Knowing a great deal is not the same as being smart; intelligence is not information alone but also judgment, the manner in which information is collected and used.
~ Dr. Carl Sagan
Why hello there, stranger. Long time no see! Welcome to the King of Swords, who has not visited us since June, 2009.
Swords are the suit associated with the Element of Air, which rules the mind and intellect. Swords are about perception, thought, communication, and decision-making.
And as with all court cards, this is one of the Tarot’s “people” cards. So we must weigh whether this is an actual person we know, some aspect of ourselves, or (less often), simply a kind of energy or perspective.
The King of Swords is the only court card that looks directly at us. He is very similar to The Emperor and Justice, two other figures who sit upon their thrones, gazing at us, and passing judgment.
As you can see, this King’s throne is surrounded by clouds. He may be an idealist, but his expression is utterly no-nonsense. His throne and his feet are on the ground, so we would hope he is not out of touch with life.
The Mr. Spock of the Tarot
This King rules by the intelligence of his mind. You could call him the Mr. Spock of the Tarot – unemotional, often remote and aloof. But despite his seeming coldness, he also represents the pinnacle of what logic and intellect can achieve.
He (or she) is a successful leader in professions that require brilliant communication, visionary planning, and meticulous skill such as a judge, professor or teacher, scientist, researcher, politician, writer, or public speaker.
As a perfectionist, he may be hard to please. His standards are sometimes impossibly high, and he can be a control freak. But at his best, he has the clear-eyed view of how things really are. He is a champion for truth, and can intelligently, impartially wield his sword for social justice and progress.
A Pivotal Week Ahead
This week, the first voting for the U.S. Presidential election begins with the Iowa caucus. It’s make or break time for a number of the candidates. The tenor of the debates leading up to this has revealed a stark contrast between emotionalism and pandering, vs. intelligence and honesty.
In fact, some candidates (whose names I need not mention) have built their popularity on being proud of their ignorance and their hostility towards science and impartiality.
Perhaps, then, the King of Swords challenges us this week to carefully consider whether we truly value honesty, intelligence, and clear, straight talk. Shouldn’t we insist on integrity from our leaders?
Yes, there is great pressure to pretend it does not matter, or is an old-fashioned luxury, long gone, beset as we are by a tide of fear, cynicism, and apathy. But the nature of democracy is that although we might not always get exactly what we wish for, we certainly will not receive that which we fail to demand.
In addition, Mercury, planet of communication, intellect, and technology, is currently in the sign of Capricorn. Our friends at Cafe Astrology explain that when this is the case –
Our thinking is methodical and our focus is sober and practical. It is easier to concentrate on the task at hand under this influence. Our conversations may be quite realistic or focused on business/practical matters.
Our thought patterns and communication styles become more logical, orderly, and organized. We are more able to sort out what is relevant and essential. Realism enters the picture, our speech is no-nonsense, and precision becomes important to us.
We need to be wary of becoming too rigid in our thinking. We may come across as cold or harsh. For some, there is fine line between realism and pessimism.
Sounds exactly like the King of Swords’ influence, doesn’t it?
The definition of intelligence has been changing in recent years, and is no longer considered purely a function of the human brain, or a quantifiable number on a test score. Scientists are now proposing various theories of “multiple intelligences.”
They believe that intelligence is a matrix of several independent abilities, such as analytical, creative, and emotional intelligence. These combine to contribute to the total performance of an individual.
It is emerging, too, that our intelligence may not reside exclusively in our brain, and that our brain’s physiology and capacity literally change, depending on the extent to which we learn to expand beyond self-centeredness and our egocentric thinking.
The word intelligence comes from the Latin verb, intellegere which means “to understand.” No matter how smart we aspire to be, without insight and the ability to connect to our world and to one another with empathetic understanding, our mental capacity means little.
Nevertheless, the King of Swords reminds us to do our homework this week and stick to the facts. When times are difficult, we need to think clearly and logically, with precision and a certain amount of emotional detachment.
Now is a time that we must ask the tough questions, test carefully for the truth, and make honest choices.
In your personal dealings, it is time to see things with clear eyes and incisive analysis. Be fearless and rigorous.
This card may show up for you this week if you are dealing with attorneys, government bureaucracy, or academia. It also might be an opportunity to make an important decision.
And it’s a good reminder that sometimes we need to cut free of emotional and energetic drains.
Although he has been absent for seven years, the King of Swords is a welcome, timely guest this week. Let us celebrate his keen intelligence, remembering that without good judgment, we are merely clever.
And when we temper our brilliant minds with compassionate hearts, we are not just smart, but wise.