It seems fitting, as I write this, that Mercury is in Pisces. Pisces is the sign of intuition, and most ultimate water sign of the zodiac. Mercury is the planet of communication and travels. Transitioning from the Ace of Cups, in which we focused on the intuitive and emotional beginnings and development if the suit, to the Ace of Swords, represented by air, representing communication. Of course, it isn’t just communication that it represents, but logic and the intellect as well.
The Ace of Swords can be daunting. The very nature of any of the Swords might promote this very feeling in fact. They are after all a weapon that gains power, and are double-edged. However, as we move through this week looking at the beginning of the suit, I hope to shed some light on it and dispel any concern it might conjure.
Th Ace of Swords in the Rider-Waite Tarot shows a grey cloud on the left side of the card, and a hand protruding from it toward the right, holding a double-sided blue sword, upright toward the top of the card. At its tip there is a crown with a laurel falling from it and a holly branch. Toward the hilt of the sword are six golden Yod Below the hand and the sword are purple and blue mountains. The sky is grey.
The Spiral Tarot is a blue card, with whisps of grey in it, and an upright sword in the foreground. Behind the sword eyes appear out of the clouds, looking somewhat sideways at the reader.
The Vampire Tarot shows an upright sword in front of a black coffin with a red runner going across the base of the coffin. The hilt is made of two gargoyles. The Faerie Tarot shows a sword lodged in the snow. A white rabbit sits next to it. In the background are snow-capped mountains under a hazy sky. The sun is just behind the hilt of the sword.
The Thoth Tarot shows a green sword among blue clouds that dissipate into the night sky. The hilt of the sword is a snake coiled, and an upward- and downward-facing moon. The blade itself has Greek written on it, spelling out Thelema. At the top of the up-pointed sword is a crown with blue and gold tips. Behind the sword is the sun whose rays are in geometric patterns.
The Prisma-Vision Ace of Swords also depicts a sword lodged in the snow by its tip. It sparkles with white specks. The hilt is comprised of swan wings. Clouds roll behind the snow-covered trees and give way to a clear, starry night.
The Impressionists Tarot shows a sickle in a wheat field. The card is a modification of Vincent Van Gogh’s The Siesta (after Millet) from 1890. There is a blue sky above the wheat.
I hope that you take the time to observe the Ace of Swords in your own decks, and notice what stands out to you. This would be a great time to think on those symbols, colors, numbers, images, and journal on their significance to you. Where do you see these things in your daily life?
What cards did you use to reflect on the Ace of Swords? What stood out to you that you hadn’t previously seen? Let me know in the comments.
Faerie Tarot by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc, 2008. Hertz is a French artist, and the creator of several other beautiful tarot decks. The Faerie Tarot was ‘inspired by the flora and fauna of the French countryside,’ and ‘invites you to see the world in a delightful new way…blending fantasy, whimsy, and nature.’
Impressionist Tarot by Arturo Picca (artist) and Corrine Kenner (author), published by Lo Scarabeo in 2015. This deck takes works of classic impressionist paintings and recreates them to fit the meanings of the tarot. It pulls from works of Edonard Manet, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gough, and Paul Gauguin. A truly beautiful deck, especially for those who have interest in the art world.
Prisma Visions Tarot by James R. Eads, 3rd ed., published in 2016. The deck itself is beautiful, though perhaps not for the beginning tarot reader. The suits all fit together to create a master picture displaying the energy and progression of the suits. The figures and images flow from one card to the next, showing movement within the stationary cards.
Rider-Waite by A. E. Waite. The deck used in these photos is currently out of print. I won’t say much about this deck, as it is fairly standard and probably one of the most produced decks. It serves as a standard for many tarot readers and artists, depicting classic images relating in part to the original playing cards that tarot developed from.
The Spiral Tarot by Kay Steventon. With turn-of-the-20th-century style art, this deck takes from the classic Rider-Waite deck and brings it up to the late 1800-early 1900’s, a time of industry and contemplation for the western world as it moved forward into a more technological era. I am a little biased toward this deck as it’s been my main deck for 15 years. The cards are thick with additional symbolism that can be tricky to pick out of the traditional Rider-Waite, and adds layers of Greek myth throughout the Major Arcana.
Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley (designer and author) and Lady Frieda Harris (artist), published by U. S. Games Systems, Inc., in 1978. This deck takes from most esoteric imagery, and requires the reader of the deck to have deep, initiate knowledge of the symbolism used. There is nothing within the cards that is without meaning. However, on a more surface level, the deck draws from Egyptian symbolism and from the style of the Marseille Tarot (mostly seen within the Minor Arcana). For those looking for deeper understandings of the universe, I recommend this deck. I would caution that this deck is highly advanced, and might be avoided for the budding reader.
Vampire Tarot – by Nathalie Hertz, published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. in 2000. As mentioned above in reference to the Faerie Tarot, Hertze is a French artist who gained her notability through the publication of her tarot decks. The Vampire Tarot was a bestselling deck upon its release, and plays on more gothic symbolism, providing more jarring interpretations to allow for the accepting of negative forces within the world to compliment the positive forces. The deck brings together myths and legends in the form of vampires, which ‘gives tarot readers a macabre passport’ into the world of divination.