This is a one-card reading with the pulled card representing the present. The decks used are the Original Rider Waite and the Sharman-Caselli. I chose to use both decks because one is a little more modern and the images clearer to see. At times I struggle with the vintage-ness of the Rider Waite, for while the illustrations are timeless, the details can be hard to make out.
The Suit of Swords is all about the intellect and is associated with our thoughts and mind; in essence, our mental pursuits and how we navigate from here. It can also be about action, power, force, battle, ambition, challenge and control.
The King, when pulled on its own, is a warning or a calling to centre – bringing our awareness to a situation or an area of our lives where we are either being too or not swordlike * enough.
The king asks us to look inside and to query:
• Are we letting emotion cloud our judgement?
• Or are we shutting feeling and sensitivity out?
The King of Swords – also known as the King of Winter and the King of Air – brings all of this to our awareness, encouraging us to take a subjective look at both our story and our surrounding landscape so that we might learn to see new and different angles, accommodating all parties and trying on their shoes. If we are too caught up in our head; if we are disengaged and dispassionate; if we are focused only on looking sensibly and acting rationally, etc… we are looking and acting without involving our better parts or our highest selves. The King of Swords asks that we bring all of our parts into play, allowing each one a vote.
• What does your heart want?
• What does your spirit want?
• How about your gut?
To make it simpler, go through each chakra in turn, scanning for blockages, disparities or imbalances:
• earth star – 6 inches below your feet
• solar plexus
• third eye
• soul star – 18 inches above your head
Pay attention to all that comes up, then allow this information to guide you. The key, essentially, is to do the opposite of what you are doing now. So if you are already fully present, all possible appendages in: assess if perhaps you are being overly passionate, energetically messy, irresponsible, dramatic, needy, selfish or childlike? If so, pull back. Try to slow down, take a breath and think before you act. Try counting to ten. Look for what is missing. Seek out the discrepencies and add more of that. On the other hand: if you are cold and detached, sitting in your kingdom and looking down from way up high, from the priviledge and security of your castle – seek to soften and remedy that, allowing yourself to exit and wander in the garden awhile.
The King of Swords does not call upon you to be unfair; simply just. If there is a person who is disappointing or disrespecting you, or a situation that is no longer serving your highest good: the King asks that you be your own mentor and protector and battle it out. If you feel unable to do this, perhaps find a teacher or a counsellor to help?
* Swordlike: ambitious, intellectual, righteous, immobile, ruthless, courageous, forceful, aggressive, sharp, pointed, blunt, cold, detached, socially dysfunctional/inept.
So who is this King that sits before us? Asking this question is perhaps the best way to get to know him and the easiest way to unpack his insight and wisdom so that we can learn what he has to say.
First off: he is serious. In the Rider Waite version, I would go as far as to say sad, burdened, worried, concerned, pained, suffering, shouldering much, struggling under the weight of considerable responsibility… And I’m not sure he likes his sword: look at how he is holding it, with such reluctance and disgust; and his hand – right, slightly bent – indicates it is far too heavy to keep balanced for long. I sense that it has been used recently to draw blood, inflict punishment or take life and it is this that has made the King unhappy. He is human. He feels bad. He knows he had to, or thinks that he did. It made sense at the time. He was defending his kingdom… But now, afterwards, alone with his thoughts and the full responsibility, he is besieged by guilt and remorse. The ‘trampled’ were people. In another life, some could even have been his friends.
• Is it right to step over another in order to achieve one’s own end?
• Is personal gain, or gain for one’s kingdom, one’s family, enough justification
for aggression, violence and force?
Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no. I’m not sure yet which situation we are looking at here.
And yet there is also an air of peace about him, shown in the Sharman-Caselli deck. This King is bigger, stronger. He wears a slight smile. His sword is clasped eagerly and lovingly, held with ease. In this case, it is not a burden; more a symbol – like a magician’s wand or a businessman’s phone. He looks comfortable on his throne, cushioned and supported by pillows and throws, surrounded by favourable weather and flat, peaceful landscape. I sense a woman’s touch: a loving queenstanding just out of picture whispering words of encouragement and love. He also has a family (of children or pets): a background to come home to and be recharged by.
• So which card do we, you choose?
• Which King do you/we root for?
• Which ruler speaks with the most clarity?
I know my answer; I have known it all along, for when drawing the cards I drew first from one pack and then the other, reaching in only to find the matching King. And from the first deck I didn’t so much draw as have it delivered, the King flying out and landing on the table in front of me. The Rider Waite is rather like that: clear, concise, no hanging around.
