Queering the Tarot: Ace of Swords

Hello again! What a wonderful journey this series is and continues to be. I feel like I learn as much from writing it and getting feedback from y’all as I do in all of my studies on my own. I’m so excited we’re entering our second suit, and so grateful so many of you are excited too.

If you have only recently joined me on this Queer journey through the 78 cards of a standard tarot deck, you can catch the Major Arcana and Suit of Wands here.

Queering the Tarot: Ace of Swords

Now, on to Swords! The Swords are our suit of logic, mental clarity, and intellect, but these cards often bring bad news or intend to force us to cut away the things in our life that aren’t working, (even if we really, really like those things). This is the suit that corresponds with Air, so it is a suit of swift-moving action, where clear thought and precise actions are needed to reach our goals.

The Ace of Swords leads with these ideas in mind. This card usually brings swift, sudden news, often that can anger you or break your heart at first glance. This is one of the cards that actually shows up if we’re expecting illness or injury, and it’s one that can predict heartbreak with pretty good accuracy.

It does have some positive messages too though. Frequently a sudden, brash insight rocks our world in the best way possible. We get some news that cuts away things we’ve wanted rid of, or we suddenly know how to solve that pesky problem that’s been nagging us for months, for example.

As we queer the Swords over the next few months, one of the big things I want to look at is how mental illness, sobriety, and identity intersect in the LGBTQ+ community. Because this suit can also indicate mental illness for anyone, ignoring that life on the margins causes unique manifestations of mental illness or that medical care for queer people is disgustingly inadequate in a lot of places would be ridiculous. As such, one of the first ways we queer this Ace is by taking all of that into account. I have seen this card manifest for myself personally as warning that a depressive spell, panic attack, or other signifier of mental illness is imminent. This has also been true for LGBTQ+ seekers living in sobriety, although in this case it can indicate an actual relapse or desire for one on the horizon. This card’s job is just to deliver that news, so the surrounding cards would provide the advice or the seeker’s next steps.

On the positive, the flip side of this Ace is that for those who have been struggling with mental illness or who know their drinking or drug use is becoming a problem, the Ace of Swords promises a breakthrough – an ability to quit, a change in mood for the better, a life-changing moment in therapy. There also can be and often is a sense of victory in this card, and for LGBTQ+ querents that breakthrough usually comes with a promise that the resources and community you need to navigate your addiction or mental illness is right at your fingertips.

Other queerings of this card are wrapped up in the bad news this Ace can often bring. I never rule out someone outing a seeker without permission or one being confronted/treated with hostility because of their identity when this card shows up. However, when we think about Queering the Tarot, we also think about subversion.

While this card is always hard, it could be telling you to take matters into your own hands. This could be a clear message that now is the time for YOU to deliver news about your identity, transition, or life to others who may not want to hear it. While there are always repercussions, often times tragic ones, if the Ace shows up to push you this way, it’s because, quite simply, it’s your time to do so. If it gets to this point, you’ve probably been waiting too long and “fate” (or whatever your concept of that is) is about to intervene if you don’t take action yourself. Often we are asked to wield the sword, deliver the hard blow, and whatever falls away as a result needed to so that you can walk through life as your fabulous queer self unencumbered by the burden of secrets or those who will refuse to love you as a result of them. It is a hard card because it cuts away the strings that keep us bound, but it is a necessary card because (unlike some others we’ll explore at later dates) this card shows this is not time for us to be bound.

Tied to this idea, I’ve also seen the Ace of Swords show up for transgender clients who are thinking about gender affirming surgeries. In this case the idea of cutting away the unnecessary becomes very literal, and the message that it’s time can come as a welcome relief even if there’s a lot of logistics to figure out. Swords cards love logistics even when we don’t. In these cases, this card is then a promise that it’s time to take that leap and that you’ll be thrilled with the results if you do – and more than thrilled, you’ll feel free from a life you were trying to kill off this whole time. This suit does correspond with air, and with that comes images of birds flying and butterflies transforming, and I can think of no better message to leave any client with, but especially one who has been facing gender dysphoria and external oppression at every turn.

Switching gears completely, the Ace of Swords has a very dominant energy that can be applied sexually. An optional interpretation if you’re reading for a querent who’s strongly kink-identified is that this is a quick note from the cards that it’s time to escalate your play or learn a new format for training and punishment. I’ve seen this card literally manifest as knife play, for example. In any case, taking action and control over your sex life is an incredibly mood-shifting idea for most LGBTQ+ people who grew up in repressed households, which, quite frankly, was most of us. This Sword wants you to grab it, and be safe, but jump into, ahem, action expressing your queer self carnally. As such it can cut away the ties to monogamy that don’t fit many of us as well as push us towards kink. If you’re reading about your sex life, the bottom line is this: take control.

The queerly dominant energy of the Ace of Swords goes back to the idea that you are being called on to bear news others may perceive as bad – breaking up with a partner that loves you, coming out in a space where others will respond poorly, or being your own sword-bearer and going to rehab or into therapy. It’s a card that cuts away what isn’t working in your life, but what doesn’t suit most LGBTQ+ seekers is letting someone or something else call the shots in our life whether that something is alcohol or drugs, our assigned bodies, or whether that someone is a monogamous or vanilla partner. So really, what I stated above stands for LGBTQ+ querents regardless: when the Ace of Swords shows up, it’s time for you to take control.

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