Gemini 2: second decan of Gemini, Nine of Swords

The tarot card for the second decan of Gemini is known as the Lord of Cruelty, or by the full title of Lord of Despair and Cruelty which is often more fitting. Crowley’s 777 gives the decan image description as “An eagle headed man, with a bow and arrow. Wears crowned steel helmet.”

The god form listed in the fragment 36 Airs of the Zodiac is the goddess Cybele, who is often shown accompanied by lions. Some of the mythology about her says that she was originally a hermaphrodite, both male and female in one body, but the other gods were jealous of the power this gave her and so they split her into two parts by striking off her male half, which died and was reborn as the god Attis, who as her twin flame of course eventually became her consort. Yet more cruelty and despair fills the tale as it is told that Attis castrated himself at his despair over having to marry another – or that Cybele does so herself at his apparent betrayal.

So for this image, I have them as twinned beings – one the eagle-headed man hunting with a bow described in 777 (and Picatrix), and the other as a lion-headed woman stabbing herself with a sword – both the suit of the card and the letter Zayin associated with Gemini. They stand back to back on a raised peak yet still cannot see their way out of the dark forest – a forest of pines referring to Attis, who in Ovid’s Metamorphoses transformed himself into a pine tree, and who represents the death of things in winter reborn in spring.

The decan ruler is bloodthirsty Mars. Here in Gemini these are the twin faces of Cruelty and Despair, the tarot Nine of Swords. They can be directed outward (Cruelty) or directed inward as self-cruelty, which often stems from Despair.

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