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Tarot Talk

Let’s cement what we learned last month when we talked about the Queen of Pentacles, by examining another Tarot “royal,” the Queen of Swords. First, a review of information we talked about last month.

A Tarot deck has 78 cards. There are 22 Major Arcana cards, with numbers from 0 to 21; the Majors usually deal with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives. There are 56 Minor Arcana cards that are customarily grouped into four categories or suits that represent the four elements (sometimes called “Pips” or “Pip Cards”), with numbers from Ace to 10; the Minors usually deal with day-to-day issues.

The Court Cards are actually a part of the Minor Arcana, acting as a representation of the family unit. Individually, the members of the Tarot Court represent particular personality traits, traits of people, places and events in our lives. These cards can also tell us about our own personality, and how it is perceived by others. Thinking of my Tarot cards as people, with each card having an individual personality, is one method I have used with success in order to connect with my cards. This is particularly appropriate for the Court Cards, as they are the most human of all the cards in a Tarot deck. Even the illustrations for the Court Cards show humans in the majority of Tarot decks. Generally speaking, there are three different ways that Court Cards can speak to us in a spread: they can indicate personality traits of our Seeker or someone affecting the Seeker; they can refer to actual individuals in the Seeker’s life, including the Seeker; and they can refer to the general aura or atmosphere of a place or situation.

Court cards offer us these descriptions of personality traits and of different ways of being or acting, so we can make use of these styles or avoid them, whichever is appropriate. Of course, the trick is to know which message is being given in a particular spread! One way to become more confident in determining this is to learn about the Court Cards themselves, and how the personality of each Court Card interacts with its particular suit. Many times if you break a particular Court Card down to its rank and correspondences, you will understand its message. Let’s get started.

Instead of numbers, Court Cards have rank. The lowest ranking Court Card is the Page, the messenger or intern or apprentice who is still learning of life and living, but who is also good at dealing with the unexpected. Next comes the Knight, the representation of strong, focused and even excessive manifestations of his suit.

Both the Queen and the King represent mature adults. The Queen manifests her suit in a feminine or yin or inner way, and the King manifests his suit in a masculine or yang or outer way. This manifestation does not necessarily correspond to gender; a man can be represented by a Tarot Queen if he has a strong inner focus, and a woman can be represented by a Tarot King if she projects a strong sense of authority. Since we are talking about the Queen of Swords today, we already know that our Queen will manifest her suit in an inner yet mature manner. Our Queen is not so much concerned with results as with the enjoyment of just being in the world and surrounded by her element. She is associated with feelings, relationships and self-expression, she is relaxed and natural. The Queen expresses her suit from the inside, setting the tone without imposing it; she embodies the qualities of her suit, rather than acting them out.

Our Queen’s suit this month is Swords. The suit of Swords, which corresponds with the element of Air, the Spades of playing cards, the direction of East and the color of yellow, seems to use “no pain, no gain” as its motto. Maybe the tendency for discomfort has to do with the fact that Swords usually tell of some focused intent to bring forth a manifestation of some kind, or they tell of a struggle and then an outcome. Swords cards are about purposeful actions and the thoughts, intentions or beliefs behind them. These actions are deliberate and are manifested with careful consideration, rather than as a response to random effects presented to us by the elements around us. Simply put, the effects or manifestations surrounding the Swords cards come from inside us. We are the main catalyst that creates the manifestation of a Swords card, and that means we might be causing the very challenges we are trying to prevent.

The element of Air corresponds with truth, clarity, and our capacity to analyze or apply logic. Air is considered as hot and wet, and it both separates or expands, and adapts to the energies around it. The Swords cards indicate our mental state, the beliefs we have, and actions we take in response to effects around us. A Sword has two edges, a perfect metaphor for this suit, which can represent attacking or defending, logic or aggression.

The suit of Swords is not all bad; after all the element of Air also represents the intelligence that clears away the fog of ignorance and allows us to understand what we are dealing with. Air is the medium of our voices, and it supports communications and sounds of all kinds; Air allows both expression (out from within us) and hearing (in from outside of us) to happen, and our Queen of Swords is particularly connected to expression and hearing. Of course, words and communications are double-edges swords, too, and they can heal or hurt.

