Sunday, 24 October 2010
Bad rep well deserved? King of Swords
Taking a historical perspective, drawing once again on Paul Huson's fascinating book, we see Etteilla interpreting the King of Swords as "A man of the judiciary, a man of law, a judge, an attorney...a senator, a businessman, an advocate, an agent, a doctor, a physician" These views of the King of Swords as either judge or doctor are repeated by later tarot authorities such as Mathers, the Golden Dawn, and Arthur Waite. Interestingly, when reversed Etteilla spoke of "wickedness, perversity... crime, cruelty, atrocity, inhumanity." The Golden Dawn, while listing positive traits such as being "active, clever, subtle, fierce," also say, "but inclined to domineer."
This fits well with how the King of Swords has appeared to me in readings: as a plastic surgeon, a domineering tyrant of a husband, or (on a subtler level) as the querent's inner critic. On the more positive side, though, he can represent taking decisions in a very calm, rational way, weighing up all the pros and cons without being swayed by emotion, a trait which has sometimes been called for in love readings in particular!
I find the golden crown on this King interesting, worn on top of his helmet. This may just be to differentiate him from any other armoured warrior, but it speaks to me of his wisdom, of fighting for what he believes is right. This is not the hasty charging in of the Knight of Swords, but a much deliberated choice. That doesn't make him always right, but I would hope it makes him less prone to rash decisions, more open to researching the question before rushing in.
previous post. This person is so used to making decisions and weighing up different aspects and arguments. There is a suggestion of wisdom, of having a vocation to help make tough decisions.
However, not everyone may have such positive associations to this kind of authority figure, and there are certainly valid questions about how often justice and judgement coincide!
After this little glimpse of different variations, and look at a number of interpretations both historical and modern, what are you left with? How do you interpret the King of Swords?
Images: Radiant Rider Waite Tarot, Bohemian Gothic Tarot (1st Edition), Gay Tarot.