Ace of Swords – Spirit of Air


My Personal impressions of the Ace of Swords

(6/2/2015) Ok, very first card and I’m confused already. Crowley speaks of “the 22 rayed diadem of pure Light” …but there’s 23 rays shown on the card! WTF? There are very clearly 12 white rays on the front of the crown, and 11 yellow rays on the back. At least one other person on this planet has noticed this as I’ve seen written on a forum that the middle ray directly behind the sword could be discounted to make 22, but I don’t agree because that would leave an unusually large gap between 2 of the rays at the back. Hmmm… maybe it was done that way on purpose to inspire the typical Swords sentiment of “conflict, frustration, anxiety, worry, and sorrow”…certainly has me feeling annoyed! 😛

Moving on…

(21/2/2015) I see the sword here as forcefully and decisively “cutting through the crap” (the swirling dark clouds of the mind) to bring illumination or knowledge, represented by the crown and the light of the rising Sun that has been revealed by the parting clouds, and to “reach for the stars”. Direct and positive force of will, with no room for compromise or indecisiveness. The whole image is powerfully uplifting, which is why I think the Sun is rising rather than setting.

The word written on the sword is Thelema or Will which also emphasizes the intent to strive for and achieve what one desires. The clouds and sky also tie in with the element of Air. The colour yellow is associated with the mind and learning, and (according to studies in the psychology of colour) has been shown to stimulate both as well as improve the mood in general (as long as the right shade of yellow is used). I find the yellow on this card to be a very uplifting colour, full of hope and promise and enlightenment. The shades of blue feel cool and reassuring, while also helping to balance some of the intense “enthusiasm” of the yellow. The very dark blue denotes things that are hidden, unknown or pure potential. White feels cleansing, spiritual and full of as yet untapped energy — it holds the promise of things to come as well as all that has been and is. The green of the sword feels earthy and provides a link between the physicality of the aspirant and the ethereal qualities of his/her desires and Spirit. Green also represents the association of Earth and Air/Swords on the Middle Pillar (see diagram here).

The cross-guard looks like 2 moons — waning and waxing (representing ebb and flow, opposites) — with 2 spheres between them and a third as the pommel — planets or sephiroth?

The binding around the hilt of the sword looks to me like a snake or serpent which can be associated (from a Biblical point of view) with willpower, temptation, choices, decisions and enlightenment resulting from such choices, whether “good” or “bad” — ultimately the serpent is the bringer of knowledge (which could also represent the potential for change and new growth) and therefore, like the sword itself, “cuts through the crap”. Snakes/serpents are also symbolic of transformation. However, I haven’t seen this hilt-snake mentioned anywhere else so maybe it is meant to be just a decorative binding cord around the hilt and I’m over-thinking things here, lol. Whatever… the little snakey/serpent guy is quite clear to me so I’m sticking with that idea. 🙂

(5/3/2015) I did a bit more research and found there is a serpent coiled around the hilt of the sword! 😀 …see reference [7] below. Odd that I couldn’t find mention of it in what I’ve read so far in my copies of references [1] and [5]. Anyway, the serpent is coiled six times around the hilt, with the number six associating it with the 6th sephira Tiphareth and the letter Vau which appears six times on the blade of the sword. I also found snakey mentioned in reference [8] as being a symbol of transformation …yay, I got that right too.

Ace of Swords

Original Title: The Root of the Powers of the Air.
Golden Dawn Model: A hand appears from the clouds at the bottom of the card holding the hilt of a great sword that penetrates at its point a radiant crown, a palm branch from the left. Six Hebrew Vaus fall from the sword point upon the top of the crown.
Colour: White Brilliance.
Zodiac: Ace of Swords rules the Capricorn-Aquarius-Pisces quadrant above the North Pole and the area of the Americas. [1]
Qabalistic Attribution: Kether in Yetzirah [7]
Tetragrammaton Attribution: Vau [7]

Description: The Ace of Swords is the root of the element of Air and represents the Ruach. Ruach is the intellect part of the soul, and (according to Eastern mystics) the mind is the great enemy. The mind violently resists identification with any higher levels of consciousness. Consequently, from out of the mind springs conflict, frustration, anxiety, worry, and sorrow. Is it any wonder the suit of Swords is filled with so many unpleasant cards? However, in the proper hands, the sword can be the weapon that cuts through the crap, and the Ace of Swords is the sword of the Magus, “crowned with the 22 rayed diadem of pure Light.” [1]

Description by Aleister Crowley: “The hilt of the Sword should be made of copper. The guard is composed of the two crescents of the waxing and the waning Moon—back to back. Spheres are placed between them, forming an equilateral triangle with the sphere of the pommel. The blade is straight, pointed and sharp right up to the guard. It is made of steel to equilibrate with the hilt, for steel is the metal of Mars, as copper is of Venus….The hilt is Venus, for Love is the motive of this ruthless analysis—if this were not so the Sword would be a Black Magical weapon. The pommel of the Sword is in Daath, the guard extends to Chesed and Geburah; the point is in Malkuth.” [1]

The Ace of Swords is the primordial Energy of Air, the Essence of the Vau of Tetragrammaton, the integration of the Ruach. Air is the result of the conjunction of Fire and Water; thus it lacks the purity of its superiors in the male hierarchy, Fire, Sol and the Phallus. But for this same reason it is the first card directly to be apprehended by the normal consciousness of Mankind. The errors of such cards as the 7 and 10 of Cups are yet of an Order altogether higher than the apparently much milder 4 of Swords. The study of the subtle and gradual degradation of the planes is excessively difficult. [5]

KetherSephira: Kether ~ Kether has many titles: Existence of Existences, Concealed of the Concealed, Ancient of Ancients, Ancient of Days, Primordial Point, the Smooth Point, the Point within the Circle, the Most High, the Inscrutable Height, the Vast Countenance (Arik Anpin), the White Head, the Head which is not, Macroprosopus. Taken together, these titles imply that Kether is the first, the oldest, the root of existence, remote, and its most accurate symbol is that of a point. Kether precedes all forms of existence, all differentiation and distinction, all polarity. Kether contains everything in potential, like a seed that sprouts and grows into a Tree, not once, but continuously. Kether is both root and seed. Because it precedes all forms and contains all opposites it is not like anything. You can say it contains infinite goodness, but then you have to say that it contains infinite evil. Wrapped up in Kether is all the love in the world, and wrapped around the love is all the hate. Kether is an outpouring of purest, radiant light, but equally it is the profoundest stygian dark. And it is none of these things; it precedes all form or polarity, and its Virtue is unity. It is a point without extension or qualities, but it contains all creation within it as an unformed potential. [3]

Kether Symbols


Ace of Swords – Spirit of Air
Justice, finding moral justification. Clarity of thought or perspective. Making adjustments based on karmic past. A force from on high, beyond human control. [2]
The potential of the mind. (The Root of the Power of Air)

Kether — Crown: Everything in Nothing, The All within One, First stirring of Creation, Heralding a new thing. [4]

Aces & Kether: The Aces are the roots and entity of the elements they are representing. They imply the unity of the number 1 standing for Kether, the eternal source and spiritual perfection. Therefore, they are the pureness of their elements, but it is also right to remember that they are just the seeds. They do need the journey through the Tree to form and verify, because the idea is nothing without being formed and established. So the Ace of Swords is the pureness of the air, the first wind of the mind. [6]


  1. “Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot”, by Lon Milo DuQuette
  5. The Book of Thoth, by Aleister Crowley
  7. The Thoth Companion, by Michael Osiris Snuffin (page 137)