The Column

Queering the Tarot: Knight of Swords

If Swords is our suit of air, logic and communication, the Knight is a fighter who will fight to be heard and make sure you are too. The Knight is direct, analytical, and not afraid of a long fight, a hard journey, or a war of words. However this is a card that represents air in it’s truest form. That means this knight can be coldly logical, to the point of unfeeling. Paired with the fast action of the Swords suit, that can mean that as soon as we’re accustomed to this Knight’s confident ways and are rebuilding after they’ve turned our world upside down with their insight…they’re often gone and we are left alone to clean up the debris. This makes them players and heartbreakers in traditional tarot, or destructive friends and co-workers in modern day. They are opinionated to a fault when badly aspected, and not afraid to crush you by sharing their opinion. As an energy, this disruptive influence to a suit that deals so much with mental health can see crushing relapses after a period of good health or sobriety. On the flip side, if you’ve been avoiding the reality of a situation in your life—be it your mental health or anything else—this Knight is a needed wake up call.

As we look at this card from the perspective of an LGBTQ+ querent, we see both the best and worst of this card double back on us. First, the negative: if this card is harsh words or hateful actions, then warnings of bigotry or hatred from where you least expect them could be present. I have seen this card be a seeker’s mom verbally attacking them over dinner, seemingly out of the blue. I’ve seen it be losing friends upon coming out, and I’ve seen job losses because someone’s name got linked to activist work they were doing. This card can be dangerous, and for those of us who are statistically more likely to face danger, that’s especially true. There’s something about the specific nature of the Knight of Swords that screams “danger from where we least expect it”–that can indicate the abuse and harassment that does happen within the queer community. If you’ve just met someone new and this card comes up—run. That’s true for non-queer seekers too, but it’s important to take the statistical likelihood of a queer person being victimized into account when you are reading for an LGBTQ+ person.

When looking at the statistical likelihood of a queer person facing trauma, this includes the sides of the card that deal with sobriety and mental illness. Statistically, these issues disproportionately affect LGBTQ+ people, and the Knight of Swords very often indicates relapse. What’s worse is that this card often indicates relapse without resources to help you. This is something that crashes in and wrecks everything you tried to build, and leaves you wondering what happened with nowhere to turn. In these cases, that is those dealing with sobriety and mental health, the warning comes so you can gather a list of resources in advance or try to avoid this pitfall altogether. Get your wellness toolkit together, and rely heavily on that until you feel in your gut that the dangerous time has passed.

Then there’s the positive. This card can be a beautiful call to action, and a beautiful, powerful source of encouragement and affirmation to our community in ever-trying political times. This Knight knows how to use language and communication to open doors and create real transformation where others have failed. This Knight will fight until there isn’t fighting left to do. This knight storms into workplaces and works from within to change the company’s model to a more LGBTQ+ inclusive one. This Knight takes meetings with senators and argues with them until they’re blue in the face for fair legislation. Knights of Swords are, and can be, pillars in communities that are so hungry for equity and acceptance. They aren’t nice, and they don’t deal well with tone-policing. They shouldn’t. They are able to use their words to educate and force change through the academic language that intimidates queerphobic people. If this card is coming up in a reading, you are being called to pull your resources together to stake your case, and if that doesn’t work, to shake things up through any means necessary. This Knight might be cutting and smart—but their most important attribute is that they get the job done. I mentioned before that this Knight crashes in and wrecks everything you tried to build, but when someone is building something on a pillar of patriarchy, white supremacy, or heteronormativity, that’s exactly who you want to be.

Be sure to check out the full Queering the Tarot series.

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