II. The Dyad - The Deuces

Active Dyad

The Active Dyad is the the principle of change, separation and differentiation. The Active Dyad is a discriminating principle, action that is directed toward a particular end, as opposed to the Active Monad, which is pure, undirected energy. It is associated with change, movement, difference, opinion, disagreement, judgement, relationship. As the Active Monad is called Zeus, so the Active Dyad is called Rhea (flux and extension).

Passive Dyad

The Active Dyad manifests by operating on the Passive Monad (as prima materia). As the principle of separation (Separatio) it splits the Monad, so that Chaos (Gap) opens in it. In this way the Active Dyad creates the Passive Dyad, an actual separation into opposites (Separatio oppositorum). It creates a balanced polarity between, for example, male/female, form/matter, stability/change. The Passive Dyad corresponds to the second cosmological stage, in which some active agent (e.g. Marduk, Shu, "Destructive Strife" - oloios neikos, etc.) opens a Gap between Earth (Gaia, Keb) and Sky (Ouranos, Nut); it's the splitting of the Cosmic Egg. The Dyad is the first Even Number, comprising two Monads. (Even Numbers are considered female, unlimited, moving, changing, turning.) The Dyad represents Matter and Body (alchemical Salt), in contrast to the Form and Spirit (alchemical Sulphur) of the Monad. The Dyad is also called Erato, Anguish, Dike (Justice), Dichotomy, Balance and Growth.

Wands: Beginning of Transformation

The fire of creative energy or spiritual yearning represented by the Ace of Wands, is given direction toward a specific goal by the Deuce of Wands. Thus, a goal is chosen which, it is anticipated, will quench the hunger, yearning, dissatisfaction, or urge to change represented by the Ace. Once the goal is determined, change can begin. Determination, resolve, discipline. The beginning of the Transformation.

Image: Two torches, an upright golden one on the left, an inverted silver one on the right, both illuminating the darkness with their yellow-orange flames.

Commentary: These are the torches of the Dadophoroi (Torch Bearers) associated with Mithra. They represent all dualities of change: the rising and setting sun, the waxing and waning moon, light and dark, life and death, beginning and ending, etc. (Cooper s.v. Torch). They are held by Mithra's attendant spirits, Cautes (Life, Light) and Cautopates (Death, Darkness) (Biedermann, s.v. torch). The individual torches represent male, phallic spiritual fire emerging from the female, vaginal torch of wood (the root of matter, mater=mother, "matrix" from breeding animal, etc.) (Cooper, loc. cit.). The two torches thus represent the emergence into consciousness of two spiritual states, present and desired, the termini of the path of transformation. Gold and silver are the two celestial elements and the two alchemical seeds; they correspond at the celestial level to fire and water at the mundane level.

Swords: Beginning of Analysis

The Deuce of Swords represents the application of the rational faculty to a specific object or situation, and the resulting divisions, discriminations and judgements. The resulting distinctions may be "value neutral"; that is, at this stage they may appear precariously balanced in their desirability, because the opposites are considered by "cold logic," by the head not the heart; indecision may be a consequence. Unresolved contradiction or paradox, quandry. The result can also be confrontational, "logic chopping," razor-sharp distinctions: good/evil, ours/theirs, "with us"/"agin' us," friend/enemy, virtue/vice, true/false, honest/dishonest, etc. The resulting relationships tend to be competitive and disjunctive rather than cooperative and conjunctive (cf. Deuce of Cups). At this stage, simple distinctions are being made, and there is the heady feeling that logic will win the day. The beginning of Analysis.

Image: Two swords, a golden one on the left pointing up and a silver one on the right pointing down, float in the clouds.

Commentary: The two swords represent all sharp distinctions: yes/no, either/or, thumbs up/thumbs down, masculine/feminine, etc. They float in the clouds to show the detachment of such distinctions from concrete context. However, the swords are not crossed, so there is no conflict as yet.

Cups: Beginning of the Relationship

The Deuce means relationship, and so it may represent the focusing of feelings on a specific object, the outward direction of the Ego, the drawing together of subject and object; desire, love, friendship, sympathy etc. toward a specific object. The relationship pulls the poles together rather than driving them apart (cf. the Deuce of Swords); thus the Deuce of Cups tends to be cooperative and conjunctive rather than competitive and disjunctive, though the Dyad still causes the emphasis to be on the differences, thus affinity in spite (or because) of differences, Unity in Difference. The excitement of a new love, friendship, etc. The start of the Relationship.

The Deuce of Cups may also represent a relationship between unlikes in the emotional realm. The salient example is the relation of Man and Woman, whether in love or in characteristic differences of emotional outlook. The Deuce can also manifest as other emotional opposites, such as introvert/extrovert, parent/child, "hard-headed" vs. "soft-hearted," aggressive/passive, etc.

Image: A golden cup is inverted above a silver cup on a blue-green background.

Commentary: The two cups, upside down with respect to each other, represents opposites or opposition, yet we can see that the upper (active, golden) is able to pour out its spirit into the lower (passive, golden) and establish a relationship (as appears in the Three of Cups).

Pentacles: Beginning of the Project

The Deuce of Pentacles represents the direction of material resources (money, supplies, strength, physical skill, craftsmanship) toward a specific goal, balanced gain and loss, investment and return. It is thus the first stage of the project; the marshalling of resources (of all sorts) toward the desired end. The availability of and need for resources must be balanced in order to progress, but overall this card represents the happy enthusiasm when the goal is clear and progress has begun. The start of the Project.

Image: Scales, the pans of which are pentacles; the left pan is golden and engraved with the symbol of the sun, the right silver and engraved with the moon. Yellow-green background.

Commentary: The two pentacles represent material resources, but the scales show that competing demands and opportunities must be balanced. The gold and silver pans represent these competing goals (often with associations of male/female). The yellow-green background reflects the quiet optimism of the card.

Return to Pythagorean Tarot homepage

Send comments about this page
Last update: Sat Jul 3 18:16:52 EDT 1999