Presence, Awareness, Faith, and Integrity: The Keys to Freedom and Choices (The Monk/R’d 2 of Swords)

The Monk--Samurai TarotTwo of Swords reversed--Samurai TarotFrom the Samurai Tarot today, The Monk. And what a content monk! But what does he have to be happy about? Sitting on the ground, naked, he has nothing, and is alone in the dark and cold. This card has something profound to teach us, if we listen.

Do you find yourself thinking, “use the force, Luke” when you look at this Two of Swords card? These swordspeople are blindfolded with live steel in their hands! Looks dangerous to me. But whether or not they can see what they are doing, or what it will lead to, these people have choices to make and actions to take. In this case, those choices are a matter of life or death. On top of that, they are turned upside-down.

Here’s the message I see in these cards: Earth. Grounding. The Monk (who would be the Hermit in a Rider-Waite deck) is sitting on the ground. Putting the Two of Swords upside down puts the Earth at the top of that card.

I’ve recently become very interested in the role that Earth and grounding can play in our spiritual lives. We can release stress, tension, fear, and pain into the Earth. We can draw energy up from the Earth. The Earth holds us up, gives us balance, keeps us from falling into empty space. Grounding by connecting to the Earth is one of the keys to the kind of contentment we see in this monk.

Let’s compare the element of Earth with other elements in the tarot.

  • From Earth (pentacles), we get security and balance: presence.
  • From water (cups), we draw emotions and intuition: awareness.
  • From air (wands), we derive our creativity, the power to manifest: faith.
  • From fire (swords), we stoke our reasoning ability/critical judgment, and from there it is one more step to ethics: integrity.

Ah. So let’s talk about the Two of Swords here. We must make ethical choices whether we want to or not, and often we must make these choices blindfolded, unable to see what the consequences will be. In such a situation, how can we do anything other than freeze, paralyzed with fear?

We need not be imprisoned by fear, because we have those four tools I mentioned above: presence, awareness, faith, and integrity. These four aspects of who we are are make us free, if we choose to be. Appearing with the reversed Two of Swords, I think the Monk is telling us that in order to make ethical choices blind, we must be grounded. We must remain fully present, concentrating — otherwise all of our values may be turned upside down and we may well freeze.

Because we have these four things: presence, awareness, faith, and integrity, we can be truly free, and content, like the Monk, even if we are naked and have no material possessions. The possessions we need most, that can most transform our lives, are not our material possessions, but our spiritual ones.

All this and the Monk isn’t even meditating yet! He is just being.

What choices do we as a society need to make about our future? Is it wise to make these choices in the middle of a political duel? I think we should lay down our swords, take off our blindfolds, and sit on the ground to get our balance back before we move forward onto any kind of collective path. Then we can operate from a place of contentment rather than a place of fear.


  1. Thinking with a clear head & conscious is always a good idea. I don’t think society as a whole really cares about the consequences. People in general are selfish and only think about their own well being. I hope I am not far from the message. I tend to stray a bit. 🙂


    1. Well, most people have a lot in them that they may or may not manifest — eventually, though, what lies deep within us comes out and surprises people! 🙂 I hope that makes sense….still waking up this morning…


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