The Suit of Swords
The Suit of Swords corresponds to the element of Air. It represents Intellectual energy and Mental Force. It is the realm of abstract thought and principled reason. It is the domain of science and philosophy, and the driving principles behind our every action. The suit of Swords represents our beliefs and morals; they are the thinkers who influence the actions of the doers and the records of the watchers. It is the first half of the second dichotomy of the Tarot; it is the abstract, whereas Disks is the material. Someone filled with the energy of Swords is principled, just, and honest. They are keen of mind, able to come up with new ideas and carefully analyze any situation before them. Someone lacking in the energy of Swords is not very high-minded, prone to do whatever they want, and not think about what it is they do overly much. They are not given to show morals or engage on rational arguments.
The energy of the Suit of Swords flows forth from EinSof and enters the first Sefirot of Kether, where its pure idea shines untarnished by reality. The Ace of Swords is the standard bearer of the Suit, and shows the best it has to offer. Swords is the third Suit of the Tarot, and so its Ace is also the third. The Ace of Wands was the Origin. The Ace of Cups was the Potential. The Ace of Swords is The Thought. It is the conscious steps that one takes to realize the potential laid out for them in the Ace of Cups after being born in the Ace of Wands. It is the conscious action to try to realize one’s potential. The Ace of Swords represents Mental Force, Conscious Thought, Logic, Reason, Justice, and Truth; the ideals of mankind and of science.
The suit’s energy flows then out of Kether and into Chokmah, where it gains a fiery and active side to it. The active application of the Suit of Swords becomes its first manifestation; and when one applies Truth, Justice, Logic, and Reason flawlessly, one achieves Peace; an end to war, calm, avoidance of conflict, and inner tranquility. This point represents being balanced in terms of both within yourself and the world.
The energy keeps moving, and flows then into Chokmah’s counterpart, Binah. The watery aspect of Air asserts itself then, and emotions are thrown into the logical mix of Peace. Emotions do not come into the logical maintenance of peace, and so the energy becomes confused. The energy becomes unhappy, and undoubtedly in the name of Truth and Justice, those that one loves will suffer. The suit of Swords in the Sefirot of Binah represents this sorrow, heartbreak and even betrayal. The energy of the suit of Swords is beginning to find that when its potential is laid out, the real world will limit its use. The energy becomes betrayed by the world in which it needs to live, and sees that its full potential will never be realized.
The energy soon comes to terms with this unfortunate truth, however, and recovers. It makes a temporary peace with the universe at the Sefirot of Chesed. It rests from its grieving, and tries to move forward, invoking the spirit of Truce. In order to exist, the energy gives up some of its most valued principles – logically – in an act of appeasement. It withdraws temporarily from the struggles of the world and knows relief.
But this relief is only temporary. Its shaky stability is soon unsettled by the motion of Geburah, and appeasement becomes no longer enough; only surrender is. The energy of the Suit of Swords suffers Defeat as it realizes that its Truce had only been an act of running away from its problems, not of actually solving them. Its problems come back to bite it, and it is unable to defend itself. It falls into despair and surrenders what it has left, losing many more of its defining principles, leading to it to dishonor itself.
It is against the nature of the Suit to dishonor itself, and so it rises again from the ashes, rallying its forces and moving forward. It regains its principles and begins to apply them to the real world in different ways, using its great mental powers. It achieves its central balance, and realizes that it can still become something. The energy manifests itself in the minds of the world’s greatest, leading the world forward in the realms of Science and philosophy, creating ideas to lead the search for progress and discovery.
As the suit gains confidence, however, it sees that not everything can be conquered. The world is imperfect, and the energy begins to remember that as its ideas conceived at the previous Sefirot of Tiphareth don’t always work out in reality as they should as it enters the Sefirot of Netzach. It begins to feel a dawning sense of hopelessness, despair, and Futility. It again considers surrender, and feels that from the outset it was doomed; the universe was out to get it.
As the energy continues on its journey, it reaches the Sefirot of Hod; the intellectual reaction to the degenerate actions of Netzach. But instead of swinging too much the other way, it applies intellectual thought to the situation its in and realizes that it’s absolutely right; it’s abstract ideas are the opposite of the material Earth, and everything it does will be difficult and filled with Interference. The suit’s energy begins to reflect these hassles and endless frustrations that get in its way, and it becomes discouraged and disheartened.
This constant struggle leads it to the realization that leads to its crystallization in the real world in the Sefirot of Yesod: that the world really is not a fair place, and that it is a terrible place to live in for one who had high ideals and believes completely in Truth, Justice, Logic, and Reason. Emotions, cruelty, surprises, and other things get in the way. Those in charge misuse their power, and make the world filled with Cruelty. The wasted potential, immorality, and lack of principle and reason fills the energy with a sense of despair.
And so the energy, once it reaches the real world of Malkuth, falls into Ruin. It either withdraws into itself and lives in the abstract world for too long and loses all it has, or it tries to save the world and remake it according to its unyielding principles, meeting much resistance and becoming a martyr, dying for what it believes in. The energy of the Suit dissociates itself with the real world, and so becomes disconnected and does not survive.
The Fire of Air is the Knight of Swords; a martyr, just about to lead himself into ruin. He has high ideals and an idea of what the world should be like, and is not afraid to go out and shape the world. He is the one who goes out to lead people into changing the world, giving a voice to the voiceless, and never giving up until his vision is realized or he is killed by those who oppose him.
His consort is the Queen of Swords. She has a connection with people, as is her due as the Water of Air, and also understands concepts of honor, truth, and justice. She applies her interpersonal skills to attempt to achieve peace through the act of diplomacy. She attempts to make the world more like her vision, but through more passive means; she solves disputes and makes allies, giving her husband the potential to make change.
They have two children. The Prince of Swords is arrogant, aloof, and yet also quite the genius. He stays locked all day in his ivory tower, thinking grand schemes. He is never, however, able to apply them; he is the air of air, who will bring himself to ruin like his father, but not through defending his ideals; he will ruin himself by forgetting how to live. He lives completely the realm of fantasy and abstraction, and while a brilliant scientist and philosopher, his ideas can rarely be applied to the real world. He is reclusive, aloof scholar.
His sister, the Princess of Swords, is the Earth of Air, and is able to apply her clever ideas to reality. She manages the kingdom in her father’s absence, and is good at managing both people and things. She is rational, clever, and able to solve most problems set in front of her by giving it a good dose of her mind.