Ace of Swords: Inspiration and Expiration

Before we discuss the Ace of Swords, let’s first review Aces and Swords.  Aces are the cards that indicate new beginnings, and Swords correspond to the element of Air.  Swords are symbolic of intellect, rationality, reason, wit, problem solving, and challenges.  They can also signify medical care, ill health, betrayal, and sadness.
Because I like to get bad news out of the way first,  let’s begin with Barbara G. Walker’s Ace of Swords, titled, as you can see, “Doom.”

Clutching a sword, a sorceress stares at the reader impassively, sizing them up. Behind her swirl the spirits who float in the ghostly ether.  A crowned skull is at her feet, not only to remind us of death and doom, but to proclaim that in the world of Air, intellect is king. 
Interestingly, I notice, right now, that the swirling spirits look like sperm fertilizing an egg! This, to me, symbolizes that sorrow and strife can be used to create something new. 
Since Ace of Swords signifies new beginnings, if it appears in a negative reading or if you feel a warning vibe from it, take it as something that may be preventable.  After all, the sorceress isn’t stabbing at the viewer; she’s simply eyeing him warily.  The questioner might be able to use his problem solving skills to nip this in the bud. 

Beginning the cycle of Ace of Swords cards that depict a lone sword standing point-down, I should like to present the Ace of Swords from Kris Waldherr’s Goddess Deck.  The sword stands in the arid desert, the pyramids in the background. The culture of ancient Egypt (Isis is the goddess chosen to represent the Swords in the Goddess deck) is rich in invention, story, art,  theology, medicine, and government.  This intellectual fertility belies the seemingly lifeless desert.  Air people are gifted in these realms, and seem to be good at everything they try.  The Ace of Swords could thus be a signpost to a new interest for the questioner, one they will be particularly sharp at (sorry for the pun).
In an interpersonal reading, the Ace of Swords may indicate that the person the questioner is curious about is very intellectual and competent.  It may also be a little heads-up that this person may be more comfortable in her head than she is anywhere else in her body. This person may be emotionally cold. On the other hand, this person might be witty, well-traveled, and fascinating.
The ankh and a bull’s head glyph are etched into the sword’s handle.  The ankh is a symbol of life, luck, and love, something we cannot have without intelligence.  The Bull’s Head symbolizes the bulls of Egypt who represented Ptah, the god of crafts and inventor of the Word. Word is thought made visible, which is a fitting paradigm for Air!

The beautiful Mary Guinan art used to illustrate Julian De Burgh’s Celtic Ace of Swords shows the sword softly glowing, and vines growing out of and around the stone of the window. The brightness of a passionate intellect shines, and sometimes bursts, forth from the brow of its owner.  Athena, an intellectual, Air-y goddess (Raven Kaldera chose her as the patron goddess of the Sun in Aquarius), was born from the brow of Zeus, the ultimate idea. Her birth came with pain for Zeus–the worst migraine times 100–reminding us that Air is the element of pain and discomfort.  Some ideas are breech  births, or involve a difficult gestation. Like the ivy on the card, sometimes ideas must push through a layers of difficulty to shine forth. 
Here, the sword is in a block of stone, an altar.  Remember The Sword In the Stone, and Arthur having to pull the sword out of the stone to prove himself worthy to be king? The Ace of Swords may present a challenge that calls for the questioner to prove herself, either to the world or to herself.  Perhaps there is a job interview or the questioner is returning to school.  The open window behind the altar shows the road to adventure, and perhaps success. 

