The Ace of Swords in The New Chapter Tarot is a treasure trove of symbolism!
We’ve been thinking a lot about symbolism in tarot recently. And if there’s one deck in Liminal’s collection that really makes the use of symbology, it’s Kathryn Briggs’s The New Chapter Tarot, due for release in March 2021.
Let’s take a deep dive into just one card in this exciting new deck, as an exercise in how the symbolism of tarot is essential to interpreting the cards…
Secrets of the Ace Of Swords
This card, and all in the Swords suit, is ruled by Air. This stands for logic, thought, and higher consciousness. The Ace card is always the epitome of each suit, and creator Kathryn Briggs has packed this card full of symbology to demonstrate all the Swords suit represents.
The card is divided into three sections, each of which show a different aspect of Air: Wind, Sky, and the Cosmos. Kathryn has assigned an astrological sign to each aspect:
- Wind is Gemini
- Sky is Libra
- Cosmos is Aquarius
Why do you think the signs were ascribed these particular aspects? What do you know of Libra that might make it fit Sky, more than the other aspects of Air? The card invites you to think about these aspects, and how they relate to the signs.
Dividing these segments are more symbols: clasped hands, the scales viewed from above, and stars. The clasped hands represent co-operation, the communication of more than one perspective. These are ideas that cross over between Gemini and Libra. The scales stand for balance, and also represent Libra, as well as the Aquarian desire for objectivity and fairness. The stars are an extension of the Cosmos, adding a note of celestial sparkle to this suit.
The focal point of the card is the triangle, which has a small line across the top. This is the alchemical symbol for Air. Y’know, just in case you’d forgotten the element associated with this suit! Kathryn’s use of symbolism also goes beyond the classical symbols you’ll find in tarot — and the Ace of Swords features a lovely example of historical symbolism. The sword on top of the triangle is ancient: it’s a Khopesh, from the Egyptian Bronze Age. Is there anything more essential to the idea of swords than one of the earliest ever made?
Using Symbology for Interpretation
The symbolism inherent in tarot isn’t just a cool way to pack in meaning — it’s actually a great shortcut to interpreting the cards intuitively. By focusing on the symbology within a card, and inferring what each symbol represents, you can quickly unpack a card’s meaning. This is something of a shortcut to studying tarot, and really helps if you learn by doing. Instead of memorising each card’s meaning, you can just pay attention to what’s on the card, and discover the meaning that way (though we would advise comparing your analysis to the author’s intention for the card!) When reading, you can also pick out specific symbols and think about how they relate to your query.
So how would you interpret the Ace of Swords? First you would have to set a query, so let’s use an example. How about: “what do I need to work on in my life right now?”
If you pull the Ace of Swords in response to this question, the tarot is telling you that you need to embody the epitome of the Swords suit. Whatever is happening to you, logic and thought will get you through it. Try to work on your objectivity and see the situation for what it is, without emotional associations.
The symbols of this card, however, add greater depth to how the Ace of Swords answers your query. You don’t just need to embody the idea of Air, but all the different ways it manifests: the Sky above us, the Wind that flows across the world, the Cosmos that stretches out into the known and unknown universe. Are you being all you can be? Do you need to look beyond your expectations? What did you think was above your capabilities? The Ace of Swords could be inviting you to reach for the stars…
The clasped hands between wind and sky could mean that you need to enhance your communication, possibly with someone who is an Air sign, or whose personhood reminds you of this element. The sword represents a sharp mind or wit. Is this someone you know, or something you want to nurture in yourself? And think about the astrological signs in particular. Where do these signs fall within your chart? That could be a key factor in what you need to work on.
Now that we’ve analysed this card, take a closer look at your decks. See how many symbols you can spot (and if you can, write them down!) And of course, when The New Chapter Tarot is released, we recommend taking some time to really dive into the cards. How many symbols can you see?
Stay tuned for more deep dives into tarot card symbolism! What would you like to learn about next? Let us know in the comments, or find us on Instagram!