This is part of the weekly fgenerally isn’t as much ocus on a tarot card. To read the rest of the series on the Ace of Swords, check out the following links:
Table of Contents
When we initially look at most Aces, there isn’t as much symbolism as the rest of the cars. However, there are still key images within the cards that help to give us clues and insights to their properties.
The crown is seen in most tarot cards showing the Ace of Swords. This is the symbol of thinking. Not just pondering, but of logical, rational, and open thought.
When we consider what our Crown Chakra is, located at the top of the head above the Third Eye, we might remember that it is the openness to the messages of the Universe. While our Third Eye helps us to see what isn’t visible to the average eye, to open ourselves to our intuition, the Crown Chakra is about hearing that which is of a higher elevation and plane of existence, and what it has to say to us. This links back to the correlation of Air, the bringer of messages.
Colors: Grey, Blue, Yellow
While blue is often seen as the color of Water, it is also the color of the Throat Chakra, which corresponds to communication. The Swords are equally about communication as they are about intellect, and often knowledge and communication go hand in hand. How else are you supposed to get your ideas out there if you don’t speak?
However, more than just communication, it’s the color of Truth. The Swords are related to the Law and Justice, and thus, the search and necessity of Truth.
In each of the cards I described in my first entry, there is an element of yellow somewhere in it, whether it is the Crown, on the hilt, an orb radiating, or the wheat in the field. The element Air is represented by the color of yellow.
Yellow also relates to the intellect, and the idea of shining a light into the darkness—metaphorically speaking, gaining knowledge where before there was none.
The color grey is used in all the Aces as a background, and denotes a neutrality. As the Aces represent a beginning, the development of an idea and the gathering of energy to bring that idea into fruition, it is neither positive nor negative, neither a blessing nor a warning. It simply is.
In all but the Ace of Coins, there are hills or mountains depicted somewhere. In each Ace, there is a different ‘difficulty’ level of the appearance of the hill. The Ace of cups shows an easier looking hill, one which might invite people to climb and have their lunch on without much difficulty.
Hills or mountains generally represent a task that needs to be completed, and its difficulty level. Some might call them obstacles. In the Ace of Swords, the mountains are numerous and they are sharp. The cycle of the Swords is a difficult journey, with difficult lessons to learn.
On the Rider-Waite Ace of Swords, there are distinctly two types of plants hanging from the crown. There are differences in identification within the tarot community. Some argue that it’s laurel and oak, while others say it’s palm and olive. Either way, the meanings represent the same. The laurel/palm represents victory while the palm/olive branch represents peace. This corresponds with the nature of the double-edge of the sword, which can bring about both.
However, a further definition of the palm is not just victory, but a victory through sacrifice. The Swords, and the Ace in particular has been seen as a means of cutting away outworn ideals in order to grow, kind of like pruning fruit trees for a more abundant harvest.
In the Thoth Ace of Swords, in Greek letters on the shaft of the sword translates to Thelema. Thelema is the belief system very closely associated with Aleister Crowley. In The Book of Lies, Crowley writes that he himself did not write the book, but rather that he was transcribing the messages of the divine. The core concept of Thelema is
Do as Thou Wilt
Shall be the whole of the Law
Love is the Law
Love under Will
The concept is to follow the True Will so long as it doesn’t hinder the Will of any one else. If you follow the Will, then you will be within the flow of the Universe.
When we think of rabbits as a means of symbolism, we might think of Ostara, or we might think of Easter, which generally leads us to thinking of what rabbits do, which is breed—hence breeding like rabbits. This imagery doesn’t really correspond to the Ace of Swords though.
Rabbits are quick thinkers, and respond to the external world with caution yet with haste. It’s this swift movement and thought that corresponds to the Swords, and perhaps might have been what was intended in the Faerie Tarot’s inclusion of the rabbit.
Yod, sometimes depicted as leaves in the tarot, is a Hebrew letter which corresponds to the Qabalistic Tree of Life. The Yod is the first letter in the word for God, Yahaweh: YHVH. It represents beginning, but more specifically, the beginning in the presence of divinity. This divinity is the message that the energy of the Ace of Swords is coming from something higher than the mundane. All the Aces have Yod present with the exception of the Ace of Pentacles, which deals only with material matters.
How do the symbols and images in the Ace of Swords speak to you? Let me know in the comments!
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.