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King of Swords

by jmd

Card Meaning
Artistic Media
Artist's Bio


A King is seated, facing in the more traditional stance of the Marseille-type Sword King.

His right hand holds aloft a drawn sword, whilst his left rests on the hilt of a large dagger still by his side.

I have given him an apron reminiscent of a Master's apron in Freemasonry. His torso-bodice appears to be armoured.

Upon his head is a rimmed hat apparently crowned.


The key symbolic elements in this card are, from my perspective, twofold: on the one hand that it is a Sword card, and on the other a King.

Unlike many others who prefer to first and foremost connect Swords to one of the four elements (whether it be Earth, Water, Air or Fire - each of which has been attributed to this suit), I prefer to first look at the implement in terms of its function. It is not only a weapon, but at various times in history restricted to the warrior class and, by extension, to the legislators in society.

Being the King of the Suit, the card also depicts the highest authority within that strata.

Card Meaning

In addition to considerations emerging from what I wrote above and the specific emergence of a narrative that develops given the situation at hand, I personally also at times make a correlation with the MBTI as personality disposition.

In the case of a reading, it may indicate how the situation may best be dealt with.

With a King, a suggestion is made for extroversion and decisions to be made (in MBTI nomenclature, E--J). With Swords (that I at times connect to NF), that this decision needs to be made by being sensitive to not only what is of intrinsic value (F), but also how it may unfold given the myriad possibilities inherent in the situation.

Artistic Media

I wanted to experiment with Adobe Illustrator CS2 - a programme I have access to but with which I am not familiar. Using three cards as models in different semi-transparent layers (the Noblet, Payen and Conver), I traced over the common lines.

I then noted that the folds upon his knees looked a little like an apron, and so took artistic license to render this more evident, reminiscing that numerous royal houses (therefore 'sword') have been members of the Craft.

The 'traced' layer was then kept and the others discarded. After some delay, I then applied colouring using new layers in Illustrator.

The image file was then imported into a InDesign CS file created to the specified dimensions for the project. The titling was added using Charlemagne Std font in InDesign, the lot saved as a jpg, and rendered web-optimised with Adobe's Photoshop CS2 (undoutbedly a longer winded process than is necessary!).

Artist's Bio

jmd has been exposed to the Tarot since birth, but only began serious investigation of this and other esoteric arts and sciences since his early twenties. Since 1982, he has also held various ritualistic positions in a number of esoteric orders located in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to previously teaching philosophy at University, he has also taught Tarot, Astrology, and Kabbalah courses at various other adult educational institutions. jmd now teaches in a Steiner (Waldorf) high school and teacher-training institute.

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