Mary El Tarot - Queen of Swords

Bat Chicken

Her face is barely visible in the cold and barren landscapes. She sees through the wings of the Ravens and her lips curl out from the bare branches of the tree, Water of Air. They fly in the realm of the mind, across the river to the Underworld that becomes obscured by mist – water vapour. Only she can see clearly. This Queen is the “Liberator of the Mind” (Crowley).

The use of the Ravens – Odin’s Ravens – make complete sense to me here. They are the shamanic shapeshifters, they are the mind freed from the body and the danger is that they never return.

Wikipedia said:
Scholars have linked Odin's relation to Huginn and Muninn to shamanic practice. John Lindow relates Odin's ability to send his "thought" (Huginn) and "mind" (Muninn) to the trance-state journey of shamans. Lindow says the Grímnismál stanza where Odin worries about the return of Huginn and Muninn "would be consistent with the danger that the shaman faces on the trance-state journey."


I love the way her face is half hidden like that. It reminds me of an optical illusion - how easily our minds can be 'tricked' into seeing things which are not really there.

Huginn and Muninn (in some translations Thought and Memory) are very appropriate here. You can say that it is this which defines who we are - what are we without our memories or thoughts? They are so insubstantial - we cannot easily find them under a microscope- and yet they are so important to our identity.

They represent this queen's strengths - her ability to think and use her powerful memory for strategy. The one eye we can see also makes me think of Odin's sacrifice to gain wisdom. Likewise, her wisdom has been hard-won.


my associations

Crows are so clever yet so maligned.
When I was growing up in rural Northumberland, my uncle wasn't the only one to nail dead ones to fences, but despite this association I always loved them & found them amusing. We call them 'corbies' in the North & it took me years to drop the habit!

I used to watch them perform as I sat at my desk when I should have been concentrating upon the lesson & the teacher.
I love the sound of their cries.

Crows & witches are linked inextricably in my mind - I invented a curse when I was little involving piercing an image of my enemy with a crow's feather.

Crows can travel between our world and most of the Other ones. They notice everything & don't forget.

Tarot Orat

Ravens are high on the list of "most intelligent birds" - according to some researchers, they're at the top of that list. They can imitate human speech; I wonder if the raven with its beak open is cawing or talking...and what it's saying. The most famous literary raven says "Nevermore" (while perched on the head of the Goddess of Thought), and while I agree that these are more Huginn and Muninn than Edgar Allan Poe, I do see some interplay between the Queen of Swords and the goddess Pallas both serving as the perch for ravens. There's a certain coldness to their intellect, and a separation from others, even an aloofness; but the Queen has more than that to her; her green eye, the most colorful part of the image, invokes a sense of inner peace and inward growth.


"If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows." -Henry Ward Beecher

The Queen of Swords is clever. She remains hidden, aloof, observing with the emerald eye that recurs throughout the deck. Then she reveals herself slowly, bit by bit. She is incisive, looking you directly in the eye. She communicates clearly and firmly, as crows with their raucous warning calls. But she does not spoon feed information. She insists that you think for yourself - observe, reason, form your own ideas and conclusions, pay attention to what you see in front of you and what you do not see.

Crows have been shown to recognize human faces, to remember them for a lifetime, and to incite other crows to harass people who have mistreated them. So too the queen - those who cross her will find her to be quite unpleasant.