A hand emerges from the clouds, a sword firmly grasped and pointing upwards. On the tip of the sword is balanced a crown from which hangs a strand of laurel on the right hand side and a strand of palm frond. Some leaves have fallen from the Laurel. Beneath the hand is a barren landscape.
Swords in the Tarot represent the element of Air. They are concerned with the mental aspect of our beings, how we think, perceive, dream and understand our surroundings. Swords represent the mind and its ability to make sense out of our lives. Emotions are a different sphere in the Tarot and are represented in the suit of Cups. Even though we may think about our emotions it is important to separate the two when reading the cards of the Tarot. A ”sad” or ”happy” feeling falls within the sphere of Cups. Understanding why we feel happy or sad falls within the realm of Swords ~ it is related to our ability to process the world around us and give meaning to our feeling.
If you are hungry, you may be happy to sit down to a meal. That is the sphere of Cups, that feeling of happiness. Understanding that you are happy because the meal has been prepared by a top class chef and will be delicious, is the sphere of Swords.
There is an ongoing debate within paganism as to whether swords should/could represent the element of fire and wands represent the element of Air. A sword is forged in fire, it undergoes a birth of sorts at the hands of a blacksmith. Without fire, we would have no swords. The argument therefore is that swords have more in common with fire than the element of Air. Supporters of assigning swords to Air argue that a sword, ”cuts through the air” and that the timber wand is more closely related to fire (throwing wood in the fire).
Here, we go with the more common assignment of placing swords with the element of Air.
Aces in the Tarot are associated with new beginnings. Combining Aces and Swords suggests new ideas, thoughts and understanding on a mental level.
When we get that flash of inspiration we are experiencing the Ace of Swords. New insights into problems, a new perspective on a problem or undertaking is signified by the Ace of Swords. We see things clearly and understand them.
We may be able to see false information and promises for what they are. We can get to the heart of a problem and understand its constitution.
There is great energy and power in the Aces within the Tarot. They are the fresh motivation, the power behind the action. All our actions are dictated by the mind, by our mental abilities. Lifting one finger requires the mind to will it first. The Ace of Swords is the first thought, the first call to action. It can portend a new physical action then, but one that is first brought about by our mental abilities.
The Ace of Swords is a good card to receive for creative activities. Original thinking and viewpoints flow into our creative pursuits.
Six ”leaves” drop from the laurel draped off the crown. In the Tree of Life, six represents Tiphareth which is our consciousness. At Tiphareth, we are balanced, understanding our position and the spheres around us. Tiphareth also is a reflection of Kether (The Eternal) and Malkuth (The Physical). Tiphareth therefore is understanding and balance, a theme played out in the Ace of Swords.
The strand of Laurel represents victory. Kings often wore or carried a laurel crown as a symbol of their power. Wreaths and crowns of laurel are common symbols in ancient Greek and Roman mythology. The Palm frond hanging from the other side of the crown represents the Palm laid before Christ as he entered Jerusalem. Palm is also a symbol of power, but power that carries with it great sacrifice. It is interesting to note on the Tree of Life two spheres corresponding with these two concepts: Victory (Netzach ~ the seventh sphere) and Sacrifice (Geburah). In the middle of the path connecting them lies Tiphareth, the balance, us, our consciousness, our understanding.
Ace of Swords Reversed
The Ace of Swords reversed could signify that we have an incorrect or imbalanced perception of events surrounding us. We may be misunderstanding our situation or ignorant of the truth. Our thoughts may be confused and unclear. It would be wise to take our time and gain a better understanding of the situation before we rush to action.
The Ace of Swords reversed warns us that we may be acting under false information. We should double check the accuracy of information before us and attempt to discern if everything is as it seems.
The Ace of Swords reversed does not necessarily signify that we have everything wrong or are failing to understand the true meaning of things. We may have the right idea, we may understand and have mental clarity on a problem yet sometimes we hold back from action. We may be afraid of the outcome or unsure or the path. We may be delaying or dithering. The Ace of Swords reminds us that action stems from our own mental decisions.