Mary El Tarot - Nine of Swords

Bat Chicken

The first thing that comes to mind is the ancient destruction of Alexandria. The pyramid of lighthouses and towers the forces of earth and water resisting each other in the bottom of the card and the Goddess (Nephthys?) crowned with an orange sun looking down. In the tsunami of 365, Alexandria was devastated and the Royal City lost to the sea. The event is still commemorated by the illumination of the city on the anniversary.

From Wikipedia – quoting the Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus:
Slightly after daybreak, and heralded by a thick succession of fiercely shaken thunderbolts, the solidity of the whole earth was made to shake and shudder, and the sea was driven away, its waves were rolled back, and it disappeared, so that the abyss of the depths was uncovered and many-shaped varieties of sea-creatures were seen stuck in the slime; the great wastes of those valleys and mountains, which the very creation had dismissed beneath the vast whirlpools, at that moment, as it was given to be believed, looked up at the sun's rays. Many ships, then, were stranded as if on dry land, and people wandered at will about the paltry remains of the waters to collect fish and the like in their hands; then the roaring sea as if insulted by its repulse rises back in turn, and through the teeming shoals dashed itself violently on islands and extensive tracts of the mainland, and flattened innumerable buildings in towns or wherever they were found. Thus in the raging conflict of the elements, the face of the earth was changed to reveal wondrous sights. For the mass of waters returning when least expected killed many thousands by drowning, and with the tides whipped up to a height as they rushed back, some ships, after the anger of the watery element had grown old, were seen to have sunk, and the bodies of people killed in shipwrecks lay there, faces up or down. Other huge ships, thrust out by the mad blasts, perched on the roofs of houses, as happened at Alexandria, and others were hurled nearly two miles from the shore, like the Laconian vessel near the town of Methone which I saw when I passed by, yawning apart from long decay.
Thousands were killed and some places were wiped right off the face of the Earth.

This cards mirrors the RWS and Thoth themes of struggle. I always relate the city of Alexandria a city of the ‘mind’ because of its famous library. Struggles of the mind, its constructs are in process here. A decision needs to be made. We cannot correct what we have done, but only make better decisions in the future. What will that decision be?


Hm. The Alexandria idea, that's just brilliant, I love that.

I'm not seeing a struggle of the mind, though. Where? Ok, there's light vs. dark, earth overwhelmed by water (but with an earthquake, it's the earth that first causes the water to stir). Black tower on the right, white tower on the left, we're behind the traditional High Priestess. In the RWS deck, the HP has water behind her and some people say she's guarding the temple from the inside.

Bat Chicken

Well, here's my logic:
The library of Alexandria - the collection of 'mind', the image is full of 'Towers' which can be any construct, but I am going with the mind because of reason one. The outside of the 'temple' could be 'reason'?


I love the idea of Alexandria being represented.

Two thoughts occurred to me:

There appear to be a vulture's head close to the tall tower near her head. The bird in the sky might also be a vulture. This would connect her with Nekhbet. Her attributes include motherhood and life and death. Nekheb was a necropolis and home to Egypt's oldest oracle.

Secondly, the two towers remind me of the teaching parable of a wise man and a foolish man - one built his house on sand and the other built his house on rock. Naturally the one on sand got washed away.

Our thoughts (even our destructive ones) are essentially our own constructs. How enduring they are, depends on the foundation we have given them.


I really like this card. Very pretty. :)

A few thoughts:
Struggle of the mind where things are not real. You can see the beauty around you only if you control your mind and your thoughts. The lighthouse in the background could probably suggest that there is still light available only if you fight that darkness within and overcome the struggle. There's still dawn out there somewhere. Also the castle can represent your foundation and not letting the waves (struggle/darkness) defeat you as it's all still there. :)


The goddess at the top is Hathor (when depicted in her human form, she wears a sun disk between cow horns over her head), the falcon is her husband Horus. The card depicts “The House or Mansion of Horus”, which can mean the sky (where Horus the eagle lives), it can mean the descendents of Horus, and it can also mean Hathor herself, who, as “The House of Horus”, is a metaphor for the earthly realm, which makes her the mother to the world.

Hathor has many identities and aspects, from Mother to Destroyer, from Nurturer to Great Beauty and Patron of the Arts. She was mostly honoured and worshipped for her devotion to all the things in the world that bring joy and uplift the human spirit, and her nurturing love for the people. She also represents fertility, of the people and of the land (role as mother to the world).

I see the two towers symbolize the duality of human nature and the struggle inherent in us, with Horus and Hathor overseeing the realm of the people below. This card somehow relates to Justice, as Hathor is also supposed to have begotten the lineage of the Pharaohs, and was the origin or upholder of Maat (right living).

There's something between the two towers that I can't make out. Its just to the right of the base of the white tower. Does anyone have any ideas what this could be?

Bat Chicken

Beautifully said, Wintergreen! :) Makes me think that is the synthesis that makes 'culture'.

And the object - I missed that. It looks like a person on a horse headed for the gates to me....


Beautifully said, Wintergreen! :) Makes me think that is the synthesis that makes 'culture'.

Very well said Bat Chicken.

And the object - I missed that. It looks like a person on a horse headed for the gates to me....[/QUOTE said:
Yes, that seems like it!


Nine of Swords

A city by the sea. A goddess overlooks it, or is it the politics of the city, perhaps political corruption even? A black bird flies by -- is that a dark omen? Water is flooding the city, breaching some of its lighthouses/outer buildings. I sense danger.


I agree with the feeling of danger, too. The goddess does not seem unequivocably benevolent. I wouldn't want to live there.

I'm glad you're doing this Missy. It's helping me feel freer with the cards.