Swords (tarot)

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Swords are one of the suits in the Thoth Tarot deck.

The four suits of the Tarot are: Wands, Cups, Swords, Disks


The Court Cards

Knight of Swords

  • Title: The Lord of the Winds and the Breezes. The King of the Spirits of Air.
  • Astrology: 20° Taurus to 20° Gemini
  • Element: The fiery part of Air
  • Tree of Life: The Path of Shin
  • Description:
  • Interpretation: "[H]e is the wind, the storm. He represents the violent power of motion applied to an apparently manageable element... He represents the idea of attack. The moral qualities of a person thus indicated are activity and skill, subtlety and cleverness. He is fierce, delicate and courageous, but altogether the prey of his idea, which comes to him as an inspiration without reflection. If ill-dignified, the vigour in all these qualities being absent, he is incapable of decision or purpose. Any action that he takes is easily brushed aside by opposition. Inadequate violence spells futility."

Queen of Swords

  • Title: The Queen of the Thrones of Air
  • Astrology: 20° Virgo to 20° Libra
  • Element: The watery part of Air
  • Tree of Life: The Path of Mem
  • Description: "She is enthroned upon the clouds. The upper part of her body is naked, but she wears a gleaming belt and a sarong. Her helmet is crested by the head of a child, and from it stream sharp rays of light, illuminating her empire of celestial dew. In her right hand, she bears a sword; in her left hand, the newly severed head of a bearded man."
  • Interpretation: "She is the clear, conscious perception of Idea, the Liberator of the Mind... The person symbolized by this card should be intensely perceptive, a keen observer, a subtle interpreter, an intense individualist, swift and accurate at recording ideas; in action confident, in spirit gracious and just. Her movements will be graceful, and her ability in dancing and balancing exceptional. If ill-dignified, these qualities will all be turned to unworthy purposes. She will be cruel, sly, deceitful and unreliable; in this way, very dangerous, on account of the superficial beauty and attractive ness which distinguish her."

Prince of Swords

  • Title: The Prince of the Chariot of Air
  • Astrology: 20° Capricorn to 20° Aquarius
  • Element: The airy part of Air
  • Tree of Life: The Path of Aleph
  • Description: "The figure of this Prince is clothed with closely woven armour adorned with definite device, and the chariot which bears him suggests (even more closely) geometrical ideas. This chariot is drawn by winged children, looking and leaping irresponsibly in any direction that takes their fancy; they are not reined, but perfectly Capricious. The chariot consequently is easy enough to move, but quite unable to progress in any definite direction except by accident. This is a perfect picture of the Mind... In his right hand is a lifted sword wherewith to create, but in his left hand a sickle, so that what he creates he instantly destroys."
  • Interpretation: "A person thus symbolized is purely intellectual. He is full of ideas and designs which tumble over each other. He is a mass of fine ideals unrelated to practical effort. He has all the apparatus of Thought in the highest degree, intensely clever, admirably rational, but unstable of purpose, and in reality indifferent even to his own ideas, as knowing that any one of them is just as good as any other. He reduces everything to unreality by removing its substance and transmuting it to an ideal world of ratiocination which is purely formal and out of relation to any facts, even those upon which it is based."

Princess of Swords

  • Title: The Princess of the Rushing Winds. The Lotus of the Palace of Air.
  • Astrology: Rules a 3rd Quadrant
  • Element: The earthy part of Air
  • Tree of Life: The Path of 32-bis
  • Description: "[S]he appears helmed, with serpent-haired Medusa for her crest. She stands in front of a barren altar as if to avenge its profanation, and she stabs downward with her sword. The heaven and the clouds, which are her home, seem angry."
  • Interpretation: "She brings about the materialization of Idea. She represents the influence of Heaven upon Earth... The character of the Princess is stern and revengeful. Her logic is destructive. She is firm and aggressive, with great practical wisdom and subtlety in material things. She shews great cleverness and dexterity in the management of practical affairs, especially where they are of a controversial nature. She is very adroit in the settlement of controversies. If ill-dignified, all these qualities are dispersed; she becomes incoherent, and all her gifts tend to combine to form a species of low cunning whose object is unworthy of the means."

The Small Cards

Ace of Swords

  • Title: The Root of the Powers of Air
  • Tree of Life: Kether
  • Description:
  • Interpretation: "[T]he primordial Energy of Air, the Essence of the Vau of Tetragrammaton, the integration of the Ruach... There is indeed, a notable passivity in its nature; evidently, it has no self-generated impulse. But, set in motion by its Father [Fire] and Mother [Water], its power is manifestly terrific. It visibly attacks its objective, as they, being of subtler and more tenuous character, can never do. The card represents the Sword of the Magus (see Book 4, Part II) crowned with the twenty-two rayed diadem of pure Light. The number refers to the Atu; also 22=2 x 11, the Magical manifestation of Chokmah, Wisdom, the Logos. Upon the blade, accordingly, is inscribed the Word of the Law. This Word sends forth a blaze of Light, dispersing the dark clouds of the Mind."

    From Book 4 (Ch.7 "The Sword"): "...the Magick Sword is the Reason...the analytical faculty... The Sword, necessary as it is to the Beginner, is but a crude weapon. Its function is to keep off the enemy or to force a passage through them—and though it must be wielded to gain admission to the palace, it cannot be worn at the marriage feast... The aim of the Magus is to destroy his partial thought by uniting it with the Universal Thought, not to make a further breach and division in the Whole."

