01. Ace of Swords

Rider-Waite Alchemical Tarot
Thoth Tarot of the Sephiroth


Number: 1
Card Title: Ace of Swords
Esoteric Title: Root of the Powers of Air
Numerical Keywords: 1: Unity, Origin, Potential
Numerical Attributions: Primium Mobile, White, Soul, Good
Intelligence: Hidden Intelligence
Element: Air (hot, wet)
Elemental Keywords: Mind, Ideas, Cutting
Elemental Attributions: East, Spring, Sunrise
Astrological Attribution: Gemini Libra Aquarius
Dates & Timing: The Fool
Qabalistic World: Kether in Yetzirah
Translation of World: The Crown of Formation
Suit Color: Swords- Yellow

Keywords: Intellect, Mind, Authority, Stress, Cutting, Piercing, Mental Sharpness, Creative Thoughts, Obsessions, Habits, Masculine, Determination, Bravery.Ill-Dignified:Slander, Injustice, Tyranny, Obstacles, Hindrances, Too Forceful, Brute Force, Two Edged Sword, Unnecessary Conflict, Instability, Weakness of Will.

Interpretation: Ruling and leading by divine right. Situations related to words, numbers and ideas. The two edges of the sword are peace and suffering. Good timing for a new idea or insight. Contracts or Negotiating legal matters.

Reversed Interpretation: Don’t Do It! Timing is not right for new beginnings. Need to set limits on project. Situation may need to be abandoned. Stirring up conflict. Things are out of balance. Too much force can operate against the desire to get started.

Rider-Waite Imagery

The suit of swords is related to the element of air. It concerns matters of thoughts, ideas and the mind.

The Ace of Swords is a very auspicious card and it offers advice for you going forward. Aces herald new beginnings. A white radiant hand emerges from gray (divine) clouds. The hand grasps the hilt of a sword (thoughts, and ideas) and support the “Divine Crown of Spiritual Brightness”. The Crown has the olive branch (peace) on the left and the palm branch (suffering) on the right. The purple and blue mountains in the background represent high ideals and mental boundaries. Six yellow yods float above the hilt of the sword.

The advice of the Ace of Swords is to pursue an idea that you are inspired by. Aces bring with them amazing and radical changes. Have you been considering an invention or a wild new idea or plan? The Ace of Swords supports decisions made to go after this idea. The timing is good and you will be able to make it happen.

The Pictorial Key to the Tarot by Arthur Edward Waite (1911)

A hand issues from a cloud, grasping as word, the point of which is encircled by a crown. Divinatory Meanings: Triumph, the excessive degree in everything, conquest, triumph of force. It is a card of great force, in love as well as in hatred. The crown may carry a much higher significance than comes usually within the sphere of fortune-telling. Reversed: The same, but the results are disastrous; another account says–conception, childbirth, augmentation, multiplicity.

4 Some Additional Meanings of the Lesser Arcana

Ace.–Great prosperity or great misery. Reversed: Marriage broken off, for a woman, through her own imprudence.

The Recurrence of Cards in Dealing

In the Natural Position: 4 Aces = favourable chance; 3 Aces = small success; 2 Aces = trickery.
Reversed: 4 Aces = dishonour; 3 Aces debauchery; 2 Aces = enemies.

The Tarot of the Bohemians by Papus; tr. A. P Morton, [1896]

Signification of the Four Series of Minor Arcana in the Divining Tarot

SWORDS. Transformation. Hatred. War.

ACE OF SWORDS. Commencement of enmity.

The Tarot by S.L. MacGregor Mathers [1888]

Meanings of the Cards

63. Ace of Swords.–Triumph, Fecundity, Fertility, Prosperity; R. Embarrassment, Foolish and Hopeless Love, Obstacle, Hindrance.

Three Books of Occult Philosophy by Henry Cornelius Agrippa

Chap. vi. Of the wonderfull Natures of Water, Aire, and Winds.
The other two Elements, viz. Water, and Aire, are not less efficacious then the former; neither is nature wanting to work wonderfull things in them.

