This is part of the weekly focus on a tarot card. To read the rest of the series on the Ace of Swords, check out the following links:
The Ace of Swords has two components: the number and the element/suit. Its number is 1 and the suit is Swords, which corresponds to the element of Air.
Of course we need Air to breathe. It’s often said that we can’t survive very long without Water, but it’s Air that we really can’t be doing with out. It feeds our brains, and a deprivation of Air can and eventually will cause damage to the brain. It’s no wonder that the element of Air corresponds to the intellect.
Air also corresponds to communication and messages. This is because of the Roman god Mercury, or Hermes in Greek mythology, who delivered messages on his winged feet. It also correlates to speed for the same reason.
Our breath carries our thoughts made manifest into sounds. We use our voices and our breath projects the sound so that we can share our ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
It’s communication and intellect that give the Swords their doubled edge. There are two sides to communication: words that hurt and words that heal. Consider the rhetoric of political figures and the ideas that come across. Consider the rhetoric of radicals who seek change. There are good message and destructive messages that come about through communication.
There are two sides to knowledge: knowledge for good and knowledge used for bad. Consider the discovery of atomic energy. There have been benefits, but there has likewise been devastation as a result of this knowledge. Or, to go into mythology, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil that Eve and Adam ate from.
In Game of Thrones, for example, those who live the longest keep their knowledge to themselves. They are only useful alive if they have knowledge that isn’t shared. So even the keeping of knowledge can mean the difference between safety and death.
This is why the Swords generally can get a bad rap, because of the destruction they have the potential to cause. However, they are double sided, and can equally be used for good. A common example is that they can be used for knighting or executing.
The Swords call for us to remember that we have a power within us, and with every breath we take we are always faced with how it is we are going to use that breath. Will we work toward healing or destruction, however major or minor? Our words and our thoughts carry a heavy weight, and we are responsible for how it’s shifted. Many people don’t like to acknowledge this weight, the responsibility we all carry from day to day, and thus, the Swords are seen as ‘negative.’
However, if we are aware of what we are saying, if we are aware of what we are thinking, of the knowledge we share, and we concentrate on using the energy of Air for positive means, then while there are difficult lessons within the suit of Swords, we can still gain positive experiences, and thus, create positive experiences.
The Aces have to do with the number 1. With all 1’s there is the residue of the 10 that came before it. The 1’s are the beginning of a new cycle, a new set of lessons. With those lessons is the knowledge carried over that was learned from the last cycle. Thus, the Ace of Swords is a showing of new ideas, new messages that may arrive, or something new in you to communicate. It invites you to reflect upon past messages and cycles, and see what you’ll carry forth with you on this new start.
What’s your experience with the Swords? How about the element of Air? Has the number 1 been a repeating theme in your life? Let’s talk about it! Share in the comments your thoughts!
The Decks Used
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.