Suit Of Swords
The Suit of Swords is associated with air. Swords are cards of the mind. They’ve got seriously cool, calculated, and harsh vibes. The Suit of Swords is driven by thought, and often tends to deal with decision-making, intellectual pursuits, planning, and analyzing. I often think of each sword in a card as a thought. Many of the sword cards are glyphs for overthinking, madness, or thoughts in conflict. The Suit of Swords stands in contrast to the Suit of Cups, and suggests that choices are being made with the head over the heart.
Cut Through the Bullshit
Aces represents beginnings and the essence of the suit. Swords are intellect. The Ace of Swords is honest perception. Most of the other swords in tarot are held at an angle, to suggest logic tempered by flexibility or emotion. Not here. The Sword is held straight up and down. Whether you like it or not, the Ace of Swords is truth.
At its best, the Ace of Swords is when you know you are right. Sometimes this comes as an innate flash of knowledge. Sometimes it comes through research. Notice the dark clouds surrounding the sword without obstructing it. Assumptions and feelings do not factor in. This is a card for setting aside how you feel about an issue in favor of objectively recognizing what is actually happening. This isn’t intuition; it’s knowledge.
If the Ace of Swords comes for you at a time when you aren’t feeling this unbridled confidence in your judgment, then it’s time to cut through the conflicting feelings. The Ace of Swords is double-edged. Most likely the truth that you need to discover is about yourself.
You Have Two Options and Both of Them Are Bad
The Two of Swords is a crossroads. The woman in the card holds two knives crossed in front of her. The tide comes in. She is very still. She wears a blindfold that she could easily cut off. She might as well be stuck at a fork in the road.
The Two of Swords comes to you when you have a decision to make, and you really don’t want to. You don’t like either option. This whole situation just sucks. The blindfold, which this woman has willingly put on to avoid confronting what is in front of her, symbolizes denial. It’s an ableist metaphor; even blindfolded, you could still be considering your options, making a plan, or asking for help. Your vision is not the problem here—the situation and your lack of response to it is.
Whelp, you’re not going to like this, but the only way out of this situation is to pick a sword. Maybe you’re in denial, unable to think clearly, or honestly don’t know what the right choice is. Regardless, you’ve procrastinated long enough. Face the situation as objectively as you can. The problem isn’t going to go away just because you ignore it.
The Heartbreak Card
Ooof, I’m sorry. This is a rough one. The Three of Swords is the heartbreak card, pure and simple. Something has hit you like three swords through your chest. This is a card for breakups, grief, accidents, betrayal, difficult diagnoses, and disasters. Whatever happened, it has left you feeling broken, and you’re not sure how to put the pieces back together again.
In desperate times, sometimes all you can do is quote Robert Frost and remember that, “the best way out is always through.” This isn’t a heartbreak you can escape. You have to feel it. Accept that something deeply awful has happened. Express your pain, and eventually, you will be able to begin moving on. The danger of the Three of Swords is that you will absorb this pain into your identity. Let yourself feel deeply, but don’t get stuck here. There is joy to be felt again. There’s a lot more life to live.
If you are not feeling heartbroken right now, take a look around you. The card might be referring to someone else in your life who is feeling this way—perhaps coincidentally, but possibly because of your actions. Break any hearts recently?
Take a Break
A woman sleeps. She has set three of her swords aside for now. She holds one in her hands even while she sleeps, so she can return to the fray when she has recovered. Fours are about stabilization.
In a reading, the Four of Swords is telling you retreat and prepare for the next battle. You are in the midst of a challenge. It is of utmost importance that you take a moment to recharge your energy, so that you are better able to take on tomorrow’s challenge. If you, like me, are a type-A workaholic and find relaxing quite difficult, this card is even more important.
If the Four of Swords comes to you at a time when you are working too hard or in the midst of turmoil, you need to do whatever works the stress out of your body. For most, this is exercise followed by a good night’s sleep. Turn off your phone, go for a run, take a bath, go into nature, or spend a day reading in bed. Withdraw and recharge. You still have one sword in hand. You’ll return when you are ready.
You Won But You Were a Jerk About It
All fives show conflict or misery. In this case, the figure in the foreground has won. He has defeated his enemies and taken their swords. At first glance we see a victory, but that victory is hollow. He doesn’t need all those swords. He can’t even hold all of them! The unfortunate losers weep in the background. The man has won, but he was a jerk about it.
