The Eight of Swords – A One Page Guide

What do Danny DeVito, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Pamela Colman Smith, Arthur Edward Waite, Castor and Pollux have in common with that silly Internet meme about “brothers by different mothers?” How about “twins by different fathers?” Colman Smith’s illustration for the Eight of Swords is an incredibly clever play upon Waite’s divinatory meaning; or quite possibly, it was the source for it. In either case, though Waite sees the Eight of Swords as a glass half empty, there is reason to think it’s half full. It all hinges on the origin story of Gemini, the differences between Waite and the Golden Dawn group’s view of the Eight of Swords, and the dual meanings of an obscure word: “trammel!” It is the positive side of Pollux’s sacrifice which showed extraordinary generosity that makes the glass half full: the ability to free oneself from one’s bindings, the power to survive sickness and calumny, the ability to weather bad news.

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The Nine of Swords – A One Page Guide

The underlying story of the Nine of Swords is life-and-death health issues, specifically those affecting women. Yesod and the Magician chiefly influence the “nightmare” setting of the design. Mercury/quicksilver and Air, not just as a classical element, but because it represents blood as a classical humor leads us to quickening and pregnancy. From there Waite’s words lead inexorably to Adam and Eve and what he calls her “imputed lapse.” Far from just a woman awoken from a nightmare with nine swords of Damocles above her head, the Nine of Swords represents Eve’s “lapse,” man’s ultimate rise afterwards, and those swords? They just may be there to protect her.

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