Rider Waite Smith, and Thoth
Occult Name: The Root of the Powers of Air
Ace of Swords in timing: One week; or the season of summer
Qabalah: The airy aspect of Kether
Reading with Playing Cards: Equivalent to the Ace of Spades
Astrological: Gemini, Libra and Aquarius
The Ace of Swords Meaning (RWS & Thoth)
Other times, this card tells us that we have made it through a troublesome circumstance and have come out on top, or that our initial assessment of how to move forth was right on, and we're where we need to be. Its primary messages would be for one to use logic and reasoning, and to know that they have what it takes to win, regardless of that it may not seem possible. As well, sometimes we delude ourselves in denial of the facts before us. This card tells us that when we do, we obfuscate the truth of our respective identity, universe, and spirituality.
The RWS Ace of Swords
A hand reaches out of a dark cloud within the Ace of Swords. The sword it is holding has a crown, and there is an olive branch and palm foliage hanging from it. The dark grey cloud refers to heaviness of thought, which denotes a matter of difficulty; that the cloud (and the sky) are neutral in hue, references impartiality, or neutrality. The white rays emanating from the hand depict illumination, understanding, purity, and also new beginnings.
The sword is dual edged; one side is just, the other may hack wildly and cruelly out of fear. (The blue refers to intelligence, reason and logic, wisdom, loyalty, and stability. The white refers to intuition, innocence and purity, illumination, light, and sincerity). The sword itself is both a weapon of war and a weapon of peace. Sometimes it takes such a tool to bring peace about; but not in actually using it, as war begets war. It is in the presence of the potentiality for counter or greater issue (threat of war), that sometimes peace is established. Within this concept lies the recommendation of standing one's ground, and contextually speaking, that's to defend their will.
There are Yods floating about, they have fallen from the skies. Yods represent Divine energies and Divine consciousness, and also awareness. In these things exists the potentiality for magick, in the way that magick is consciously creating change that aligns with one's will. They also represent the path of Yod, which connects Chesed to Tiphareth (the path of the Hermit); a significant message in this, is that true justice serves the Unity (everyone). Six is a number of perfection and completion (there are six Yods).
The sword entering the crown, speaks of sexual union, which in turn alludes to the uniting of opposing forces; and the crown itself refers to victory, mastery, and Kether. The olive branch is symbolic of peace, goodwill, friendship, and strength; also crop yields, and in that, abundance. As well the olive branch alludes to a teaching from the Talmud, which goes "Better, let my food be as bitter as an olive from the hands of G-d and not as sweet as honey from the hands of flesh and blood"; this quote references truth. The palm frond refers to victory, peace, longevity and immortality; from this emerges a message that victory is achieved through persistence. We see small hills in the foreground, which denote that through life's ongoing journey there will be issues at times. If we look at them as being mere challenges, we can move beyond them. If not, each one becomes a mountain, that can block us until we learn to see it differently. Astrologically speaking, Gemini, Libra and Aquarius refer to mental acuity, diplomacy and tact, and communication skills.
The Ace of Swords Thoth
The symbolism of the Thoth Ace of Swords, is as rich as that of the RWS; hence here the symbolism will be explained symbol by symbol as well.
The three orbs symbolize: a triangle (strength), a pyramid (spiritual growth); and also the three Qabalistic triads. In this context there is an intellectual flow originating from Kether, passing through each of the triads. This urges one to consider how thoughts affect what manifests in their world, and also what needs to be deconstructed thoughtwise--which is, naturally, that which serves to stunt rational and harmonious thought and action.
The sun's rays shine upon water. The water shown is emotion, which in and of itself does not allow for rational thought and action. However, the sun's rays shine strongly upon the water offsetting it; visually speaking, it is a setting for inspired thinking. The scene is surrounded by clouds, which represent problems, fears, and destructive thought being broken through; they are tinged with the indigo of wisdom, which spawns solution. The crescent moons, in that they represent moon phases, allude to time; and they depict the female aspect within creation, which adds another aspect of harmony to this male card. Additionally, they symbolize intuition.
The word "Thelema," states that true justice aligns with will, and as well does not block the will of others. The crown itself refers to Kether. The twenty two rays emanating from it refer to the paths of the Qabalistic Tree, which speak of spiritual growth, and also an ongoing journey resulting in enlightenment. The serpent represents traversing the 22 paths, and in that, infinity; it also represents knowledge, wisdom and mastery.
The Ace of Swords Dignified and Upright
- Use logic, reason, and analysis, in order to reach success.
- Discovering the solution to a troublesome issue.
- Breaking through a blockage in communication.
- Coming out on top despite obstacles.
- Discovering the truth.
- A thirst for justice.
- Take action based upon what you know.
- Prepare to negotiate against those who stand in opposition.
- The battle begins.
- Be forthcoming; lay the truth on the table.
- The querent has been told what seems to be the truth, but there is some left unknown.
- Recognizing or accepting one's own part in a matter.
- An altercation within.
- Freedom to proceed as planned.
- Creating peace through just action.
- A new and better phase opens up due to just action.
- Mastery in administration.
- Justice in thought.
- A just assessment, without outside influence.
- Serves as a reminder, that the faults one sees in others as they judge, mirror their own faults.
- Leave outmoded ways of thinking behind.
- "Getting on the same page," with someone.
- Acquiring knowledge that will support improvement and change.
- Cautions a person to stop and assess what they are doing, as on some level it's not serving them.
- The trouble lies in lack of knowledge; it's up to the querent to learn more.
- Put emotions and fears aside, gather needed resources and knowledge, and communicate your case clearly.
- Learn to ignore the noise and distraction that others bring into the situation; maintain focus.
- Gather resources, study, and prepare to communicate well; you'll be facing mental acuity.
The Ace of Swords Ill Dignified and Reversed
- May refer to stress or anxiety issues.
- Focusing on the negative side of a matter, or worrying too much.
- Is suggestive of legal issues, court cases, parking tickets, a need to obtain a lawyer, and so on.
- An injustice has been transacted.
- A poorly chosen action.
- Intellectual inequality.
- Lies have been presented, or there has been misrepresentation.
- An opportunity has opened up, but perhaps it's not that wise of a choice; think it out carefully.
- Completed work was not well aligned with its intended purpose; a replacement may be necessary.
- Be prepared to play hardball in negotiations.
- May portend of a loss in a given circumstance.
- A change for the worse.
- Ongoing confusion.
- Disguised animosity.
- Poor communication.
- A problematic situation.
- Verbal cruelty.
- A harsh truth.
- Feeling the cards are stacked against you.
- A project, venture, or career choice that lacks challenge or stimulation.
- Pointing out harsh truths or exposing what lies hidden. This is a caution, as the path of the whistleblower is not an easy one. Make sure it's worth the cost.
- A poor judgement, either by or against the querent.
- When judging someone harshly, consider that they may in fact be innocent.
- One has a preconceived notion of what a situation will be like, but it is a false one.
- Outside influence affecting an outcome.
- Refusing to see the truth of a matter.
- Overthinking, overanalyzing.
- Acceptance of the truth after a period of denial.
Illustrations from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck®, known also as the Rider Tarot and the Waite Tarot, reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Copyright ©1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Further reproduction prohibited. The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck® is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
RWS image is a Wikimedia file from a 1909 deck originally scanned by Holly Voley http://home.comcast.net/~vilex/
Thoth image copyright (c) US Games Systems Inc.; AGMuller; O.T.O.