|Legend: The Arthurian Tarot|
In the Legend deck, Swords represent action, conflict, and decisive, analytical thinking -- a discriminating thought process that involves penetrating logic, decisive actions, and methods of coping with conflict. Anna-Marie Ferguson contrasts this with the suit of Spears which in this deck symbolizes intuitive intellect.
Concerning elemental associations, Ferguson writes: "In my opinion, fire best fits the explosive and definite nature of the [Swords] suit. Friction creates heat and leads to fire, just as it leads to the appearance of Swords in a card reading." Ferguson also feels that the element fire "mirrors the important constructive ability of Swords to clear dead wood from one's life." She associates Swords with the season of autumn, "with its darkening days and hot colours."
The Eight of Swords in the Legend deck depicts Queen Guenevere (also known as Guinevere, Guenievre, Gwenhwyfar, Gaynour, Guenhumare, or Ginevra) as she is being bound to the stake to be burned for high treason. This was to be her punishment for having Sir Lancelot as a lover while she was married to King Arthur. In Arthurian legend, Guenevere does not die at the stake but is rescued by Lancelot, an act that sparks war and splits the Fellowship of the Round Table.
The liaison between Guenevere and Lancelot is not part of the earliest recordings of Arthurian legend, but is thought to have been the invention of Marie, Countess of Champagne, who then passed the story along to Cretien de Troyes.
Divinatory Meanings provided by Ferguson: "Feeling bound and trapped. Being held at a disadvantage. Inability to free one's self from a difficult situation. Having to rely on the judgement of others. Slander. Domination. Calamity and regret. Personal effort and courage are needed to take advantage of a temporary route of escape. Approaching the end of adversity."
Reversed, the Eight of Swords can suggest "Senseless tragedy. Frustration. Ceaseless pressures. Depression. Treachery and betrayal. Unintentionally hurting loved ones. Continuing conflict."
About the Deck: In A Keeper of Words, the book accompanying the Legend deck, Anna-Marie Ferguson writes: "The purpose of bridging the [Arthurian] legend and the Tarot was to enhance the deck by providing a second avenue of approach. . . In creating this deck, I found the legend and the Tarot to be so compatible that I have come to believe that though their origins may be different, this is a marriage of old friends."
- The Encyclopedia of Arthurian Legends by Ronan Coghlan, with illustrations by Courtney Davis. (Element Inc.)
- The New Arthurian Encyclopedia, edited by Norris J. Lacy et al. (Garland Publishing, Inc.)