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Bohemian Gothic-King of Swords

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Bohemian Gothic-King of Swords


I'm finding the courts so fascinating in this deck that I really want to finish them up. Interesting that, as Court Cards are usually the "problem" cards that we all avoid

So. King of Swords Whoa!

Our King/Swords, in keeping with his Knight and Queen, seems to be a nasty character who means business! I'd reminded of what Hamlet asks when told that his father's ghost has been seen. He grills the two guards, wanting a clear description:

HAMLET Arm'd, say you?
MARC/BERN Arm'd, my lord.
HAMLET From top to toe?
MARC/BERN My lord, from head to foot.

Like Hamlet's ghostly dad, this King is also armed head to foot, ready to protect his kingdom and do battle from the grave. But this king goes one further than Hamlet's dad: his visor is down! Which means that even his face is "armed" and hidden. In fact, there are gaps in the armor showing us a bit of red undergarment, but no hit in the helmet of eye, nose or mouth holes. So his face is even more hidden than the rest of him. We don't know if the king under that armor is still human, alive, or if he can be moved to show mercy.

What we do know is that this is (or was) a proud and powerful king, as his crown and that stunningly elegant armor tells us. This King, apt for the bare-bones suit of swords, is absolutely clear in who and what he is. Unambiguous crown, cold, unfeeling armor and a sharp, deadly sword.

As if that weren't enough, our King, like his Queen, is in the Chapel of Bones, and behind him is an stunning collection of skulls and bones that seem to be formed into a royal symbol (?). It is, once again, a chillingly spare and suitable setting, no extras, no frills, no ambiguity.

Very cool card!
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Truly, it is unclear whether there is any corporeal form under the armor. The glove looks pretty empty. On the one hand (ha!) I am tempted to ignore that in favour of the overall tough-guy appearance, but in this deck??? No. If Karen and Alex could get someone to dress up in horns and fight out of a window, they could get someone into a suit of armor if that's what they wanted, too. But they didn't.

Is this King cousin to the King of Pentacles, and has he also slipp'd his mortal coil?
Is this the Emperor's new clothes...I mean, the clothes' new Emperor...empty?

That doesn't really fit the card meaning, though, of a dictatorial ruler, convinced he is right; someone who uses war and force as the first option an any dispute; for-us-or-against-us mentality; or a believer in the end justifying the means. *Unless* we are saluting the uniform and the crown, and the royal arms behind (yes, only royalty has the right to display a crown over the arms)--and justifying our own questionable acts in the name of "orders" from a King who isn't even there! Mindless patriotism, jingoism, xenophobia, etc. etc. It's not the King's belligerence. It's ours.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swimming in tarot
*Unless* we are saluting the uniform and the crown, and the royal arms behind (yes, only royalty has the right to display a crown over the arms)
Didn't know that! Cool!
Quote:
--and justifying our own questionable acts in the name of "orders" from a King who isn't even there! Mindless patriotism, jingoism, xenophobia, etc. etc. It's not the King's belligerence. It's ours.
Well, we've made such patriotism our king, then, haven't we? I mean, we can mock the idea of bowing to a king who is only a suit of armor, but think of how much worship we put into symbols. People will kneel before a cross, salute a flag (even make sure it doesn't touch the ground, fold it carefully, and get angry if it's burned for any reason but to retire it from service!). We pay homage to a statues of great and famous men and collect as sacred items they wore or used.

I might, in my world, be skeptical of thinking that any "thing" still has the residue of power from past owner or the power people believe it has...but in the BG deck we have to take it more literally, don't we. Yes, that may be an empty suit of armor. But if it is, you can bet it was worn by that "might-is-right king" who made an impression on allies and enemies alike.

And you can bet that if it is believed that it still holds his essence, his power, his curse, his ghost...well, it probably does. In some other deck, it might indeed be "us" and nothing more. In this deck, I won't bet on that! At the very least, that armor is haunted.

And yes, I think it's no accident that the Pentacles and Swords are matched up here. They seem to yin-yang pairs at least so far as the Kings/Queens are concerned. I still can't get over how very much like the image of Mary M. (in the Queen/Pents picture) the Queen of Swords is, down to the book. And I agree entirely that the King/Swords is very like the King/Pents, a symbol King still ruling and terrorizing from the grave.

