The Queen of Swords

Of all the court cards, the Queen of Swords is probably the most difficult to reconcile. She flies in the face of how we view womanhood. Women are supposed to be sexy or nurturing, easy on the eyes, free-spirited manic pixies, or Pinterest perfect homemakers. At the end of the day they’re also all supposed to be available to men.

The Queen of Swords gives the middle finger to all of this.

In a reading this card was always the symbol of the divorced woman, the scorned woman, the widow. She has always represented in divination, those women we are told to never become. She’s been portrayed as a shell of a human being, alone, unloved, a bitter harpy that serves as a warning: be nice, be feminine, be accommodating or you’ll end up an old spinster like her.

Let’s update that, shall we? It is 2023, after all.

She is smart. She is ambitious. She is not the least bit afraid to call things out. This queen does not care if she makes your guest list. With Capricorn’s tongue and Scorpio’s piercing gaze she all but invites you to fuck around and find out.

I’ve seen her zodiac correspondences swap back and forth between Libra and Virgo, depending on the deck and the teachings of the writer. It doesn’t matter under what sign she is placed. Either way, she doesn’t care if you don’t want her at your table. She’ll build her own.

Highly intelligent and intensely perceptive, the Queen of Swords remembers every detail. Polite and conscious of decorum, she knows her fish fork from her salad fork. She won’t cause a scene like some of her Tarot peers. When she tells you to fuck off, it’s eloquent. You don’t realize you’ve been dissed until you’re down the street and around the corner.

Her ability to turn a phrase and keep people enamored makes her a hit everywhere she goes. Her ability to gain access to worlds often off-limits to the rest of us mere mortals makes her a valuable ally. She’s a chameleon, keeper of a thousand masks. She can feel the energy in the room turn and she shifts her persona to match before anyone else realizes that the stakes have changed.

This lady also delivers. She gets the job done on time, perfectly executed, and flawlessly presented. She doesn’t have a resting bitch face. Her bitch face is always on guard, never resting, so you’ll never know how many sleepless nights she has endured to deliver the perfect presentation or keynote speech. Or how many jobs she worked to get to where she is now. She makes it look effortless and yes, she’s aware that she has haters because of it.

This queen can be a tough cookie to deal with. You’re looking at a woman who walked into the world of men and rose up. She busted through those glass ceilings and made enemies along the way. Don’t expect sympathy. She doesn’t have any. Whatever it is that she succeeded in, just know that she’s slogged through some shit to get there, and she expects the same of you. Take your crying out back.

This queen is a bootstrapper. Regardless of her race, ethnicity, class, or abilities, she will argue until she’s blue in the face that she is most definitely not oppressed and neither are you. She doesn’t have time for that. You either have a backbone or you don’t, as far as she’s concerned.

The Queen of Swords girlbossed too close to the sun and then she soared even higher. She took all the negativity aimed at her and used it as rocket fuel. She’s a testament to the power of righteous anger.

Were her feelings hurt? Probably. Did she eat ice cream on her living room floor and cry? Most likely. What she didn’t do was pitch a tent and stay there. She looked at every mistake she made and learned from it. She didn’t bother ruminating on what was working against her. She set her jaw and leaned into the things that frightened her.

A girl’s gotta eat.

We raise our daughters to be the Queen of Swords. We want them to grow up and challenge the patriarchy. We want them to be sharp, successful scientists, engineers, and CEOs. We raise them to be independent, career-minded, and self-reliant. We put them in the debate club to learn to argue and speak under pressure. We encourage critical thinking. We go broke on soccer, yoga, and figure skating because you know, healthy body/healthy mind. We discourage depending on a man or getting married. She saw what SuperMom Syndrome did to those of us in GenX because we didn’t try to hide it.

Then we set these independent, assertive young women loose in a world that hates them and promptly started moving the goalposts.

We tell them they have to change now.

Be prettier, softer.

Lower your gaze. Know your place.

Let others win.

We send them into work environments that still prize men and where the only acceptable professional woman is the outdated supermom. We continue to create workplace cultures that expect these young women to put in the overtime, give up the “good” shift cycle to their married coworkers, and cancel their free time so that staff with kids can go do “family” things. My Google feed is littered with articles about young women who are passed over for promotion because their coworker, who is married with children, needs it more than them – even though they’re eminently more qualified or being expected to cede shifts, vacations, spots in tradeshows, even seats on airplanes.

Folks, they turned out exactly as we all raised them to be.

Yet we wonder why the Queen of Swords is a bitter harpy.

In “A Feminist Tarot”, Sally Gearhart sees this queen as someone who secretly hates women, is self-loathing, might want to be a man, and (negatively) implies that she may be a lesbian, as if that’s a bad thing.  She concludes with, “She is dangerous.”

You’re damned right she is, bitches.


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