The Queen of Swords: The Snow Queen of the Tarot by Alayna Williams

The Queen of Swords: The Snow Queen of the Tarot
by Alayna Williams

One of my favorite cards in the Tarot is the Queen of Swords. She's depicted as a woman seated on a throne decorated with winged creatures. Her cloak is decorated in clouds, mirroring the storm clouds on the horizon She holds a sword in her had, uplifted, almost as if she's cut herself with it. She's the queen of the domain of air, over the intellect and powers of the mind. A single bird flies in the distance, and we can't really tell if the bird is approaching her or flying away. Her expression is touched by sadness.

The traditional interpretation of the card involves an independent woman of strength. She's a courageous woman, self-reliant. But she is also the queen of sorrow. This card is often associated with loneliness and disappointment. Sometimes, she symbolizes a widow. But she bears her burdens with pride, looking to the horizon where the storm grows. 

She always reminds me of the story of the Snow Queen, by Hans Christian Anderson. The Snow Queen is a sad, ethereal beauty wrapped in white fur, accompanied by "snow bees" - other creatures of air. Forever alone in her palace at the North Pole, she steals away a little boy, Kay, from his home. Kay has been poisoned by a shard of evil mirror, and goes with her willingly. The Queen kisses him once on each cheek: once to keep him warm, and the other to make him forget his life. If she kissed him a third time, she knows that he would die. 

Gerta, Kay's little friend, searches high and low to find him. Gerta is assisted in her quest by a pair of ravens, also denizens of air. She meets many people and creatures on her way: a robber girl, a reindeer, and a woman from Lapland. She searches endlessly for Kay. Gerta had many adventures before she reaches the North Pole. 

The Snow Queen's castle is beautiful, but it's bereft of life. Within, she finds her little friend, Kay, playing on a frozen lake. She frees Kay with kisses - not the Snow Queen's magic kisses, but the real kisses of a flesh and blood girl. She awakens Kay from his trance and takes him home. And the Snow Queen is left alone again with her snow bees. 

The Snow Queen is a tragic figure. It's not difficult to imagine that she's lonely in her ice palace, perhaps wanting a child or someone to talk to. She's the villain of the story, of course, causing Kay to forget his happy life playing in the streets with Gerta. But she's also sympathetic. One can imagine the sorrow that the years of ice and solitude have worn on her, like the track of a glacier. But she is important to the natural order of things. She brings snow, and is the force of winter itself. She's not heartless - she did care for the little boy. But there's something wistful about if she sees the world through a window and cannot connect with the world quite in the way she wants.

She is, in some ways, like other winter spirits in the world. The Yuki-onna of Japanese myth is a pale woman with black hair who drifts over the snow without leaving footprints. She is said to be the spirit of a woman who perished in snow. She is often seen carrying a child. In some versions of the tales, the Yuki-onna grants safe passage or mercy, leading unwary travelers away into blizzards or saving their lives. She is an elemental force to be reckoned with, but can melt if the man she loves discovers her for what she truly is. 

The lesson of the Queen of Swords card is that sorrow and disappointment pass. They may weigh heavily upon us, but like the storm clouds and the snow, they give way to the kiss of spring. 

~Author Laura Bickle writes the Delphi Oracle Series as Alayna Williams.

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