Legend: King of Swords, Mordred


When I first found this study group (yay! it already exists, btw) I immediately went looking for the Mordred thread. I naturally assumed it would already exist, so imagine my surprise when the index had nothing for him!

At first, I was just going to wait for someone to create the thread. I'm new to this study group and didn't want to just jump in like that, but then I decided what the heck?

When I first found Mordred's card after getting this deck, I was a little disappointed. Mordred is my favorite of the Arthurian characters, but his card didn't seem to fit my image of him, but when I looked more closely I changed my mind.

Mordred, to me, always seemed to have inherited more of his mother's intelligence than the other Orkney boys. He had her coniving spirit, but not her patience. He leans out of his throne, one leg extended, ready to stand at a moment's notice. The dog on the floor is more relaxed, lounging by the fire: the only bit of warmth in the drafty Orkney (I assume this is Orkney) castle.

As though aware of how precarious his position (physically and conceptually, what with his connection to Arthur and all that that implies) he looks ahead, but his eyes seem to shift from side to side, suspicious, or maybe just looking for some way to solidify himself in Arthur's good graces: though his efforts to do this (exposing the Lancelot/Guinevere affair) only causes more problems.

He is looking for the unpredictable, and in doing so, he himself becomes unpredictable, too. He keep his deepest thoughts completely hidden, showing only the power and never the intent.

In T.H. White's version, Mordred even goes a little mad with his paranoid thoughts, and certainly there is a glimmer of that in this card, in the way he sits, unarmed, but at the ready.

He is also strong, and when you put him next to Arthur's card, it is not hard to see the conflict between them.

In an Oracle compainion book I have, it was noted that figures facing the right of the card are looking/heading for the future, and those facing the left are looking into the past. If this theory is applied to this deck (tentatively, as it wasn't created with this in mind), I think there is another level that can be revealed: Arthur is looking to the left, caught up by the glory days of his reign, but Mordred is caught in the middle: his body is turned to the right, signifying a desire to move forwards, but his eyes shift to the left, always remembering the sordidness of his birth, and his head faces forwards, stuck in the now of what people percieve him to be: the bastard son of an incestuous union.

Maybe this card can signify overcoming barriers created by other people's perceptions, as well as the unprectable and revolutionary nature of leadership, as it says in the book. Certainly, of all the Arthurian characters, Mordred's reputation would be hardest to overcome.


Not sure if this thread is still alive after so much time, but I really have been trying to get at this elusive King of Swords. Since he's expressed as Mordred here, are we looking for a real-life rival/authority/authoritarian/enemy? In the rider-waite deck, the King of Swords is someone who maybe can be cruel, but unless ill-dignified or otherwise, he seems like a truthful guy who commands respect. So with that, I guess I'm having a hard time here bringing together Mordred and 'respect'. Any insights?


I think Mordred is someone who sees a truth to which everyone else is blind.

I know someone who could be perfectly described by this card. He usually speaks up against many things that are wrong, but when he does so, he seems to think he is the only one who cares and notices. This attitude isolates him from other people who would otherwise like him, join him, and become his allies.