Sparks Vs. Breath

I met a good friend today for a little bite to eat (delicious carrot hummus on toast with radishes and herbs and pretty purple edible flowers). She’s amazing, and recently published an incredibly beautiful and insightful tarot deck (Dark Days Tarot). We’ve made a point to meet every few weeks, or once a month, for the last year or so, but the past few months have been rich with change and transition and we hadn’t seen each other in months. Which was much too long.

We caught up about life in general and inevitably our conversation turned to witchiness, as it always inevitably does. We were discussing tarot (another usual topic for us) and the various veins of thought regarding wands as fire + swords as air vs. wands as air + swords as fire. Swords are forged in fire, and trees (which wands are made from) literally create air, so there are obvious associations with these elements. And yet in the RWS tradition (on which I have many thoughts and feels, but that’s another post) the associations are flipped. And this is where our discussion found itself.

I started studying the Tarot in the RWS tradition twenty years ago, and my perception and perspective of the cards (and tarot in general) has changed greatly. But the RWS assignment of wands as fire and swords as air makes a great deal of sense to me. Wands (to me) represent the raw energy and intention. It is through wands which we throw out our intention when we cast spells. It is through wands which we throw out our sparks into the universe–the way in which we light the fires to guide our way to an end point. Swords, on the other hand, are sharp and calculated. Large swords take strength and skill and training to wield. I explain it like this: if you are performing a ritual in which you are cutting cords, you are perhaps cutting energetic cords that flow from you with either your hand (in a chopping motion) or an actual blade, or perhaps you are literally cutting a woven cord. Both actions are an act of cutting the energetic ties that bind you to another person. Both styles of the ritual mentioned above require a great deal of reflection and commitment. And anyway you cut it, the ritual is an intentional and intellectual act. And both require the act of slicing through the air. And thus it’s incredibly intuitive to me for wands to be connected with fire, and swords to be connected with air.

What do you think?