Queen of Swords – Thoth and the Art of Balance

There was a period of time that I stayed away from Tarot.

I had gotten tired of it; I guess when you’re young, that happens with anything. I got tired of looking up meanings in a little white book and trying to decipher what the cards meant, what message they could possibly have for me. I grew tired of trying to see myself in arcane images and other people’s words.

Still though, the cards would call to me. I would see Tarot decks in bookstores and remember those first few years of learning Tarot, the joy that I would get every time that I would draw a card for myself or other people, the thrill of not knowing what the cards would say to me. Even if I couldn’t understand the message, the fact that it was meant for me filled me with joy.

It was after my struggles with my body and the eventual diagnosis of multiple sclerosis that brought me back to the cards. I remember those first few months of struggling with my body, trying to get it to do everything that it could do without thought before but now everything was a battle. I knew that there had to be more than the constant fight, the fear of not knowing.

Instead of hiding in the dark like I had been, I started to go back out in the world. The first thing I chose to do was to have a Tarot reading. My lovely friend Diane was giving readings as a finale to the Tarot course that she had been taking. It was October 31st and I thought nothing could be better and more appropriate than getting a Tarot reading on Halloween.

That reading changed my life. Diane gave me a reading with the Thoth deck. I had never seen it before and knew that I had to learn everything I could about this mysterious deck. I signed up for classes from her teacher so that I could learn about the mysteries of the Thoth Tarot deck. I will always remember what he said in that first lesson. He told us to pull a card and think about what it meant to us, telling us to go to the guidebook for guidance, but to really listen to what the card was saying to us without the benefit of someone else’s words.

I read countless books on Thoth, on the mysteries contained within and without, but I saw my own meanings for the cards. Some of them meshed with the ideas expressed in the books I had read, but the Thoth deck taught me to look for my own voice within the cards and tell my own story. I loved how deep you could go with the Thoth deck, how many mysteries that it held. The deck helped me to appreciate the mysteries that each Tarot deck held, just waiting to unfold.

When my cover designer Dominic Bercier and I started talking about my vision for the cover of Queen of Swords, I had a very basic vision: I knew that I wanted a woman with a lion, as long as those elements were on the cover, I would be happy.

He asked me about the main character of Jackie. She was based off of one of my friends, so I told him about her, how Jackie had been through so many challenges, but she never quit. That she was filled with a strength that actually made those around her feel stronger and a light that shone so brightly that it brightened the lives of those who knew her.

I talked a little bit about something from deep within the book and he said to leave it with him, that he had an idea and would just run with it. I said to go ahead. Dominic is an amazing artist and I’m in awe of what he can do. I wasn’t worried. What he got back to me with just blew my mind away.

Dominic said that it was based off of the balance card from the Thoth deck. He showed me the picture and I knew that he was talking about Adjustment, the card of balance and adjusting your centre so that you could carry a heavy weight. I thought this was a perfect inspiration for the cover of Queen of Swords. I also love how it brought me back to the Thoth deck after such a long time.

Queen of Swords is all about balance. Jackie has to learn about herself and find a way to balance who she was with who she is now with her world no longer the same. There is also the handling of swords to consider. Every great sword fighter knows it’s not enough just to jab and perry. You have to be balanced with your sword, become one with it, so that you can make your attack.

It should come as no surprise that balance is something I’m currently learning to do and so I knew that Jackie would have to find a balance in her life on the journey throughout Queen of Swords. It would be a balance of light and dark, of can’t an can, one of what she had to learn versus what she knew already. At the beginning of the book, she is just running away. By the middle of the book, she realizes that she is running towards something.

I love the fact that Dominic brought the story back to the Thoth deck. I wrote it using the Smith Waite as the spine of the novel and the Thoth deck ended up as the books skin, two part of my journey with Tarot represented in one book. In a way, that’s a gorgeous kind of balance too.

Everything about Tarot, even if presented in book form, is a journey. We just have to be willing to go on that journey and listen to what the cards have to say.

Queen of Swords is available here:

Barnes and Noble



Apple Books

Thalia Books




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