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Sunday, 10 April 2016

King of Swords - where did those butterflies come from?

Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot 
The King of Swords is my astrological correspondent, apparently. Aquarius is King of Swords. Let's take a look at him.

He sits on a black and white throne engraved with a sort of inverted triple moon -- but instead of a full moon in the middle, there's a butterfly. Beneath that, two more butterflies. Beneath that, just behind his left shoulder, what appears to be some sort of dancer in the clouds. I don't tend to associate the King of Swords with butterflies or dancers, to be honest. I wonder how they got there. Funnily enough, I never noticed this before in all the years I've used RWS. Let's take a closer look at the original...yep! There it is! Big and bold as life. Actually, that 'dancer' is rendered in more detail in the Original RWS. It's actually a couple, facing us, looking toward the King's head, and the figure in front is pointing. Interesting.

Original RWS
I wonder why the birds in the sky were left out of the Radiant image. I wonder why the King's foot isn't visible. I wonder why his perch on the edge of the promontory is given so much more emphasis in Radiant, and why the Radiant cloud formation looks more like it has a hole in it than the rendering in Original RWS. Maybe no reason. But that hole really catches my eye, and doesn't lend King of Swords good associations!


All these variations could impact the way we read this card. The King in Radiant looks more isolated to me. Without the birds, there is less movement in the card. He appears 'higher' in the scene in Radiant than in Original RWS, more set apart from it. Also, in Radiant, the top of his throne is seen, whereas it goes off the top of card in Original -- this seems to bring him forward a bit in Original, but makes him more static in Radiant, to my eyes. His foot peeping out gives him more a feeling of leaning toward the viewer, whereas having them tucked under the robe in Radiant makes him seem more closed off. Finally, the face in Radiant has a glassy stare, whereas in Original, his eyes seemed cast to the side as if in thought. These are all very subtle cues that will play on the subconscious of the reader and could render quite different results, depending on the sensitivity of the reader to visual cues. (Plus I just prefer the Original, which probably explains why instead of talking about the King of Swords, I've ended up comparing Radiant to Original RWS!)

Well, I'm emerging today here on the blog, a bit like a butterfly (and I did use a butterfly as a logo for a few years, now that I think about it), and I've analysed a card in a King of Swords sort of detachment. So not entirely out of step for today.

Can you believe I have to work today? Sunday working. Oy.

6 comments:

  1. Good choice of deck for your first post Carla. The original Rider Waite is my all time favorite deck of all. Lately everybody is showing the five decks they couldn't live without. Well, one deck is enough for me!

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    1. I think the Original Rider Waite Smith is vastly underrated.

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  2. All your points in favour of the Original are well-made. And yet I still prefer the Radiant. The colours speak to me of clarity and wisdom, and an inner groundedness, which I don't see in the dishwater colours of the other :D Horses for courses, right?

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    1. I like the muted tones, but I've yet to find the perfect RWS for me. It's probably a Pam A 1910. Never seen one in real life. Maybe one day I'll get lucky and find one in a dusty old shop. :)

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  3. Hey Carla, you are back (pun) Nice to see you. I use the Universal Waite myself as I like the subtler colouring.

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    1. Hey Woley! I have a Universal Waite! It was my very first tarot deck. :)

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