Minor Arcana - Swords - Part 1

Indigo Spirithawk

Minor Arcana - Swords - Part 1

The Spades in a regular playing card deck corresponds to Swords in the Tarot Deck. Swords represent the east or north, eagle, sylph, brown hair, brown eyes. They have to do with action, physical, working stages, change, force, movement, oppression, ambition, courage, trouble, and strife. They deal with the mental level of consciousness, thinking and intellectual. Swords mirror the quality of mind present in your thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs.


The suit of swords corresponds symbolically to the alchemy element of air (Aquarius, Libra, Gemini), the most ethereal element of the four. In this sense the swords represent the mind, the intellect, and rationality. In addition, the swords represent power and thus their two-edged appearance; intellect and power can be used for either good or ill and must be balanced by spirit and feeling.

 Swords represent action, both constructive and destructive. Many of the cards in this suit are fighting or in states of misfortune.  Sometimes this suit can also mean hatred, battle, and enemies. This is the suit of the warrior. Of all the suits, this one is considered to be the most powerful and dangerous. One can sense this by reading the above attributes of the card. Swords equals worldly power and sometimes violence.

Should the incidence of Swords be high in a reading, you may be quite correct to assume that the querent has many decisions or a decision has to be made. Also, there could be many arguments or even violence in his life at present. Don't be scared if a lot of swords appear in a reading. While swords represents a lot of negative aspects in a reading, swords serve as a warning to be careful and watch where you are going and to whom you deal with. That way we can use swords to our advantage and change things for the better.

The appearance of Sword cards is indicative of Winter or Spring, and months (as far as "time-telling" goes) in tarot reading.

Ace of Swords

Meaning Upright

The Ace of Swords augurs a new understanding of some issue that has been of concern, or the dawning of a new world view in the broader sense. The start of conflict or battle, cut to the chase, daybreak, new idea, seeing the light, first perception of the conscious mind, change, inspiration, original thinking, creative vision, discovery, force of life, moment of birth, cutting edge, pristine knowledge, illumination, transformation, communication, precision, raw power of the mind, free from restraint, cut through ignorance, first step, open mind, constructive power, fate, intuition, illumination, origin, enlightenment, progress, courage, power, keen intellect, glimmer of understanding, force of will, clarity, integrity are signaled when we see the Ace of Swords.

The Ace of Swords has the power of the King of Swords. The determination of the King is thus transferred. All that is endeavored will meet with success. Someone is going to express an interest in the work that you do, or have done...they could also express an interest in YOU. Conditions around the home front will be very tense and communication taut because everyone will be under some kind of pressure...so much so, that you will want to pack your bags and never return.

The Ace of Swords is often surgery or an injection, or the need to see a specialist. Clear thinking, clear the air, start at ground zero...that sort of thing. Think for yourself.

The Aces of all suits typically represent new beginnings or the inspiration of a new idea or feeling.  This card indicates the eruption of a new point of view, the inspiration of discovery or intellectual accomplishment. If you encounter this card in a reading, there is an indication that your intellectual life is either receiving too much or too little attention. Though there is great value in the inspiration and power of the mind, intellect must be tempered by compassion and spirit for its true value to be manifested. The two-edged sword cuts deeply in either direction, and a fine line must be walked to achieve the balance necessary for a healthy life.


The Ace of Swords is a card of great power and is thus a sign that temperance may be necessary.  This card signals strength, achievement, honest and ethics, judgment, self determination, championing causes, breakthrough, entrance of the knight on a white horse, release, new freedom, lifting of restraint, a beginning, breath of life, vitality, universal conscious, expansiveness, mind over matter, success, conquest, determination, triumph, determined, leadership, clear purpose, logic, reason, law, good judgment, decisiveness, center of attention, charisma, sexual vigor, fiery, cut away what's not needed , identify long term goals, dispelling illusions, lighting the dark places. The beginning of a conquest or victory. The birth of a child who could be a valiant leader. The ability to love and hate. When we see this card it indicates that someone is having a complete change of mind. It also represents the quest for total truth. It is a card of triumphs, victories and new beginnings. It can also mean the rebirth of something.



When we see the Ace of Swords reversed its telling us there is present; willfulness, a bully, pushiness, powerlessness, helplessness and hopelessness. Its saying  a person is victimized, threatened; that there are insurmountable problems, ignorance, confused, mental constraint, blocked, prejudice, tyranny, deliberate lie, verbal outburst, embarrassment, self destruction, disaster, obstacle, rejection.  There are extreme feelings regarding  the current situation and others surrounding you. Beware of trying to use too much power to gain an end. When we see this card reversed it is tell us there is confusion, exaggerated thought, violence destruction and the misuse of power. Depending on the surrounding card in the spread it can indicate a death.


