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Tarot: Two of Swords

Two of Swords tarot card

[This painting started off as the two of swords, but it got really personal, really fast. I didn't think it was going to work for a deck, because I don't think the symbols would mean anything to anyone but me, but according to Wolf, that is what the nature of a hand-painted deck should be. -Pk]

Young Lin - she was called Mai Lin back then - is on the run across the Karnese mountainside. She is only thirteen. It was through Karn that she escaped from captivity in kifu, spiritual and physical captivity to serve the ruler of Ua. Within the kifu, time and space mean nothing to her. She can create anything she wishes with the power of her mind. There is only one catch: she has zero contact with the outside world. It is the stuff of paradise - or insanity. While she paces the limits of inner space, the ruler (her mother, the raba) can draw on her energy at will. It is like having a personal genie with no limit to the number of wishes.

Her body still trapped in the kifu, Mai Lin ranged further and further out, until she passed through the spirit world and into a place called Karn. Here, she had a body. Here, she could meet people and speak to them, and if her senses led her right, she was hearing more than a reflection of her own thoughts. Never knowing whether she was imagining the entire world or whether she had truly broken the limits of kifu, Mai Lin searched Karn until she found a portal to the city of crossroads of the multiverse, and from there another portal back home to Ua.

It was then that they opened the kifu, and she found herself, indeed, back on Ua. But it left her mind in a place of untenable conflict. It is impossible to break out of kifu. Within kifu, it is impossible to receive any information from the outside. Was everything she had seen on Karn a product of her imagination? Was the kifu really opened, was she really free, or did she simply imagine it all as her driving need to escape made manifest?

One description of the card's meaning.
This is a card of choice, of the difficulty of indecision. The woman in this card is intentionally blinding herself in avoidance of a very difficult choice which must be made. Her avoidance brings her what appears to be a certain peace of mind, for she is very calm and seems somewhat relaxed despite the difficulty of her situation. Occasionally when we are face with difficult choices we attempt to hide from them and pretend to ourselves and others that if we ignore them long enough they will go away of their own accord. However, the decision will not leave us simply by our willing it to depart; the attempt to play at ignorance is not bliss. Our conscience will eventually force us into facing our refusal to deal directly with the situation.


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 9th, 2011 06:16 am (UTC)
Whoa. Lin was a badass kid. We really like this one... I wish we knew how to do background stuff like that, like you got a really cool atmosphere here.

Within kifu, it is impossible to receive any information from the outside. Was everything she had seen on Karn a product of her imagination? Was the kifu really opened, was she really free, or did she simply imagine it all as her driving need to escape made manifest?

Oh man, stuff like that drives me nuts sometimes. I think on some level I'm maybe still kinda paranoid that one of these days we're all going to fall into some other universe and it will be like "Surprise! You guys and your whole life was just part of the imagination of an alien or something. Same with a couple other stories you don't know about. Meet your new headmates! Hope you all get along! Have fun!" and then the whole thing happens again a couple years later, and... maybe this is a weird thing to worry about but this is the kind of thing that TOTALLY HAPPENS TO ME, you know? And I guess if I think about it if it did happen I'd probably be able to deal. Again. :P Like really I think the thing to do is just sorta go with the flow here. Except if the flow takes you to places that are too boring or something. Then you should probably try to do something else. Yeah. <- Half alseep words of wisdom from me.
May. 9th, 2011 05:35 pm (UTC)
Hahahaha, yeah, it does totally happen to you! :D

I think I'd love it if I turned out to be in the mind of an alien, because then there would be a whole new alien world to explore. I wouldn't mind leaving people behind.

Does the flow really take you to places that are boring? Mine takes me fun places. I didn't know there were places in the universe where people could just get born into, like, a stagnant pond, and the first thing they ever did had to be to paddle out of it.

I can post my reference photo for you later. It's from the Scottish highlands and that's where I got the colours and where I copied the atmospheric effects of the clouds and stuff.
May. 9th, 2011 09:56 pm (UTC)
Yeah I guess being in an alien brain wouldn't be so bad. But I guess I feel like there's enough new worlds to explore popping up everywhere already, like I kinda got my hands full right now.

