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The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

Rachel Clare
By Rachel Clare
March 27, 2022
The Meaning of Swords in Tarot
The Meaning of Swords in Tarot
TL;DREver wondered about the meaning of the Swords suit in tarot? Or more specifically the meaning of the Queen of Swords and what she represents in a career reading? Or perhaps, you have pulled the Three of Swords reversed and you would like to know how its meaning differs from its upright version.

Learning tarot does not need to be a challenge! While a tarot deck is seemingly complex with its 78 cards and two separate Arcanas, breaking the deck down into digestible chunks is an easy and effective way of learning tarot. In this article, learn about the Swords suit specifically and what it represents in the broader context of tarot. 

Swords Meaning in Tarot

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

The Swords suit in tarot is associated with mental activity, action, ambition and conflict. When this suit is present in a reading it reveals a person’s thoughts, attitudes and beliefs, usually in connection with plans for advancement in some way. Also, as swords themselves are double-edged, this suit symbolizes the careful balancing act between intellect and power - and how these factors can be involved in wrongdoing. The more negative aspects of the Swords suit (usually when Swords cards show up in reverse) include anger, abuse, a lack of compassion and generally challenging times surrounding a person. For these reasons, the Swords suit corresponds with the Winter season, a time fraught with struggles and obstacles. 

That being said, Swords can be an inherently positive suit too; they represent people who are intelligent, logical and quick-witted. Linked to the Air signs in the Zodiac, Swords symbolize effective communication and expansive thinking. When Swords cards are pulled for an individual in particular, this person is likely to be rational and experience the world by analysis. However, Swords individuals have a tendency to be ruthless, domineering and overly confrontational at times. 

When a tarot card reading is dominated by Swords cards, it is likely that the questioner has a lot of internal conflict, arguments or important decisions weighing on their mind. Swords can carry rather negative or very impactful messages, so people are sometimes wary of them in a reading. However, they should simply be taken as a warning to tread more cautiously in life at the present.

Swords Tarot Deck Order

All number cards in a tarot deck correspond to a certain meaning. For instance, threes in tarot represent group dynamics and collaborating as a team - and this message is similar for all threes throughout all four suits. However, when a card’s suit is factored into the equation, we see a more complete picture associated with the card. Listed below is a description of every card of the Swords suit in a tarot deck, with both their upright and reversed meaning. 

Ace of Swords

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

The Ace of Swords suggests a new beginning or fresh cycle in one’s life is about to take place. A positive and strong start, such as a new business, new career path or exciting love affair is indicated here. Whatever is in store for the questioner will occur suddenly and they will be unable to miss the opportunity presented.

Ace of Swords Reversed

The meaning for the upright version of this card still stands, but is slightly watered down. The sudden opportunity may not be quite as absorbing, but it will still spark a new cycle in life. The Ace of Swords reversed can also warn of a poor business decision or deceit from others. 

Two of Swords

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

With the Two of Swords, there is a sense of indecision hanging over the questioner as if they cannot see a clear way forwards. It indicates that there are two paths that need to be chosen from and the outcome will be very important. There is also a suspension in all matters and delays more generally with this card. The questioner can expect things to remain as they are for the time being.

Two of Swords Reversed

The indecision associated with the Two of Swords will linger for a while, but its reversal suggests that there is no need to be incapacitated by doubt. Things will sort themselves out eventually and the questioner should feel confident to move forwards with their plans.

Three of Swords

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

The Three of Swords usually symbolizes the end of a relationship or even perhaps the end of a job. In any case, the questioner can expect an ending of some sort to happen which may be challenging to deal with at the time. Sadly, this card comes with much heartache and loss, although it also shows a clearing of the old and the beginning of positive, fresh starts.

Three of Swords Reversed

However, when this card is reversed, it suggests that sadness and loss are passing quickly or that a toxic, draining relationship has come to an end. The benefits of this break up will also be felt very suddenly by the questioner. Ultimately, this loss is for the best, and healing is soon on its way.

Four of Swords

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

This card indicates recovery - either from physical or mental illness. If the questioner has been feeling depressed or unwell, they can feel assured that recovery is on the horizon. An alternative interpretation for the Four of Swords is that a questioner desperately needs to take a break from a stressful situation that has been weighing them down in recent weeks.

Four of Swords Reversed

When the Four of Swords is reversed, it suggests that recovery from illness or depression is not quite there yet; there are still physical or mental problems to be overcome yet. This card can also symbolize a person who is unwilling to take positive steps to hasten their recovery, perhaps even preferring to wallow in it for sympathy.

Five of Swords

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

The Five of Swords is quite an unpleasant card, showing conflict, arguments or even violence in some cases. Occasionally this card can represent inner conflict in which a person buries their anger and festers in feelings of resentment. Jealousy and spite may also surround the questioner.

Five of Swords Reversed

The problems highlighted by the upright version of this card still exist here, but they are passing quickly. Like a catastrophic storm, clearer skies always lie ahead. For the questioner, now is the time to pick up the pieces and move past this challenging situation.

Six of Swords

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

This card is one of journeys. Either a gradual movement away from choppy waters into calmer territory or quite literally travel taking place over water. The Six of Swords is often associated with physical travel and is a positive card. Whether the journey hinted at is literal or figurative, it will be positive and most beneficial.