 II of Swords

Meaning Upright

The II of Swords represents the contest which is in stalemate. There will be no loser or winner. The situation may represent the coming to terms with situations and compromises being made. In any case, the peace is once again achieved.  The person wants to move ahead without restriction, and wants a lover or romance. Expect a surprise in your business and personal affairs. The past is on its way out and a new element is about to emerge that will make the old way obsolete.

This is a card of choice, of the difficulty of indecision. The woman in this card is intentionally blinding herself in avoidance of a very difficult choice which must be made. Her avoidance brings her what appears to be a certain peace of mind, for she is very calm and seems somewhat relaxed despite the difficulty of her situation. Occasionally when we are face with difficult choices we attempt to hide from them and pretend to ourselves and others that if we ignore them long enough they will go away of their own accord. However, the decision will not leave us simply by our willing it to depart; the attempt to play at ignorance is not bliss. Our conscience will eventually force us into facing our refusal to deal directly with the situation.

If you encounter the II of Swords in a reading, there is the general indication that you are faced with a decision and that perhaps you are in a state of denial about the importance of your choice. Life's decisions are frequently quite difficult and raise the possibility of painful consequences, yet not to decide at all is a decision in itself. We must "take the bull by the horns" and make our decisions with our best intentions, fully aware of the possible consequences. The avoidance will ultimately only lead to a greater conflict in the end.


This card signals an alliance, a favorable friendship/mutual interest, suspending judgment, making peace, a choice made, a good time to resolve any outstanding differences.  It indicates an end to pain (physically and emotionally) and end to quarrels. Balance. Friendship during adversity. A decision has to be made logically. A balance between equally matched opponents. A duel. Blocked emotions. Tension. Holding in emotions. Defensiveness.


When we see this card it is telling us either we have or need courage. It portends a situation that is delicate and in precarious balance against adversity. It does indicate that differences will be resolved depending on the rest of the spread. Depending on the surrounding cards it can also mean peace restored, a truce, a weight off of someone's mind and relief. This card indicates a decision has to be made.



The II of Swords speaks in reverse of; release and movement in ones affairs but in  the wrong direction. It signals lies, treachery, and dishonor are evident. When we see this card in a spread reversed it talks of treachery, violence, willful misguidance and misleading advice either given or taken as well as trickery and deceit. Reversed II of Swords indicates a Betrayal.


III of Swords


Meaning Upright

The III of Swords is a painful card, it gives that "twang" in your heart: loss, sorrow, mourning that loss. You know something painful has happened or surfaced from the past and that it needs to be cleansed.

The III of Swords indicates that the situation may become mournful due to absence or removal of something that is valued. The coming period will be full of opposition and delays. You want your lover to come back; or you have run out of hope or stamina and need to see results before you can get out of the doldrums or start some thing new. Abortive attempts or delays are in your favor. New ideas or actions will replace old ones, and something better will be established that could not have happened otherwise. This needs being taken care of before you can go on. It is no use starting on new projects; this card practically speaks for itself.  It is a card of loss and difficulty, of sacrifice and broken relationships. It follows upon the difficult decision required in the II of Swords, where we are avoiding the necessity of making a tough choice. In the III of Swords, the choice has been made, and we are now experiencing the consequences of our action.

Often our choices involve choosing one good over another, or one evil over another, and thus when we've finally made our decision we are still left with the pain of losing the option we have not chosen. Frequently, however, the pain of losing something we once valued (such as a "comfortable" relationship in which we are no longer growing) is necessary in order to prepare us for a more fulfilling experience in the future. Absence. Sorrow. Disappointment. Strife. Removal. Dispersion. Diversion. Opposition. Separation. Delay. Betrayal. Abandonment. Rejection. A reversal of fortune. Sorrow, jealousy (unstable ground from beginning) reshape negative thinking. Disruptions. Heartache, ending of a relationship. Possibly a Three-way relationship where someone gets hurt. Acceptance of loss.

When we see this card we know the person is either feeling or going to experience great pain and sorrow. It can also mean that one has to use upheaval, destruction, discord and separation to achieve a positive end. This card like the picture indicates heart break, tears, strife and conflict. It symbolizes that something obsolete will be cleared away for better to come. From the pain something better is established.


The reversed  III of Swords indicates someone not willing to face the loss, and thus prolonging the pain. Denial of what is happening, so they need to turn the card around and deal with it. When this card appears reversed it indicates someone is going through spiritual and mental confusion. The pain begins to heal after the loss, loss is still present but the person is picking up the pieces. It represents a past loss, and depending on the other cards in the spread it can mean treachery and discord. Reversed this card indicates a broken truce, a war, quarrels and enmity. It also indicates mental and psychological disorder when reversed.