Does the flow really take you to places that are boring? Mine takes me fun places. I didn't know there were places in the universe where people could just get born into, like, a stagnant pond, and the first thing they ever did had to be to paddle out of it.

Well Evan got born on Planet #4. XD
May. 10th, 2011 06:58 am (UTC)
Not on 3rd rock?

Edited at 2011-05-10 06:59 am (UTC)
May. 10th, 2011 05:40 pm (UTC)
I think it's a different solar system. XD
May. 9th, 2011 07:09 am (UTC)
This is beautiful. My first counselor, back in '99, said that sometimes denial is a good thing. For a short period of time. It allows us to rest and regroup. Then we can deal with the decision(s) facing us.
May. 9th, 2011 05:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks, I'm glad you like it. :)

I used to think denial was never good, but I think I hurt my brain demanding to always always know the truth. It still makes me mad though. I don't understand why knowledge would hurt. It's just facts and it always helps to have the right information, or else you might end up doing something that doesn't work. Besides, it's ethical to look for the truth.

- j-t
May. 10th, 2011 02:04 am (UTC)
Yes, I agree, but knowledge is only of use to you because you have a physical brain and body. (well, here in this world it is, at anyrate) and the physical body has limits. So a 'blindfolding' for a bit can give the physical body the rest it needs to be able to strengthen to be able to handle that knowledge more effectively.

That is all! Darned physical bodies. Their needs are so BORING to quote the MoF :-P

May. 10th, 2011 05:39 pm (UTC)
They're right. It's BORING!!

But for me it's like it doesn't even hurt the physical body after a bit, because I know how to take care of that, but it hurts something else. And it SHOULDN'T!

It's ok though.
May. 10th, 2011 06:55 am (UTC)
It is ethical to look for the truth, but sometimes it's an information overload that we aren't prepared to handle. So it would be more like do what's right in front of me, and deal with the rest of it when I get to it. One step at a time.
May. 10th, 2011 05:47 pm (UTC)
sometimes it's an information overload that we aren't prepared to handle

Why not? There's nothing that I'm too scared to hear even if I don't do something about it right away.

Um I have to warn you that people used to tell me I argue a lot and I should have been a lawyer, so don't answer if you don't want to. :D
May. 11th, 2011 07:42 am (UTC)
Hm. I get told the same thing. Without the Prozac (and sometimes even with it), I'm kinda prickly. ;)
May. 14th, 2011 06:06 pm (UTC)
Ok, next time I'll just go ahead and argue with you! :)
May. 15th, 2011 06:14 pm (UTC)
that could be interesting. :)
May. 10th, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
I've wondered about this sort of thing before...

I think it may have to do with having the right tools to process the material. I think looking for the truth is great, but sometimes instead of being "just facts", the facts can have a strong emotional impact attached to them, especially when they contradict things that you have previously thought to be true, or that are important to you, or contradict things that all the people around you believe so you need to be able to find a way to navigate that as well. Or you might just simply not have the prerequisite knowledge to be able to understand it yet. And if you haven't built the right mental structures yet to be able to deal with that truth, it could hurt or crash you, or you could misinterpret it or not be able to use it effectively.

Personally I'm a skeptic, I love facts and trying to dig up accurate information, but at the same time I have had to use denial and dissociation to keep functioning. Discovering that really creeped me out at first in some ways, but I've been realizing that instead of flat-out denial it tends to be more of a temporary thing that only stays in place, not as a complete block, but as something that can let me continue to function and work at building up the structures needed to be able to take down the denial and understand the truth better without getting completely fried by it. In that way, instead of flat-out denial, it seems like more a step in the process of learning, and while not perfect, not bad and probably better than the alternatives.

