Card: Ace of Swords
Section: Minor Arcana
Esoteric Title: The Root of Powers of the Air
Card Name: Ace of Swords
Astrological Attribution: Gemini, Libra & Aquarius
Ruling Planet: N/A
Qabalistic Attribution: Kether in Yetzirah
A green sword emerges from the clouds and pierces a golden crown of 22 rays. The swords is green, with the hilt being comprised of a coiled snake, three sun spheres and two crescent moon symbols. On the sword is the word Thelema (the word of the law) in Greek. In the background, a bright yellow sun is rising over water, and the sword that is piercing the clouds is in the center of the sun sphere. Above the sun are crystal-looking structures, also yellow. Clouds surround but do not encroach upon the sun sphere or the crystal structures.
- Sword of the Magus/Magician – True will
- Crown – the crown of Kether
- 22 rays from the Crown – the ATU according to Crowley (the 22 cards of the Major Arcana; also 11 x 2 = 22 – the magical manifestation of Chokma.
- Penetrating Sword – Mental power that penetrates the clouds of our thinking
- Sunlight – clarity, attaining enlightenment
- Crescent Moons (waxing and waning) – the unconscious
- Coiled Snake – symbol of transformation
- Sun breaking through the darkness – clarity, insight
- Green sword – creativity
- Steel part of the sword – Mars
- Copper hilt of sword – Venus
- Clouds surrounding sword – Will has burned away the clouds of uncertainty
I love the image of this sword breaking through the clouds with the sunrise in the background. One really gets the idea of something new bursting forth and given that sword represents our intellect or the Rauch, this can be new ideas, new communication or new clarity of thought.
Crowley points out that the element of air is a combination of both Fire and Water, both of which we see represented in this card (sun:fire and body of water: well, water, out of which rises the sun of a new day). The sun rising out of the water signifies the manifestation of air as a result of the conjunction of Fire and Water.
The Rauch, according to Crowley, is situated in the Sephira of Tiphareth, which in this card is represented by the sun in the card’s center. Thus, it can be said that the sword rests in the center of Tiphareth.
The word “Thelema” that is written on the sword means “will” and I see it as suggesting that the power of the will penetrates that which is unclear, thus moving us towards clarity.
The sword piercing the crown represents the will penetrating the crown of Kether, or in other words, the union of God (Kether) and our higher self. Given that Crowley says that the Ace of Swords represents the sword of the Magus (Magician), one can perhaps deduct that the sword piercing the crown is the union of The Magician (the adept) with God – or enlightenment.
The hilt of the sword is copper which, according to Crowley, represents Venus – for without love, the sword would be a Black magical weapon. A serpent is coiled around the hilt of the swords 6 times, the number 6 signifying Tiphareth.
So what about the crystals? I’ve seen it written that crystals represent The Self. Perhaps the sword moving through the clouds then through the crystals all the way to Kether might imply that we are moving past ego to something higher – to the enlightment of Kether. Crystals also support the idea of clarity of thought and communication; in fact, we often tend to use words like “It’s crystal clear” in our everyday conversation.
Intellectual clarity, clear perceptions, willpower, new thoughts/ideas, breaking out of darkness, a breakthrough, analytical approach, asserting yourself, learning, education, awareness, seeking truth, justice, great force at your disposal, mental energy, fresh ideas, determination, logic, order, new challenges, a higher power coming to assist, cutting through clutter, seeing the inner truth, rational thought, a focused mind, discernment, change in the way of thinking, a turning point, making a decision, insight, a power for good
Hair-splitting, unclear circumstances, excessive force, victimization, lack of planning, chaos, obstacles, unclear or muddled thinking, abuse of power, cutting words, wrath, a power for evil