Heal & Harm | Mothering Myself as the Queen of Swords

Content Note: Discussion of family stuff, abuse, mental health, suicidality, trauma, CPTSD

I recently changed my phone number.

I’ve had the same number since I was 15, and I’m 28 now, in the midst of my Saturn return. As a Sagittarius sun, Saturn already kicked my ass during its time during my sign, and I’m excited to welcome even more change. For me, having a Saturn return in Capricorn has mainly been about a solidification of shifts in my relationship towards work and family, and it’s the latter that inspired me to do a number change.

Where I live in Toronto, it’s a big deal to have a phone number that starts with 416. That means you’ve lived here a while, you’ve been around – a real Torontonian (whatever that means)! The default area code for newly assigned phone numbers switched to 647 a few years back, so having a 416 number was a point of pride. Having the same number for so long meant I got nearly no wrong number calls, that any doctor or long lost friend I’d ever had could always find me, that I always received all of the important calls.

Changing my number is something I’ve been slowly working towards for a decade, and it’s the final nail in the coffin of my extrication from blood family.

It’s been, like I said, a long time coming – I’ve gone through so many years of mourning, of emotional ups and downs, of going insane and being suicidal. The mental health disorder I have as a result of my adverse early childhood experiences is called CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and it’s the same thing that prisoners of war are diagnosed with. It’s what happens when you’re abused over a long period of time and you can’t escape.

I was a little surprised that my final number change – done without any big speech or final hurrah – happened a little impulsively, but with complete determination. When it was done, I felt a calm sense of contentedness, happiness – so much so that two men asked for my number (and in a seemingly genuine way, not a creepy way) on my ten minute walk home from the phone store. I often get folks approaching me, but I must have been radiating some particular kind of vibe that day – a happy, confident energy.

On the first day of January of every year, I draw one card for each upcoming month, and spend the entire day writing out intuitive interpretations of what that means for my life, month by month. My card for May was The Wild Unknown’s Mother of Swords – the equivalent of the Queen in most decks. I don’t think it’s accidental that in this deck the Queen is called the Mother, and that I intuitively knew that this deck would be the appropriate one for me this year due to the extensive finalization of reworking familial relationships. (I’ll likely continue to use the deck for my yearly spreads during my Saturn return, with Capricorns’ emphasis on family).

Last month in moving away from blood family, I was called to Mother myself – to be not only the Queen but also the Mother (of Swords, specifically) – to soothe myself, to take care of myself, and to be fiercely decisive in a way that attends to my own needs. In my life, I have been my own most loving parent – I have been my own father, and I have been my own mother.

I would like to share what I wrote about the Mother of Swords on January 1:

“This is a time to take a stand intellectually, to stake a claim on some of my ideas in the public realm and truly step into my own understanding of and appreciation of my academic and intellectual authority. Don’t be afraid and don’t back down to challenges to my wisdom. There is a mastery in this card that it is time for me to celebrate. This may be a time to be rigid and uncompromising in regard to intellectual aspects of my life. Stand strong and have an unwavering gaze. Stake a claim and perch upon it. Strong sense of boundaries – this can be a way of mothering myself. I may need to make some firm judgments this month – make sure that these are firmly rooted in logic, reason, and rationality; try to be as impartial as I can, and the necessary decisions will reveal themselves to be not as difficult as I originally may have assumed they were. Do not be afraid; embrace fearlessness and banish the worry of being called a bitch or not thought of as a good girl. Stay true to my intellectual integrity and tell it like it is. In this way I honour myself, my spirits, my body, and my authority. This process will be healing for my throat chakra and issues around communication and speaking my truth.”

Looking back on this intuitive work now, I can’t help but be pretty impressed with myself! Everything was pretty spot on, and this became especially clear as the month crawled to a close. This is why I find journaling intuitively about tarot at the beginning of every year and between months to be so important – it can give us that deep and continual validation of our intuitive gifts, of the realness of all that we are picking up on.

That being said, as May ambled along, my attention shifted from some parts of that channelling to others. As I transitioned into May, my initial focus was on how the Mother of Swords related to my calendar being full of academic conferences at which I was expected to present papers. Prepping papers and presentations as well as traveling to and from conferences was going to take up at least 3 of May’s 4 weeks: a big academic and intellectual focus for me, perfectly in line with swords energy. So I originally interpreted it as May being a month full of intellectualism, owning my academic authority, stepping into the role of expert in a public way, and communicating my ideas with fierceness and with clarity. But the card ended up being so much more powerful – and a little less literal – than that.

Near the end of the month, on the May 29 full moon, I lay in a bath with Epson salts and wrote by candlelight, my pencil scrawl barely visible:

“I think the Queen of Swords has revealed herself in other ways this month (not just academic conferences), particularly in this final severance and cutting of all ties and communication with my father, the last nuclear family member I was in touch with. He apologized sometime last month or so, before but other than that simple quick act there has been absolutely no shift in behaviour – he continues to be a manipulative, controlling, cruel narcissist who has no idea how to have healthy relationships.