When the Five of Swords comes up for you, there is a conflict involved. If you identify with the figure in the foreground, you will win, but the cost will be heavy. You’ll probably feel quite mixed up about it at the end. Alternatively, you may be one of the crying figures in the background, in which case, someone is about to screw you over.
If conflict is brewing, maybe cut your losses now and leave the situation. No matter who wins, everyone is going to lose. If the conflict has already happened, you are likely starting to realize that you lost as much as or more than your opponent. The Five of Swords urges you to reevaluate why and if winning was worth it, and if not, to find a way to make it right.
The Refugee Card
The water behind the boat is choppy. The man in the boat moves forward, toward smoother waters and a brighter horizon. He is on a journey to a new land, leaving a difficult situation behind him.
When the Six of Swords comes up for you, you are likely in a bad situation, and need to make a difficult choice about whether to stay or leave. This card urges you to make a journey. Because this is a Sword card, we know that your choice should be made with the power of your logic and intellect.
Maybe you are in a bad relationship, or maybe it’s time for you to break ties with a situation that isn’t working. You might be considering a literal geographic move. I call the Six of Swords the refugee card because it makes me think of people who are forced to make the brave choice to leave their country to escape grave danger. The immediate repercussions of this choice will be difficult, but in the long term, you will be happier and safer in your new destination.
Watcha Gunna Do With All These Stolen Swords?
The Seven of Swords is a card of dishonesty, theft, and manipulation. This man has clearly stolen all these swords, and the figure in the window knows it. Are you planning something diabolical? Sneaking behind people’s backs? Hoping to go undetected?
Unfortunately, this card doesn’t tell you whether you will be caught or get away with it. In a reading, the intention of the Seven of Swords is to point out the deceitful nature of your action, not to predict the outcome. Be aware of the methods you are using to gain advantage and solve your problems. They will likely catch up with you eventually, and even if they don’t, is the cover-up and dishonesty worth it?
Alternatively, you may be a victim of someone else’s theft or plotting. If you really can’t find a way to connect with the thief in this card, then it’s time to look out for sneaky behavior in others. Someone you trust may be deceiving you.
You’re Not As Trapped As You Think You Are
A woman is blindfolded, bound, and caged by eight swords. She appears completely trapped by her restraints, but on closer inspection we see that this metaphorical trap is not inescapable. There is so much she could still do with limited sight and movement. She could yell for help, she could scheme her way out, or she could grab a sword. In her hands, any of the swords caging her would become an asset. She thinks she is out of options, but she isn’t.
The Eight of Swords is about feeling so deeply stuck that you have stopped looking for ways to save yourself. If you act, you’ll be forced to acknowledge that you have some power over this garbage situation, which is a hard thing to admit. This card makes me think of my experience with depression, where I found it difficult to pursue happiness and make choices that would have improved my situation.
Don’t waste time blaming yourself. There is probably a very good reason that you feel trapped. Shame will only increase your feelings of helplessness. What is important now is to recognize your power and cut yourself free.
The Nightmare Card
Nine swords surround the head of a woman who is overcome by mental anguish. Swords represent thoughts, so here we have a glyph for overthinking. The Nine of Swords rules anxiety, depression, chronic stress, insomnia, night terrors, and paranoia. When the Nine of Swords comes up for me, I always take it to mean the same thing: it’s in your head, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.
Crises of mental health and chronic stress are serious health problems that need to be dealt with. Your mental torment may be internal or stem from an external source such as trauma or a person intentionally gaslighting you. Regardless of the problem, your emotional prison is not helping. What you need to do now is break the anxiety loop.
The Eight of Swords teaches us that we are not as powerless as we feel. When the Nine of Swords comes, remember coping mechanisms that have worked for you in the past. Turn the swords away from yourself. I suggest reaching out for help from friends, family, community, or a mental health professional. Talking about what is going on will be the best way to get out of your own head.
The Rock Bottom Card
Well, clearly nothing good is happening here. This person is stabbed like a pincushion, and she doesn’t seem to be getting up any time soon. Generally, the Ten of Swords comes to us when we are hitting, or are about to hit, rock bottom.
