Six of Swords Tarot Card Meaning

six of swords tarot card meaning

6 of Swords


Experiencing a Low-Level Sadness, Starting to Cope, Getting Over a Tough Time, Seeing the Light at the End of the Tunnel, Heading Toward a More Positive Place, Tension and Strain Followed by Harmonious Conditions., Functioning…But Not Much More, Being Uprooted, An Attempt to Improve Circumstances, Beginning to Get your Health Back, Moving Away from Conflict either Emotionally or Physically, Passage Away from Sorrow, Objective, Logical and Rational Thinking, Entering into a New Frame of Mind, Attempt at Escaping Problems, Situation Improves, Picking Up the Pieces, Moving On, The Solution of Current Problems, Gradual Change, Harmony will Prevail, Change is Coming for the Better, Moving Out of a Stressful Situation, Represents Travel, A Change of Location.


Feeling Despondent and Powerless to affect Change, No Solutions to Troubles, Stalemate, Hard Times Coming, Moving into Rough Waters, Developments that are Unexpected, Need for Continuing Effort and Strength, No Progress, No Way Out of Present Obstacles or Difficulties, No Change, Being Caught in a Vicious Cycle of Worry., Once One Obstacle is Surmounted Another Presents itself, Delay in travel.

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Brianna Stoker

This card depicts a small ferry boat being guided away from the shore by a man with his back to us. In front of him sits a woman, also with her back to us, her head bowed. Sitting next to her a small child. Six swords have been stuck on the boat, their hilts towering above the woman and child’s heads. The immediate impression is one of a sorrowful departure. The the card has a strong sense of defeat and failure about it. An obvious interpretation would be to see the three figures as a family who have been turned out of their home. The card may represent a Notice to Quit or and Eviction Order. However, notice the Swords stuck in the boat that they are carrying with them. Remember that Swords are, among other things, a suit concerned with learning and understanding. While there is a sense of defeat and failure, the Swords indicate that the family, or person, or querent, has learned some hard lessons. While there is a sense of defeat and failure about the departure of the ferry boat, there is also a strong sense of sorrow. Perhaps the place or situation the querent has been forced to leave was, for the most part a happy one, that has, for some reason, turned sour. There is also a sense of drudgery. Someone having to trudge on through life with little hope of finding happiness or success. Perhaps trudging on searching for a quiet haven that never seems to appear. The card may represent a sad farewell at a bus station or airport. Maybe forced to leave everything you care about behind. May mean departing under a cloud. Perhaps dismissed from a job, disbarred from the legal profession because of malpractice.

Again, the reversed card doesn’t present and obvious interpretation. While the figures represented in the picture still have their backs to us on reversal, one could hardly interpret it as a triumphant or happy departure. The elements of sadness, defeat, and failure still persist strongly in the reversed card, so it seems to make sense to interpret the reversed card as a return from somewhere, or some situation. But certainly a sorrowful return. The reversed card indicates returning with one’s tail between one’s legs as it were. You head off to Hollywood, full of hopes and dreams about becoming a big star, only to return some time later penniless, hungry, and disillusioned. The prodigal son parable springs to mind. There may be a sense of returning somewhere that has a lot of happy memories, only to find that, say, the little cafe on the beach where you first fell in love is now demolished and replaced with a multi-storey car park. Certainly there is a feeling of disappointment in the reversed card. Perhaps even a double disappointment. The place you are returning from was a disappointment, and you return to where you started, only to find that there is no place for you there any more.

Tarot Goddess

Title: Lord of Earned Success
Element: Air
Zodiac Sign: Aquarius
Decan: Mercury in Aquarius; January 30 – February 8
Thumbnail Meaning: Success after anxiety and trouble; patience, labor, work.

The Six of Swords is one of the most pleasant cards in its suit. Granted, the suit of Swords includes cards of defeat, ruin, sorrow and cruelty, so that isn’t saying much.

In the Rider-Waite tarot, this card shows a man ferrying a woman and child across the water. The water to their right is choppy, while the water ahead of them is smooth. They have struggled on their journey, but they are heading towards a period of calm.

The Six of Swords is titled “The Lord of Earned Success.” It doesn’t imply a sudden end to all troubles. Earned success is exactly that––earned. The ferryman had to use ingenuity and skill to steer the boat through choppy water. Had he trusted in providence, they would have drowned. Because he persisted, they have come through the difficult patch.

This card is strongly associated with journeys by water.

Since the suit of Swords represents the element of air, this card can represent a transition, a “change in the winds,” which will benefit you if you work with it, instead of against it.

This card is associated with keen intelligence and analytical ability, balanced by a strong moral sense. People born with Mercury in Aquarius, from January 30 – February 8, are said to have sharp, analytical intellects. This card can therefore suggest a balanced approach to a problem: use your intelligence, work diligently and be patient.

Do not expect perpetual success. In the Rider-Waite tarot, the boat still has six swords stuck in the bottom of its bow. In the Alchemical tarot, three of the six are pointing at the ship. Earned success should be enjoyed, and the struggle should not be forgotten.

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