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Discussion Group - Swords Overview


Hello there! There had been some mutterings about doing a more organized group study through the RWS, so I'm going to bite the bullet and get started. For me, I want to look at the overall imagery of each suit before hunkering down and looking at specific numbers.

Swords:

The first thing I did was deliberately empty my mind of everything I knew about Tarot swords and started brainstorming everything I could think of about swords. I came up with a whole bunch of keywords covering actions, qualities, sounds, and random associations.

pointy - point - pointed
steel
duel
forge
swordsman - skill
sharp - two edged
stab
wear
cut
ceremonial
Cloud from FF7
slice
weapon
mining
dagger
fight
Middle Ages
conflict
physical
bellows
protection
threatening
parry
shield
wound
clang
whistle
cross swords
wield
swing
exercise
handle
salute
sparks
tang
fantasy
shiny
dubbing ceremony
metal
smelting
fencing
woosh
training
knight
scabbard/sheath
bleed

This was all fine and dandy, except when I plug back into what I know about Tarot swords, there is only a . . . medium correspondence.

Traditional Tarot Swords:
I have always heard swords associated with words, thinking, and speaking, intellect, etc. Nowhere in any of my brainstorming about swords could I come up with anything that remotely associated with words!

I mean, the others I can see. Sharp witted and sharp tongued, conflict, and some of the other associations make sense to me. However, communication and words don't seem to really fit.

So, that is my question for the inaugural discussion group thread, why are swords associated with communication and words?

Feel free to jump in with your own swords questions and all of your opinions/thoughts about swords. This is a discussion so let's go!

Poledra
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The RWS Swords are associated with the Air Element. And the Air Element is all about thinking, the intellect, communicating, etc.

This is one of those Astrology - Tarot correspondences that actually seems to work. The 4 Elements underlie a lot of what we call Occult now, but was more general philosophy way back when all of this was being worked out.

The Air signs in Astrology are Gemini, Libra and Aquarius. And they are all about thinking, creating relationships, and thinking out of the box. And that is what Swords are about too if you think about the individual cards. Even the negative cards are about relationships that have gone bad in various ways (the 3, the 5, the 10), or thinking about working your way out of situations (the 2, the 4, the 7, the 8, and even the 6, the 7 and 9 if you are thinking out of the box).
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I can see how the traditional meanings can be associated with the element of air. That makes perfect sense. I guess my point is more why swords would be associated with air.

I mean if the air quality is of prime importance, why wasn't something like a trumpet or a fan chosen as the suit? As swords were chosen, I would like to think that it also has some association with air, I just don't see it.

Poledra
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poledra
I mean if the air quality is of prime importance, why wasn't something like a trumpet or a fan chosen as the suit?
Poledra
Or how about a quill? That would incorporate words as well as air!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Summersnowflake
Or how about a quill? That would incorporate words as well as air!

Ooo! That's a good one!
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Digging around on the forum, there appears to have been a fair amount of debate concerning RWS's depiction of the swords due to their relatively negative outlook (3 and 7). It seems to me like there has been a huge compromise here between the elemental correspondence and the desire to maintain some relationship with the original suits from cartomancy (spades) that has resulted in the association between air and swords that doesn't always synch up terribly well in the actual cards.

I suppose that's one of the quirks of using the RWS!


Starling, I like the way you phrased your description of many of the swords cards as being intellectual decisions, trying to think your way out of something. It's an interesting point. I'll have to remember that.


Poledra
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poledra
Starling, I like the way you phrased your description of many of the swords cards as being intellectual decisions, trying to think your way out of something. It's an interesting point. I'll have to remember that.


Poledra
I really see the 8 of Swords that way. She is blindfolded and has her hands tied behind her back. But no one is around. If she thinks it through she can make it out of her situation.

Same with the 9 of Swords. Right now she is crying, but once the tears stop, the only way out is to start thinking.

And in the 5 of Swords, which one of the figures are you? Remember there are three people but 5 swords. Two people have already left to get on with their lives. How do you handle winning and/or losing? Do you get on with your life? Do you start walking away? Do you cry your heart out? Are you a good or bad winner? A good or bad loser? All of those are questions you need to work out BEFORE the fight begins and not just once it has ended.

