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Ace of Swords

by firemaiden

Card Meaning
Artistic Media
Artist's Bio


The traditional sword penetrating a crown, is here replaced by a fruit knife which has just sliced an apple. The knife points to apple's core and its seeds. On the knife handle we see the moon, sun and stars. The apple rests on a blue plate (water or sky), and is surrounded by a mud-coloured table (earth or darkness).


The proverbial apple of knowledge has already been plucked from the tree, and sliced in half with a knife, revealing its inner core and seeds. The deft slicing of the knife suggests the power of intellect to penetrate to the core of a matter, and the power of loving understanding to reach deep into a person's heart. The exposed seeds suggest an opening to new life, new possibilities.

The knife blade, and the apple's red colour are also suggestive of blood sacrifice, and the apple inevitably recalls the fall of man. The apple offers up its tender flesh (quoth Aoife) in a ritual first blood sacrifice. Knowledge is gained, but innocence is painfully lost, bringing consciousness of separation, and burning desire.

In cutting through apples as light cuts through darkness, the knife also symbolizes the magic of dispelling shadows by making distinctions, manifesting worlds by means of words just as God created the world by pronouncing "let there be light".

Some words are easy to utter, they pass inconsequentially like wind; but words from a deeper place seem to carry the weight of blood as though written in our flesh. To speak them is to bleed and be bled; we release them as though from our flesh and are freed and purified. Penetration of the knife into apple reminds us of the word made flesh, divine manifestation, and heralds the Lichtspaltung a sudden irruption of the miraculous into the ordinary life.

Card Meaning

When the Ace of Swords turns up, a grand "yes" is yelled from the sky, a wish may come true. There may be a great realization, a manifestation, a liberation, an awakening, opening to the truth that sets you free, something miraculous.

Artistic Media

Pencil, water colour pencil, and gouache on paper, framed and titled in photoshop.

Artist's Bio

Firemaiden is a classical singer, currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area. One minute after completing the painting for this card, she was offered a long wished-for part in an opera.

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