The Wild Unknown Tarot - Mother of Swords


There is no colour in this card at all.
Against a plain background of horizontal lines / shading we see a beautiful snowy owl. She is perching on the hilt of a small black sword that is balanced vertically on it's point. Her body faces right but her head is turned towards us, the reader and her eyes are slightly narrowed. She has a very piercing gaze.

Mothers in this deck correspond to queens in more traditional decks so this is a mature, feminine energy. She has reached the level of understanding her element and she's internalised it's qualities.

So this lady is a good communicator, maybe even a story teller. Like the Father of Swords, she is actually sitting on the hilt of her sword so it's holding her up and supporting her; she relies on her intellect, wit, logic and communication skills.
Her sword isn't as obvious as the huge, rainbow coloured sword that her male counterpart wields though, this sword is small and dark; she's capable of more subtlety than he is and that's probably because the queen's correspond to the element of water so her rationality (air) is tempered by understanding (water).
The darkness of the sword also makes me think of a more feminine, internalisation than the outward display of the big, colourful sword.
She looks as if she has turned, slowly to look at us, resting her gaze on us in an almost disdainful way and her gaze is piercing; this is a lady who can see through someone's mask (or BS ;)) to the real person beneath, there's no fooling her and she does not suffer fools either - remember that owls are birds of prey and those talons and beak are sharp.

I'm thinking that maybe a snowy owl was chosen to represent this queen because the
Queen of Swords is notoriously thought of as cold.
She's often seen as a single, divorced or widowed lady who has probably been through a lot and has been hurt in the past.. Swords can represent problems and pain as well as communication and logical thought and this lady has internalised those past hurts and learned from them... Her logical personality now enables her to use her own past life experiences in her dealings with others so I don't really think she's cold but rather that she's wise and can be very direct and straight talking.


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Very insightful observations, Sulis! Thank you for including the photo of the snowy owl. I found this site that describes snowy owls in detail. It's interesting that in the opening line they refer to her as "regal."

I found myself really attracted to this card for some reason -- perhaps because I adore raptors and found this owl to be stunning. Nevertheless, I was having difficulty figuring out the actual meaning of this card because it's so stark. Your analysis of this owl and how it relates to the traditional understanding of the Queen of Swords helped enormously. Her piercing gaze could definitely cut through deception -- I don't think she'd take any b.s. from her children or fellow owls. Just one look and they'd be quaking in their boots. Perhaps I'm attracted to her also because I value honesty, and I think this Mother is nothing if not honest.

Putting together the "ice Queen" perception of the Queen of Swords and the snowy owl for this Mother of Swords makes perfect sense. But owls are also recognized for being wise, so your comment about her not really being cold but having internalized her pain and simply being direct and forthright rings true for me.

Thank you so much for helping me get a handle (er, hilt) on this beautiful and intriguing card, Sulis!


I like this card because it does not seem as serious as other versions of the Queen of Swords, but still gets the point across. I'm always drawn to the eyes of the owl on this card. She sees what is important and isn't easily amused. Owls look like very serene creatures, but since she's a Sword court there's little doubt that her words (much like an owl's beak) can maim. I don't know much about owls other than imagining them perched, like she is in the picture. Even though they're stationary they aren't caged in like other birds, they're not domesticated in anyway. I think it symbolizes what an independent thinker the Queen of Swords card is.

Water Lady

you will not be talking nonsense to this Lady, when I looked at the card, those piercing eyes...I immediately hear, "And, do you have something important to say?"
if not I would be dismissed.