Success after difficulties. A new hope. A journey.
The Six of Swords has the feeling of leaving something behind, sometimes with regret, and heading for better waters—perhaps safer waters.
There’s definitely the feeling of a movement from one place to another, usually towards something better.
A rite of passage might be indicated. It might show someone going to university or travelling for study.
You might be taking a leap into the unknown—the other cards present will indicate whether this is likely to be good or bad.
This card can often represent a journey over water or some sort of route being taken.
The sixes are harmonious cards, and this one can indicate success after difficult times—moving towards something better. A new hope is emerging after hard times; a positive change is coming.
The man is poling the boat, and the card can indicate the labour that’s necessary to complete a task. However, rest can also be indicated. Which figures are you drawn to in the reading, the man or the woman and child, and of course, take the other cards into account, too.
When reversed, the Six of Swords can mean the opposite to the upright meaning. It can mean a stalemate or a lack of movement.
There may be some sort of delay to a move you want to make, or perhaps the success is delayed or less than hoped for.
There could also be some sort of change in direction.
Reversed cards in general can show inner blocks, in this case the inner block may be related to moving forward or trying something new.
The Six of Swords shows a man poling a boat across a lake to a shore with trees. He appears to me moving from disturbed to calmer water. In the boat are a woman and a child.
The Steampunk Tarot shows an image of a young woman escaping to another place in an airship (in this case she could be literally flying over water). The Animal Totem tarot shows a squirrel-like animal leaping between trees over a river.
Many tarot decks rework the same basic imagery of the RWS deck.
The esoteric title of the Six of Swords is the Lord of Earned Success.
Astrologically, the Six of Swords is represented by Mercury in Aquarius.