Tarot of Prague Café Club - Queen of Swords

Bean Feasa

What I love about the Queen of Swords in the Tarot of Prague deck is the way she stands up and faces us head on, unlike in the RW deck where she's firmly seated and we see her only in profile.
I adore the way her crown is all lopsided and battered and her sword has a ding near its point. She's been through the wars. They've left her strong, but not sour. There's a very slight wry smile on her face. Everything about her, her clothes, her ruffled little book, proclaims the fact that she's been there and back, been blown about by the storms of life, and now she stands firm on a height above a snowy forest with the city in the background. She's gained ground and she's not going to give it away to anyone.
This is a lady who would let the grey show in her hair and wear it proudly. Who would let the cosmetic surgeon keep his scalpel in his pocket and she'll keep her money in hers, thank you very much. A lady who has lived and learned and isn't afraid to let that be seen. She'll give you the benefit of her wisdom gently, if you ask her the right way, or with a lash if you get on the wrong side of her. Either way what she has to say will be worth listening to.
The fierce little winged lion at her feet looks loyal and protective, determined to see to it that she doesn't get hurt anymore. I'm glad of that!


Oh, I love this description - and this is one of the cards I am happiest with - but then it shows a scene in Prague that means a lot to us. As you will have gathered, the Strahov and its surroundings are very special to me and Alex.

So, again I just want to tiptoe around this thread and leave it for others to share their thoughts, but I do want to tell you that Diane Wilkes, among others, emailed me to point out that the Queen of Swords looks very like Mary Greer. Now, I hadn't consciously thought about this until people started telling me, but it's true. That fits well I think. I don't know a lot about Mary's biography, but I gather she is a strong and wise woman who has had a full life with both ups and downs so I hope she won't mind me mentioning this resemblance. By the way, Mary also offered me some good advice when I was writing the book, and I'm grateful to her.

I'm glad of this serendipity.


I think you've pretty much covered this one Bean Feasa, I dont think there is much more to add. I find the background really interesting. It can show that in her past there hasn't been much 'color', that she pretty much has had a harsh life. I also think that this can show that she views things rather in a black and white fashion and may also indicate her 'coolness'. The Queens are water cards and obviously the snow melts to water. As snow her emotions are locked up but maybe with some fire, that snow will melt! On the other hand it can freeze and become ice, which is sharp and cold and cutting. There is also a beauty about this card which I find haunting. The way she holds her head indicates to me that she could be a little sarcastic. The fact that she holds her book and there is a library in the background infers to me that she loves reading and acquiring knowledge. Perhaps she could represent a teacher? All-in all another superb card!
Do you have any idea what the light bluey coloured swirl is in the bottom left hand corner? The winged lion seems to be looking in that direction.

J :)


The figure of the Queen of Swords is based on a medieval illustration of St Catherine. The very unclear swirl under the sword would originally have been the head of Maximin (see below). We removed the wheel and added the lion.

I've attached a small picture of the original - which of course is kept in the Strahov library. You can see how old it is - the page is very damaged but the illustration is still exquisitely beautiful


As patroness she has several attributes. She bears the palm as martyr; the sword expresses the manner of her death; the crown is hers of right, as sovereign princess; she holds the book as significant of her learning; she tramples on the pagan tyrant. All these attributes may be found in the effigies of other saints ; but the especial and peculiar attribute of St. Catherine is the wheel. When entire, it is an emblem of the torture to which she was exposed: in the later pictures it is oftener broken ; it is then an historical attribute, it represents the instrument by which she was to have been tortured, and the miracle through which she was redeemed. She leans upon it, or it lies at her feet, or an angel bears it over her head. In Raphael's St. Catherine, in our National Gallery, she leans on the wheel, and no other attribute is introduced: this, however, is very uncommon; the characteristic sword and the book are generally present, even where the crown and palm are omitted. The grim turbaned head of Maximin, placed beneath her feet, is confined, with very few exceptions, to the sculptural and Gothic effigies and the stained glass of the fourteenth century.


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Bean Feasa

Oh that’s interesting baba-prague, I was looking at that bluey swirl last night after reading Jewel-ry’s post yesterday, but couldn’t make out what it was. I thought it might have been the mouth of an overturned pot, or that maybe the Queen had been churning up the snow a bit with the tip of her sword. :)!

The information about St. Catherine is interesting too, especially because one of the things that struck me last night, looking at the card again, was that there’s a slight resemblance to the Virgin Mary statues that were liberally dotted around the convent school I went to many years ago. They too had crowns and flowing hair and bluish draperies. Maybe ‘holy’ women in general were depicted in that style. But the dishevelledness of her clothes and crown and hair is so endearing, it humanises her and softens the icy virginal look.


blue swirl

yes, we could have taken it off completely. It was too vague on the original to restore (the original is more than 500 years old so many pieces are damaged or faded) but we decided just to leave it there. It's interesting that it was noticed.

I love her battered look too. She is very much more touching than many of the later depictions of saints, I agree with that. Alex did a lot of work to restore her but left the sword battered and dinged, which I'm glad of. Must say the other thing I adore in this drawing is the hands - very delicate and expressive.


I was curious of the swirl as well - I felt it represented chaos and the Queens control of it.

As I continue my study in Tarot, I have had a continual learning block regarding the court cards. The images in this deck are helping me out tremendously.

One observation - Jewel-ry, I like your observation that the glance could be a degree of sarcasm (possibly one of my least enduring traits, hehe). However, as I learned what the Queen of Swords stood for, I was drawn to a comparison of my maternal grandmother, who was abandoned by her husband during the height of the depression and left alone to raise four children. It caused me to view the tilted head as a look of total kindness when viewed from a distance, but if you were to get closer and look into her eyes, you could gain a trace of the pain that she is trying so hard to conceal.



Bean Feasa's inital description is really quite wonderful.

As usual, the Queen of Swords (water acts on air) is in an emotionally tough spot. The background captures it perfectly. The trees (air) are all snow covered (water) and that snow shows the bleakness of her past. It also shows she is not currently heart-broken -- the emotion is too frigid. I think
I've seen some Queens of Swords where the sorrows were closer to the surface and the emotions more stirring.

I love the addition of the guardian lion. She has developed resources in this tough climate. I tend to see her as a divorcee -- I know a few people like her. Note that throughout this thread people have been finding folks or historical characters they know that she resembles. This card has succeeded in reaching us.

-- Zagone


The winged lion seems to be concentrated on the queen of sword. As if looking for hints of commands. The Queen of Swords is sourrounded by a hard land. But she is looking at us. She look in front of her. Her experience makes her stronger to face harsh reality.