King of Swords: Your truth is not for others to tell

When I drew the King of Swords this morning, I wondered: What is ‘truth’?

And what would you do with it, if you had it?

For the King of Swords, truth is a matter of black and white; there is no room for grey areas, for ‘but’. A thing is, or it is not. It is right, or it is wrong. It is good, or it is bad. 

This kind of thinking can help us to make swift and powerful decisions, for sure – this is one trademark of the King of Swords. And what beauty there is in this level of clarity, how wonderful it is to know with such sureness what is what. What some of us may call opinion, others may describe as perspective, the King of Swords defines as truth. Fact.

We all have a spectrum, onto which our beliefs are projected.

Some beliefs are closer to the ‘fact’ end of the spectrum, where both black and white live. Other beliefs may be closer to the other end, the hazier end, that is coloured grey. We still believe these things, but we view it as something that is malleable, or that comes from feeling rather than reason.

Some of us allow our beliefs to float in that hazy area, content to imagine that they may change, that new information may be discovered, or intuition may cast light or doubt. And some of us prefer to pile our beliefs up at the other end. The yes-or-no end. Once a thing is known, it is known (and how can a fact change?)

This end, for me, is the realm of the King of Swords. This is reason over feeling, to the max. It is the confidence to define a theory as a fact, to know a thing so fully that there can be no doubt.

For this king, to doubt is to be wrong.

To say ‘this is a fact’ conveys authority, it suggests wisdom, experience, a superior knowledge. It is convincing to communicate this way, to leave no room for doubt.

If we are speaking to change hearts and minds, this is one way to do it. If we seek to lead a revolution, this is one approach (another, of course, would be to begin from the grey areas.) Many great speakers and writers put forth their message with unequivocal conviction. There is no room for your ‘but’, for your challenge. The time for debate is through. These are facts. In this way, the King of Swords can also represent a toxic, manipulative situation, one in which a person, a community, a nation, are convinced by one person’s truth (or simply their presentation of truth). It is post-truth, alt-truth (and it is people believing it).

The King of Swords’ black-and-white approach is the tool of the oppressor, but of course it can also be the tool of the activist.

It represents a level of confidence in your own findings. The willingness to speak up, speak out, to make a damned decision, because you’ve done your research, you’ve heard the evidence, you’ve gone on a journey, found something out for yourself.

Or because it was your own experience in the first place. Your experience. Your truth.

Your truth is not for someone else to tell.

The King of Swords is a powerful card, but their power is the power of truth. The card’s great irony is that those who hold that apparent power are often not the same people who hold truth. The King of Swords can be both the defendant and the judge at once. It can be the person with the power to decide what is true and what is not (regardless of whether they are correct, the King can represent that kind of ‘power over’). And it can be the person who is telling their story, who will not waver from their truth, who prizes their own truth above all else, no matter how painful.

This King is a warrior, a soldier. He is hard, lean, weathered. He has been marked with a gold dragon, gold rays of the sun. Gold is the colour of our exaltation in Air. This is something this king needed to live up to as he acquired pinprick after pinprick of golden ink, and now in his vast experience he has the ferocity and skill to wear this dragon proudly and with honor.

Marie White, The Mary-el Tarot: Landscapes of the Abyss

Yeah, this is a tough card, a hard one. It can often represent someone who has power over you, someone with the power to shape truth to their own agenda, never mind what appears different to you. It can be the rule of law, whether you agree with it or not. But it can also be your righteousness, your strength and courage as you stand up and speak your own truth, from your own experience, refusing to let the world tell you things are otherwise.


Cards shown are from the Mary-el Tarot by Marie White, the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Piu-Mun Law, and Thea’s Tarot by Ruth West.

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5 comments

  1. Brian Dooley says:

    Hi, Beth, I’m @tarotamateur. I found your site via a brief twitter interaction this morning. :) Congrats on getting your comments back up, and I love your approach! I’ll be spending some time here, and hopefully getting your course in a few weeks. :)

    • Beth
      Beth says:

      Thanks Brian! Glad to have you here with us – and thanks for the reading on Twitter :)

      Comments are my favourite thing, it’s been sad not having them working!

  2. matt says:

    Great post. In my early days I used to struggle with differentiating the king of swords from the king of wands. I think your post has helped me clarify the meanings even more

  3. Elizabeth Brackman-Kibert says:

    Thank you Beth. I recently received the Mary-El Tarot and have found myself more than a little awed by its imagery and symbolic wisdom. Your article elucidates this card beautifully.

    • Beth
      Beth says:

      My pleasure. The Mary-el Tarot is a *big* deck – it’s not one I turn to often, because it can feel so overpowering. Wishing you happy travels with those weighty, wonderful cards!

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