IV of Swords

Meaning Upright

This card, contrary to what might be its initial indication, is not a card of death. Rather, it is a card of solitude and the need to experience time apart from others to gather one's thoughts and feelings. Following upon the painful image of the III of Swords; the IV of Swords indicates our need to spend time alone to reevaluate our lives and situations. Solitude, although often difficult to bear, is necessary for us to be able to "recharge our batteries" and rejuvenate our spirits. Despite the fact that we often desire to get out into the world and interact with others to get our minds off our troubles, sometimes it is more beneficial to us to find a place apart and spend a little time by ourselves. This solitary experience always bears fruit in an experience of greater inner strength and confidence. If we are able to face ourselves directly and not run away from our difficulties we will ultimately become more alive and more aware of the good in our lives, and we will develop the inner strength necessary to cope more readily in the future.

The Four of Swords indicates a time when you can relax. Some actions may be abandoned during your retreat from the situation. The retreat maybe necessary to regroup your resources and conserve your energy. Your work environment will be very unpleasant due to tension you can cut with a knife. You will want to help or make amends with your family, but are at the end of your rope. This  card could also indicate a death if other cards or categories support it. Time for resting and retreat. There will soon be a change back to the active life. Solitude and quiet. Need to plan and think.Rest, recovery, working on a problem. Renewal through truce. Hospitals and people who work in hospitals. End to conflict. Recuperation. A need to retreat from troubles. A peaceful interlude. Preparation. Withdrawal, even for the purpose of recovery, can shut a person off from the world, creating a kind of spell only outside energy can break.

 When we see this card it can represent peace through arms depending on the spread. It is also a card representing rest after a battle if fought. It can also literally mean a tomb depending on the rest of the cards. And depending where it lies in a spread can mean relief from anxiety or sorrow.


Reversed this card means renewed activity. Caution to use discretion in all one's dealings. May indicate social unrest, perhaps a short illness. or temporary financial problems. minor misfortunes may occur. Reversed this card can mean banishment, enforced isolation, seclusion, imprisonment, cowardice, depression and failure of nerve.



V of Swords


Meaning Upright

The V of Swords represents conquest. If you have been aggressive in your struggles, perhaps you will soon accomplish your objectives. If you have been passive, however, your interests may be the ones which give in to the wishes of the opposing force. You will feel that there are more obstacles ahead, and won't want to face the ordeal you know you must if you are to have what you want or the way you want it. You're in for a struggle and there is more work or problems ahead than you're aware of now. The V of Swords represents conquest.

If you have been aggressive in your struggles, perhaps you will soon accomplish your objectives. If you have been passive, however, your interests may be the ones which give in to the wishes of the opposing force. You will feel that there are more obstacles ahead, and won't want to face the ordeal you know you must if you are to have what you want or the way you want it. You're in for a struggle and there is more work or problems ahead than you're aware of now. The V of Swords is a card representing ambition in the negative sense. Too much ambition without regard to the consequences to oneself or others results ultimately in a situation of loss for everyone. You, the  querent are coming to the Tarot for understanding, may be represented either by the callous winner or the dejected losers. In any case a negative connotation is encountered. If your focus is solely on winning your goals at any cost, you will eventually discover to your own dismay that the price of winning may not have been worth the reward.

This card shows a gloating and vindictive enemy taking the swords used in battle as the spoils of his victory. It often relates to a betrayal or sneak attack by someone the client trusts and does not suspect to be his enemy. It can refer to an unfaithful lover or a jealous person who sabotages the client behind his back. This card can also relate to vicious gossip and slander.

When next to cards relating to the past such as the V of Cups or the VI of Cups, it can mean the client still resents some slight he needs to forgive. Defeat. You need to learn about surrender and defeat. Failure, defeat, degradation. or conquest by unfair means. Cowardliness, cruelty, malice, empty victory. Tragic situation mourning. Smug and self-assured, the person the V of Swords talks about likes to stand out in a crowd. He probably is a very sharp dresser - at least when he thinks anyone might be looking. His hair may not stay as neat as his clothes, though, getting a little rumpled as the day wears on. When we see this card in a spread in addition to defeat it also represents; loss, failure, dishonor, a need to curb futile belligerence, accept the inevitable and swallow one's pride. It also speaks of negative attitudes and thoughts.



