This is the fourth in my series of posts about zero and the minor arcana. The first article can be found here.
The suit of Swords is about air and thought, so the Zero of Swords is about the Null of Mind. It’s a very Zen thing; the attainment of no mind. Also known as ‘Mushin no shin’ (“mind of no mind” or ‘no-mindedness’). Attaining the no-mind represents reaching a true conduit to your intuition. Like the perfect golf swing, a perfectly performed aria, or an effortless act of creation, the active mind plays no role in the act. It just happens thanks to training, experience and focus.
There’s a very real basis in the concept of unconscious or passive thinking; of not overthinking the problem. Modern neuroscience shows us that the subconscious parts of our brains operate at higher speeds than our conscious minds. How much does our conscious thinking interfere with our subconscious, savant mind?
The Zero of Swords and the Fool
All the zero minor arcana have association with the Fool card. For the Zero of Swords, it has to do with what the Fool is thinking as he begins his journey – or more importantly, the fact that he isn’t thinking! The Fool’s begins his journey with a blank slate of mind: ready to learn and assimilate and grow. It’s not clouded by questions such as “did I leave the gas on?” or “what will become of me?”
His focus is on the journey.
Interpreting the Zero of Swords:
Go with your initial instinct, your gut-feeling. Thinking about it will only complicate things and obstruct your progress.
Ignore the process: focus not on the how. Choose the result and do it.
Let go of preconceived thoughts and/or actions. Intuit your way to your goal.
Avoid paralysis through analysis; make the right choice, but don’t think it to death.
I don’t personally read reversals, but if I did, I would say the inverted zero of swords would represent not thinking enough about the situation.
The no-mind reading:
There is irony in asking the tarot about how to attain a zen-like no-mind state; the very act of drawing cards and then holding that information in your mind while attempting to perform said action breaks the concept of the no-mind state. Instead, let’s try a ritual reading; one that identifies the distractions and obstacles to success and helps focus the mind on the goal.
Separate swords cards and place the Zero of swords (or a substitute, face-down card) at the bottom of the spread, closest to you.
Shuffle the rest of the deck (again, without the Swords cards) and draw three cards.
Coin cards represent physical distractions – your ‘stance’ as it were.
Cup cards represent emotional distractions – what might be limiting your movement.
Wand cards represent spiritual challenges – what might be holding you back.
Major Arcana represent major players – they could hinder or aid you.
After viewing each card and intuiting their meaning in this situation, turn them over. This represents you shutting out their influence and letting go of your dependencies upon others.
Return your gaze to the Zero of Swords (or its proxy card) and remember that none of this matters. There is no you, there is nothing in your way. There is just the goal.
When all you can see and think about is attaining that goal, look up and do what must be done.