As I said at the start of the meditation on the Knight of Disks, I’m doing these studies as part of RO’s coursework in Hermetics. It’s proving to be a quite useful study, but I know that this will not be of interest to at least some of my readers. Feel free to skip over this reading.
Meditation on the Knight of Swords
(you can see an image of this card here)
The Knight of Swords is a figure in green armor, on the back of a pale yellow horse. Three birds fly with him in formation, which appear to be swallows. Below him, contrails of clouds separate him from the deep blue ocean below. Dragonfly wings like helicopter blades support him — translucent, ethereal. He holds two swords in his outstretched hands — one long and small-sword or epée-like, one short and more daggerish. He fights Florentine-style: two-handed, half in a direct manner, and half indirectly. We, the observer above him, cannot see his face clearly. The horse rides with purpose, without direction from the rider by bridle or bit or harness. There is no obvious saddle — the relationship between rider and ridden is a perfect partnership. There is no distance between them. Swiftness is implied by the diagonal movement across the card.
Written in calligraphic or cursive script within the dragonfly wings are the words, east, west, north and south. This knight knows where he is going — The world revolves around him, and directions revolve around how he directs his attention. He names the corners of the world. This can also mean that his wings are fixed — he flies despite his wings, not because of them. They are merely a symbol of his capacities, and not a means to his power.
For now, he steers a course that is south-by-southeast — far more southerly than easterly. In most of the traditional elemental systems I know, East is the direction of Air, and South is the direction of Fire. This suggests that one should use the intellectual capacities one has to pursue one’s passions. Likewise, the two swords suggest a being at a high level of training or skill — no one starts learning to fight Florentine-style: it’s a method for advanced practitioners. Likewise, no one fights on horseback without saddle or stirrups or bridle without being confident of their horsemanship. The knight is a master of many intellectual arts, but he carries that knowledge in his body and muscle memory. It is not a brain-knowledge alone; he knows it with his being.
The Knight of Swords makes partnerships, too: On his left hand are the three swallows. They may be lesser beings, but they are friends and companions. He spares them not a glance; he trusts them to do their part in the approaching drama with grace and loyalty and accuracy. They will carry out his plans to the best of their ability. Likewise the horse rides him into battle with open eyes. He will not falter, but indeed charges full speed in the direction he is commanded. The Knight of Air is to be trusted; he knows what is necessary, and following his directions leads to success, and eventual victory.
The contrails of clouds below him are akin to wounds; the Knight has passed this way before with two swords. Unlike the Knight of Disks, the Knight of Swords carries no shield. He goes into battle fully armored, but without additional defenses. He is on the attack, and not prepared to make a stand. He is mobile, agile, and ready to fight; but he will not stand his ground nor back down. The short sword in his left hand has a smooth sphere of a guard — this is logic and reason, the blade that does not reach far but which few ever realize is being employed until too late. The other, the long curved sword in the right hand, bears an abstract pattern like a trilobite, or waves on the beach. This is the blade representing memory and narrative — the weapon of the thinker which reaches farther, punches harder, does damage faster — yet has more surfaces on which an opponent’s blade may catch or bounce.
Atop the knight’s helm is a six-pointed star: the Knight of Air reminds us that even armed and armored, every being is joined to the divine — a star shines over them, as an angel watches out for them, and illumines their path through the realms of intelligence and thought. Their drive and skill is both a link to the divine, and a reminder of their race and value in the world.