Robin Wood’s Ace of Swords is, like all her cards, rich with symbolism. What stands out to me is the location of the Sword–instead of planted, it is floating in its element, surrounded by a “brain storm” of clouds.  Or, perhaps the clouds, which form a tunnel around a flash of light, are muddled, everyday thoughts, and the light is inspiration. Inspiration means, literally, breathing in, as well as messages from the Muses.  Again, very fitting thought for Air.  The Ace of Swords can tell the questioner of coming “divine inspiration, total disillusion”  just as KMFDM sang of in their song “Light.” 
The blue stone at the center of the hilt is deep blue of clarity and calm.  It is hard to tell whether the sun is glinting off the blade, or if the light comes from within the blade itself.  Either way, the intellect is anointed–it is even crowned with laurel and white roses. The twining plants are similar to the Greek caduceus, the symbol of healing and medicine.  The element of Air heals through invention, through finding cures. 
The sword, while it inflicts pain, and can kill, also slices through illusion, like Kali’s knife.  It hacks through the brambles that form a barrier around the Edens of our dreams.  It cuts a clear, clean swath, and lets in the sunlight and fresh air.  It may bleed us, but, as Rumi says,  “The Wound is the place where the Light comes in,” where we learn love and gratitude, the greatest knowledge there is.

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Geminis are a blessed crew.  Natalie Portman and Sean Yseult from White Zombie are both Geminis [note: this is probably the first time Natalie Portman and any member of White Zombie have been mentioned in the same sentence], and they both have things in common–they are both talented and charming. They both have traveled the world. They both have exuberant demeanors. They both seem to be great at absolutely everything they try.  My Gemini friend is the same way, reading books voraciously, studying everything from baboons to co-ops, and traveling around the world.

Aligned with the element of Air, and ruled by Mercury, Geminis are quick and adventurous.  Hermes, the Greek messenger god, could go anywhere on Earth, even the places other gods couldn’t go to or get out of.  Hermes could travel into Hades if he wanted to, but he preferred to travel in more luxurious places, like Elysium or Olympus. He also wasn’t a fan of the bottom of the ocean.

Let’s look at this from a symbolic perspective.  Gemini, being ruled by air, prefers the linear smoothness of the intellect, and the realms of Poseidon and Hades, being of Water and Earth, respectively, are metaphors for the leaky, soggy emotions and the deep, dark, messy subconscious.  Of course, being human beings, Geminis have just as much subconscious and emotions as everybody else, no matter how hard they may try to look cool, breezy, and effortless. In fact, it is vitally important that Geminis accept and integrate these parts of themselves, not only for their mental health, but to improve their communication skills and affect real change in people’s lives.

Gemini is the sign of the twins. Ideally, each twin would be a mix of dark and light, neither one banished to the darkness, or Hades, while the other one is allowed to shine on Olympus. Such was the case with Castor and Pollux, the twins of constellation fame.  Castor was mortal, and Pollux was a god. This is a very fitting metaphor for a Gemini. Often, a Gemini wants to maintain an image of near-perfection. Actually, just an image may not be good enough. The Gemini will want perfection, period. One of the things I observe in Natalie Portman is that there are absolutely no cracks. She is perfect. I cannot imagine her having any flaws, or any pain, and, being a very flawed human being,  I cannot relate to her.  Now, just because I can’t relate to her doesn’t mean nobody can (I doubt any Geminis are losing any sleep over me not relating to them, that’s for sure), but a risk of perfection is loneliness and perhaps alienation.  More than that, repression of the watery side, those negative emotions, or the darkness or crudeness of the earthy side, leads to emotional upheaval. Eventually, madness ensues.

Let’s look at the story of Helen of Troy and her twin sister, Clytemnestra.  Helen of Troy was the beauty whose face launched a thousand ships. Clytemnestra, her twin sister, was married off at age 12, a mother at 13, watched Agememnon kill her baby before he raped her, then forced her to marry him. Agememnon then had their daughter, Iphegenia, sacrificed, so Clytemnestra had Agememnon killed, only to be married by her daughter Electra and her son Laertes. Basically, if there was a suckiest life contest, Clytemnestra would probably win.