The Swords "look" like they are about actions, but except for the 7 no actions are happening on the cards. Everything is either before the action happened or after. Even in the 7 the action is really over. The card doesn't show the man taking the swords. It shows him getting away AFTER taking them.

The wands really are about actions and actions happen on some of the cards.
Top   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poledra
I can see how the traditional meanings can be associated with the element of air. That makes perfect sense. I guess my point is more why swords would be associated with air.

I mean if the air quality is of prime importance, why wasn't something like a trumpet or a fan chosen as the suit? As swords were chosen, I would like to think that it also has some association with air, I just don't see it.

Poledra

I guess the problem here is understanding how the element of air was meant to be interpreted and you got me thinking and researching through my books. In Pictures of the Heart Sandra Thomson says "For the ancients, the term "element" meant a set of ideas, a working principle that employed certain qualities and characteristics. So it is rather what Air represents as a set of working principle rather than air itself, otherwise how does the symbol of cups actually represent water.

Therefore the qualities and characteristics applied to Air, are clarity, analytical qualities, communication skills , mental activity.

Now why Swords to represent that quality. In the Penguine Dictionary of Symbols among many other symbolic meanings it also mentions that "the sword sometimes denotes speech and eloquence, since tongues, like swords are two-edged". Also it tells us about Swords "Swords are both thrusting and cutting weapons and, in the latter role, they are weapons of decision, instruments of active truth. From Paul Diel's ethico-biological perspective they are 'the symbol of clarity and strength of spirit which dares to cut to the heart of the problem" .

Pictures of the Heart go on to tell us that " Air is often considered the primary element as it is related to creativity in several ways: the breath of life (first breath at birth) the breath of the cosmos(spirit) and speech".

"Swords cards connect with one of the most inspiring and crucial events related in every mythology, the awakening of the human capacity to reason. When associated with the "element" or principal of air (spirit) as they most often are - they reflect making sense out of the spirit within."

So Swords are there not to represent Air so much as the principal of the element, therefore for instance as an example sighted in a post above, how would a quill related to that principal - it may relate to a bird and air in general as well as words, but what about the principal of air, such as clarity, and analytical abilities.

I decided to check in the Penguine Dictionary of Symbols for Pen/Quill and this is what it said about it: "The symbol of the pen/book or quill/tablet plays an extremely important part in Islamic tradition.
The Sufis teach that the Supreme Pen is Universal Intelligence. The Guarded Tablet, on which this pen writes the fate of the world, corresponds to material prima, the increate or non-manifested which under the impulse of the intelligence or Essence, produced all that creation contains (BURA p.17)"

It also says "The quill is regarded as the symbol of predestination"


I wonder if this has helped make clearer why Swords relate very well as the symbol of air
.

PS a good symbols dictionary helps a lot to unravel these questions.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity and reason to delve into this question a little deeper. *lol*
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Sometimes I have heard that the tongue can be referred to as a double edged sword if that helps. You know the saying, sticks and stones break my bones, but words never hurt me, that is the biggest understatement that I have ever heard. In my opinion words have more potential to really hurt someone on a more long lasting level that sticks and stones ever would. With sticks and stones all you would get would be a few bruises, and if it is bad enough, may get some broken bones, and you might get some bleeding, but physical wounds heal a lot faster than mental or emotional wounds. I mean, look at children that have been teased and bullied when they are young, and as adults they still have a keen recollection that, and they would have much more bearing on them as adults than say if they were beaten up in a fight, or with sticks and stones.
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we feel that were onto something here in your use of the word ELEMENT,our understanding is strife,which ever way that comes,words, deeds,power ,the action of these elements create re-actions.The quill to us has the element of the intellect and is the tool of thought.Notice there is a feather on the fools head,as well in the childs hair in the SUN card.They're the colour red,to us this would indicate passionate thoughts....
________
PORNSTARS PETITE
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