Today I'll finish off our exploration of Aquarius in the tarot by looking at the court cards. But which one – or ones? Different traditions have different astrological correspondences when it comes to the courts. Generally (but not always!) these correspondences depend on how cardinality, fixity and mutability have been assigned. As Aquarius is the fixed Air sign, I’m looking for the Swords court card that’s associated with ‘fixed’-ness.
So what court card does this represent? If you work with a system (e.g. the Book-T system: www.tarot.org.il/Library/Mathers/Book-T.html) that assigns the Fixed mode to the Kings, as do most of the Rider-Waite-Smith-based decks, you’re looking at the King of Swords. The Book-T calls the King of Swords the ‘Prince of the Chariot of the Winds’, and sees him as being full of ideas and thoughts.
The Shadowscapes’ King of Swords shows this beautifully, I think – especially with the inclusion of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man in the bottom right corner. Da Vinci’s drawing is based on the correlations of ideal human proportions, using geometry described by Vitruvius, a Roman architect. Design, structure, ideals...not to mention architecture – a very Aquarian occupation! – it all fits in so well with the King of Swords.
In the Thoth's Prince of Swords (confusing because Crowley chose not to use Kings but Princes), we see him slaying whatever stands in his way. Fast but also careful, he’s discriminating in what he chooses to remove in order to create something new and innovative.
Not all decks assign “fixedness” to the Kings, though. An example of this is the Sharman-Caselli deck, whose creator Juliet Sharman-Burke has chosen to attribute this triplicity to the Queens. Here we see the Queen on her throne, which is decorated with butterflies (symbolizing the element of Air) and an eagle’s head (the form that Zeus took in order to transport Ganymede to Mount Olympus to become the cup-bearer of the gods, taking his place in the sky as Aquarius). The single bird in the clear sky, above the storm clouds on the horizon, represents clarity; this queen can see past obstacles and keep her mind on the objective. The upright sword represents justice and equality – high ideals – and all strong Aquarian qualities. Detachment, another Aquarian quality, allows the Queen of Swords to remain dignified even though she’s known loss and pain – she won’t wear her heart on her sleeve, but bears sorrow with fortitude and courage.
Shadowscapes Tarot created by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law and Barbara Moore, published by Llewellyn
Sharman-Caselli Tarot created by Juliet Sharman-Burke, illustrated by Giovanni Caselli, published by Connections
Thoth Tarot created by Aleister Crowley, illustrated by Lady Frieda Harris, published by US Games Systems, Inc.