Next to a Gemini Helen of Troy, with her charm, free spirit, and never ending luck, it is easy to feel like a Clytemnestra–plain, unglamorous, and long-suffering.  However,  a Gemini is not only Helen of Troy, but Clytemnestra. Geminis are just really, really good at splitting off their Clytemnestras, and drowning her, or burying her deep.  But Clytemnestra has a nasty habit of bursting out of whatever cage she is put in and beginning a reign of slaughter against her oppressors. Eventually, the dark messy watery emotions just can’t take any more of the abuse.  Geminis, and all of us, if we are to have healthy Gemini energy, must take good care of our Clytemnestras. We must treat her kindly. We must talk soothingly to ourselves when we are depressed, or anxious, or furiously angry.  Also, we must remember what happened to Castor and Pollux, the twin brothers of Helen and Clytemnestra. Castor, the humble half of the Dioscuri, was killed, however,  his nobility and love elevated him to near immortal status. At the end of his legend, he and his immortal half-brother, Pollux, spend half their time in glorious Olympus, and half their time in humble Hades.  The humble human can be exalted.

Gemini energy, when fully integrated and balanced, creates a fun and friendly temperament.  Also, the Geminis have extremely active minds, with many interests, and a surplus of talent.  They are also willing to go through uncomfortable adventures. One of the best examples of a balanced Gemini is Sean Yseult.

Sean Yseult was the bass player for White Zombie, but that’s not all. Growing up, she was also a dancer and a straight-A student, and has been a visual artist and pianist since she was a little girl. She is now not only a musician, but a fashion designer. Reading her memoir I’m in the Band is a treat because not only is her writing well crafted and honest, it is also classy and restrained (Geminis are hardly ever crude. They are very eloquent). She is not above talking about the uncomfortable parts of her life, the mortal, messy incidences.  Sean Yseult also does not seem to be crafting any false persona; what you see is what you get with her. I may sound like a gushing fan girl, but, drawing the parallel to the Dioscuri, Sean Yseult has been mistaken for being just a Castor (just hanging out in Rob’s shadow–don’t worry, I talk about him in the Capricorn entry, “The Seagoat”, all the bad connotations that go with women in music in general and metal in particular), when she was a nicely balanced Castor and Pollux, Earth and Olympus.

Archetypes and People associated with Gemini

Good Twin/Bad Twin

The Dioscuri–Castor and Pollux, Clytemnestra and Helen

Hermes/Mercury

Journalists

Travel writers

Eros/Cupid with his little wings, and his relationship with Psyche–he kept her in the dark because, on a psycho-symbolic level, he was afraid of his persona disintegrating

Linguists

Bringing in Gemini Energy: Questions for Reflection

1) How do you treat your Clytemnestra? Do you resolve your negative feelings in a healthy way, or do you repress them out of fear? If so, why are you afraid of these feelings? How else can you handle them?

2) Do you tend to divide people into Castors and Polluxes? Do you treat the janitor the same way you treat the CEO? The plain woman the same as the supermodel? This may be completely unconscious on your part, and not be done out of maliciousness, but as a shield for your own reputation. Pay close attention. Also, are there any parts of yourself that you have deemed unworthy? If not sure, pay attention to your guilty pleasures, and the secret dreams that you don’t want others to know about. Why not? Admit these things. Celebrate them.

3) Gemini rules communication and travel.  Exercise your words to bring a quick burst of energy–write in a journal, play with poetry, write someone a letter (As a Venus in Gemini, I can tell you that words have a lot of power–sexy, sexy power).

Raven Kaldera helped me fill in the gaps of the Dioscuri story–buy his book, MythAstrology: Exploring Planets and Pantheonshere. It is amazing and will melt your face clean off. Your face will heal.

Page of Swords, or, A Really Snippy 12-Year-Old

When I was having my conversation with Kafi Gaultier about how best to learn tarot cards, she pulled a card from her deck as an example. The card was the Page of Swords.  She showed it to me, and said, “Let’s say you pull this card in the morning. Be on the lookout.  Think about what it means. Think about what really stands out to you about the card.  You may get a paper cut, or you may have to deal with a snippy twelve-year-old.”

Why a twelve-year-old?  Why, because we’re talking about the Page/Princess. Pages and Princesses tend to indicate a child or young adult in the questioner’s life, and usually a female. However, just like the Princesses of Pentacles, the Princess/Page of Swords can also indicate an aspect of the questioner, and may not always indicate a female.

