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The King of Swords

“Reason is intelligence taking exercise. Imagination is intelligence with an erection.”

― Victor Hugo

One of the things I love about Tarot is that it is not gender specific.

Man and woman can morph into a Queen or a King and learn so much not just from the natural element symbolised in the card but we also get to grips with what our masculine and feminine principles have been up to whilst we were sleeping. We are redundant without the Queen's ability to inspire creativity and her guiding hand as she leads us into the depths of the psyche. We are at a loss for motivation without the King's role as the awakener and the courage required to bring the notion of transformation into the wider world. As a sentient being operating in the physical world we have to come to terms with the fact that we are both male and female at once. One cannot live without the other as the masculine and feminine principles are living dynamics that are harmonious, the paradox being that even when in turmoil they are still in harmony, the ensuing chaos is part of the creative flow at the time.

But what happens when we step into the shadow of one of the sovereigns?

The King of Swords has always been a challenge for me and I have bit of a love/hate relationship with him. On the one hand I respect his nous, his ability to rationalise and work stuff through but on the other hand I find him as cold as metal and his leading prowess can be dubious. This lesson it would seem is to not sabotage his success or his abilities to lead. He has to do more than manage, he has to rise into his power, value his worth and have a humility which is less horsehair shirts and more I WILL, I AM and then do it for the greater good of all.

I have a respect for Lee Iacocca.

I don’t know much about him other than he was head honcho for Chrysler and he made some remarkable statements about Capitol Hill under Bush’s regime which were not particularly complimentary. I know even less about American politics but there is something about what Iacocca has to say about leadership and management which is inspiring and motivational, perhaps he is the Emperor and the King of Swords all rolled into one.

"You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere." Lee Iacocca

This quote, for me, sums up the quandary of the King of Swords. The King of Swords has challenges; he hangs on to his beliefs without ever giving them a chance for reformation. He is an air sign, Aquarius perhaps but Gemini and Libra are also aspected. Cerebral and intelligent he is prone to over analysis and as a result will not let go of outworn modes especially if he thought of them. He can argue for argument's sake, he could indeed start a fight in an empty house.

This King’s shadow keeps him in a place that requires stubbornness and a willful nature that often undermines the actions of others.

As an authoritarian he can be a formidable opponent. He can find it so easy to dismiss the greatness or the brightness in others. Another element of his darkness is his desire to keep esoteric wisdom as a way to gain power over the neophyte or immature would be adept.

It is possible that the King of Swords carries the archetype of Vulcan.

Smith to the gods, inventor and forger of armour. He desires to be radical and adores to debate lofty ideas but he has to also put them into action. When the King can channel his shadow into light he can become the illuminated one, prepared to use his insights for the good of others.

From this illumination the would be despot becomes a seeker of truth and a person of conviction giving permission to all to stand up and stick one’s neck out.

Defend that which you believe to be right.


  • What old mode of thinking needs to be cast out?

  • Where should I place my focus?

  • Is my willpower my ally at this time?

  • If not, why not?

  • What is the potential for my current thinking?

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