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Tarot Talk

Comparing The King of Wands & The King of Swords



We haven’t looked at the Court Cards of the Tarot for a while, so it is a good time to compare two Court Cards. This month we will compare two Kings, the King of Wands and the King of Swords. If you have been journeying with me already, you can skip the next paragraphs that offer some foundational information.

The 78 cards of a Tarot deck consist of 22 Major Arcana cards (dealing with broader and more far-reaching life experience issues, and archetypes that are easy for us to identify with and connect with at some point in our lives) and 56 Minor Arcana cards (customarily grouped into four categories or suits that represent the four elements and dealing with day-to-day issues).

The Court Cards are a part of the Minor Arcana, acting as a representation of the family unit and individually representing particular personality 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 Tarot cards as people, with each card having an individual personality, 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.

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 Kings today, we already know that our King of Wands and King of Swords will manifest their suits in an outer and active yet mature manner. Our Kings are concerned with results. They both exhibit public expertise within their suit and are accepted as authority figures. Generally speaking, the Kings of the Tarot Court are the leaders and motivators of their suit, initiating ideas and projects and moving our focus into new directions. However, a lot of the power they wield is reinforced by the symbolism, ritual and tradition around them. This reinforcement is made more effective when there is a bit of distance between the Kings and their subjects, the other cards of their suit. In many ways, the Kings of the Tarot Court can be seen as four facets of The Emperor of the Major Arcana.

The suit of Wands corresponds with the element of Fire, the playing card suit of Clubs, and the cardinal direction of South. All of the cards of the suit of Wands teach us about Fiery attributes like creativity, ambition, growth, passion and actions, and how their presence or absence can affect our lives. Fire often represents Spirit or the Divine Will, and Wands cards also can present the possibility of some interaction with Spirit or the Divine, or actions or passions manifesting in line with Divine Will.

The suit of Swords corresponds with the element of Air, the Spades of playing cards, the direction of East and the color of yellow. This suit often has some discomfort associated with it because 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 different from the other Minor Arcana cards because they are deliberate, rather than as a response to random effects presented to us by the elements around us. Simply put, the effects of the Swords cards are sourced from within us; we are the main catalyst that creates the manifestation of a Swords card.

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 Kings today, we are also talking about the element of Air, or the element of Fire, depending on the deck. For our purposes today, we will see the King of Wands as Fire of Fire and the King of Swords as Air of Fire.

In its natural state, the element of Fire is hot and dry. It tends to bring spontaneous change or impulsive, energetic effects. Fire transforms everything in our world. Fire can sanitize or cleanse, and it can destroy everything in its path; Fire can warm us and keep us safe, or it can kill us. The element of Fire can be seen as kinetic, or even electric. It has the power to create greatness (when we are inspired to be better than we think we can be), or destruction (when we believe we are greater than we actually are). Fire fuels innovation, but an imbalance or lack of Fire can bring austerity.

The element of Air is hot and wet, and corresponds with truth, clarity, and our capacity to analyze or apply logic, the beliefs we have, and actions we take in response to effects around us. 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.

Like the other cards of the Tarot, Court Cards have astrological correspondences. Our King of Wands corresponds with the cusp or joining point of the signs of Cancer and Leo.

Cancer is responsive, emotional and generous, but also is moody, insecure or sensitive, and is often affected by the environment and people nearby. Those born under the sign of Cancer, the 4th sign of the zodiac, tend to experience strong feelings and emotions, and they are very protective of those feelings and emotions. Cancer people tend to be very attuned to the past, and they place a high importance on family, both family of the blood and family of the heart, and nurture and protect those they love. Cancer people are hard workers, and that paycheck is important not only for what it will buy, but also for the security it provides.

Leo is the 5th sign of the zodiac, located in the middle of Summer. The symbol of Leo is the Lion, regal and strong, magnetic and forceful. Leos are determined, ambitious, and highly motivated; add in their charm and they are natural leaders who attract many friends. They make good organizers and motivators, and the best use of a Leo is as the leader of a large group. Leo is the most expressive sign in the zodiac, and those born under this sign are showmen who are exuberant and passionate, but they are also susceptible to flattery.