Kris Waldherr’s Princess of Swords

The people that Princess/Page of Swords may indicate can, indeed, be snippy. Swords are aligned with the element of Air.  Air is the element associated with strife, conflict, and problems, including the need for medical care–the “scalpel.”  However, Swords are also associated with mental acuity, intelligence, problem solving, communication, and travel. As such, drawing the Swords (ha ha, I just got that as I typed it) is not necessarily a negative thing. The Princess of Swords can indicate a decisive person, a person who knows what she or he wants.  It can also indicate a young person who is cool and calm under pressure, someone who is rational, someone who is a problem solver.  Let’s say someone wants to know how well their grades will turn out this semester. If the Princess of Swords pops up, they can feel a little more confident. The Princess can also remind the questioner to not slack off on the flash cards and outlines. 

Since Kris Waldherr chose Isis to represent the Suit of Swords, it is important to discuss grief and pain, which Swords may indicate. Isis was in terrible grief after the murder of her husband, Osirus. Even if the questioner is an adult, they may find themselves regressing, or grieving in a childlike way (which is certainly not a bad thing; what is “an adult” way to grieve, anyway?).  Isis also brought Osirus back to life by sewing him back together–this Page may indicate medical care or a sick young person. 


 

The Celtic Princess of Swords is seen in a relaxed but alert pose. There is no doubt that she can defend herself if necessary.  Since this is the Swords suit, which is mental (as opposed to the physically energetic Wands/Staves, or the emotional Cups, or the practical Pentacles/Coins), and aligned with communicative Air, this defense– or offense, if the card is reversed–is typically verbal. The person that this card may indicate may be the wielder of a scalpel tongue. When upright and happy, this Princess is witty and eloquent, a charming joke teller and raconteur. If someone who works with children is curious about how a new kid is going to turn out, the Princess of Swords may indicate a child who is intelligent, maybe even gifted, and motivated, but may be socially aloof, or even catty.  

You may also notice that the Celtic Princess of swords was drawn by Mary Guinan as fixing on a point with a clear, intense gaze. Swords, and the Air element, indicate foresight and diligent planning. When this Princess has a goal, she will get it.  


An examination of Robin Wood’s Page of Swords reveals a few things. One, the Pages/Princesses of Swords all seem to prefer the color blue (except for Skuld; we’ll get to her in a second).  Blue is the color of the Heavens. It is associated with Air.  It is a calming color, and the darker blues are associated with higher learning, intelligence, and professionalism–think of all the schools that use blue as a color. Robin Wood’s Page is clad in sky blue, to indicate clear thinking and foresight. 

Two, the Page is brandishing the sword, but in a joyous manner.  She is thrilled with her capacity for ideas. Her management of her sword, which we may think of as symbolic of the brain’s ability to cut away obstacles that keep us from enlightenment, seems to be parting the clouds above her, letting in the sunshine of epiphany. Of course, this is just my interpretation of the card right now. You may see something else. 

Third, the Page has winged shoes. This is clever because of the allusion to Hermes, aka Mercury, who was the god of communication and travel, among other things. Swords can indicate swift movement and swift messages.  What details stand out to you? 


Our last girl is Barbara G. Walker’s Princess of Swords, also known as Skuld. 


Skuld here is a Valkyrie.  As such, she’s not a cuddly little girl. She is stringent, tough, and bold. The Valkyrie’s would lead troops into battle and gather up the souls of the brave afterward. The storm clouds below her (you can also see storm clouds in Robin Wood’s Page of Swords card) indicates this possible strife and trouble. Depending on what you see, the questioner may be able to rise above the problems, or part them, or they might not. Other cards, and whether the Page of Swords is upright or reversed (upside down) will let you know. 

Anyway, not just any soul was acceptable to Skuld for gathering. She was only interested in the brave, the honorable, and the intelligent. She had a keen eye for the real thing, and no tolerance for hypocrisy or phoniness. The person in question may just have that gift for discernment, a mind like an X-ray or a laser that is able to see through any person they meet to see if they are the real deal.  They have high standards, because it is illogical, in their opinion, to settle for anything less. 