Maybe a metaphor could be... Trying to learn a fact when you're not prepared could be just as useful as taking a kindergartener and sticking them in a college-level calculus class. It's just facts... but could they use it? Is it helpful to them? Would it be a healthy experience for them? Knowledge is good... but it helps a whole lot to be ready for it.
May. 14th, 2011 06:16 pm (UTC)
Except sometimes you have to decide even before you've figured out everything. I want to be good at both learning new things, and deciding things quickly and well. I think the deciding things part is going decently, but there's all kinds of richness in terms of learning new things that I'm missing out on.
May. 13th, 2011 09:22 am (UTC)
That's the most beautiful 2 of swords tarot card I've ever seen, and I own 4 different decks, so I've seen quite a few.
May. 13th, 2011 01:01 pm (UTC)
Wow. Thank you.

Which decks do you own?
May. 13th, 2011 09:23 am (UTC)
Have you seen the movie Brothers Bloom with Mark Ruffalo?
May. 13th, 2011 01:02 pm (UTC)
No, I haven't. I just googled it. Is it good?
May. 17th, 2011 01:27 am (UTC)
What are the images on the rocks? The green ones?

This helps me understand a LOT more about some stuff :-) Thankyou j-t

- Leonie
May. 17th, 2011 03:04 am (UTC)
You got it! :D Yes yes yes yes yes! Booyeah!

Okay yeah, the green shapes are images of toren, possibly Daria and Bryn, but if it were them, it should be the other way around, with Bryn pulling Daria up.

The little symbol on the other side is just our signature.
May. 17th, 2011 04:09 am (UTC)
I felt like there should be more ... like more subtle imagery in the clouds/vague background. But it seemed quite empty. Is that the point? That almost emptiness?
May. 17th, 2011 04:38 am (UTC)
No, you're probably right, there should be more complexity to it. That's kind of what Pk meant with the bit about the symbols having meaning to us but not other people. To us the conjunction of Mai Lin, the standing stones at Eilieah, and toren imagery is plenty complex. Though maybe Lin sees it as empty. But I still don't think it's really accessible to a general audience. It's weird because I posted it on DeviantArt and it got more faves (still only 3 though) than any of the other cards. So people must have got something out of it.

Not sure what imagery I could add to the background.
May. 17th, 2011 05:52 am (UTC)
can you gimme a link to the deviantart thing? I wanna go look at them all at once and see what the differences between them are. Interesting, isn't it, how people respond to things.

I think it might be that the background is mostly a landscape but for the figures on the rocks. Those figures made me start looking for more things like that in the background but I couldn't see any. Just rocks and clouds, and something that could either be a crown or a castle.
May. 17th, 2011 09:27 am (UTC)
Sure :) http://studiopyraxis.deviantart.com/gallery/

Hm I could have put other traced figures in the background.
May. 17th, 2011 11:52 am (UTC)
The question is, do YOU think it ought to have more stuff in the background?
May. 17th, 2011 03:43 pm (UTC)
*squirms* The problem is I know you're probably asking that because of Lin, so I can't think about the answer without trying to fix all the trouble Lin's been having too. In terms of the drawing, you're the one who said it needed more stuff, and I can't quite picture yet how that would improve it. I think some other shapes could be worked into the background very subtly, but that the simplicity is part of its strength too, and what really needs to happen is more contrasty lighting and richer textures.
May. 18th, 2011 02:09 am (UTC)
no no, you misunderstood, or I didn't explain well enough. (wotever :-P) I wasn't thinking of Lin at all. I was thinking of it as the card of the 2 of swords and asking you as the artist if YOU thought there ought to be more detail, or if, indeed as you said, the simplicity is its strength, and that simplicity is actually part of the meaning of the card?

My thoughts when looking at it were "ARGH, not much to read. Client in front of me and not too many clues as to where to go with it." But then I realised maybe that is the point. That the relative emptiness of it is ...

Speaking of being blind/denial, so often when you deny one thing, you can't really discriminate between it and NOT denying other things in your life. Denial/blindfolded becomes a pattern in your entire life. And that can leave it feeling very empty. You may not be facing/feeling the Bad Things that made you put the blindfold on but you aren't feeling anything much else either.

See, worked out how to read said card now - as you have painted it here with no changes!

Making better sense where I was coming from now? I hope I've managed to convey what I meant better. Colds make my head a bit er... empty... dare I say it. *grins sheepishly*

- Leonie
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )