I just thought, there’s snow, let’s take advantage of it! And it kind of fits because the blades or swords suit tends to be associated with more wintery weather, a certain amount of coldness. In the classic directions it would be pentacles or earth, north ,winter. I find the bracing cold and brilliance brings a sharpness.
Why did you choose the Ace of swords?
Well knowing that it was available was helpful to narrow it down! This card comes up a lot for me when I draw for myself. Ace of swords comes up a lot. I’m an air sign, in my western zodiac sign, I’m an Aquarius. Born in the winter, which is why I associate winter with air, coldness. This is a personal correspondence because I know earth and north are usually associated with winter. To me it speaks of how I often have a lot of ideas, new thoughts, inspiration. Inspiration is also tied in with air because of breath. Then there’s also the cutting, the clarity I seem to be quite good at that. That thing about the sword suit is it’s a bit sharp, sometimes my way of being can be a bit sharp, because I’m interested in getting to clarity and cutting away the things that to me feel superfluous. But it may not be superfluous to someone else. The suit speaks to me, but the ace particularly feels like beginning energy, that energy of inspiration and energy of beginning. The willingness to begin, the willingness put something new out there. Put a new idea or bring up a new idea. I find I’ll often look at something and say, ‘what about this’ right. In discussions I’ll often be like ‘what about this’ and cut through, like I hear ‘this’, and you mean ‘this’ or ‘I’m hearing that you mean ‘this.’’ Or they say a lot of things, and I say you mean ‘This.’
I work with words, I’m an indexer. Which means I read a whole lot of words and condense it down to it’s essential topicality. And place it in different areas that people can find the information they want. Sometimes you have a whole big speech about a bunch of things, I pick out the different things. I distill the words down to their basic components. Or basic bits that people might be interested in and I say ‘if you want to find out about this look here.’ That’s basically what indexing is. It’s actually well suited, where I work there’s lots of word people and a lot of air signs. So the Ace of Blades, ace of swords has a lot of energy for me. It’s almost like a mirror reflection for me, sometimes I have ideas but I don’t do them, we’ll we’re human, I’m human but it reminds me when I might feel stuck, who knows what new idea or thing will arise. Who knows what insight I will have into something. It feels a little bit like a mirror looking back at me saying ‘you can do this, remember?’
So you picked the card first, do you want to tell me that story?
Well I looked at what was still available and went “Oh ok that one!” But then I was like I should do a process. So I did a thing where I picked, out of what was left, the ones I was willing to consider. Then I narrowed it down some more then I did the pendulum thing, to see where the energy was with each one. Even then I was winnowing it down, some were obvious to put to the side. The Knight of Wands was the closest, I thought that was quite neat, I wasn’t expecting that. But then I kept going back and saying, that’s the one, the Ace of Swords. That’s the one that got the feeling, that energetic feeling. I think it is that self perception, that feeling of mirror resonance. Whereas there’s something about the Knight of Wands that resonates with me too but I don’t feel as if I accepted or as comfortable with that as much because I don’t feel like I project that energy at all, that Knight of Wands energy. Whereas people are quite clear that I project the more discerning, cutting, boundary making energy.
Boundary making energy is really good, I think sometimes it takes time to grow into that.
Why do you think a queer tarot deck is important?
It’s the same thing as the mirror, having ourselves reflected back, our realities reflected back. Obviously, my experience is I see something that looks like it’s very male and female gendered and typical, might even show a typical nuclear family in the cards. I can work with it, I don’t have an issue with it, because it exists in the world, right, but it doesn’t always reflect what my reality is. So I can work with it, because there’s lots of people in the world, there’s a majority, there’s a dominant culture. But there’s also that representation, just seeing our ways of being presented in the world. Our genders and our ways of being that don’t fit into the standard.
I know “Queer” used to be used as a pejorative term. They use it in Britain a lot, they use Queer Street, but it wasn’t just gay it was everybody out of the mainstream, and that could be people in the criminal underworld, I’m just speaking off the top of my head from what I’ve read. I don’t have verifiable fact checking here! Not at the moment. I never heard queer much as a pejorative when I was growing up, I used to hear, well you know, like fag or faggot or lezzie or lez. Those were the words I heard, those were the only words I heard, I didn’t hear queer as a pejorative. There was ‘you are so gay,’ that was used to mean general badness, as well as queer badness. It’s funny thinking about it now, I remember someone say that to me in school, ‘you are so gay!’ I didn’t know it at the time. Actually I AM! You just want to go back in time..
Then the whole Queer Nation stuff was happening around the early 1990’s which I wasn’t that close to, anybody who was in it, but I was aware of it. The thing with ‘queer’ is it’s a very broad term, it’s very inclusive, it helps people who just identify with having a sexuality or gender, presentation or identity, that doesn’t fit into the mainstream, the dominant culture. So it’s a way of.. It’s quite a broad term really, so it’s very useful that way. I also see the need for other terms, for representation, people want their particular way of being in the world represented, that’s why all these other terms are also really useful.
Do you identify with the word “Queer”?
I identify with queer as a broad term, but I often say I am a Queer Dyke. Right? I belong to the broader catagory of queer. Some people think ‘is that redundant?’ but no, Dyke is more specific.
If you were talking to your younger self, what would you tell yourself about the Ace of Swords that you know now?
There’s a time for cutting yourself out of things. There’s a time to make that move. Thinking about feeling trapped or stuck, you have within you the inspiration to change something. The inspiration and the ability to discern. Life is confusing, but seemed really when I was young. It was hard to figure out, knowing something wasn’t working for me but not knowing what else to do. So having that energy of.. Making something happen isn’t the words I want… the energy of cutting away the things that are superfluous. Focusing that energy, that’s always been the challenge and it was a larger problem when I was younger. I would get interested in a lot of different things, and I would scatter my energy around. There were certain aspects of myself that were still there, the language, the verbal acuity. I work with words, I’m a writer, these things have always been there, I feel like it’s more distilled now. When I was younger it felt a lot more scattered.
Take a few more risks. That sounds weird but there are things I thought about doing and who knows where a risk will lead you. It’s not that I never took risks, but I was pretty uncertain at times.
How do you resonate now with the Ace of Swords?
Yeah, for the last few years that’s what’s been there. For a while I had the Queen of Pentacles come up in my list, but it was a bit further down. But I had the Queen of Pentacles come up for me repeatedly for about a two or three year period. But that represents this other person, which is weird. It feels like the swords are coming up more is discerning my edges, my boundaries. It felt like when I had this situation with the person represented by the Queen of Pentacles, the energies were so there! I had to reassert my boundaries after that. Things made more sense when I did that.
If a young Queer person or someone new to tarot drew your card, what would you want them to know?
You have the power to start things. To be your own primogeniture, I’m using a fancy word. It’s coming within yourself to find whatever you need to do. It could be something you need to say, a boundary you need to create. Something you need to clarify or something that needs to happen. You have the power within yourself to do it. Even if it’s new, unusual and different. There’s a certain energy in doing that. The power and beauty of being connected to that clarity of thought and clarity of practice. That discernment, there’s something about it that is strong and beautiful.
Do you want to talk about where the Ostrich feather is from, and the significance of your beautiful knife?
I was doing a lot of magical training work a few years ago, and at that time my work which is not that far from a park in Victoria, Beacon Hill Park. And there are peacocks there! One year, mostly in the fall, I kept finding peacock feathers. They just kept showing up while I was doing intensive magical leadership training. It was interesting, the peacocks had just dropped this feather, but I only saw them that year, not any other year. And my knife is my culinary knife that I use a lot for cooking, I cook a lot from scratch. About three years ago I was making food for the BC Witchcamp teaching team before camp and that was the knife I used. I was on the organising team so usually we create the circle for the week and we used my knife. I used my knife, I was the one holding it, they were energetically supporting me. I used the knife that I use all the time for food. The knife I used to make food for the teachers, is the knife I used to cast the circle. A normal kitchen knife. It’s not normal anymore! I just sliced up my finger last week! I got it professionally sharpened last year, last summer, and it’s really sharp. It wasn’t that bad of a cut, it looked worse than it was.*
*Transcription of Audio Interview