Thursday, 21 October 2010
Bad rep well deserved? Queen of Swords
In particular, in these recent decks, I was struck by how the Queen of Swords was portrayed. In the new A King's Journey Tarot, she's represented as a bitter, old shrew. In the Tarot of the Celtic Fairies, she's a little needle-wielding fairy who pokes people she doesn't like, who she thinks are lying or just being vain. And in the second edition of the Bohemian Gothic Tarot, from being a rather dark but demure figure, with a suggestion of intellectual leanings and a warm heart, she has become a sword-wielding vampire. This isn't totally clear in the images here, but if you examine the second queen closely, her hair is much blacker, and there is only a hint of red at her throat, while tiny canines poke out the sides of her mouth. Also, from just holding a book in the first version, in the second edition her other hand is now wrapped around the hilt of the sword that before merely stood beside her.
With Swords representing intellect and communication, and the Queen being the nurturing aspect of the suit, I see her being a good fit for a blogging mum, for instance, interested in sharing ideas around how to live life and deal with family and relationships (or cleaning and plumbing) :-) Good examples might be Hestia, Kismet's Companion, or Ania! She could also be someone who uses their mind to think of good ways to manage others and their emotions, and who communicates clearly and kindly.
In the Rider-Waite-Smith version of this card, we see a woman on a throne, with a sword held straight up, suggesting a dedication to the truth, and with a tassel around one wrist, a Victorian symbol of widowhood. Hence someone who has been through emotional pain and come through it all the wiser. I also like the idea, based again on Victorian society, of a widow as a woman who is now, perhaps for the first time, in charge of her destiny, emotionally and intellectually mature enough to make something of it.
We find another positive interpretation from Aleister Crowley (whose birth card was actually the Queen of Swords), who said of her: "intensely perceptive, a keen observer, a subtle interpreter, an intense individualist, swift and accurate at recording ideas; in action confident, in spirit gracious and just." So, what's not to like?
In terms of her sword-wielding, Lon Milo Duquette highlights that: "Using the sword of discretion and reason, the Queen has separated the higher faculties of the intellect from the influences of the lower nature."
Still, if we look at a deck such as the Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn, we see the Thoth Tarot's interpretation taken to a bloody extreme, which on the face of it would not incline anyone to think well of this lady.
So, cruel b**ch or insightful woman, what's your take on the Queen of Swords?
Images: Bohemian Gothic First Edition, Bohemian Gothic 2nd Edition, Initiatory Tarot of the Golden Dawn.