Tarot Card Meanings – The Swords
The Swords represent character, communication, thought and challenges.
Ace of Swords
New energy. Developing and following through on new projects. There may be some questions or uncertainties, but the sword will cut through the red tape. This card is sometimes thought to suggest surgery, and often thought to represent “the pen”. Therefore it is a particularly good omen for new projects involving writing. Though the card represents ambition and determination, it is also a card of fairness and justice.
Pretty much the direct opposite of the upright aspect. A bad omen for new projects. A lack of ambition. Difficulty focusing thoughts or making plans. A warning to avoid taking on too much. As this card often represents writing, reversed it may represent writer’s block, or lack of creativity. The need for compromise is indicated.
Two of Swords
Indecision. Compromise. A diplomat keeping the peace. Remaining neutral may cause internal conflict and doubt. Difficult decisions may be necessary. Think carefully, and get the opinions of others before deciding. Keeping the peace will be a short term task, and will lead to personal growth.
Lack of compromise. Breaking the peace. Taking sides. Perhaps even fueling the hostilities. Treachery, lies or phony people may also be suggested.
Three of Swords
An unhappy card. Swords through the heart, just as it appears. Heartache. Hurt feelings. Cruel and cutting words. Pent up anger or resentment, released. Relative to health, the Three of Swords suggests that surgery might be necessary. Traditionally, removal, absence, delay, division, separation, hatred, incompatibility.
While the upright Three of Swords suggests conclusion and clearing the air, reversed this card implies lingering pain and frustration. Perhaps the subject’s partner is blatantly unfaithful but they continue the unhappy relationship. A warning that this emotional torture must be confronted at some point, or it will only grow more severe. Traditionally, alienation, loneliness, insanity, confusion, disorder.
Awakening. Recovery, perhaps from illness or possibly from emotional trauma. The painful lessons learned will not be lost. Greater caution will be exercised in the future. The time for resting has passed, or perhaps rest is not possible at this time. Traditionally, circumspection, economy, caution, foresight, sympathy.
Five of Swords
Energy and determination overwhelm kindness. Victory at what cost? Are those former friends walking away beaten and intimidated? Short term victory that may result in long term loss. Depending on the context, possibly an indicator of abuse. A lesson that you can never win with some people, and sometimes you just have to walk away.
The reversal of this card does not really result in a reversal of the meaning. The outcome may be the same, or perhaps result in a deadlock. If victory is won, it may be a hollow victory haunted by regret. And similar battles are likely to continue. Making peace is the best alternative. Also, traditionally read as a bad omen for a new partnership or enterprise.
Six of Swords
Journeys by water. Perhaps for pleasure, but more likely the Six of Swords metaphorically suggests traveling away from previous confrontation and turmoil. The journey will take the subject to a place of greater harmony on the far shore. What is left behind is also significant… this card suggests moving on from naive or erroneous ideas toward a state of clearer understanding, improved communications and greater knowledge. Traditionally, expedience, passage, travel, voyage.
Unwilling or unable to leave the current situation behind. Feeling trapped or perhaps fearful of the journey. Communication problems. Misconceptions. Travel may be delayed or interrupted. Also, a warning of possible danger from water. Be wary of storms, flooding, children around swimming pools and other water hazards. Traditionally, confessions, disclosures, publicity, unwanted marriage proposals or declarations of love.
Seven of Swords
Gaining advantage by stealth. Taking calculated risks. Possibly spying or deceptiveness for strategic reasons. Sometimes an elopement is suggested. Often interpreted as a forthcoming journey overland, which may be made in secret. Also could suggest a clandestine affair.
Lack of confidence or perhaps guilt prevent risk taking. Possibly taking stock of previous actions and working to right past wrongs. Working for forgiveness. Also a warning to be wary of others secretly working to gain advantages.
Eight of Swords
Trapped. Imprisoned. The blindfold makes finding the way out difficult. But these swords and this blindfold are usually metaphorical. The blindfold may be self imposed. It may be fear or insecurity that is keeping the subject locked up in an unpleasant place. They may be overwhelmed with worries that prevent them from seeing the situation clearly. With boldness and courage, escape is possible. Depending on the question and the influences of the surrounding cards, however, the Eight of Swords in some cases may actually represent legal judgments resulting in imprisonment or injuries resulting in hospitalization. Traditionally, accident, calamity, bad news, violence, crisis, censure, conflict, illness.