It remains that I speak of the Aire. This is a vitall spirit, passing through all Beings, giving life, and subsistence to all things, binding, moving, and filling all things. Hence it is that the Hebrew Doctors reckon it not amongst the Elements, but count it as a Medium or glew [glue], joyning things together, and as the resounding spirit of the worlds instrument. It immediately receives into it self the influences of all Celestiall bodies, and then communicates them to the other Elements, as also to all mixt [mixed] bodies: Also it receives into it self, as it were a divine Looking-glass, the species of all things, as well naturall, as artificiall, as also of all manner of speeches, and retains them; And carrying them with it, and entering into the bodies of Men, and other Animals, through their pores, makes an Impression upon them, as well when they sleep, as when they be awake, and affords matter for divers strange Dreams and Divinations. Hence they say it is, that a man passing by a place where a man was slain, or the Carkase [carcass] newly hid, is moved with fear and dread; because the Aire in that place being full of the dreadfull species of Man-slaughter [manslaughter], doth, being breathed in, move and trouble the spirit of the man with the like species, whence it is that be comes to be afraid. For every thing that makes a sudden impression, astonisheth nature. Whence it is, that many Philosophers were of opinion that Aire is the cause of dreams, and of many other impressions of the mind, through the prolonging of Images, or similitudes, or species (which are fallen from things and speeches, multiplyed in the very Aire) untill they come to the senses, and then to the phantasy, and soul of him that receives them, which being freed from cares, and no way hindred, expecting to meet such kind of species, is informed by them. For the species of things, although of their own proper nature they are carryed to the senses of men, and other animals in generall, may notwithstanding get some impression from the Heaven, whilest they be in the Aire, by reason of which, together with the aptness and disposition of him that receives them, they may be carryed to the sence [sense] of one rather then of another. And hence it is possible naturally, and far from all manner of superstition, no other spirit coming between, that a man should be able in a very time to signifie his mind unto another man, abiding at a very long and unknown distance from him; although he cannot precisely give an estimate of the time when it is, yet of necessity it must be within 24 hours; and I my self know how to do it, and have often done it. The same also in time past did the Abbot Tritemius both know and do. Also, when certain appearances, not only spirituall, but also naturall do flow forth from things, that is to say, by a certain kind of flowings forth of bodies from bodies, and do gather strength in the Air, they offer, and shew themselves to us as well through light as motion, as well to the sight as to other senses, and sometimes work wonderfull things upon us, as Plotinus proves and teacheth. And we see how by the South wind the Air is condensed into thin clouds, in which, as in a Looking-glass are reflected representations at a great distance of Castles, Mountains, Horses, and Men, and other things, which when the clouds are gone, presently vanish. And Aristotle in his Meteors shews, that a Rainbow is conceived in a cloud of the Aire, as in a Looking-glass. And Albertus saith, that the effigies of bodies may by the strength of nature, in a moist Aire be easily represented, in the same manner as the representations of things are in things. And Aristotle tels of a man, to whom it happened by reason of the weakness of his sight, that the Aire that was near to him, became as it were a Looking-glass to him, and the optick beam did relect back upon himself, and could not penetrate the Aire, so that whithersoever he went, he thought he saw his own image, with his face towards him, go before him. In like manner, by the artificialnes of some certain Looking-glasses, may be produced at a distance in the Aire, beside the Looking-glasses, what images we please; which when ignorant men see, they think they see the appearances of spirits, or souls; when indeed they are nothing else but semblances kin to themselves, and without life. And it is well known, if in a dark place where there is no light but by the coming in of a beam of the sun somewhere through a litle hole, a white paper, or plain Looking-glass be set up against that light, that there may be seen upon them, whatsoever things are done without, being shined upon by the Sun. And there is another sleight, or trick yet more wonderfull. If any one shall take images artificially painted, or written letters, and in a clear night set them against the beams of the full Moon, whose resemblances being multiplyed in the Aire, and caught upward, and reflected back together with the beams of the Moon, any other man that is privy to the thing, at a long distance sees, reads, and knows them in the very compass, and Circle of the Moon, which Art of declaring secrets is indeed very profitable for Towns, and Cities that are besieged, being a thing which Pythagoras long since did often do, and which is not unknown to some in these dayes, I will not except my self. And all these, and many more, and greater then these, are grounded in the very nature of the Aire, and have their reasons, and causes declared in Mathematicks, and Opticks. And as these resemblances are reflected back to the sight, so also sometimes to the hearing, as is manifest in the Echo. But there are more secret arts then these, and such whereby any one may at a very remote distance hear, and understand what another speaks, or whispers softly.

