Comrade Femme Tarot: The Page of Swords

Each month I share a reflection on a tarot card in the service of self- and community-care, healing, and social and political transformation. I am still relatively new to tarot and nothing I post is meant to serve as an expert guide to the deck. Rather, I hope to illuminate, as I learn in public, the ways in which the tarot can act as a tool for healing, activism, movement building, and worldmaking. I am thankful for the teachers who have guided me in this embracing this modality and humbly recommend visiting more seasoned readers and intuitives to learn more (on tarot and/or related practices), including: Sara Gottesdiener, adrienne maree brown, The Firebrand Witch, Lindsay Mack, Dori Midnight, The Hoodwitch, Little Red Tarot, among many others!

This June tarot pull is late (and this post is even later), but when I asked the deck if there was still some insight for these last two weeks, it told me ‘yes.’ For this month: The Page of Swords. I was struck with pulling two action-oriented cards in a row--last month was the King of Wands, and although Swords and Wands are different energy, I think both are asking us to keep moving.

More specifically, the Page of Swords is asking us to remember how our words (written and/or verbal) can act in the service of momentum. Swords, as I learned them, are ruled by air and communication. Our speech, like a knife, can be used for good or for ill. A knife can save a life in surgery or it can take a life in vengeance. An orator can rally the masses to surround ICE detention centers until everyone is free….or rally the masses to defend white supremacy with tiki torches. Our speech is not inherently good nor bad but it is fucking powerful. It is our duty to use it with intention and the in the service of the collective.

The Page is a little bit reckless, a little bit self-righteous, but that doesn’t always have to be bad. In Cristy Road’s representation (below), we see an unapologetic risk taker. I imagine before cutting through the fence, they probably proclaimed the importance of resisting injustice, they probably said, “If we don’t do something, who will?”, they probably bellowed, “If not now, when?!”

From Cristy Road's Next World Tarot

The Page is asking us to speak up, to use our words to motivate change, and to do it with enough conviction that even if the others don’t follow right away, at least the seed will be planted. The Page of Swords is less a polished speech giver (think MLK), and more an impromptu soapbox crier (think Sylvia Rivera).

I am reminded of the energy of The Page of Swords in the story of Tiana Smalls, the woman who stood up to ICE agents on a Greyhound bus taking a routine domestic trip. When the agents came on board asking people for papers, Tiana, without thinking twice stood up and shouted to everyone on the bus that it was a violation of their 4th amendment rights, and that “no one had to show them shit.” She googled how to say it in Spanish and repeated it.

Tiana’s voice, which border patrol said was “filthy,” may have saved lives that night. It definitely spoke truth to power.

The Page of Swords is asking the same courage of us, even in - especially in - the scariest moments. It’s asking us to speak up at the dinner party when someone says something racist, it’s asking us to proclaim “Union YES!” even when your boss is sending veiled anti-union threats, and for certain, it’s asking us to remind people of their rights on an occupied bus.

The Page of Swords doesn’t stand for saying anything but the truth to ourselves either. It will call you on your shit if you’re telling yourself a story that pummels your self-worth, or keeps you on a career path that keeps you small. There is too much to be done to stay off-course, dear one. This world will not stop and wait for us to get out of our ruts. And although we are all still worthy of love even when we are stuck, The Page of Swords may be the thing that pulls us out of the funks, the writer’s block, the waiting, the frozenness of depression.

What do you need to say out loud, darlings? Who can you stand up to? How can you use your voice to improve your life and the lives of your neighbors? What words are you longing to speak? Do you feel a lump in your throat, do you feel stuck? That’s usually a sign that whatever is below the surface is worth saying. It is usually a sign that it is the most worth-saying thing in the world.

This is your permission to say it. Say the things that scare you, say the thing you hear whispering from your gut, speak it like it was a rainstorm in the desert - unexpected but glorious, uprooting maybe but also the nutrients you need to survive.

So speak your truth, sweet fighter, even if your voice shakes.  

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