Unfortunately, not a complete opposite. While small successes through hard work are suggested, it will require persistence and ingenuity to break free, and there will be ups and downs along the way. Traditionally, opposition, misfortune, danger, difficulty, overcoming past treachery.
Nine of Swords
Isolation. Depression. Negativity. Desperate sorrow. Bad dreams or trouble sleeping. Overwhelmed by worries. Though the problems are serious, it may be time to start looking for solutions rather than focusing on past events. Traditionally, delay, disappointment, despair. In some contexts this card is thought to suggest the possibility of miscarriage or death.
The struggle to overcome depression and pessimism. The flame of recovery could be starting to flicker. It may not be easy, but this reversal might signify the first and most difficult steps have been taken. Traditionally, struggle, doubt, shame, rumors, defiance.
Ten of Swords
A card of endings. Hopes dashed. A battle lost. Things are as bad as they can get. Not particularly a warning of physical injury, though. Betrayal, false friends, or a need to be alert for enemies may be suggested. Most likely, it is time to end this struggle, take stock and move on to new things.
Since things can’t get any worse, they are going to get better. Windfall profits or unexpected kindnesses may be received. However, gains and successes may be temporary. In reverse, this card means not entirely the opposite of it’s upright aspect. It may be a warning of ups and downs along the way for a time.
Page of Swords
Alertness. Readiness. Espionage or surveillance. Studying the situation. Possibly defensiveness. Awaiting something with expectation. Often this card foretells the coming of an important message regarding a difficult or complex issue. Perhaps the message contains the solution. In the upright, the news is often good. Also, note the sword carried by the Page. Caution with sharp objects such as scissors or knives is suggested.
Reversed, the Page is not someone to confide in. Often a liar or a gossip. Transitory communication problems are suggested. Errors in written documents, hesitation or difficulty speaking may occur. It may also represent someone who has been mistreated as a child and feels beaten down and insecure. Nevertheless, the Page reversed can be spiteful and cutting. This aspect also represents important news, but in this case it is less likely to be good.
Knight of Swords
Determination, will, perhaps anger. Leading a life and death charge into harms way. This Knight believes he is right. He is not prepared to accept less than victory. Although he is equipped with outstanding intelligence and wit, he must be on guard against impetuousness and impatience, which are his weaknesses. He craves action, and may be prone to start fights for the excitement of it. He is brave, but he can also be a bully. At his best, he may be the hero of the battle. At his worst, he may be the cause of the war. Upright, this warrior is hard to stop and is likely to win the victory.
When reversed, the Knight of Swords still strives for victory. But in this aspect, a dark side presents itself. Bravery may replaced by treachery, intelligence supplanted by cunning. The reversed knight may connive and backstab to have his way, or his revenge. The reversal could also indicate fatigue or futility, a letdown following his explosive charge. Depending on the context of the reading, this card reversed may also be interpreted as impending troubles with air travel.
Queen of Swords
A woman who has been tempered by loss and sorrow. A strong, honorable, independent person. Demanding of herself, she is intolerant of others who are less demanding of themselves. Meeting her expectations may be difficult. Highly intelligent, she generously shares her knowledge. A great communicator of logic and fact. Behind her cold exterior, her intentions are good. But she can be hard to get close to. Traditionally, sadness, separation, widowhood.
The reversed Queen of Swords is not altogether the opposite, but her sorrows and disappointments may have left her bitter. Her intentions may not be so honorable as when upright. She might take solace in watching others endure sorrow. Her exceptional communication skills could be used to hurt others. Paradoxically, the reversed Queen could also suffer from problems communicating. When looking at health issues, respiratory problems due to allergy or pollution are possible. Traditionally, spitefulness, wickedness, maliciousness, deceit, vengeance.
King of Swords
Honest, strict, intelligent, the King of Swords is fair and balanced, but unyielding. When representing a person, he might be a judge, military officer, police officer or physician. Someone of high ethics who backs his words with actions. This card may suggest critical analysis of literary or legal documents, or technical writing. Traditionally, judgment, command, authority, law, militarism, power.
The reversed King of Swords may take strictness to the extreme. He may be unsympathetic, uncaring, heartless. Excessively harsh penalties could be based on anger or vindictiveness. Possibly blind conservatism that blocks progress. In some cases, this curmudgeonly behavior might be a result of oncoming senility. Uncertainty or inability to make decisions could also be suggested. Traditionally, cruelty, perversity, inhumanity, barbarity, evil intentions.