The Minor Arcana—The Suit of Swords

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.

The Key Meanings— Suit of Swords 

Ace of Swords

A new beginning in thinking or communication. Victory. Energy. Force. Clarity.

Two of Swords

A conflict between head and heart. A refusal or inability to see or listen clearly. Indecision. A stalemate. A choice.

Three of Swords

Loss. Sorrow. Pain. Separation. Hurt. Heartbreak.

Four of Swords

Rest from strife. A break. Calm before the storm. Inspiration necessary when facing trouble. Contemplation. Retreat. Solitude.

Five of Swords

Conflict. Loss. Victory tinged with defeat. Defeat tinged with victory. Winning at all costs.

The Six of Swords from the original RWS deck.

Six of Swords

Moving away from trouble. Moving to calmer waters. Journey. Hope. Improving a situation.

Seven of Swords

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.

Tarot Card Meanings

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