Because the Princess of Swords may indicate an aspect of the questioner, she may choose to send messages through dreams.  The dreamer may see a young person, especially a young girl, who may appear to have the characteristics of the Princess or Page of Swords. She may be wearing blue, and carrying a sharp object. Or, the dreamer may find him- or herself back in school, preparing for a test. The child in the dream may also be grieving.   


Archetypes and people associated with the Page/Princess of Swords, Positive (upright): 

Precocious children 

A very cerebral young person 

A quick wit 

A very efficient manager

The ambitious new worker 

Travelers 

A child who needs medical care, but will heal 

A convalescing person


Negative (reversed) Associations

Scalpel tongues 

Malicious gossips 

Someone who is choosing not to live up to their mental potential 

Someone who is not thinking clearly

Someone running with scissors

The hyper-logical, at the expense of their hearts and bodies. 

A grieving child, or grieving inner child 

A sickly person

Aquarius

Aquarius. The name itself is a mix of liquid and airy vowels and consonants.  It sounds like a charm, and the power of Aquarians is charm.

Aquarians have a grasp of the abstract, the big picture. Like Gemini, the sign of the Twins, and Virgo, the sign of the Virgin (both ruled by airy, quicksilver Mercury), Aquarius is also symbolized by a human being, the Water Bearer.  They are humanist and secular.  Full of intelligence and idealism, Aquarians want to change the world, and they can, with the power of Uranus, the planet of change, revolution, and innovation.

Aquarius is a surprising energy. As an air sign, it is logical and mental, but citizens of the earth born in this sign are very caring for their fellow man, and are willing to follow the most illogical flights to improve the world.  From airplanes to iPods, Aquarian energy, with its willingness to entertain unconventional approaches to solving problems, determination, and mental agility, embraces technology and moves it along (and remember, this is a form of energy, like all the other signs–a person does not need to necessarily have a planet in Aquarius to enjoy this energy).  This is the energy of Athena, goddess of war and craftmanship. Aquarian creativity is mostly practical, but it can also be wonderfully off-the-wall–think of pop art and post-modernism.

Aquarians want to make the world a perfect place. Equality and justice for all are very important to Aquarians. However, Aquarian energy, when it is unbalanced, wants to save the world, but forget about the loved ones who populate an individual’s world. An unbalanced Aquarian will leave her children home alone for weeks while she floats down the Amazon trying to save the rainforest. This is because unbalanced Aquarian energy becomes too airy and mental. Emotions can frighten the unbalanced Aquarian. Saving a world full of strangers is easier for him than talking to his wife. An Aquarian can also be irritated by other peoples’ messy emotions. Look at Athena–this was no comforting goddess. She wasn’t carried under a woman’s heart; she was born fully clad in armor from her father’s forehead. Emotion isn’t practical, and keeps one from taking action.

Another thing that can unbalance Aquarius is holding onto ideas so tightly they become fodder for arrogance. When this happens, the energy of their ruling planet, Uranus, cannot reach them. Uranus prefers the flexible, the unconventional, and the open. This does not mean that Aquarius should be wishy-washy, not at all, but they must strike a balance between their love of their Utopian ideals and their wonderful curiosity. Arrogance cannot be open to new ideas. I mean, how could it?

While Gemini energy is aligned with the Masculine, and Virgo energy is aligned with the Feminine, Aquarius is androgynous. It is too inclusive and unconventional to change one gender over the other. And it is that welcoming inclusivity, along with their lightning minds and idealism, that is so beautiful about Aquarius.

Aquarius archetypes:
Athena
Prometheus, the titan who gave fire to human beings to advance our progress, and died for it.
Tiresias, the blind man who could see into the future, and who lived both as a man and a woman
(please see Raven Kaldera’s book!)

Questions for consideration:
1) are your Feminine and Masculine sides balanced?  Are you more comfortable with one over the other? Remember, Feminine/Masculine alignment is not about genitals. It’s about certain qualities.
2) How can you become more inclusive? How can you share your generosity and caring with more people? On the other side of the coin, how can you share more with your loved ones?
3) What are your ideals? What is important to you–easing the plight of the homeless, caring for animals, preventing the abuse of the elderly, teaching children? What tiny actions can you take to help your cause?
4) What prejudices do you hold? What will it take for you to release them?

