Tarot Card Meanings: Queen of Swords

The Queen of Swords indicates either a person within the querent’s life, or the self-positioning of the querent towards the situation being considered. As a Court card, the Queen of Swords is always personal, and although much is made of the potential quandary that Court cards can pose for readers, the only question that really must be asked is: “Who?”  This does not alter if a Court card lands in a situational position within a spread.  Rather, you can rest assured that someone, somewhere, is doing something!  Think of these cards as verbs:

`When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

`The question is,’ said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

`The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master – – that’s all.’

Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. `They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs, they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’ (Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 6: Humpty Dumpty.)

In the lexicon of the Tarot, Court cards are too action oriented to be bossed around.  They mean what they mean to do!  Haughty and proud, they are their own masters.  So where the other cards, including the Trumps, are often best thought of as moods or themes (adjectives), or as consequences, events, or happenings (nouns), Court cards are embodied persona that result in definitive actions (people doing stuff, i.e. verbs).

In the case of the Queen of Swords, there is both an active perceiving and a rigorous analytic function that together yield clarity.  This person has been blessed with the rare combination of emotional perspicacity and mental acuity.   S/he is independent, although this independence is as much the fault of circumstance as by her/his own choice.  Often identified with the widowed and divorced, the Queen of Swords can signify someone who has experienced privation and loss, if not unabashed disappointment in the face of others.  As a consequence of such disappointment, s/he is unusually free from convention.  The conventions have failed.

I associate the past hardship of this Queen with the wisdom of the Silenus, which I quote in my description of the 3 of Swords.  That is to say that the intellectual rigor of the Queen of Swords is Apollonian in nature.  S/he is an orderly, clarifying force and if there is any tragedy to her/him, it is only to the extent that s/he has been kissed by Dionysus and survived to cogently tell it in the light of day.  The Queen of Swords is honest, direct, forceful, and wise.

Dali used the Renaissance portrait of Doña Isabel de Requesens to represent the Queen of Swords, adding his signature white and blue sword and surrounding her in a matte turquoise.  Little is known of this particular woman on a personal level.  She was the Vice-Queen of Naples.  Frankly, he might have done better to use the figure of  Caterina Sforza.

And finally, at its most mundane level, this card can signify a woman with either a lot of Air in her astrological chart, or who is an Air Sun sign: Gemini, Libra, or Aquarius.  (Although personally, I identify this card more with Feminism writ large, Virgo, and Gemini — in that order.  I’ve also seen it come up repeatedly for women in the military.)

QueenofSwords**While all manner of comments are welcomed, any further information pertaining to art history, symbolism, myth, cultural reverberations, and Tarot card meanings that traverse decks or lend especial light to the Universal Dali deck, specifically, are actively sought and encouraged.  I’m not using a book for these descriptions, so I may miss a reference that bears mention in relation to a card.  If you know something, please share it!

Conversely, I actively negate the astrological significations of the Trump cards within the Universal Dali deck in favor of the more traditional Thoth.  My plan is to tackle the astrological significations of the Universal Dali Trumps and their overt divergence from all norms in one article… after having described each card.  That’s a ways off.  ;)

Numerological Affiliations: III. The EmpressXIII. Death3 of Swords

The Queens: Queen of WandsQueen of CupsQueen of Pentacles

The Court of Swords: King of SwordsPage of Swords

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5 responses to “Tarot Card Meanings: Queen of Swords

  1. Great description!
    Did you mean that all Court cards are haughty and proud, even the pages?
    I had my first professional tarot reading some 12 years ago and the Queen of Swords was the card that came up a lot. I knew nothing of tarot then but somehow this card stuck in my memory.
    By the way, I have discovered the Mystic Dreamer tarot, I want it! This might be it for me. Do you really feel that Dali is the definitive deck for you?
    (I am also considering getting a reading from you but need to focus and define my issues, which are many, haha)

    • Argh! Is Mercury stationing yet? I had this long, detailed, gorgeous response that got deleted the minute I finished it. :(
      Yes. All the Court Cards are haughty and proud, even the Pages. The reason for this is that they’re far less malleable than the other cards in the deck, so where the Major and Minor Arcana might point to dispersed affects or themes, the Court Cards point to specific people who are embodying the traits of the card.
      I identify with the Queen of Swords, too. And when I was a teenager, I was most definitely the Page/Princess. These women are sword-rattlers, they fight the gods and challenge the fates. They don’t merely accept their lot. You can think about this in terms of the Bhagavad Gita, which offers spiritual counsel amidst war. That is, sometimes you have to fight your brother in order to do justice to yourself. For this reason, the Queen of Swords seems to get a bad rap, although my bet is that any potential pain or discomfort that she experiences in the short term results in greater peace overall. She knows who she is and she makes no apology for it. That strikes me as far less cause for later regret. But leave it to the Queen of Swords to be the only figure with the foresight to recognize such stakes.
      The Mystic Dreamer Tarot seems beautiful, Monika. The images have a stillness that, I imagine, might suit you.
      For me, I love the Dali deck because the images are all taken from history — so Tarot seems to issue from the “world” and return to it, as opposed to being stuck in its own symbolic loop. It allows me to make more connections.
      I would, of course, love to read your cards — and you are wise to take your time to prepare. The prep work is no less illuminating than the reading itself. :)
      (My first response was so much better. Grrrr….)

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