In this article Page of Swords Symbols, I refer to the Page of Swords card from the Rider Waite Tarot deck, also known as the Waite-Smith, or Rider-Waite-Smith, or Rider tarot deck. The Thoth Tarot deck name for this card is Princess of Swords.
The symbolism found on this card is primarily drawn from mythology, alchemy, astrology and western esotericism.
- Page of Swords: Key Symbols
- Why Does The Page Hold His Sword in His Left Hand?
- What is The Meaning of Ragged Landscape?
- What do The Flock of Birds Symbolize in The Page of Swords?
- What Does The Symbol of The Green Feather Mean in The Page of Swords?
Page of Swords: Key Symbols
Sword in left hand, foreground, storm clouds, mountains, tree, birds, green feather
“A lithe, active figure holds a sword upright in both hands, while in the act of swift walking. He is passing over rugged land, and about his way the clouds are collocated wildly. He is alert and lithe, looking this way and that, as if an expected enemy might appear at any moment.”A.E.Waite
The Original Rider Waite Pictorial Key to The Tarot
Why Does The Page Hold His Sword in His Left Hand?
The young Page holds a sword upward, he either sees or is on the lookout for something coming. His look is serious, but not fearful or angry. Storm clouds gather and a flock of birds fly high in the sky.
The artist Pamela Colman-Smith, has taken her imagery inspiration for this Tarot card from the Tarot of Marseilles deck, which has origins dating back to the 15th century.
Notice the relationship here, in both decks, the Page leans to his left, and holds a sword in his left hand.
Smith was likely making a reference here to the left- and the right-hand path debate in Western esotericism, which concerns two opposing approaches to magic.
Some occult groups equate the left-hand with black magic and black shamanism; and the right hand with white magic. Traditional good versus evil.
Other occultists who practice ceremonial magic disagree. They believe that the left- and right- paths simply refer to different kinds of workings and the good vs evil argument is too simplistic. Left-handed path practitioners embrace both the dark and light in order to confront energy in the alchemical sense, and transmute it into something more desirable. We are magicians, and not servants to fate, if we choose to be.
In the Rider Waite Page of Swords, while the Page supports his sword with his left hand, he also touches it with the right hand. While one foot is pointed to the left, the other leg is stretched out to the right. One suspects this is the artists way of saying she supports the argument of embracing both light and dark.
That said, she could also be saying that the Page has not yet decided which path he will follow in life. The figures in the remaining trump cards, Knight, Queen and King of Swords, all hold a sword in their right hand.
Symbol of Darkness and Light
In this card, the wind is blowing the tree branches and the Page’s hair to his left. The wind reminds us that the swords suit are a symbol of the element Air, and Air rules matters of the mind, thoughts and communication. The storm clouds are brewing to his left. What is coming could be challenging or dark news, but when supported with right-hand wisdom, can be ‘transmuted’ or turned into something more light and desirable.
A victim blames ‘fate’ for challenges, but a magician says ‘let me ready myself and find the silver lining.’
Note: The Page’s sword is doubled edged, and it is a metaphor for a situation which can ‘cut both ways.’
What is The Meaning of Ragged Landscape?
The wavy ground beneath the Page almost looks like a stormy sea; heightening the sense of drama in this card. It also implies that the ground the Page is standing on, is shifting. Everything is in a state of flux, take nothing for granted.
There are echoes of Edvard Munch’s The Scream, in this Tarot card. I have no doubt that Smith, a well-educated artist, will have seen a reproduction of the painting, which was heralded as ground-breaking at the time.
In the Scream, Munch broke tradition with academic art by not depicting nature as it is, but rather as it feels through the pained eyes of the central figure in the painting. He wrote of his inspiration, “I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”
As swords reflect our mental state in Tarot, it seems likely that Smith, was trying to trigger an emotional response with her choice of artwork in her Page of Swords.
Clouds race across the sky pulled by the strong wind.
Storm clouds in Tarot mean that the reader is probably going through a difficult time, but as Swords reflect the mind, they can also indicate confusion. As the clouds are blowing speedily by, it means much is ‘up in the air’ and lots of change.
Lone Trees on Windswept Landscape
Trees in Tarot are used to symbolize growth and prosperity. The lone windswept trees in this craggy landscape, indicate that you are unlikely to be able to plan much for the future at this time. The card is very much about immediate concerns rather than future goals or success.
One must be present now, this card guides, and wait to see which way the wind blows.
Mountains tend to represent ‘obstacles’ to overcome in Tarot. The closer the mountain, the more immediate the problem. Here the mountains are some distance away, indicating that you should focus on what is in front of you, rather than projecting too far ahead.
Note, that there are three mountains, which reminds us of the three pyramids in the Page of Wands. In the Rider Waite deck, pyramids are direct reference to parapsychology, including premonitions and prophecy. Here, the three mountains may be a general reference to the New Age symbolism of Mind, Body, Spirit.
What do The Flock of Birds Symbolize in The Page of Swords?
A flock of birds appear in sky.
Birds appear in all the court cards in the Swords suit. The birds are high flying and appear not to be of a particular breed. Their presence is just meant to represent the spiritual meaning of birds generally.
Through the millennia, birds are linked to supernatural forces and have been heralded as the messengers of the gods. Birds in a Tarot card, signal that this is a good time to ‘raise your thoughts’ to, or listen for psychic guidance from, the Divine.
The Page is young, and has more immediate concerns than other worldly gods on his mind. Perhaps this is why the Divine has sent a flock of birds, in order to get his attention.
There are fewer birds as you advance through the swords court cards, because with age, comes a more natural interest in the after life and spirituality. We seek them out (angels, spirit guides, deceased loved ones, god), as opposed to them seeking us out.
The presence of birds in the Page of Swords indicates that whatever news or communication arrives next, is Heaven sent.
Birds are also associated with ancient divination practices. Shamans and healers would observe the birds in flight to divine guidance and predict the fortune of their tribe or master.
⭐Birds also appears here: Knight of Swords, Queen of Swords, King of Swords
What Does The Symbol of The Green Feather Mean in The Page of Swords?
If you look closely, you will see that the Page wears a green feather in his hair.
Green is associated with the heart chakra, healing and fertility. Green is also a symbol of freedom. See also angelology symbolism, what it means when you find a green feather.
⭐Green feathers also appear here: No other cards.
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Complete List: Tarot Card Symbolism
Karina, author of Tarot in 5 Minutes.
The Ultimate Guide to Page of Swords Symbols