There are also from the airy Element Winds. For they are nothing else, but Air moved and stirred up. Of these there are four that are principall, blowing from the four corners of the Heaven, viz. Notus from the South, Boreas from the North, Zephyrus from the West, Eurus from the East, which Pontanus comprehending in these verses, saith,

Cold Boreas from the top of ‘lympus [Olympus] blows,
And from the bottom cloudy Notus flows.
From setting Phoebus fruitfull Zeph’rus flies,
And barren Eurus from the Suns up-rise.

Notus is the Southern Wind, cloudy, moist, warm, and sickly, which Hieronimus cals the butler of the rains. Ovid describes it thus,

Out flies South-wind, with dropping wings, who shrowds
His fearful aspect in the pitchie clouds,
His white Haire stream’s, his Beard big-swoln with showres [showers];
Mists binde his Brows, rain from his Bosome powres [pours].

But Boreas is contrary to Notus, and is the Northern Wind, fierce, and roaring, and discussing clouds, makes the Aire serene, and binds the Water with Frost. Him doth Ovid thus bring in speaking of himself.

Force me befits: with this thick cloud I drive;
Toss the blew Billows, knotty Okes [oaks] up-rive;
Congeal soft Snow, and beat the Earth with haile;
When I my brethren in the Aire assaile,
(For thats our Field) we meet with such a shock,
That thundring Skies with our encounters rock
And cloud-struck lightning flashes from on high, When through the Crannies of the Earth I flie,
And force her in her hollow Caves, I make
The Ghosts to tremble, and the ground to quake.

And Zephyrus, which is the Western Wind, is most soft, blowing from the West with a pleasant gale, it is cold and moist, removing the effects of Winter, bringing forth Branches, and Flowers. To this Eurus is contrary, which is the Eastern wind, and is called Apeliotes; it is waterish, cloudy, and ravenous. Of these two Ovid sings thus:

To Persis and Sabea, Eurus flies;
Whose gums perfume the blushing Mornes up-rise:
Next to the Evening, and the Coast that glows
With setting Phoebus, flowry Zeph’rus blows:

In Scythia horrid Boreas holds his rain,
Beneath Boites, and the frozen Wain:
The land to this oppos’d doth Auster steep
With fruitfull showres, and clouds which ever weep.

Picatrix the Goal of the Wise by Ghayat Al-akim

Book “T” The Tarot

OF THE ACES

FIRST in order and importance are the Four Aces, representing the Force of the Spirit, acting in, and binding together, the Four Scales of each Element: and answering to the Dominion of the Letters of the Name in the Kether of each. They represent the Radical Forces.

The Four Aces are said to be placed on the North Pole of the Universe wherein they revolve, governing its revolution; and ruling as the connecting link between Yetzirah and the Material Plane or Universe.

III. THE ROOT OF THE POWERS OF THE AIR: Ace of Swords

A WHITE Radiating Angelic Hand, issuing from clouds, and grasping the hilt of a sword, which supports a White Radiant Celestial Crown; from which depend, on the right, the olive branch of Peace; and on the left, the palm branch of suffering.

Six Vaus fall from its point. It symbolizes “Invoked,” as contrasted with Natural Force: for it is the Invocation of the Sword. Raised upward, it invokes the Divine crown of Spiritual Brightness, but reversed it is the Invocation of Demonic Force; and becomes a fearfully evil symbol. It represents, therefore, very great power for good or evil, but invoked; and it also represents whirling Force, and strength through trouble. It is the affirmation of Justice upholding Divine Authority; and it may become the Sword of Wrath, Punishment, and Affliction.

Often the General signification of the Majority of a particular suit and of the particular signification of the either 3 of 4 cards of a sort in a reading:

  • A Majority of Swords Trouble, sadness, sickness, death.
  • A Majority of Aces Strength generally. Aces are always strong cards.
  • 4 Aces Great power and force.
  • 3 Aces Riches, success.