4 of Swords: The long hibernation

Image – The Wheel of the Year Tarot

Fat and sleek in preparation for her winter repose, a Beaver moves toward her lodge. She looks back once toward the querent. There is a sense of finality in the image, a sense that she takes one last look before closing herself in for the season. The ice of Winter is apparent throughout the image, the Beaver’s fur and tail thick and full of the fat she has stored to help her in her journey through stillness to Spring.

Meaning: The 4 of Swords

This is one of my favorite representations in the Wheel of the Year deck. The Beaver does not hibernate during the winter months but becomes less active, hiding away in her lodge for weeks or months at a time (take a look at this story in Northern Woodlands magazine). She will work, hard and steadily, to store food as late into the season as she can, building her lodge thick and full as she prepares for the cold. As their ponds ice over and the underwater entrances to their lodges become cold and forbidding places with no access to the surface, Beaver families and lone individuals alike hide away in their well-prepared homes, alert but at ease. In adults, the metabolic rate actually drops, but not to the points seen in hibernation.

The Beaver in our card is thus a natural symbol of meditative rest. She is readying herself for a period of retreat and stillness … as the world rests in winter beneath its blanket of snow, so does she. But she has earned her rest through industrious work. Now she balances that period of preparation with one of stillness, gaining perspective and recovery in the quiet of winter.

Advice for you: The 4 of Swords

It’s time to turn inward, to rest after your labors. Without the balance between outward action and inward recovery, our human heads and hearts spin out of control. We are intimately connected with the natural world, its rhythms and its breath. To understand ourselves we must look to the world around us, heeding its examples and its lessons.

After the pain of the Three of Swords, the Four heralds a time of healing and peace. Make full use of this time, to meditate and connect to your own Higher Self. Let the outer world do without you for awhile – a minute, a day, a month, as you can – and reconnect with your own spiritual center. This is the time when the Wound left by the heartache of the Three of Swords allows you to become the Wounded Healer – but this metamorphosis only comes with introspection, integration, and personal grace.

Questions for you: The 4 of Swords

Are you ready to rest? Are you feeling burned out, overwhelmed, or injured – physically or spiritually?

What can you do to make that time of rest happen? It will only happen with your determination and focus. When you are able to achieve that peace – whether it’s a meditation retreat, a weekend away, a 30 minute meditation, or 10 minutes in the bathtub – what will you do with it? How can you bring the insight and peace of that rest back out into the world with you? This can be both your challenge and your delight.

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