Both offer very interesting commentary on what a "King" is--what rules us and commands us, what we bow to and fear, obey and honor: intimidating power (swords), and intimidating riches (Pents). They don't even have to still be alive for us to continue fearing, honoring and obeying them.
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I am satisfied....

However, this came to me when I should have been sleeping: King of Swords is Air of Air, yes? This elemental dignities thing is a little over my head as of yet, but is it at all relevant here, where the King's person is...perhaps just empty air?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swimming in tarot
This elemental dignities thing is a little over my head as of yet, but is it at all relevant here, where the King's person is...perhaps just empty air?
I'm in agreement. Also, as the Intellect, "all in our head," yes?

Obviously, the card won't let us say for sure, but if I were to pick which scary story this was, I'd guess it to be about a suit of armor that belonged to this long-dead and terrifying King. And that in the dead of night, it's walking, moving, and ruthlessly killing; the punch line being that when some victim finally jerks up that visor, they find that there is nothing inside.

As you say, all that's in the suit is "air" and "ideas."
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King of Swords, all intellect, will and menace. Odd that he keeps his sword upright, rather than resting it's tip on the ground. He wants be able to go from rest to removing your head in under 30 seconds.
He is quick to decision, and inflexible once he has one. He is suspicious and wary...not a ruler who makes friends, or even wants them. King of Air and Darkness, emotion does not move him, not kindness, nor any sentimental thought...he admires intellect, ruthlessness, courage, success and the ability to give and take pain. His closed visor speaks of being completely impenetrable to others' advice or concern. He rules alone, in every way. His decisions are his own, and while he will sometimes listen to advice he rarely takes it. He demands loyalty, although he rarely gives it. His word is good unless it becomes politically expedient to break it.
Paranoid? Certainly. With reason? Without doubt. A very wise man once said that any totalitarian state creates an underground. The bone chapel...I've been assuming it was "always" there, like a grisly family heirloom....but in his case, it reminds me of the saying "bury the head of my enemy at my feet." Perhaps an ongoing family tradition?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by magpie9
King of Swords, all intellect, will and menace. Odd that he keeps his sword upright, rather than resting it's tip on the ground. He wants be able to go from rest to removing your head in under 30 seconds.
Absolutely! Air is the fastest suit. Impatient with delays and thinking faster than anyone. As you said, quick to decide, and he works alone. I don't think he has time to ask advice even if he wanted it. Forward momentum as well. That is the essence of a man in armor with a sword. Once he's in the armor, and has the sword up, he's in action and there's no stopping him.

There's something of a mechanical man here, isn't there. Nothing can penetrate and get inside the armor, and nothing can stop the armor once it has raised that sword and started into battle.

Quote:
He rules alone, in every way.
That's an interesting point, as I think it might apply to all the Kings in this deck. King/Wands alone on his stage both starring and directing his solo play, King/Cups (we need to get to him) is king of the vampires making him the originator and controller of all, and, of course, King/Pents, a skull in a crypt, couldn't be more autonomous. What he wrote in that book is what people do, and there's no arguing with skull or book, right? I know that almost all decks have the kings alone on their thrones or horses, but it usually feels like the throne room is filled and the queen at the King's side, or that there are men with the king on horseback. But in this deck, the kings, pictured alone or not, come across as absolute dictators.

The queens may have their own power, but what power the Kings have, they do not share. Not in this deck.
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Looking at the King of Swords - this guy is alive! There is somebody in there. No one has mentioned the red under tunic but almost every post mentions anger or passion, what red signifies. I see a strategist in this card; the golden crown on his head that the crown of bones - no one is going to argue with this guy because his word is law and he has the ability to be biased. Notice the sword is not upright (which would indicate fairness); it is cocked to one side (toward the left, past) indicating he is capable of holding a grudge and being lethal about it (look at those sharp thingys near the bottom of the sword). This fellow is great to have on your side but something to be greatly feared if he is not. He has all the attributes of being a good guy, quick mind, strategist, the ability to gain and hold power but his fatal flaw is his passion which may cause him to make rash decisions. And yet, he is so well armoured and is standing so powerful and strong that although he has the potential to be rash he has mastered it (gotta add "almost" here!)
Alisa
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