Five of Swords Tarot Card Meaning

five of swords tarot card meaning

5 of Swords


Humiliation, Hollow Victory, Weakness, Degradation, Pettiness, Thinking of your Own Needs, This card Reflects a Confrontation that brings Pain to Both Parties, Selfishness, Turmoil, Slander, Knowing when to Admit Defeat, Gloating, Sabotage, Knowing of Criminal Activity, Dishonor, Limitations Acknowledged, Gossip, Creating ill will, Having an “Us-Against-Them” Mentality, Experiencing Conflict, Being in a Hostile Environment, Swallow Pride and Move out of Bad Situation, Knowing you Must Concentrate on Yourself, Indulging in Power Plays, Tricks, Winning by Unfair Means, Losing Sight of what is Right, , Failure, Cheats, Accept the Inevitable and Swallow Pride, Sacrificing Integrity, Negative Thoughts and Attitudes, Losing your Morals, Loss, Cruelty, You may be on the Receiving End, or Be the Perpetrator, Acting in your Own Self-Interest.


Willingness to Overcome Jealousy, Treachery is seen, End of Gossip , A Need to Watch Out for the Welfare of Others, Uncertain Outlook, Change of Loss or Defeat, Slander ending, A Burial, Willingness to Overcome Childishness, Indecision, A Lesser Chance of Loss or Defeat, You’re in a No-Win Situation, Fair Victory.

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Brianna Stoker

This card depicts a man, apparently the victor in a conflict, holding the spoils of his victory, namely three Swords. At his feet, two more swords lie on the ground, but in his domain and in his possession also. In the distance, two defeated figures stand with their backs turned toward the victor. The more distant figure appears to be weeping. Heavy gray clouds float over the lake in the distance. The image gives an immediate impression of a hollow victory. The struggle has been bitter, perhaps vicious, and one suspects that the defeated figures may once have been the victor’s friends. The victor has won, but at great cost to himself. There is a strong feeling of bitterness and betrayal, and that the conflict has resulted in bitter recriminations. There’s also a sense of a very high stakes conflict, where the winner takes all. As we are in the suit of Swords, there is a feeling that the conflict might be a bitter legal battle. Perhaps a disputed legacy which tears a family apart. Again, related to Swords, perhaps the conflict has to do with crime. The victor may be a con man who has befriended someone, perhaps a family, only to swindle them out of all their money at a later stage. This aspect would be strengthened in a coin-heavy spread. In the context of a cuppish spread, the card may indicate the breakdown of a friendship, relationship, or marriage amid bitter recriminations. It could indicate a victory in a divorce and or custody settlement that results in bitterness and hatred. (incidentally, such scenario would be Swordey, Cuppey, Coiney, and Wandey.)

The reversed card doesn’t give out an immediate obvious interpretation. The reversal may change a hollow victory into a completely empty, or even negative one. For example, after a bitter and expensive family legal dispute over the inheritance of a house, the victor wins the case, only to find that the house is mortgaged to the hilt, there are huge repair bills outstanding, and the structure is riddled with dry rot. Or perhaps a con man goes to great expense wining and dining a lady, only ever intending to get his hands on her jewels, and then to find where he tries to sell them that they are made of paste. An alternative way to interpret the reversal would be to assume that the card right-side-up indicates a victory for the querent, while up-side-down the card represents defeat. Perhaps imagine the querent to be the figure in the distance weeping rather than the victor with the spoils. Another alternative would be to say that far from being a hollow victory, the victory brings delight and satisfaction. The victor was never close or friends with defeated, he’s cleaned up and won everything, and couldn’t care less how the defeated feel about it.

Tarot Goddess

Title: Lord of Defeat
Element: Air
Zodiac Sign: Aquarius
Decan: Venus in Aquarius; January 20 – 29
Thumbnail Meaning: Failure, defeat, poverty, cruel cowardice, easy pity and quick hate.

This rather gloomy card represents defeat in all its forms, from abject failure to empty success. This card also represents “a busybody and separator of friends, hating to see peace and love between others.”

In the Rider-Waite tarot, the figure in the foreground picks up a sword, while smirking at the two dejected figures in the background. He has won, apparently at their expense. Clearly he is the “separator of friends” described above.

The suit of Swords represents the element of air. In the above picture, notice the jagged grey clouds in the sky. See how the man’s hair and clothing are blown back by the wind. The artist has even stippled the water in the background. The whole picture suggests a brewing storm.

This card’s five swords are sometimes shown as an inverted pentagram. The Thoth tarot uses this symbol, over a background of swastikas, to represent defeat.

5 of Swords from the Thoth tarot.

Rachel Pollack sums up the essence of this card: “Defeat with a sense of humiliation and weakness.”

All this is hard to swallow if you’re born between January 20th and 29th, but take comfort. Everyone is victorious and defeated in turn. If you can face defeat and learn from it, you’ll become a stronger person––no matter when you were born.

The Five of Swords can point to a weakness that makes defeat inevitable. Are you a chronic pessimist? (Of course not; you’re a realist.) Are you letting emotions override common sense? Planning to put a fox in charge of a henhouse? If so, this card may serve as one of many warnings to change tactics.

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