Swords: ‘the suit of sorrow’
That’s how it’s described in The Secret Tarot, and it’s easy to see why.
Check these guys out:
Cards from the Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans
Not a pretty sight, and often when swords appear in our tarot readings they carry messages of heartache, worry and strife.
If you’re feeling really gutted about all those sad swords you got in your last reading, the thing to remember is that, although a swords card might be bringing you a difficult message, the minor arcana cards are moments in time. Everyday events in human lives, which can be incorporated and/or overcome.
The reason the swords can be so sorrowful is that they reflect the human mind. In The Collective Tarot, swords are feathers. In the Wildwood, they’re represented by arrows. All airy emblems, reinforcing the suit’s mental connotations. (More about suits and the four elements here.)
These are the cards of truth and intellect, of thoughts that go round in our heads. Of our principles and beliefs, insecurities, worries, doubts. There’s anger here, and cunning, and disappointment – emotions we often ‘feel’ with our minds.
Going deeper, they represent honesty and justice. An adherence to the truth. For example, the King of Swords prizes truth above all else – believing that justice is black and white and can be applied to everything. The Queen of Swords meanwhile derives strength from accepting both good and bad in their life, learning from their mistakes, facing up to their own personal truth.
From the Mary-el Tarot by Marie White
Besides, the swords cards are not all doom and gloom!
The Ace of Swords is a bolt of truth from the blue – a chance to see your situation from a completely new perspective, or a feeling that justice is being done.
The Page of Swords could be you starting a new course or going back to college. Or getting in touch with a childhood friend.
Even the gruesome Ten of Swords has a funny side – it’s so melodramatic that it does sometimes kinda say ‘come on, is it really that bad?’
The Two of Swords can mean wilful blindness – or it can mean an introspective period. So, too can the Four of Swords.
The Six of Swords can represent letting yourself be helped. Maybe you’ve got a lot on your mind – talk to a friend, let someone else take the wheel for a bit while you process your thoughts.
From the Shadowscapes Tarot, by Stephanie Piu-Mun Law
And even when they are just definitely gloomy, Swords can bring you helpful messages for moving forwards.
The Nine of Swords shows anxiety, for sure, but usually reminds me that things often seem worse in the middle of the night because I can’t take any action then. Worries grow in the small hours when it feels like there’s no way of overcoming them. Then, in the daylight, everything seems much easier. And I love Paige Zaferiou’s interpretation here.
The Nine of Swords, by Lyekka on DeviantArt
On the other hand of course, it could just be your own personal hell 🙁
The Eight of Swords says that you are your own worst enemy. A figure, blindfolded, surrounded by heavy swords feels she can’t move…but if the swords are all in her mind, she is free to walk away whenever she chooses. Her ties are not so tight.
The Five of Swords describes a situation where there are no winners. This could be the encouragement you need to reach out and make peace…or instead, walk away for good.
And then there’s everybody’s favourite:
The Three of Swords. OMGF. Heartbreak and woe. THE WORST. But wait! That heart is not bleeding! It continues to beat. How very strong it must be, then. You’re such a brave soldier.
Don’t let your mind be your own worst enemy. Laugh at it when you can – the swords and all the insecurity and strife they represent can be helpful, even when you think you don’t want to know.
And the bigger message? Seek the truth. Face the truth. Accept the truth…or change it.
Wow, those swords, eh.
PS – If you liked this post, here’s one about the pentacles cards: Magic stars: In praise of Pentacles.
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.