Associated with the element of Air and the aspect of the mind, the suit of swords in the Tarot is often feared and misunderstood.
Many of these cards are intense, challenging, or difficult to process, forcing us to examine our mindsets or step back from something we want. And yet, when we look more closely at this suit, we can find real clarity and power within these cards, opportunities to more authentically understand the world around us as well as the ideas and instincts that dwell within us.
Keep an open mind, and you may find that this becomes one of your favorite suits instead of one that you dread working with.
The suit of swords is one of four suits in the Minor Arcana and includes numbered cards that go from ace to ten and four court cards. These cards are connected to the astrological element of Air, meaning that this suit is also linked to the three Air zodiac signs: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius.
Each of the four minor arcana suits is associated with an aspect of our humanity.
Swords represent the mind, while cups represent the heart, pentacles represent the body, and wands represent the soul. Swords help us understand how we receive, process, and use the information and how we solve problems and interact with the world around us.
In addition to Air and the mind, the suit of swords also represents truth, clarity, knowledge, communication, collaboration, expansion, and logical thinking.
Just like the astrological element of Air, it’s here that we explore intelligence and facts, rationality, quick movement, collective action, curiosity, innovation, and practical solutions. As we move through the suit of swords, we follow a powerful new insight or idea, see it expand and evolve, find ways to harness movement and growth, and wrestle with the ways that our minds can trick us or get caught up in one specific perspective.
When working with cards in the suit of swords, it’s important to remember that these cards often ask us to consider where we are coming from and how we are thinking through a situation or challenge:
- What biases are we bringing to our analysis?
- What mental traps are we stuck in?
- How can we expand our understanding of something, open ourselves up to new truths?
The pips (or numbered cards) in the suit of swords show us several ways that we can think about this energy, from protecting our minds with rest to moving away from harmful ideas, understanding where we are feeding our own anxieties, or coming to terms with ways that we may be blocking our own progress.
On the other hand, the court cards represent individuals who are learning how to best utilize the energy of the swords. The page is a child and student, someone who is just beginning their journey with curiosity and interest; the knight is an adolescent, eager to prove their talent and skill with actions; the queen is a master and ruler who teaches others how to use this element internally, and the king is a master and ruler who teaches others how to use this element externally.
These cards can represent the querent, a person in the querent’s life, or can offer advice on how to harness the energy of the suit of swords for themselves.
The Suit of Swords Tarot Card Descriptions
Below, I offer some simple interpretations of each of the fourteen cards in the suit of swords. You can combine these with your own research or intuitive ideas to develop personal, powerful understandings of each of these cards, but this will give you a place to begin.
Ace of Swords
Ace of Swords: A new realization or insight, a big idea, a truth that shifts your perspective in a way that cannot be undone. A racing mind, a new intellectual journey, mental clarity. The full potential of Air, the mind, and the suit of swords.
2 of Swords
2 of Swords: A mental block or important decision, a crossroads, a choice that must be made. Feeling stuck or uncertain, inactivity, blocked vision—a call to action.
3 of Swords
3 of Swords: A truth that catches us off guard, a shift in our understanding around a relationship, situation, or challenge that may cause us pain or frustration. Harsh words, hurt feelings, paranoia being confirmed.
4 of Swords
4 of Swords: A call to rest, setting up mental boundaries, protecting the mind. Stepping back from movement or building to prioritize personal healing. Recovery, restoration, reflection.
5 of Swords
5 of Swords: Unnecessary conflict, fighting for the sake of fighting, restless frustration. A determination to win a battle without remembering the larger goal. Overlooking the consequences of our actions and the ways that we may be harming others.
6 of Swords
6 of Swords: Moving on, leaving a bad situation behind, making the best of things. Traveling, escaping, a fresh start down a new path. Leaving our troubles behind. Finding freedom and purpose after a difficult period.
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7 of Swords
7 of Swords: Secrecy, lack of information, something that hasn’t yet been revealed. Uncertainty, hesitation, waiting for more details or insights before acting. Separating the self from others, worrying about who is trustworthy.
8 of Swords
8 of Swords: Mental traps, being locked into one perspective, feeling like you have no options. Making a choice to stay stuck rather than trying different solutions. Focusing on what isn’t possible. Giving up your power.
9 of Swords
9 of Swords: The darkest parts of the mind. Terror, insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, fears of the unknown. Letting our worries consume us. A need to take action or ask for help. Letting untruths or skewed perspectives spiral out of control.
10 of Swords
10 of Swords: A victim mindset. Rock bottom, a desire to give up, an unwillingness to view a situation from any perspective other than your own. Being consumed by anger, fear, or sorrow. Nowhere to go but up.
Page of Swords
Page of Swords: A child of Air with a beginner’s mind, intellectual curiosity, playful eagerness. An energetic explorer of ideas and theories. Youth, courage, and ability to think outside the box and challenge existing structures.
Knight of Swords
Knight of Swords: An adolescent of Air with strong convictions, brilliant insights, and a desire to prove their value and intelligence. Focused, obsessive, analytical, devoted to logic, sometimes at the expense of other things. Seeking balance. Rapid movement, confidence, determination.
Queen of Swords
Queen of Swords: A ruler of Air with an ability to cut through the confusion, prioritize truth, and set necessary boundaries. Insightful and clever, wise and witty. Discernment, honesty, trusting the courage of one’s convictions. Personal wisdom, not hiding from reality, intensely observant.
King of Swords
King of Swords: A ruler of Air with keen judgment and fair decision-making abilities. Hardworking problem-solver, calculating, intentionally detached. Values intelligence and logic over all else. Able to see all sides of a situation. Stands firm in their own authority.
Working With the Suit of Swords
It might feel overwhelming to work with the suit of swords, given that the themes and issues that they can bring up in readings are very real and very serious. But the mind is an important piece of who we are. These cards give us the space to recognize where we may be limiting our imagination, viewing things through too narrow a lens, or getting ourselves tangled up in an illogical worry.
Spend some time studying these cards, and consider how they can provide insights and encouragement, rather than simply inspiring fear.
Which cards in this suit make you the most uncomfortable, and why? When has the suit of swords help you find real clarity? How can readings that include cards from this suit help push you to reexamine something you may have been taking for granted?
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