Six of Swords Reversed

The Six of Swords reversed suggests that journeys or travel plans will be delayed for the time being. If this journey is of a spiritual or emotional nature, then this too will be delayed or incomplete. There are still problems that need identifying and sorting out by the questioner.

Seven of Swords

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

With this card comes the need to escape mounting problems for the questioner. However, this card can also mean a person looking to take the easy way out of things by not facing up to them. The questioner should be aware of theft or trickery which surrounds them now. 

Seven of Swords Reversed

The Seven of Swords in reverse indicates a person becoming grounded and adopting a more realistic view of life. This shows practicality and a person who is not afraid to face the truth. Any problems will soon find resolve, the questioner just needs to remember to stay pragmatic.

Eight of Swords

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

The Eight of Swords suggests an individual may feel utterly trapped and unable to change a situation - but the message is that they definitely can, they just need to be bold and take initiative. The chains of enslavement can easily be broken, but there is a sense of inertia and negativity, perhaps even self pity, preventing the questioner from progressing further.

Eight of Swords Reversed

The feelings of being trapped are slowly lifting. For the questioner, there will soon be an opportunity to find a way through present restrictions or limitations. The problem may not have disappeared yet, but the reversed Eight of Swords reminds us that it will.

Nine of Swords

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

The Nine of Swords is often representative of stress and anxiety. There may have been sleepless nights and feelings of despair for the person in question. That being said, the one positive point of this card is that the worries are usually greatly over-exaggerated in the mind of the worrier.

Nine of Swords Reversed 

The stress and anxiety associated with the upright version of this card is soon to pass when the Nine of Swords is pulled in reverse. The questioner should have faith that things will look a lot better soon. Often the worries of the mind are the biggest hurdle to recovery. 

Ten of Swords 

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

The Ten of Swords indicates being stabbed in the back or some sort of treachery, including being unkindly gossiped about. It can also represent a divorce, a job loss or being deceived by another. Either way, enforced and unhappy changes are likely ahead. 

Ten of Swords Reversed

This card still shows treachery, but of a lesser severity. There may be gossip or slander being thrown around about the questioner, but this is the end of a difficult cycle and positive new beginnings are beckoning.

Swords Court Cards Explained

The court cards (sometimes referred to as ‘character cards’) in the Swords suit are logical, hard-headed, analytical and communicative individuals. They have a tendency for conflict in their worst moments but at their best they make reliable figures to turn to when a problem arises. In other words, they are the authoritarians of all court cards in a tarot deck.

Page of Swords

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

The Page of Swords (sometimes referred to as the ‘Princess of Swords’) calls the questioner to watch out for new opportunities which may head their way soon. An opportunity is also not to be missed in connection with work and there may be the need to sign a contract soon. This card may also indicate a young person with plenty of character and zeal, although they might need to be reigned in a little.

Page of Swords Reversed

When the Page of Swords is reversed, the questioner can expect some spitefulness or childish behavior directed their way from someone. This card also calls people to be cautious of signing anything official as it may lead to trickery. Poor parenting and difficult children are also occasionally hinted at here.

Knight of Swords

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

With the Knight of Swords (sometimes called the ‘Prince of Swords’), there may be sudden changes or hasty decisions that need to be made by the questioner. They can also expect plenty of swift action after life feeling a bit stagnant for a while. The Knight also represents a young person or a person with a youthful attitude with a sharp intellect and analytical mind.

Knight of Swords Reversed

This card can be suggestive of an aggressive or belligerent young person who uses bullying to get what they want. This person does not care about others and will ride callously over feelings. Expect arguments and difficulties with a selfish, immature character when this card shows up in a reading.

Queen of Swords

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

The Queen of Swords often represents a woman with a difficult temperament. She (or he) may be cold and prickly to work with and rarely lets their emotions come to the surface. Naturally, some people may wrongly liken them for a nasty, cold-hearted person, but this isn’t actually accurate. They are simply dealing with a lot under the surface.

Queen of Swords Reversed

When the Queen of Swords is reversed, the woman (or man) in question actually is cold-hearted and ruthless. They may be found in business as a tyrannical boss who is not afraid to make others’ lives a misery due to their own feelings of inadequacy. Take this card as a warning.

King of Swords

The Meaning of Swords in Tarot

This card represents a man (or woman) whose professional services will soon be required, whether it’s a lawyer, a doctor or a business consultant of some sort. This figure will get the job done and will do it well, but they are unemotional at times and can be somewhat difficult to deal with. They are likely to be unforthcoming or very abrupt.

King of Swords Reversed

The King of Swords reversed is typically an angry and aggressive male character who is extremely difficult to handle. If the questioner is wondering if they have the right consultant or lawyer on board, this card would suggest not. Perhaps a second opinion is necessary here.

The Swords suit in tarot is linked to all things confrontational, courageous and powerful. Our sense of rationality is closely linked to the Swords suit and the Swords court cards represent formidable yet honest figures in our lives. Whether we are in the midst of a challenge or ambitiously preparing for the future, Swords cards provide both guidance and warning of obstacles lying ahead.

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