The client will be cleared and vindicated of any misunderstanding or gossip. The enemy will be revealed as a vicious troublemaker and no harm will come to the client. This can also refer to the client forgiving past wrongs.

The V of Swords reversed can indicate conflict in your life that you have tried to walk away from but which continues to follow you. For example, there may still be an ex in your life who is making things difficult and who may be preventing you from moving on to new relationships. At this point, it is best to return to the IV of Swords and put some time and space between those with whom you have conflict, and allow for some of the raw emotion to fade. When we see this card in reverse we know that it can mean paranoia, indecision, malice, spite or someone acting as such in your affairs.




VI of Sword

Meaning Upright

There are times when we are forced to let go of something to which we may have been attached, and the process of letting go is frequently quite difficult. However, the sadness of the "loss" will ultimately be replaced by greater clarity, the calmness of the water in the distance, which will bring about a new understanding and a new acceptance of the changes in our lives. Often when we experience what seems to be sadness or loss we are actually only experiencing the "birth pangs" of a brighter future and a more peaceful experience of life.

The VI of Swords represents the dull, listless state that can come over us from time to time. When we feel this way, we don't even want to get out of bed. In readings, the VI of Swords usually indicates a period of mild depression. Nothing is seriously wrong, but nothing is really right either. You're getting by, but not thriving.


The VI of Swords may be a time of peace and relaxation after a long time of struggle. There could be a journey involved. It will be necessary to apply all your energy toward the situation to get to this point in time. Problems with relationships, partnerships or personal property and want them to be resolved. The first step in correcting a problem is to acknowledge the fact that you have veered off your course, or are moving in the wrong direction and that recognition is enough to stop the momentum from continuing. Passage. You need to realize that you are now in a much better position in life. You endured a difficult transition and are now more able to deal with what may come.


This card is telling the person to change their beliefs about themselves, a trip will do you much good, journey, need for objectivity, moving away mentally or physically to view problems.  It is telling of coming out of a difficult experience and that you cannot dwell on the past. "The load is light" - problems become more acceptable, easier to carry. Functioning in a difficult situation without attacking the problems. Travel. Movement away from danger. Travel in company. Being with others in same circumstances. Immediate problems to be solved. A positive direction to go in. Fleeing to safety.


It is also a card representing gradual change as well as movement from eminent  danger and immediate difficulties. Depending on the spread it can mean the solving of current problems. This card can represent trips, a long journey to get away from something painful or obstacles that are overcome.



When we see this card reversed it saying  there is no immediate way out of present difficulties. A planned trip is postponed. You will stay where you are. This card reversed can also be telling us about unexpected developments in a situation, temporary relief from difficulties, need for continuing, effort and strength. It also implies when one obstacle is finished then there is another.

VII of Swords

Meaning Upright

This card is a card of deception and betrayal. It indicates the difficulty in life of trying to "get away with something." Often when we do something in secret, thinking we are safe and undiscovered, something goes awry and our secret is revealed to our

embarrassment. The card therefore augurs caution and circumspection when attempting to use cunning to gain an advantage. There is no question that there are times in life when it is necessary to act shrewdly or do something in secret, yet it is these times when our conscience must be particularly active. In the long run, deception does not produce the reward we desired and may in fact cause much damage to our relationships and reputation.


If you encounter the VII of Swords in a reading, it is an indication that caution and wisdom are necessary in the face of a temptation to achieve gain by dubious means. Sometimes the VII of Swords means that you are running from something - commitment, responsibility, hard work, love. You may be procrastinating, letting problems slip because you don't want to deal with them. Sometimes we just have to face what has to be faced. The VII of Swords lets you know when you might be making things worse by running away.

An unwise attempt to take what is not yours. Betrayal of confidence. Plan might fail. Fleeing from your wrongs. Sometimes the VII of Swords means that you are running from something - commitment, responsibility, hard work, love. You may be procrastinating, letting problems slip because you don't want to deal with them. Sometimes we just have to face what has to be faced. The VII of Swords lets you know when you might be making things worse by running away.

An unwise attempt to take what is not yours. Betrayal of confidence. Plan might fail. Fleeing from your wrongs. It also means negotiations that are tricky. When we see this card it can also mean sudden desires and impulsiveness. It is a card of caution if you are facing opposition. It can indicate a change of residence or job or both. It also implies if one is cunning one can beat their opposition.

Depending on the other cards surrounding it; VII of Swords can mean no real progress, through lack of progress.


The querent brings more to the situation than is required. A thief will return what was stolen from you. Possible wish fulfilled. It can also signify counsel and specific advice for a situation. This person shows reluctance to carry out daring actions when necessary. There is failure of nerve and reluctance to complete what was started.