Here on the turning point between Spring and Summer, with the celebration of the Solstice later this week, it is interesting to have the serious visage of the King of Swords come visiting again.
What might he portend? Certainly, as I’ve discussed before in more traditional interpretations, he represents the Swords’ Air element, ruling the mind and intellect, communication and idealism. The King of Swords is the only court card that looks directly out at us, reminding us of the Majors’ Emperor and Justice, two other figures who also sit upon their thrones, gazing straight at us, judging and choosing. This King rules by the intelligence of his mind.
What do we actually mean by intelligence? For a long time, we measured intelligence strictly by IQ tests. However, these have come under increasing scrutiny because of their racial and economic class biases. And, frankly, several of the most IQ-intelligent people I’ve ever known have been, in my estimation, some of the most inept and ignorant.
Perhaps this is because intelligence is much more than information retention and regurgitation (which, as most school teachers will tell you, makes the current emphasis on grade testing dubious at best).
Increasingly, intelligence is being understood as much more than just one quantifiable thing. 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 real 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. We must ask the tough questions, listen carefully for the truth, and make honest choices.
In your personal dealings, it is time to see things with clear eyes and incisive analysis. This card may show up for you this week if you are dealing with attorneys, government bureaucracy, or academia. This also might be an opportunity to make an important decision. And this card is a good reminder that sometimes we need to break free of emotional and energetic drains.
Welcome the King’s intelligence, remembering that without real understanding, we are merely clever, which is not that smart, after all.