“What happened on [redacted] was the last straw. I changed my number, the one I have had for 13 years – without telling him. So that is it. I will not allow myself to be treated this way. Part of me wished and wanted to engage, to send a few last insults or to deliver a dramatic final speech explaining my perspective again and again and again – but it seems the Queen of Swords has more elegance, regalness, and self-control than that – and so, embodying her, I cut the cord without any word or warning. Just gone in the wind. Severed. One chance too many was given and now it is cut away. For me this is also the meaning of the Queen of Swords – self-mastery, communication, decisiveness, discernment, directness. Strong and fierce boundaries. The Queen knows her worth. So does the Mother. The consolidation of self worth through enforced boundaries are a fierce act of self care, self mothering, self parenting – it is a violence toward the other motivated by a deep connection to the love of the self.”

The kind of love of the self that takes the sword into their own hands and says No, you don’t get to talk to me like this treat me like this be in my life with this entitlement to constantly treat me like garbage. You are a sixty-year-old man. One word ‘Sorry’ is not enough. Sorry is relational, it is built through relationship, through action, through ownership, through responsibility, accountability, love, and care.

‘Sorry’ is not a word. Sorry is a doing. Sorry is a being.

Some people get mad at this shit but in reality it is a strong powerful decision to decide not to give others the opportunity to treat us badly. Sometimes we don’t get to choose – things happen randomly – but if we expose ourselves to bad behaviour again and again, we can be the Mother of Swords Queen of Swords and cut off the opportunity for that person to continue to hurt us with their communications. This is an act of love towards the self, a reaffirmation of self-respect and self worth. The Queen and Mother of Swords are all about that, and about assessing and judging these relationships based on their communication – how is communication happening towards us? How are we sending it out? Have we mastered this, and are we around others who are similarly discerning, or do we surround ourselves with loose cannons, hoping to paint them off-white and cover them in flowers, praying their behaviour towards us will change?

To cut off abusers is to be the Mother of Swords, the Queen of Swords.

To take care of ourselves by cutting off communication, and not necessarily dramatically. I do believe in the power and necessity of a good call-out but sometimes (after twenty years) there is nothing more to be said, and the most powerful statement is said with silence.

Deck pictured is the Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans.

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  1. Eve says:

    beautiful and much cleaner handled than I did going through a similar thing. Those biological connections are some of the hardest to end when it is really necessary.

    • Honestly it took DECADES to get to that point of just being so frustrated – and having extricated myself from the family dysfunction for 3 years (interestingly, at the start of Saturn in Sag, my sun sign) I was able to have the distance to see it pretty clearly. I just didn’t see the point in engaging any further.

      Either way you did it – messy or not – you DID it! Congratulations to you and your liberation. Such a big, powerful, and important action.

  2. jules says:

    Beautiful. I love how you stepped into your power with such grace and conviction. Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. Kate says:

    Thank you so much for this. I separated myself from my biological family a few years ago before my mother died. It took time for me to realize that my mother wasn’t the only toxic narcissist, and that my father was just as harmful (memory can be so wonky when it decides to forget such huge chunks of time…). This last Christmas, he contacted me with a card in the mail (we live just a few blocks apart), not saying sorry, but that this has all gone on long enough and life is too short. I somehow read this as a heartfelt ‘sorry’. My husband had to walk me through it, kindly helping me realize the reality vs my longing. Reading your words on the utterance of ‘sorry’ was so powerful. Because even if he HAD written ‘sorry’, what does the sorry mean if everything is exactly how it has always been? Protecting yourself, taught by the Mother of Swords is soooooo important. I’m realizing that even after years, I have so much left to detangle within my head. Thank you for everything you’ve written here, for helping me feel less alone.

    • Thank you so much for this deeply meaningful sharing and feedback – I truly appreciate it so much.

      I am so thankful for folks who reflect reality back to us! (Good on your husband, give him a high five from me!)

      Thank you for reading and witnessing, and best of luck on your journey to detangle. I am still in it myself and likely will be for quite some time! You definitely are not alone.

  4. Julia says:

    This is so powerful. Thank you for sharing and encouraging us to keep doing the self-love work. To cut off relationships within the family circle is so hard and comes with much self-doubt and insecurity. Since childhood we are lead to believe that family is an obligation and no matter how poorly we are treated, we have to stick around and be grateful. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for you, but your fierceness definitely shines through your words, and that makes me glad 🙂

  5. Danny says:

    You have given me a new appreciation for the queen of swords. While I have (mostly) forgiven my mother, the queen of swords is the mother I sometimes wish I’d had and the mother I now need to be for myself. I also appreciate your definition of sorry as a doing and a being. It’s helped me to understand that ‘sorry’ spoken by a narcissist is actually just a hollow word for them — nothing heartfelt — and typically just a way for them to progress their agenda.

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