As you most certainly know by now,* today is February 29th. It’s one of those beautiful, wacky days that punctuate the cycles of our normal life and interrupt the monotony of the constant 365-day cycle. A couple of folk traditions surrounding this day involve the overturning of convention–most notably the Sadie Hawkins-like practice of women proposing to men (the scandal!) on February 29th. Because as we all know, it’s biologically impossible for a woman to have an active role in her own love life any other day of the year. Scientific fact, that is.
Since conventional wisdom dictates that today is about a violation of custom, I thought I’d take a minute to talk about my dear friend the Page of Swords. This is a card that I struggled with quite a bit when I was first learning Tarot, but it’s now one of my favorites, and I smile each time I see it turn up in a reading.
The Page of Swords is an innovator. She’s a little off-kelter, a mad scientist with messy hair who goes running up to a mountaintop in the middle of a thunderstorm (waving around an épée, no less) because she wants to know what it feels like to be struck be lightning. I tend to imagine her as a young, female Doc Brown (from Back to the Future), bent over her father’s Delorean and tinkering with the fan belt; sleeves of her once-white lab coat pushed up to the elbows, revealing grease-smudged forearms and a nasty gash on one hand where she cut herself while working on the engine. She’ll get around to bandaging it soon, but she just wants to finish this one more thing first.
The Page of Swords can seem absent. She can seem kooky. At her worst, she can be a bit airheaded and even gossipy. But at her best, oh, boy, she is a force to be reckoned with. And no one ever sees her coming.
Combining the intellective power of the Swords with the manifestational** nature of the Pages, she’s able to approach problems from angles that other people would never have dreamed of. She’s the first one to ask, “Well, why don’t we try it this way?” She has no patience for outdated ways of thinking and acting, and she will never, ever accept a tradition as valid just because it’s tradition. This is a fiercely practical girl we’re dealing with, a precursor to the Queen, and she will never do anything (nor allow anyone else to do anything) without a damned good reason.
And yet, despite all that, the Page of Swords is never a trendsetter–not like her cousin in the suit of Wands. She has some of the best, freshest ideas to be found in Tarot, but people tend to overlook her. Why?
Well, for one thing, the Page of Swords is perhaps not so great with the social skills. She’s not exactly charismatic, and doesn’t understand other people’s emotions as well as she should. (The addition of a certain element of intuitive understanding is what distinguishes the Queen from the Page.) She’s much more comfortable sitting in a lab, or a library, or on top of the aforementioned thunderstormy mountain, than at a social gathering of any kind. So even though she’s one of the brightest minds around, she doesn’t always know how to make her ideas heard.
But secondly–and, I think, more importantly–the Page of Swords just doesn’t give enough of a damn to be a trendsetter. She knows her ideas are good. Why would she care if other people know, too? That doesn’t make them any more valid. Her zero-bullshit policy means that she never wastes her time on trying to get other people to do things her way, even if her way is better, because, well, other people are sometimes kind of dumb. And they’re not worth her energy.
An innovator but never the trendsetter. That’s the story of the Page of Swords, one of the unsung heroes of the Tarot. And it’s a crying shame, because she is awesome.
So what would the Page of Swords be doing on Leap Day? Sure, she might be tracking down some lucky guy and proposing to him. But more likely, I think she’ll be exploring a cave in Namibia, proving Fermat’s last theorem, or stealing weapons-grade plutonium for her flux capacitor. And none of us will ever be any the wiser about it.
*Because you’re a responsible adult who owns a calendar. I respect that about you.
**Yes, I made up some words. Sue me. It seemed appropriate to do so in a post about the fricking Page of Swords, who’s probably made up more words than you can hornswaggle. Once again, innovation is the theme of the day.