To me the Knight or Prince of Swords is one of the most dangerous adversaries in the Tarot. He has the swords gifts for planning, strategizing and being coldly logical combined with the fiery qualities of passion, creativity and fearlessness. He will charge into the fray and defeat his enemies but not before planning a brilliant and creative strategy to help him attain this goal. I have a real fondness for the Swords suit especially the court cards, so drawing this dynamic yet thoughtful character is wonderful.
The fact that this intense and sharp witted personality is reversed suggests that, as Clarice Starling once asked Hannibal Lector “are you strong enough to point that high-powered perception at yourself?” I think this Prince of Swords is aiming his fiery, creative, perceptive and sharp intellect straight at me and asking “What’s holding you back?” If I’m honest, I’m holding me back (isn’t that often the case?). My own fears, self-doubts and damn laziness will trip me up every time. However today I’m feeling a bit more hopeful.
Last night while reading the fabulous Sasha Graham’s book Tarot Diva (which I highly recommend BTW – it’s a fresh, fun and yet deep look at new ways to explore the Tarot and learn about yourself), I came across her exercise for the 10 of Swords. It involved recalling the negative things that have been said to you over the years that stuck and still wound you today. Comments such as “you’re too fat (or stupid or ugly)”. As I was reading this section I had an epiphany – my issues do not involve such comments for the most part. I’m not claiming that I never felt ugly or fat or whatever but it was usually because of some idea I developed by comparing myself to someone else. I wasn’t as pretty as her or as skinny as this one or as popular as that one. Of course I experienced the typical childhood/teen heartbreak and drama of liking a boy who didn’t like me or friends who actions left me feeling betrayed but I don’t think that left lasting scars. As I was reading Sasha’s exercise it hit me like a ton of bricks that my issues developed from the positive things people told me.
Before you start thinking I’m crazy, let me explain. It was the disconnect between what was being said and what was being done that created the conflict. For example a parent who tells you how pretty you are before molesting you. Or a parent who tells you how smart and independent you are before beating you because you questioned or disobeyed. Or an older man (a friend of your parents) who tells you how beautiful and mature you are before trying too pick you up (when he knows your only about 15). These are the things that left damaging and disfiguring scars that still hurt. I often wondered why typical self-help books didn’t help me and now I realize it’s because the ones I’ve read have tended to focus on those inner critics who told you that you weren’t good enough. How do you deal with it when you’ve been told you’re so good that your success or talents or looks create envy and uncontrollable behavior in those that should know better or are supposed to protect you. That’s a different kettle of fish.
Now that I’ve finally brought this into my consciousness I can begin working on healing from it and moving forward. It makes more sense to me now why I avoid success – in the past it’s resulted in dramatically damaging rewards. Why would I want to be beautiful when that has garnered unwanted and often predatory behavior from men? Why would I want to be smart and successful when that has resulted in resentment and envy from friends and family? These are all questions for which I have no answer yet, but at least I’m pointing myself in the right direction. And I think the Prince of Swords is the perfect companion/protector for the journey ahead.