Legend: Seven of Spears, Arch of Twelve Kings

Sophie-David

This is an intriguing card. The Legend Seven of Spears images a triumphal arch which honours Arthur and his opponents the twelve kings whom he defeated. A Keeper of Words notes that the ever industrious Merlin made copper and brass statues of Arthur and the twelve kings which were then gilded in gold. Each of the statues of the defeated kings held tapers which burned magically without being extinguished until Merlin died.

In the picture the gilded and illuminated statues of the kings look considerably larger and more impressive than the inset and non-illuminated statue of Arthur at the top of the arch. Although Arthur is placed above the kings, Merlin has devised a way of giving each one of those he defeated a significant monument: they may have been bettered in the field, but they are each worthy opponents. As the text suggests, this card is about
Promoting unity and encouraging all sides to work together for the common good.
It is interesting that the arch is placed in a rural setting on a forest path, since most triumphal arches were situated in towns where everyone would see them daily. This arch seems to connect the victor more closely with the Land, celebrating the sacred union of Arthur the King and Britannia, the Land's Sovereignty or spiritual avatar.

Two guards sit through the night's watch, perhaps chatting about their lives and adventures. Triumphal arches do not normally need guards, but their presence suggests that perhaps Merlin's magic tapers really did need replacing and lighting on a regular basis. Additionally, the valuable gold figures would have been vulnerable to theft, especially in the isolation of a forest path. The guards are probably also responsible for keeping the triumphal garland of flowers that adorns the top of the arch new and fresh. And lastly, the brazier centred in the arch not only accentuates its presence, but has the practical purpose of warming the guards or any travelers that may pass this way.
 

WalesWoman

Vigilence is a keyword I think, tho' these guys aren't exactly sweating guard duty. They are prepared to defend the gateway, but the likely hood of attack seems to be at a minimum...since most of the opposition is remembered by those 12 fallen kings.

So in a sense it resembles the 7 Shields- traditional meaning...waiting for something to happen and being ready to fight if need be. So I guess it's a bit of relaxation after the big victory parade after all the fighting is over. I guess the other thing might be...Don't rest on your laurels. Past success is great, but you can't just stop and forget about taking care to protect what you have gained.

I guess if you looked at the arch and the brazier, in another sense, it would be seeing light at the end of the tunnel. You are long past the halfway mark in your journey to completion of reaching your goal.
 

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Sophie-David

WalesWoman said:
Vigilence is a keyword I think, tho' these guys aren't exactly sweating guard duty. They are prepared to defend the gateway, but the likely hood of attack seems to be at a minimum...since most of the opposition is remembered by those 12 fallen kings.
The text wasn't specific, but I assumed that at least a portion of these kings would not have been killed in battle. For those that were killed, there would still be family and supporters remaining. So vigilence is a key, as you suggest.
WalesWoman said:
So in a sense it resembles the 7 Shields- traditional meaning...waiting for something to happen and being ready to fight if need be. So I guess it's a bit of relaxation after the big victory parade after all the fighting is over. I guess the other thing might be...Don't rest on your laurels. Past success is great, but you can't just stop and forget about taking care to protect what you have gained.
What I really like about the message of this card is that by honouring those who were defeated while at the same time positioning the High King above them, Arthur and Merlin are helping to preserve both their positions and the peace of the Land. This is a Seven in which the protagonists use stategy to maintain their position.
WalesWoman said:
I guess if you looked at the arch and the brazier, in another sense, it would be seeing light at the end of the tunnel. You are long past the halfway mark in your journey to completion of reaching your goal.
Yes, I like your additional metaphor for this card, that the arch and brazier are like the light at the end of the tunnel.
 

Sophie-David

I just remembered another thought I had about this card. We know the Anna-Marie placed Spears (Wands) in Air, but doesn't this card just seem to be just burning up with fire imagery and little if no air? It made me wonder if this was an early work among the 78 she eventually did - perhaps she changed her mind about the elemental assignments later.
 

WalesWoman

Sophie-David said:
I just remembered another thought I had about this card. We know the Anna-Marie placed Spears (Wands) in Air, but doesn't this card just seem to be just burning up with fire imagery and little if no air? It made me wonder if this was an early work among the 78 she eventually did - perhaps she changed her mind about the elemental assignments later.


I was hard pressed to think Air thoughts for this card, but then if you get a bit psychological about it...attitude is half the battle. If you feel condfident and secure about what you believe in, you pretty much have it made, can relax a bit and enjoy what you are doing without losing sight of what you are doing. So you may be right about this being on of the early cards, or she had a spears/fire brain fart.

Sophie-David said:
What I really like about the message of this card is that by honouring those who were defeated while at the same time positioning the High King above them, Arthur and Merlin are helping to preserve both their positions and the peace of the Land. This is a Seven in which the protagonists use stategy to maintain their position.

Excellent! Before I read the story, I thought it was a shrine to all who had been kings before Arthur, not as his opponents but honoring tradition. And it is something we do not do in this time enough, I think, is to honor and respect our worthy opposition...especially after we have defeated them. It's called sportsmanship.
 

Lyones

I get the feeling of expectation with this card, even though they are weary and resting after their battles, they are surrounded by the representations of what they have achieved, and are possibly expecting more to come. Most battles were fought during the light of day, and perhaps the expectation lies in the gentleman's code or chivalrousness of the times, that they can rest during the dark hours and plan for the morning, keeping a vigil but not worrying too much about it. I think of these 2 warriors as sharing war stories, passing on the legends to each other by word of mouth, building each other up with encouragement for what still lies ahead, taking courage from past victories - "we did it before, we can do it again".

I also think that all the statues are representations of memories, both good and bad, and have been exalted to positions of power in the mind, of why we can and cannot do certain things.

The struggle has been fierce, and they are gathering their thoughts and courage, because life goes on, and they know that they have significant parts to play in keeping Arthur's representation at the top of the column. It is like a physically built spell that has been cast to keep the other 12 kings in submission to Arthur.