Five of Swords—Defeat & Loss

Key Meanings

Defeat. Loss. Anxiety.

Meaning of the Five of Swords

Five of Swords—Original RWSFive of Swords—Original RWS

The Five of Swords is about defeat, losing, and conflict. There’s some sort of trouble. Something has happened, and you’re disappointed with the results. Perhaps you’ve failed an exam or failed to get a job you want.

This card can also represent anxiety and tension.

Slandering and lies are also possible meanings. Someone may be gossiping. It can also show spiteful actions. The winner in the card may show arrogance at his victory.

Somebody may be unhappy with the peaceful and happy life of others.

In a relationship reading, the Five of Swords indicates tension and argument. If you are the apparent victor of such an argument, you should be aware that you may have also lost something. 

In a work reading, it could indicate any of the above, and it could also show that the work is hard and laborious.

The card shows a victor and two losers; the meaning is not always from the loser’s point of view. It’s possible that you are the victor, but that your victory is tinged with defeat. All is not well, despite winning. It could also be a warning that you should be careful to avoid conflict—that if you do choose to antagonize someone or some situation, it may not go well for you.

If you draw this card in the position of possible ‘help’ it might mean that you shouldn’t care about failure, or that you should pay special attention to avoid this.

On a daily reading, this card may just mean that your plans go awry. 


The Five of Swords Reversed

The reversed meaning can sometimes be the opposites of the upright meanings, but it can also show the same meaning but lessened. It could that your plans don’t work out.

There may be a testing of your abilities.

The energy may be internalized, and it may warn of self-destruction.

Perhaps the outlook will improve. Perhaps it’s still a warning, but it’s not as serious as in the upright meaning.


Images, Symbols, and More

In the RWS Five of Swords an apparent victor looks back in satisfaction at two defeated and unarmed men. He collects the swords with three in his arms and two lying by his feet. Beyond the men is a body of water being rippled by the wind. The clouds suggest that a storm has just passed.

Astrologically, the card represents Venus in Aquarius.

The esoteric title of the card is Lord of Defeat.

Read more tarot card meanings

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