Two of Swords

  • Title: Peace
  • Astrology: Luna in Libra
  • Tree of Life: Chokmah
  • Description: "In the card appear two swords crossed; they are united by a blue rose with five petals. This rose represents the influence of the Mother, whose harmonizing influence compounds the latent antagonism native to the suit. The Rose emits white rays, producing a geometrical pattern that emphasizes the equilibrium of the symbol."
  • Interpretation: "This suit, governing all intellectual manifestations, is always complicated and disordered. It is subject to change as is no other suit. It represents a general shaking-up, resulting from the conffict of Fire and Water in their marriage; and proceeds, when Earth appears, to crystallization. But the purity and exaltation of Chokmah are such that this card manifests the very best idea possible to the suit. The energy abides above the onslaught of disruption. The Moon is change, but Nature is peaceful; moreover, Libra represents balance; between them, they regulate the energy of the Swords."

Three of Swords

  • Title: Sorrow
  • Astrology: Saturn in Libra
  • Tree of Life: Binah
  • Description: "The symbol represents the great Sword of the Magician, point uppermost; it cuts the junction of two short curved swords. The impact has destroyed the rose. In the background, storm broods under implacable night."
  • Interpretation: "This card is dark and heavy; it is, so to speak, the womb of Chaos. There is an intense lurking passion to create, but its children are monsters. This may mean the supreme transcendence of the natural order. Secrecy is here, and Perversion."

Four of Swords

  • Title: Truce
  • Astrology: Jupiter in Libra
  • Tree of Life: Chesed
  • Description: "The hilts of the four Swords are at the corner of a St. Andrew's cross. Their shape suggests fixation and rigidity. Their points are sheathed—in a rather large rose of forty-nine petals representing social harmony. Here, too, is compromise."
  • Interpretation: "[T]he card proclaims the idea of authority in the intellectual world. It is the establishment of dogma, and law concerning it. It represents a refuge from mental chaos, chosen in an arbitrary manner. It argues for convention."

Five of Swords

  • Title: Defeat
  • Astrology: Venus in Aquarius
  • Tree of Life: Geburah
  • Description: "The hilts of the swords form the inverted pentagram, always a symbol of somewhat sinister tendency. Here matters are even worse; none of the hilts resembles any of the others, and their blades are crooked or broken. They give the impression of drooping; only the lowest of the swords points upwards, and this is the least effective of the weapons. The rose of the previous card has been altogether disintegrated."
  • Interpretation: "[D]isruption; but as Venus here rules Aquarius, weakness rather than excess of strength seems the cause of disaster. The intellect has been enfeebled by sentiment. The defeat is due to pacifism. Treachery also may be implied."

Six of Swords

  • Title: Science
  • Astrology: Mercury in Aquarius
  • Tree of Life: Tiphareth
  • Description: "The hilts of the Swords, which are very ornamental, are in the form of the hexagram. Their points touch the outer petals of a red rose upon a golden cross of six squares, thus showing the Rosy Cross as the central secret of scientific truth."
  • Interpretation: "The perfect balance of all mental and moral faculties, hardly won, and almost impossible to hold in an ever-changing world, declares the idea of Science in its fullest interpretation."

Seven of Swords

  • Title: Futility
  • Astrology: Luna in Aquarius
  • Tree of Life: Netzach
  • Description: "The symbol shows six Swords with their hilts in crescent formation. Their points meet below the centre of the card, imping ing upon a blade of a much larger up-thrusting sword, as if there were a contest between the many feeble and the one strong. He strives in vain."
  • Interpretation: "The intellectual wreckage of the card is thus not so vehement as in the Five. There is vacillation, a wish to compromise, a certain toleration. But, in certain circumstances, the results may be more disastrous than ever. This naturally depends upon the success of the policy. This is always in doubt as long as there exist violent, uncompromising forces which take it as a natural prey. This card, like the Four, suggests the policy of appeasement."

Eight of Swords

  • Title: Interference
  • Astrology: Jupiter in Gemini
  • Tree of Life: Hod
  • Description: "The centre of the card is occupied by two long Swords pointed downward. These are crossed by six small swords, three on each side. They remind one of weapons peculiar to their countries or their cults; we see here the Kriss, the Kukri, the Scramasax, the Dagger, the Machete and the Yataghan."
  • Interpretation: "[L]ack of persistence in matters of the intellect and of contest. Good fortune, however, attends even these weakened efforts...Yet the Will is constantly thwarted by accidental interference."

Nine of Swords

  • Title: Cruelty
  • Astrology: Mars in Gemini
  • Tree of Life: Yesod
  • Description: "The symbol shows nine swords of varying lengths, all striking downwards to a point. They are jagged and rusty. Poison and blood drip from their blades."
  • Interpretation: "[This card] no longer represent[s] pure intellect so much as the automatic stirring of heartless passions. Consciousness has fallen into a realm unenlightened by reason. This is the world of the unconscious primitive instincts, of the psychopath, of the fanatic... [A]lthough its form is intellectual, it is the temper of the inquisitor... There is, however, a way of dealing with this card: the way of passive resistance, resignation, the acceptance of martyrdom. Nor is an alien formula that of implacable revenge."

Ten of Swords

  • Title: Ruin
  • Astrology: Sol in Gemini
  • Tree of Life: Malkuth
  • Description: "The hilts of the Swords occupy the positions of the Sephiroth, but the points One to Five and Seven to Nine touch and shatter the central Sword (six) which represents the Sun, the Heart, the child of Chokmah and Binah. The tenth Sword is also in splinters. It is the ruin of the Intellect, and even of all mental and moral qualities."
  • Interpretation: "[This card] shows reason run mad, ramshackle riot of soulless mechanism; it represents the logic of lunatics and (for the most part) of philosophers. It is reason divorced from reality. ...[T]his card shows the disruption and disorder of harmonious and stable energy."

Document Source

  • This page was originally sourced from Thelemapedia. Retrieved May 2009.