Looking deeper… this King is a proud man. He is also competent and used to taking care of himself. He was brought up this way, abandoned by parents who had other commitments, other concerns, and who were themselves raised likewise. Clever, wise, intellectual, he sees the world with clear eyes, unclouded by fantasy. He would love to indulge in things like angels and spirits but his life doesn’t afford him that luxury. He believes in God and is a humble and obedient servant to the words and advice he regularly receives, but that is as far as his journey goes. Some would call him pious, but again this is just how he was reared. He is not really forging his own path: he is following where the one given him goes and this is why he is often unhappy.
He sits upon an inherited seat. He is the oldest son amongst other children; this was his destiny from birth, he couldn’t have avoided or escaped it if he wanted to. And to begin with, he was happy enough. But now, years later – battles, decisions, arguments, disputes, wins, losses, uprisings, unrest, riches, poverty, sickness, health… all far too familiar: he is tired and no longer content. As the lives taken mount up; as the sickness and pain around him escalates and grows; as the world changes and his ability to affect it diminishes, shrinking and shrinking: he feels increasingly suffocated and desperate to break free. If he could, he would throw down his crown, let his sword fall to the floor and rise up and run naked until he could no longer feel or see his kingdom. Then he would take a plane and a boat, and find a quiet island where he could live out the rest of his days in quiet contemplation, unaware of the nature or disparity of external events. But he can’t, or doesn’t feel that this would be right: responsibility traps him; he has others to think of; he is not his own man.
So why is this King here and what does he have to tell us?
First, ask yourself who he is:
• Is he you?
• Is he someone else in your life?
• Is he a situation?
• Is he something you have?
• Or something you need?
Look to his strengths and his qualities. Do they resonate with you or do you find yourself, or who or whatever he stands for, lacking?
Let’s unpick the image to understand why:
– no frills
– RWS * heavy, large
– SC ** light, padded, adorned with velvet
– stuck to the throne
– pointing upward
– far away
– RWS * dark, ominous, close, low
– SC ** white, fluffy, distant, high
– RWS * sparse, dry, red/yellow, sickly looking
– SC ** flat, lush, green, thick
• pillow/soil (depending on the deck)
– connection with the land
– symbolic of bloodshed?
– elegantly carved
– seat of God
– richly coloured
* RWS: Rider Waite Smith
** SC: Sharman-Caselli
A sword is a powerful weapon. It is also a tool. And it is very personal, functioning almost as an extention of the body. The wrong sword – be it too thick, thin, light or heavy: and the wielder experiences impairment to his ability to fight. Think about new shoes that don’t quite fit: heels aching, toes rubbing, limping and slow. This is what a sword is like, only the consequences are more severe. The king’s sword – plain, simple, no frills – shows a man who takes fighting seriously with little concern for trappings and wealth. The sword is of the highest quality. It is clean, sharp and polished. It functions well. And while some may like to add gold and gems and intricate carvings… there is no actual need and the king, realising this, feels unpressurized to do so as a result. This is important to him, because while he got to choose his sword, his crown and robes were chosen for him, most likely handed down.
For this reason, regarding our analysis, his crown and clothing hold little concern. They do not speak to the true depth of the man or address the intricate layers of his soul. They do not tell us what we need to know. And the fact that there is such a disparity of colour – with the RWS being blue/green and brown/red and the SC purple and indigo – only makes it more confusing. One speaks of a man who is overly serious, someone who has allowed himself to become trapped in a role that does not suit him, who is deeply unhappy, who continues on because he believes it is the right thing to do for his kingdom and his country. And the other a person who is relatively happy; secure on his path, certain of why he is here and what he would like to achieve. This man is deeply connected: to the land, the kingdom, his people and family. His clothing and crown suggest the church is very important to him, as is spirituality. And I believe he feels called to his role as ruler and accepts it willingly.
Returning, therefore, to the RWS; disecting it further for its story, its truth; looking at the whole picture and not just the seperate details: this card is telling us that the King is a strong and just man who speaks his own mind with confidence, unshy about sharing his truth. He is learned and has a quick mind, having spent many years in study. Education and knowledge are important to him. He studies still, whenever he has the time: soaking up information like a sponge, adjusting his angle amd view to suit; acccommodating, moderating, evolving. This has taught him to be fair and just. He hates to hurt but will do so when necessary. He is certain of his beliefs and opinions and is not easily swayed. He is, or would like to be, very spiritual, and will be genuinely one day when he has time. He knows that the world is much bigger than him – he is just a pawn, a simple man on a personal journey – and he would like to do his best to earn his passage, so to speak.
