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The Queen of Swords Moment

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The Queen of Swords Moment

I’m angry.  Aren’t you? I wake up and eat angry cereal.  I have angry salad for lunch and an angry burger for dinner.  If I listen to even 5 minutes of the news, I’m drinking angry coffee too.  My favorite thing these days is Angry Lady Sauce, and that is actually not a metaphor.

Since Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony and the shameless installation of Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, a lot of us have blown straight past disbelief and outrage and into a kind of desperate fury.  How much more must we take? Why won’t you believe me? Why don’t you care?  What is actually wrong with you?

Meet the Queen of Swords:

I am a tarot reader, and tarot readers have a name for this feeling and the person who feels it: the Queen of Swords.  She is clear-eyed, pitiless, and sharp of wit. She gives no quarter and zero fucks. In this, she is different from other Queens of the tarot.  The Queen of Wands is hot. The Queen of Cups is sensitive. The Queen of Pentacles is nurturing. But the Queen of Swords is DONE.

The Queen of Swords is every woman who has seen it all.  She is the warrior goddess Pallas Athena and the Viking sword queen Hjørdis.  She is the widowed Judith, who beheaded the tyrant Holofernes and saved her people. She is Boudica or Boadicea, the Celtic Queen who rose up against Rome.  She’s probably Xena the Warrior Princess, too – but I wouldn’t want to assume.

Woman of her word

In tarot, swords are associated with conflict, as you’d expect, but they’re also associated with words.  The Queen of Swords is the pattern perceiver of the tarot and a past master of wordsmithery. Associated with the sign of Libra, she can be an editor, a seamstress, a lawyer, a dancer, a diplomat.  She’s got charm to spare, and she could talk the birds off the trees if she wanted to. She’s every woman who uses her brain (which is to say, every woman). She’s every woman who’s ever been underestimated (which is to say, every woman).

And you know who else she looks like?  That’s right. Lady Justice. This is not a coincidence.  

What matters to the Queen of Swords, besides the beauty of the law and the power of the word,  is fairness. We see this in two other cards she knows very well: the 2 of Swords and the 3 of Swords.  They are known as the Lord of Peace and the Lord of Sorrow, and without getting too far into the esoteric nitty-gritty, you could say they’re her familiars. 

Lady of Sorrows

The Queen of Swords has known sorrow intimately.  Her partners have misunderstood, abused, left or been taken from her (see the pierced heart?).  She knows not to trust outer appearances (see the blindfold?). In the image from the Rider Waite Smith tarot, the most commonly used deck in this country, she’s raising her left hand – you can almost see her holding a set of invisible scales.  In many versions of the Queen of Swords, she’s shown holding the head of a man in that hand. Interpreters like to say that is the mask of illusion that she sees through – not an actual person’s head. But believe me, if you’re weighed and found wanting, your fate will be swift.

Just because she knows the power of “No,” some folks are afraid of her.  They say she’s bitter. They say she’s a bitch. I  say she’s a realist.  Sorrow comes with wisdom, a gift you can’t refuse.   The Queen of Swords may get angry, but it’s not because she’s surprised.  If we’re honest – and the Queen of Swords is always honest – we knew it all along.  The heartache, the tears – they were only confirmation of a painful and familiar truth.  The same folks who stole a Supreme Court seat, separated families, instigated a travel ban on Muslims, and made off with the biggest money grab in history weren’t really going to pay attention to an assault survivor, were they?

But we paid attention.  Together, we are armed with knowledge, and we aren’t looking for the FBI to save us. We vote, we call, we fax, we tweet, we knock on doors.  We use our words.

Were you inspired by the courage of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford? Here’s a suggestion:  Google “Queen of Swords” and find an image that speaks to you. Print it out and hang it somewhere in your office.  Or choose a Queen of Swords for your profile picture. On your toughest days, you turn to her and say what’s on your mind.  (Part of the magic of tarot is that it externalizes all that crap that’s eating away at you from the inside so you can actually do something about it.) Whatever you are going through, you can be sure she’s been through it too.  She’ll understand.

On the other side of understanding is action.  The Queen of Swords’ superpower is recognizing the truth when she sees it.  But what use is a superpower if you don’t use it? When you hear someone actually try and get some BS past you – like “The truth is not the truth” (I mean, really.) – don’t just get mad.  Raise the sword – i.e., raise your voice – and say something.  There is such a thing as truth, and right now the truth could use a hero.  The Queen of Swords will help you steel your resolve for whatever it is that comes next.  

One more thing: this Queen might be famous for being alone, but you know what?  We’re not really alone. We’re alone together.  One sword, one queen, one card – on its own it may not seem like a winning hand.  But together, we hold a royal flush.

Sword Queens from: the Tattoo Tarot: Ink and Intuition, the Vertigo Tarot, the Secret Tarot, the Touchstone Tarot, the Cascadia Tarot, the Housewives Tarot, the Mary-El Tarot, and a forthcoming Frida Kahlo deck-in-progress from Gabi Angus-West.

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T. Susan Chang

T. Susan Chang lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, son and daughter, and a variable number of chickens.  She teaches writing at Smith College and Bay Path College. She is the co-host of the Fortune’s Wheelhouse esoteric tarot podcast and the author of Tarot Correspondences: Ancient Secrets for Everyday Readers (Llewellyn 2018).  Her zodiac perfumes and silk and brocade tarot decks can be found on Etsy. You can check out The Living Tarot, her online tarot course for readers of every level of experience, at www.tsusanchang.com/class.

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