Air is not the only element that corresponds to our Queen. In the Tarot Court, the suit of the card has an elemental correspondence, and the rank of the card has an elemental correspondence. Pages correspond with Earth, Knights correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck), Queens correspond with Water, and Kings correspond with either Air or Fire (depending on the deck). Since we are talking about a Queen today, we are also talking about the element of Water.

In its natural state, Water is cool and wet. When amassed, it has weight, and it tends to gather or pool at the lowest place. Because of this tendency, Water creates its own roadways or channels, and it prefers to use those already-in-place channels if it can. Water is used for cleaning and purifying, and Water can be a carrier for other substances. For instance, we can dissolve salt or sugar into warm Water, and use that concoction for other things. A body of Water can be calm and deep, or it can be dangerously churning and filled with powerful currents.

All Queens represent the element of Water, as well as the element corresponding to their suit; this means that our Queen of Swords presents a Watery version of Air. Water and Air share the trait of wetness or adaptability, and they use this adaptability to affect heat/cold. When compared to each other, Water and Air are considered neutral to each other, and they can support each other in positive ways. Together, these two elements allow our Queen to affect her world by joining things together and by separating things from each other; this can be seen as the skill known as discrimination (the awareness of subtle differentiation and the ability to notice subtle differences), one specialty of our Queen of Swords. You could say that the emotions (Water) support the intellect and the ability to analyze (Air). That can be a potent combination!

Like the other cards of the Tarot, Court Cards have astrological correspondences. Our Queen of Swords corresponds with the cusp or joining point of the signs of Virgo and Libra. Virgo is efficient, analytical, organized, and modest, with an eye for details; Virgo can also be critical, overly anxious, and even a hypochondriac. Our Queen of Swords is intelligent and meticulous, but she might worry too much. Libra is diplomatic, objective, cooperative, and calm; Libra can also be vague, distant, indecisive, dependent on others, and can lack confidence. Our Queen is easygoing, even romantic, but she can also be gullible and overly flirtatious.

Because they are Minor Arcana cards, Court Cards also correspond with a sephira on the Tree of Life. The Queens correspond with the sephira of Binah, along with the Threes of the Minor Arcana and the element of Water. The Queens sit at the top of the Pillar of Form; Binah, representing the Sacred Feminine and the Womb of Life, offers shadow and contrast, which in turn gives us shape and form. Binah restricts in order to provide a springboard, and that restriction can also be its downfall if it becomes greed. The energies of this sephira are the purest of receptive energies.

Let’s recap and compare. Last month we discovered that the Queen of Pentacles represents Water of Earth, and in many ways, this Queen manifests the energy of The Empress of the Major Arcana, but in a more approachable and accessible way. This month we are looking at the Queen of Swords, who represents Water of Air. This Queen manifests the energy of Justice, the Major Arcana card we talked about in April that is about balance and adjustment. The Queen of Pentacles is very good at sustaining and nurturing all kinds of life, while the Queen of Swords is more concerned with the intent behind the concepts of fairness and equality, rather than the execution of the letter of the law in their regard.

The goals of the Queen of Pentacles are usually centered on the home, her family and loved ones, and on keeping them healthy and secure. Our Queen of Swords would rather help others to be independent, to learn the art of discrimination, and to hone and sharpen the intellect, all accomplished not through nurturing and ease but rather through successfully dealing with difficulties and challenges.

The Legacy of the Divine Queen of Swords reminds us that it is the spirit behind the law and not its form that keeps justice alive. The Llewellyn Queen is a pioneering revolutionary, filled with confidence, but subject to the lure of ambition and the lust for more power. The Magdalene Legacy Tarot Queen of Swords is sincere, perceptive, observant, and very efficient, but she can rush rashly to judgment and can be emotionally distant. The Thoth Queen is gracious of spirit, an intense individualist, and good at perceiving and understanding subtle messages.

The Queen of Swords may not openly display her emotions, but her judgment can be sometimes swayed by her feelings and her heart. The Watery rank of Queen enables our Queen of Swords to cut right to the heart of any matter, slicing away illusion and fantasy. She can easily see what is hidden, and woe to anyone who tries to pull the wool over her eyes!