But alas, he is trapped: within a role, by expectation, by the ‘he’ he has been and the ‘he’ those around him therefore perceive him to still be. He is burdened too, with guilt and remorse. He would like to go back and change certain things, do them better, different, not at all; try out different alternatives.
The King of Swords calls our attention to how we are ruling our life and asks:
• Are we balanced and just?
• Are we compassionate and kind?
• Are we grounded and reasonable?
• Are we rational and mature?
At the same time, it also encourages us to look deeper:
• Are we spiritually connected?
• Do we have a regular spiritual practice?
• Are we respected, sought out, turned to, honoured and obeyed?
• Are we stimulated intellectually?
• Do we have the freedom to come and go from our seat and our role,
or is it, and the expectations we and others place upon it, restricting us and
keeping us from being happy?
Next, ask yourself who this King is:
• Another person?
• A situation?
If he’s you: add more of what he is lacking; softening or hardening him as you see fit.
• Maybe you need to listen before you take action and speak more gently?
• Maybe you take too long to say you piece and let others walk all over you or
take the lead?
• Maybe you are living in the past, believing that this is the only choice available,
when really, fully grown, you have the power to make up your own mind?
If he’s another person, is he:
• Someone you already know?
• Someone you would benefit from having in your life?
• Someone you would like to meet or leave behind?
Work out who he is and then you will be able to figure out what the card is telling you and the best course of action to take.
Right now this card is a message to reassess and reconstruct your life, to look at how things are weighted and get rid of that which does not serve you.
Look at all of the ingredients. Ask what makes you happy and what makes you sad. Examine what you need more of and move towards that. Walk away from what is old, outmoded, detrimental and bad. If it dulls your energy, if it diminishes your light: you aren’t treating yourself with enough love and respect. If it makes you sparkle and brings out your inner geanie: embrace it.
Pulled September 1st, 2016: this card is all about the surrounding energy, the new moon and Mercury retrograde. The new moon is a time of awakening: we are leaving the darkness ushered in by the arrival and departure of the full moon and travelling back towards the light; each night the small slither grows, delicate fingernail swelling into ripe fruit. For us this symbolises re-entry, emergence, rebirth, reinvention, restoration, inspiration, creativity and growth. It is a time to make plans, to start things, to begin again.
And yet this energy is juxtaposed by Mercury retrograde and the widely-held belief/superstician that surrounds it; for in Mercury retrograde we are supposed to keep it simple and small. To avoid making a big decision, entering into or leaving a relationship, signing a contract, moving house, using electrical equipment, driving a vehicle, speaking in public, taking an exam, etc. A fair few exceptions, and there are doubtless more…
So what are we supposed to do when one energy says YES and the other warns NO: freeze like a rabbit in headlights? No, we look to the cards and we reinterpret the cards from here.
Perhaps the King is actually Mercury in retrograde, ruling with an iron rod and firm hand; and we are simply his people: bound, whether we like it or not, to his will? Perhaps, too, because of the surrounding energy and the energy of the card, we are stuck beneath a steely woman or man? Is our boss a tyrant, partner a pig, best-friend selfish, father violent, mother hard? Are we supported or silenced?
The card is calling upon us to go inside, to take this period – lasting roughly until the 22nd – as an opportunity to reassess. What do we need to get rid of, let go of, lose? What do we need to balance, moderate, reduce, elevate? If our own energy is out of whack, we should take responsibility for this and focus on inviting more masculine or feminine energy in, softening and hardening as necessary. This is the key and the ultimate message.
To get the most from this reading, you also need to do the homework. Work your way through the list of below, observing what surfaces:
• Answer all of the questions in the article
• Take note of your insights, deductions and evaluations
• Become your own mentor or spiritual consultant:
– or find someone who can
• Empty out all that no longer serves you
• Figure out what will
• State and repeat your intention to allow and invite more of this into your life
You have read this article and found these cards today because they are meant to guide you. Honour yourself with the permission and freedom to really appreciate that.
If this article has stirred things up for you or made you realise there are things in your life you would like to resolve, please feel free to visit my contact page or email me me to discuss both these things and the possibility of our working together in the future to accomplish these things.
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