Reflections on The Queen of Swords


Regular readers of this humble blog may recall that the figure of the Queen of Swords turned up in a meditation the other day, and at the time I speculated a connection to my own mother, who was born under an air sign and, like the Queen, a widow (a traditional but not universal aspect of the card). This morning, I turned over a single card while meditating on my purpose for the day, and she appeared again. So I thought it a good time to reflect on her meanings, both real and implied, in a spread.

We’ve discussed this with the other court cards—particularly the Knights, who are all in motion—but “body language,” real or implied, can affect our interpretation of the court cards. In that regard, the first thing we notice about the Queen of Swords is that, unlike the other Queens, she extends a free hand outward in a sign of greeting and welcome. In this regard, as governess of the powers of the air, she could be the spiritual “wind in our sails” that makes easier our journey through life, or conversely, she could be a “stiff headwind” that delays our arrival; it all depends on our attitude and upon our willingness to set our egos aside—to “go with the flow,” as it were—and to journey always in a spirit of gratitude. Remember Odysseus, who in his arrogance refused to give thanks to Poseidon for his triumph at Troy. In response, the angry god blew his ship off course, and his return home was ten years delayed. Let us always give thanks, then, to gracious hosts—like our Queen—who invite us into their lives as we would give thanks to God for His grace and gifts of love.

The Queen of Swords shares a somewhat symbiotic connection to the Queen of Cups since—unlike the Queens of Fire and Earth—they are both depicted in profile:

Screen shot 2015-04-18 at 1.00.03 PMThis speaks, to an extent, to the partial “invisibility” of the elements of air and water; in their perfected state, they are both absolutely clear, and we only see them in the ripples on the surface of a lake or the branches of a tree blowing in the breeze; the elements of fire and earth, by contrast, are concrete entities, completely visible to the naked eye. This also suggests, however, an unseen, “mystic” side to each Queen, and this is why we only see one side of them; whether their mystic power bodes for good or for ill depends largely on how they are aspected in a spread.

In the case of the Queen of Swords, the positive aspect of her mystic impulse would be represented by the transformative powers of air; as the “watery” part of air, she is represented by the clouds that billow and drift in the sky behind her, which bring life-giving rain to us on earth, and which returns to the skies as evaporation: (There’s no H2O in our world without “O,” after all. Perhaps this is why these two would face each other, as they do here, in a traditional right-to-left YHVH spread of the four Queens.) We experience this in our own lives when we see people using their psychic powers to provide loving support and guidance—”living waters of spirit,” as it were—to others who are lost and in search of meaning. Negatively, however, she could spend too much time trapped in a kind of “solitary confinement” (widowhood implies solitude), turning her psychic powers inward in a self-destructive manner, and losing track of her true purpose in life, of which private metaphysical work is but one component. We see this in our own lives with people who are incessant worriers, micro-managers and hypochondriacs; in their desire to consciously control every facet of their inner lives, they have cut themselves off from Creation rather than accepting those things that are beyond their ability to control. If one is to make miracles, one must be willing to receive them—and that can only happen when one surrenders one’s stubborn ego to the transcendent power of unconditional love.

To be fair, we all need to make time to go “off the grid” in our daily lives if we are ever to know our true Selves—not the ego-driven “self” that strives and divides and that sees itself as separate from the rest of Creation. Also, sometimes when we have suffered a heartbreaking loss, it is good to depart for a time to that “quiet place apart” where Jesus went following the death of John the Baptist. Like the lone eagle that soars above her, the Queen reminds us that sometimes we need to take a break—to “go it alone,” far from the crowd, so that our connection to Creation be more intimately conjoined in the end. That may sound counterintuitive to our way of thinking, but it is simply a reflection of the “As above, so below” principle—”my exaltation is my abasement, and my abasement is my exaltation,” as the Talmud puts it—that is the theosophical foundation of esoteric studies. What we must never forget, however, that our “quiet place apart” is simply a temporary portal through which we pass to be reunited with our brothers on earth and in heaven—a means to an end, and not the end itself. In the Dead Sea scrolls, the psalmist, petitioning the Almighty, says, “You end/my wandering/to bring me into concordance with you.” As it ever was.

Dante DiMattteo

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