The suit of Swords represents air or the mental aspects of our lives. It’s basically about ways of thinking and communicating, including truth, logical thinking, intellectual activity of all sorts, action, ambition, and often conflict.
The Ace of Swords from the original RWS deck.
Problems are often related to our perspective on an issue—our thinking towards situations often decides whether what looks like a problem is really a problem or not. Therefore, the mental suit of Swords often shows problems, and any glance through the suit of Swords will show that the situations shown are often dramatic ones.
Swords need to be handled carefully and are double-edge weapons, cutting in both ways. Some sword fighters talk about the three-edged sword (including the tip), so it becomes extra important to take care. The Sword of Truth can inadvertently injure; the use of logic, reason, and cutting words can hurt others (hurt ourselves sometimes, in the things we can tell ourselves or think repeatedly).
As with all the Minor Arcana, the swords are numbered cards representing the more everyday events and situations in our lives when related to thinking and communicating.
The swords court cards, as with other court cards, represent aspects of our personality, the people we will meet, or the situations we encounter. Again, the emphasis is on thought and communication.
In regular playing cards, swords are represented by spades.
Astrologically, Swords relate to the three air signs: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. If you know the meanings of these signs, then you can take many of typical characteristics of this element and can apply them to the suit of swords in tarot, too.
A new beginning in thinking or communication. Victory. Energy. Force. Clarity.
A conflict between head and heart. A refusal or inability to see or listen clearly. Indecision. A stalemate. A choice.
Loss. Sorrow. Pain. Separation. Hurt. Heartbreak.
Rest from strife. A break. Calm before the storm. Inspiration necessary when facing trouble. Contemplation. Retreat. Solitude.
Conflict. Loss. Victory tinged with defeat. Defeat tinged with victory. Winning at all costs.
The Six of Swords from the original RWS deck.
Moving away from trouble. Moving to calmer waters. Journey. Hope. Improving a situation.
Taking something. Theft. Strategy. Stealth. Manipulation. Doing what’s best for you. Partial success. Taking advantage of a situation.
Eight of Swords
Restriction. Failure to see clearly. Limiting beliefs. Allowing your thoughts to bind you to a situation. Without power.
Nine of Swords
Depression. Nightmares. Worry. Hopelessness. Regret. Inner conflict. Failure. Loneliness.
Ten of Swords
Beginnings and endings. Wishing for it to be all over. Pain. New hope through a painful experience. Death. Desolation. Loss. Betrayal. Unpleasant circumstances. Regeneration.
Page of Swords
Curious. Insightful. Impatient. Quick thinking. Self-confident. Blunt. Questioning. A new beginning in thinking or communication. Learning. Apprenticeship.
Knight of Swords
Active. Clever. Adventurous. Forceful. Hasty. Brave. Skillful. Applying ideas in the world. Good speaker.
Queen of Swords
Quick thinking. Observant. Confident. Subtle. Honest. Independent. Good judgement.
King of Swords
Powerful. Honest. Logical. Clear thinking. Perceptive. Fair. A good judge. Removing of emotion from the analysis of situations.
Bookmark and revisit this page, as I’ll be linking from this page to detailed pages for each of the tarot cards over the next few months.