Reges - The Kings


The King corresponds to the element Fire, in which the Hot quality dominates the Dry quality. Because of the dominant Hot quality, the King is characterized by expansiveness and movement, and so he is a source of inspiration, motivation and authority for activity in his realm. The Hot quality also represents discrimination and selection, so the King is responsible for setting directions and making decisions that affect his realm as a whole.

Because of the secondary quality, Dryness, the King is inclined to impose forms on other things; in particular, his seed triggers the formative processes in the egg and womb of the Queen. The Impetus of the suit comes from the King and descends the path of the court cards, IOUE, by means of Insemination, the Ovum, the Uterus and the Emergence of the newborn; the offspring in turn ascends the path EVOI, developing by way of the Egotistic child (Page), the Virgin youth (Knight), and the Organic parent (Queen) to culminate in the Integrated elder (King).

As the Queen represents the parent (of either sex) of the suit, so the King represents the elder (of either sex) of the suit. They are both sources of authority (because dominated by active qualities: Hot or Cold), but manifest it in different ways. The authority of the King as Elder lies in leadership, decision and motivation (Hot); the authority of the Queen as Parent lies in nurturing, understanding and building cooperation (Cold). Due to his Dryness the King is more apt to bring about change through command or argument, whereas the Queen, as a consequence of the Wet quality, is more apt to change existing structures from within.

Key Words

Jove, Juno, Just, Judgement, Ignition, Ignis, Insemination, Impulse, Impetus, Inspiration, Iactus, I, Integral, Idea, Intuition, Imagination, Impart.

Rex Baculorum (Wands) - Imparting Inspiration

The Fire of the King operates on the Fire of the Wands, so the King of Wands is a pure manifestation of the qualities of Fire (Hot>Dry). The expansive nature of the Hot causes him to be active, dynamic, enthusiastic, and a source of ideas and leadership. From the discriminating nature of the Hot, he tends to be honest, conscientious, intelligent and critical. The Dry is form-imposing rather than yielding (Wet), so the King of Wands tends to be strong-willed, commanding, confident in his plans and intolerant of weakness.

The King of Wands lacks both the Cold and Wet qualities. Without the Cold (urge to relate) to temper the Hot, and without the Wet (flexibility) to temper the Dry, he may be unyielding, inflexible, intolerant, severe and dogmatic.

Image: Hephaistos as Lord of Fire. Dressed in a golden khiton (tunic), a ruddy Hephaistos works with his hammer and tongs against a background glowing orange light from the forges. He has a thick, red beard.

Commentary: Hephaistos is Lord of Fire because, as the Smith, he is the creative God. It can be argued that Prometheus should be Lord of Fire because (1) he brought fire to humankind, (2) he is creative, (3) he is pre-Olympian, like Hestia, the Lady of Fire, amd (4) he is more properly the wellspring of creative inspiration. In truth, Prometheus and Hephaistos are alter-egos, the latter's creativity being more technological than the Titan's. Thus Hephaistos seems to be the Lord of Fire for our age. See 14.Devil for more on Hephaistos and 12.Hanged Man (Second of Wands) for more on Prometheus.

Rex Gladiorum (Swords) - Imparting Understanding

The Fire (Hot>Dry) of the King operates on the Air (Wet>Hot) of the Swords. Since Fire overcomes Air, the effect of the King prevails over that of the Swords, and the King of Swords is dominated by discrimination (Hot) and authority (Dry). As a consequence, he has a sharp, analytical mind and is perceptive, clever, strong-willed, courageous, authoritative, judgmental, and just. The Wet quality imparts some fluidity to his ideas, and helps him to be intellectually nimble. Since Wetness is a quality of Air, the King of Swords is more idea-oriented compared to the King of Wands, who is more action-oriented; they are otherwise quite similar due to the prevalence of Fire in their makeup.

Since the King of Swords lacks Coldness, which counteracts the separating force of the Hot, he has little inclination to relate to others. Thus he may be domineering, selfish, remote, hard-hearted, ruthless, cruel and even sadistic.

Image: Zeus as Lord of Air. He sits enthroned among the clouds in the sky; he wears a golden himation (toga) and aims a golden keraunos (thunderbolt) down through the clouds. His beard is dark with a blue tint. An eagle perches on the back of his throne.

Commentary: Zeus is Lord of Air because of his role as Storm God, ruler of the Olympian heights. His beard and eyebrows are traditionally described as "blue." See 3.Emperor for more on Zeus.

Rex Poculorum (Cups) - Imparting Openness

The Fire (Hot>Dry) of the King operates on the Water (Cold>Wet) of the Cups. Since Fire and Water are opposites, neither overcomes the other, so there is an unstable balance between them, and context may cause the balance to shift one way or the other. Nevertheless, the balance, when achieved, represents the Fiery Water, which is the second form of the integrated psyche - the goal of the Great Work. (The other form is manifested by the Queen of Wands.)

The King of Cups is an authority in the realm of feeling and emotion, which means he may be a counsellor or an artist. If the Kingly qualities (Hotness and Dryness) predominate, then he will be inclined to impose his own forms on other people (counsellor) and on things (artist). If the qualities of Cups (Coldness and Wetness) predominate, then he will tend to be more empathic and accommodating. In excessive cases he may be violent (Hot), manipulative (Dry), indecisive (Cold) and weak (Wet).

Image: Poseidon as Lord of Water. He sits enthroned in the depths of the blue-green sea. He wears a yellow himation (toga) and holds a golden trident. His beard is dark, with a green tint.

Commentary: Poseidon is Lord of Water because he rules the ocean's depths and the subconscious, the font of the emotions (suit of Cups). See 17.Luna (Second of the Cup) for more on the Ocean of the Subconscious; see also 4.High Priestess and 5.High Priest.

Rex Pentaculorum (Pentacles) - Impetus to Effect

The Fire (Hot>Dry) of the King operates on the Earth (Dry>Cold) of the Pentacles. Since Earth overcomes Fire, the effect of the Pentacles prevails over that of the King, and so materialism is the dominant influence. He is inclined to doing (Cold) and to doing it the way he wants (Dry); the Hot quality acts to increase his will and decisiveness.

Since the Cold (joining) of the Pentacles tends to prevail over the Hot (separating) of the King, the King of Pentacles is more inclined toward synthesis - making and doing things - than analysis - thinking about them. Therefore, he usually succeeds through experience, shrewdness and pragmatics, rather than through knowledge, sensitivity or creativity (Hot or Wet). When these qualities are not up to the task, he may try to compensate by unprincipled "realism," and as a consequence succumb to corruption or fraud. Furthermore, since the King of Pentacles lacks Wetness, he may lack the ability to conform to other people and situations. Thus he may be self-centered and stubborn and even seem stupid.

Image: Hades as Lord of Earth. He sits enthroned in a dark brown cave in the Underworld. He wears a dark, golden himation (toga) and holds a scepter. His beard is dark brown.

Commentary: Hades is Lord of Earth because he rules the Underworld, which consumes all things, and because he is Pluto (Plouton), Lord of the Earth, which is the source of all wealth (ploutos). Although not a dweller on Olympos, Hades was one of the three Olympian brothers (with Zeus and Poseidon) who divided sovereignty of the world among themselves. See 13.Death for more on Hades.

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Last update: Thu Aug 15 17:46:32 EDT 1996