The Sixes

The number six, in numerology, is associated with harmony, calm, recovery, recuperation, the past, acceptance, serenity, and family. It is an others oriented number, and is the number of service and community.
The keyword for the Six of Pentacles is generosity. Either the querent (the person the reading is for) is generous himself, or someone else will be generous to them.

Barbara G. Walker’s Six of Pentacles, shown here, shows a lounging woman donating to a musician who has come to beg her favors. She gives him a coin like it ain’t no thang.  The Six of Pentacles shows the opportunity to give in a way that makes the giver feel good, or receive with no strings attached.

The Six of Pentacles can also indicate the receiving of an honor or an award, as seen here in the Celtic deck.

The generosity of the Six of Pentacles is fair and just, which is why Robin Wood chose to show her benefactor holding the scales.

The Six of Pentacles is also generous with knowledge and friendship, as demonstrated by the Hindu goddess of luck, Lakshmi.

The Six of Swords is a card of flight, of respite, and of travel. It isn’t really a card of rest, more like a lull in the action where you can regroup.

This respite may not exactly be relaxing, as you can see in the Celtic deck. Some days you feel like the warrior carrying off the spoils of war, and sometimes you feel like you are the spoils. Either way, there won’t be a lot of resting going on. There may be some desperate scrambling, like the lady here who is trying to grab a sword. This may be a tense time, even though nothing may appear to be happening. Swords are mental, so other people may not see the struggle.

Here, the people in the golden boat look like they’re going to have to confront the Sphinx. Again, this may be a mental challenge, not a physical one, and may not be external, but internal. Life is full of riddles, and you may be stagnant unless you take a risk and answer one of your “riddles.” What riddles are in your life?

Isis, the representative of the Swords in the Goddess deck, is forlorn as she cruises the Nile. Perhaps she’s looking for pieces of her husband, Osirus, so she can put him back together. Have you ever had to “pick up the pieces” in your life? It sucks, but at least the worst is over.

Robin Wood’s Six of Swords is the most soothing. The ghostly figure can be a guardian spirit, or an angel, or a returning loved one. The swan is a symbol of grace, and the swan’s wings fold protectively around the figure as the swan floats him toward a new life. This reminds us that we are not alone.
I’m kind of going through a Six of Swords time of my life right now, so I’m going to focus on them.

The Six of Wands (Staves, in Kris Waldherr’s Goddess deck) represent victory and glory. However, it should be remembered that it is not the last stage of the 1-10 cycle of the minor arcanas. There is more joy and adventure coming up! Be sure to enjoy this Six of Wands energy!

This fiery redhead is Freyja, the Norse goddess of beauty and creativity. In Norse culture, the foundry was a font of fiery creative power.  Iron works were not only useful, but works of pride.

This Robin Wood card is full of details. Perhaps you are drawn to the horse, one of the children in the background, or one of the crystals on top of a wand. What draws you to this detail? Pretend you are the object. What does it mean to you?

The Six of Wands is full of joy and power!

The sun motif on Barbara G. Walker’s card is no accident.
Reversed, Six of Wands is a sign of “a dream deferred,” delays, even humiliation.

Six of Cups is the card of nostalgia, childhood, and happy family life. It tends to show up when daydreaming about the past, or when a childhood buddy is about to come a-calling.

Robin Wood’s Six of Cups makes me smile whenever I see it. Look at how cute it is! It suggests a happy, idyllic time with a loved one, where you’re just having innocent fun.

In the Celtic deck, an older couple looks happily at the six cups floating. It is a card of reminiscing of good times.

This card is quite simple. It’s a lovely cottage and six cups full of flowers. What kind of flowers do you think they are? Are they rosemary for remembrance? Little daisies for innocence?

Now we’ve all had our sunshine and flowers, and Barbara G. Walker wants to throw in some nightmare fuel. Here Six of Cups reminds us of vulnerability, and of being small, and how scary grown-ups can be. Is the mother towering over the child in this picture benevolent? It’s 9 o’clock–do you know where your inner child is?