Cancer and Leo are ruled by elements, planets, and traits that are not similar. Cancer is a cardinal water sign ruled by the moon, and Leo is a fixed fire sign ruled by the sun. Cancer is considered to be quite sensitive and docile, but can survive and even manipulate. Leo is considered to be powerful and dominant, but can move from roaring to purring if treated in the right manner. Thus, our King can manifest an interesting set of personality traits, such as the memory of an elephant, a comfort with being the center of drama, being driven by high ambitions and the need to achieve something bigger than himself, as well as love, devotion, family, and loyalty.

Our King of Swords corresponds with the cusp or joining point of the signs of Capricorn and Aquarius.

Capricorn people are stable, prudent, hard-working, practical, methodical, and ambitious, never losing sight of goals regardless of how many obstacles or distractions are in the way. They can be are a bit stoic and rigid, and they will stick to their beliefs despite convincing evidence to the contrary. More than anything else they enjoy power, respect, and authority, and they are willing to toe the line for as long as it takes to achieve those goals.

Aquarius is connected with those who have humanitarian and philanthropic tendencies, and are interested in making the world a better place. Aquarians are intelligent and inventive and they work well with others, although they can be impatient, even temperamental, with those who disagree with their ideas. Aquarians are also into technology, and they use modern communication apparatus and social networking with ease. Aquarius is a sign of connections of all kinds from friendships to love, and it focuses on the group and its highest good rather than the individual.

A Capricorn-Aquarius combination can offer lots of excitement. They work hard and have high standards, so they often are very successful. And yet, they can have difficulty with personal relationships, more so than the other three Kings (who all tend to be focused on the outer world rather than one-to-one interactions). Our King of Swords is good at maintaining his kingdom. He is methodical and exacting, yet he enjoys spending time entertaining groups of people. This King is good at balancing opposites, after all he is both the practical and hard-working Capricorn and the inspired Aquarius who enjoys playing with technology.

Because they are Minor Arcana cards, Court Cards also correspond with a sephira on the Tree of Life. The Kings correspond with the sephira of Chokmah, along with all of the Twos of the Minor Arcana and the element of Fire. The Kings sit at the top of the Pillar of Force in the sephira of Chokmah, representing the Sacred Masculine and the Catalyst of Life. Chokmah is seen as dynamic thrust, the Ultimate Positive, the Great Stimulator and the Great Fertilizer (one of the symbols of Chokmah is the penis), and thus is connected to the Wheel of the Year. The energies of this sephira represent dynamic male energy and are the origin of vital force and polarity.

Our two Kings are rulers that are responsible for the well-being of their subjects and their society. Our King of Wands translates these efforts into Wands correspondences. He is a strong-minded person who is able to rule because he absolutely believes that he knows what actions and beliefs are right and correct. This belief also makes him both honest and optimistic. He is creative, and he is good at inspiring others to follow him. Our King of Wands likes being the center of attention, but he is loyal and driven to create something bigger than himself. He can be a bit intolerant of anything he perceives as weakness, but he truly is the essence of responsibility.

Our King of Swords manifests through the correspondences of the suit of Swords, and he is the maintainer of social structure. He makes use of the mental powers and energies of the element of Air to uphold the rules of the kingdom through the keenness of his mind and the facile tool of his intellect. He not only represents the authority of judgement, but also of acting upon those judgements. He is proud of his tough-minded common sense, but he may at times lose touch with mercy. When he is at his best, the King of Swords personifies justice and a commitment to intellectual honesty.


About the Author:

Raushanna is a lifetime resident of New Jersey. As well as a professional Tarot Reader and Teacher, she is a practicing Wiccan (Third Degree, Sacred Mists Coven), a Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, a certified Vedic Thai-Yoga Massage Bodyworker, a 500-hr RYT Yoga Teacher specializing in chair assisted Yoga for movement disorders, and a Middle Eastern dance performer, choreographer and teacher.  Raushanna bought her first Tarot deck in 2005, and was instantly captivated by the images on the cards and the vast, deep and textured messages to be gleaned from their symbols. She loves reading about, writing about, and talking about the Tarot, and anything occult, mystical, or spiritual, as well as anything connected to the human subtle body. She has published a book, “The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding,” and is currently working on a book about the Tarot, pathworking and the Tree of Life. Raushanna documents her experiences and her daily card throws in her blog, DancingSparkles.blogspot.com, which has been in existence since 2009. She and her husband, her son and step son, and her numerous friends and large extended family can often be found on the beaches, bike paths and hiking trails of the Cape May, NJ area.

The Emerald Tablet: My 24-Day Journal to Understanding on Amazon