At one point in The Pilgrim’s Progress, the hero Christian (who is also on a Fool’s Journey) becomes mired in the Slough of Despond. He struggles for a time until drawn out by Help. Help tells him that “…many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions…settle in this place.”
The Slough of Despond is a good name for the Six of Swords. Sometimes this card represents a dull, listless state. Nothing is seriously wrong, but nothing is really right either. You’re getting by, but not thriving. In the picture the figures in the boat seem sad and disengaged. Life is indeed uninteresting when we feel the blues.
In a more positive vein, the Six of Swords can indicate recovery. This is especially true when you have just experienced a tough time or psychological blow. During the crisis, you felt numb and disconnected; nothing mattered at all. Now you are beginning to heal and pick up the pieces of your life. The travelers in our boat are at least moving forward. They are headed toward a new place, even if they are not yet ready to eagerly embrace those shores.
In fact, the Six of Swords can indicate travel and moves of all kinds. This could mean an actual change of scene, relocation or trip, but not necessarily. A journey can also take place on the inner planes as we move from one frame of mind to another.
Although the Six of Swords does not promise great joy, it also avoids the depths of despair. A slough is not a bottomless pit, but simply a hollow or depression. When you see this card, know that even though the situation is not ideal, you are moving toward a more positive place. Change is in the air, and new, more hopeful conditions lie ahead.