Swords as Masculine and Mental Symbols

Let me start by saying that when I talk about swords as masculine symbols, I don’t mean only for men. It does too make sense! In the world of pyschology and symbolism, each of us has a masculine and feminine side.

Traditionally, masculine qualities associated with swords are strong, active and dynamic. It’s a can-do attitude, a driving force. Think of commercials for hardware stores.

As long as we’re building something together, why not think big? Like this:

Or this:

The symbol of the triangle or pyramid is another way of depicting the sword, or the masculine principle. It’s a rising up. An upward, outward movement. It points toward the sky and says “Yes we can!” It reaches for the stars and all kinds of other things. Don’t pretend you’re not totally thinking what I know you’re thinking, because yes, swords are phallic symbols. They’re long and shiny and pretty and they penetrate things.

In that sense, the sword is symbolic not only of masculine power, protection and strength, but also of fertility and life.

In Buddhism and the Tarot, the sword represents the sharpness of the mind. The mind has an incisive power to cut through chaos and see to the heart of things. We don’t use the phrase “sharpen the mind” for nothing. The swords is intellect and decisive action, which is symbolically associated with the masculine. (Don’t go getting all offended, ladies, we’ve got masculine sides too, remember?)

But strength, pleasure, fertility, building things, accomplishment—these are all very positive things. We haven’t discussed the destructive capacity of the sword, and it is a “double edged blade.”

We’ve already discussed that swords are sexy. They’re tempting. That power just calls to you, don’t pretend it doesn’t. Have you ever seen a sword and not secretly itched to go pick it up and swing it around a little? Please don’t say yes. We all know you’re lying.

Swords obviously have a very deadly, destructive aspect. They can represent tyranny, “might is right,” and outright brutality. A sword by itself usually doesn’t symbolize these dark things. It all depends on context, and who’s holding the weapon. When the goddess Kali holds a sword, it means destruction. Often it means the destruction of negative things, like ignorance and fear, but it can also mean destruction as a creative force, the way that death precedes rebirth, or a forest fire levels everything to make way for new growth.

Likewise, a penis can be used to dominate and intimidate as much as to give pleasure and life. Like-likewise, the intellect can be used to oppress people as much as to elevate them. But again, this usually depends on context. If the sword is held by a cruel character, it might mean tyranny. If the sword is sticking something or dripping blood you might be dealing with the “dark side.”

So in order to properly weild a sword, you have to learn to use it. Now we’re getting into the territory of the noble, knightly and chivalrous (knights of the round table stuff). You have to master your primal urges and your mind. Otherwise you’re just flinging a blade around and scaring the hell out of people. Just because you can swing a sword, doesn’t mean you’re a knight. A knight doesn’t go on the warpath because he’s got a long pointy thing. Neither does he go around sleeping with whatever damsels he wants because he’s got a long pointy thing. Neither does he let his mind go dull and ignorant, convinced he’s smart enough even without mental exercise. If you’re in the presence of someone who uses his sword poorly, you’re not in the presence of a knight. You’re in the presence of a killer. A knight can sometimes be a simple killer, but a simple killer can never be a knight.

That’s why discipline, training and even intellect are considered archetypal masculine traits. They create real warriors.


L. Marrick is an author, ghostwriter and suitcase entrepreneur, which is a hipster way of saying she travels and works from her laptop. She writes about archetypes, spirituality, and history at Mythraeum.com. Follow her on Twitter @LMarrick, and on Facebook.

© Leslie Hedrick 2015. The content of this article, except for quoted or linked source materials, is protected by copyright. Please contact the author at the above links to request usage.

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