If the Ten of Swords comes up for you, take a deep breath. Swords deal with the realm of the mind. Physically, you are probably okay. If this card is in the future position, you are being asked to take a good hard look at the path you are going down. Possibly, this event can be avoided, because the Ten of Swords is always a little bit our own fault.
If the Ten of Swords is unavoidable, or if it is already happening, then the good news is that the only way to go is up. As a ten, this card is the end of a cycle. It’s time to pull the swords out of your back. Let go of the identity of someone who has been entirely screwed over by life’s circumstances. Now that the worst has happened, you get a hard-won lesson, freedom, and the gift of moving on.
The Student of Ideas
The Page of Swords is all about ideas. He has a lot of energy and many areas to focus it on. He thirsts for knowledge and tirelessly pursues new information. The Page’s interests and pursuits might not be thought out or destined for success, but they will certainly be started with great enthusiasm.
If you are the Page of Swords, you are likely bursting with ideas. You may be starting a new project or career, or learning something new. Can you keep it up? The Page of Swords tends to have so many new ideas that his attention is spread thin. Don’t be discouraged by the first hardship or mistake. You’ll need more than new-thing energy to bring your new journey to completion.
If the Page of Swords is a person in your life, they are probably young, eager, and lacking experience. These people can be inspiring to be around, and hopefully reignite a zest for learning in you that may have fallen by the wayside. Sometimes, the Page of Swords can stand for an adult who never really managed to grow up all the way, has difficulty following through, and starts more things than they finish.
The One Who Rides With Great Momentum
The Knight of Swords races forward. They are a powerful figure full of strength, determination, and eagerness to overcome all obstacles. On the flip-side, this Knight is obsessed with making an idea reality, and this desire can make them unaware of the difficulties they may encounter and the potential consequences of their actions. They expect all obstacles to fall before them, and are unlikely to react gracefully if they do not.
If you are the Knight of Swords, you are likely focused on reaching a goal. What could possibly stand in your way? The Knight of Swords may signify that you are an unstoppable freight train of ambition on the fast track to success. It could also signify that you are cutting corners, charging forward without a plan, or refusing to see the potential negative impact of your valiant quest.
If the Knight of Swords comes up for you in a reading, take the time to consider if racing forward at full steam the best way to get where you want to go. Should you take a moment to pause and reconsider your plan of attack? Is there a possibility that this plan is dangerous, or shouldn’t be pursued at all?
Our Lady of Mental Clarity
The Queen of Swords is one badass bitch. She’s ready to cut through all the bullshit the world piles at her feet. Her decisions are based on logic. She takes emotional factors into account, but doesn’t deem them the most important part of the equation. This Queen brings truthfulness, clarity, self-awareness, and clear skies.
If the Queen of Swords is someone in your life, you can trust her. She will be honest when you need it. She may come off as cold and overly logical sometimes, but she will go to bat for what she believes is right and the people she cares about. Her right hand holds the sword straight up, representing her desire to cut to the truth. She opens her left hand to the world. She’s incredibly smart, and you’re never going to get one past her. She’s intimidating as hell, but she’s a friend who you want on your side.
If you are the Queen of Swords, it’s time to take on her noble virtues, even if they are not the most comfortable for you. Be honest and communicate clearly, putting your emotions aside when they do not improve the situation. Stand up for yourself and others.
Leadership Through Unbiased Judgement
If the King of Swords looks a little judgmental, that’s because he is. This King is skilled at cutting to the truth of a situation. While he is stern, he is also deeply ethical and trustworthy. Were he a politician, his strong moral code would make him impervious to corruption.
If the King of Swords is a person in your life, they are likely a fair and just leader. This King might be emotionally detached at times, but all his choices are guided by a desire to make things better for the community at large. I see this archetype a lot in fiction. He is the tough but-fair-police chief, the emotionally distant strong father figure, or the teacher who is a pain in your ass in a way that forces you to grow. In real life, I rarely see this combination of leadership, stern fairness, and good intentions.
If you are the King of Swords, you are likely in a position of power. Be fair, work hard, and selflessly serve your community. Often, this card suggests that you are in a situation where emotions just won’t serve you. For now at least, you may need to function seriously and logically in order to thrive.