with the pillars of stability. Whereas the intentional blinded woman in the Two of Swords seems to be trying to block out the reality around her. Such indecision may very well lead her into a state of mind that is conducive to the Nine of Swords; namely, bedridden with anxiety.
Now that we have considered some of the shortcomings implicit in this relational pairing, let’s turn our attention to some possible solutions. When we multiply 2 and 9 the answer remains the same; the eighteenth card of the major arcana is The Moon. Notice how this moon appears like the sun and the moon mixed together. So which is it really, because if we assume this orb for the actual source of the light, then we need to consider what sort of distortion has protruded from this potential misunderstanding.
Now take in the rest of The Moon card. Eeriness highlights the ambience. Things are not what they seem to be. That which appears harmful may in fact be benign; whereas the commonplace (comfort zone) may in fact be the source of the problem. What needs to be removed and/or changed to accommodate the Two of Swords in her decision process requires additional perspective.
Perhaps a return to the essence of two which is represented as the High Priestess (the 2nd major arcana) will help the Two of Swords to re-shift her inward turn so that it doesn’t block options or deplete the ability to move pass obstacles, but allows for more of a fluidity (the opening of the heart) to broaden her horizon. Being in the dark of the subconscious (a major feature of the High Priestess) can also awaken other senses that may prove to be helpful; i.e. as long as we don’t permanently cement our feet into the ground of stagnation.
So the moral of this story (or creative comparative analysis) is both simple and synergistic in nature: Use what you can to get yourself unstuck and for the love of freedom avoid getting fixated on critical thinking (or any other cognitive mode of understanding the world) as being your only means to ascertain truth and/or perspective. There’s unlimited space for both creative art and scientific endeavour, that they might continue to grow, blend and sever, should you exercise the virtue to keep them together.