Tarot card meanings

Learn Tarot: The Suit of Swords

In the previous articles we have discussed how to quickly interpret the entire numbered series of the suit of Wands and Pentacles using the Story technique.

If you missed them, you can read them here:-

Suit of Wands

Suit of Pentacles

Today, we will delve into the suit of Swords and figure out its story.


What is the Story Technique? And Why Should You Use It?

The Story technique has been around ever since humans first thought about divining the future with the help of playing cards. It is based upon a simple fact: Tarot cards tell visual stories, like dreams, and must be interpreted likewise.

That is, you must look at the card’s image and interpret its meaning.

So your job is simple. Decipher the story relevant to your question, and make sense of the Tarot’s wisdom.

Let me show you how to do it with the help of the entire numbered series of the suit of Swords.

But before we can do that, we need to first understand what the suit of Swords stands for.


What is the Significance of the Minor Arcana Swords?

Arcana is the Latin term for secrets. And since Tarot tells us stories of life, every deck is divided into two parts called the Major and the Minor Arcanas (major and minor secrets of life).

Since life is a vast tapestry of experiences, the Minor Arcana is further divided into 4 suits to reveal the secrets of each of the 4 elements of life — Air, Water, Fire, and Earth.

All Tarot decks express this quadruplicity. But the Arcana suits are not always named the same in every deck.

Nevertheless, the most common ones are: Wands, Swords, Pentacles, and Cups.

So if your deck doesn’t have suits named after these, just figure out the corresponding element of your deck’s suits and you will be well on your way to mastering your deck.

Now back to Swords.

The suit of Swords is represented by the element Air. And therefore, reveals the secrets of the intellectual aspect of life.

Air represents our mind. Our ability to think and be conscious. Our motives and our strategies.

It is purely cerebral. And is a changeable element.

The natural opposite of Earth that is stable and unchangeable.

It can be playful and gentle like a breeze. Or raging and murderous like a storm.

That’s why the suit of Swords, which is based on this changeable element, is represented by the double-edged sword — the edge of a sharp mind that can cut through ignorance and bring enlightenment for the self and others, or can tip the individual in the confounding land of lunacy and mental illness.

Suit of Swords


Ace of Swords

When air is blown through the mouthpiece of a flute, it emerges as a single note of pure sound.

That is the essence of the Ace of Swords.

The Ace of Swords is the seed of Air. An idea that stops you dead in your tracks as you feel it illuminating your mind with possibilities.

It is the purest form of truth imaginable. Neither good nor evil. Just an unformed potential.

It is inspiration that strikes an artist in the form of a lovely muse. The unshackling of a dogmatic mind that is humbled by a simple, illuminating truth. And the initial, unformed dream that sparks revolutions.

ace of swords


Two of Swords

Fire and air are similar. Both wish to go everywhere. But while fire still manages to burn down a predominant path that holds fuel, air tends to flit and fly in every direction imaginable.

That’s the 2 of Swords — the card that follows the Ace and its illuminating, yet unformed idea.

The 2 of Swords is a card of crossroads. You can go either way, but the decision must be yours.

Unfortunately, like travelers who get stuck at crossroads (because they never set out with a clear plan), the 2 of Swords represents the dilemma we fall in when we are confronted by choices we are unable to make.

It represents the threshold we stand upon before we finally decide where to take our inspiration.

It is the state of limbo due to lack of clarity of where one wants to go. And it reveals an underlying refusal to acknowledge the scary truth that is staring us in the face because it digs into our emotional vulnerabilities.

two of swords


Three of Swords

Harsh words have the ability to shred our heart raw. So does the cold winter breeze that sneaks through the crevices of our protection to sting our warm skin.

That’s the essence of the 3 of Swords. The card of truth that hurts.

The truth that was staring at us all along, yet the one we did not choose to see at the crossroads.

The 3 of Swords is a card of heartbreak caused by reality or truth that cuts us so deep that we feel we will never survive it.

But we do.

We always do.

three of swords


Four of Swords

Trap air in a jar and it will go stale soon. What else can it do when there is no escape?

The 4 of Swords represents this wisdom. The need for rest after trying times.

The 4 of Swords is a card of rest and recuperation. The required time-out when you have been forced to acknowledge a harsh truth in life. Or when you need to grieve in isolation because your heart has been shredded to strips.

It is the burn-out that follows non-stop work without rest.

four of swords


Five of Swords

When one has been betrayed (or forced to see the truth), one seldom chooses to play fair.

That is the nature of the 5 of Swords.

The 5 of Swords is a card of victory at all costs. Nothing is sacred. Everything goes as long as victory is guaranteed.

It’s a card of ruthlessness. No mercy. No fair play.

five of swords


Six of Swords

The mind cannot function without rest. Nor can it function without analysis of its own nature.

We all ponder our place in this world. But we also ponder why we behave the way we do. And what we can do to change and improve.

That is the message of the 6 of Swords.

The 6 of Swords is a card of deep diving into our subconscious, and facing our demons. It is the exploration of unexplored territories of our mind. And the courage to face our true self, even if it scares or disgusts us.

six of swords


Seven of Swords

Ever seen air complain about small spaces? No. It always finds a way out by adapting to the situation.

That is the essence of the 7 of Swords.

The 7 of Swords represents manipulation and trickery. But it also represents the wisdom that going straight like an arrow (or a bull) can sometimes find you smashed by a wall.

As they say — “When nothing goes right, go left.”

seven of swords


Eight of Swords

They say freedom is a state of the mind. That one can be imprisoned in the highest security prison in the world, but still be free.


That’s where the 8 of Swords comes in.

The 8 of Swords follows the cunning of the 7 of Swords. But unlike the latter who makes a wise choice to take a different route to the goal, the 8 of Swords finds itself oppressed and trapped by her circumstances.

The only way out of this: believe that you are free.

That’s when the 8 realizes that she was never trapped in the first place. She just needed to stop overthinking things and figure out the smartest way out of the soup.

eight of swords


Nine of Swords

Like a double-edged sword, the mind can set you free (like in the 8 of Swords) or drag you further under.

That’s the 9 of Swords.

The 9 of Swords stands for nightmares and memories that haunt us. A mind that is fraying at the edges because it doesn’t want to face the guilt it feels ravaging through its memory lanes.

nine of swords


Ten of Swords

Sometimes we are dogmatic about our beliefs. We oppose all who try to show us a different way. And then we fall when the truth is forced down our throat like bitter poison.

The 10 of Swords represents this death of the mind.

The 10 of Swords is a card of anguish and despair. The phoenix that has burnt to a crisp and now lies dying in its half-turned ashes. The man who held a strong belief and now finds it shattered by a simple illumination.

But all is not lost yet.

Like the phoenix knows how to rise from its ashes, the 10 of Swords represents the nature of the mind to regenerate and rise anew with new beliefs and a different outlook.

It’s all in a day’s work!

ten of swords


Practice Makes Perfect: Download Your Free PDF Workbook

You can now practice what you have learnt by trying this technique comfortably at home.

Just download the PDF workbook, lay down the cards side-by-side, and get cracking.

If you are a member of the Exclusive Reader’s Club, you will find this guide in the special access folder.

If you are not a member, don’t fret! You can join for free and get instant access to the secret box of Tarot treasures containing this guide + more worksheets and books.

Sign up and get instant access!


Anyway, that’s it for today. I will see you all next time.

Have fun.

— Valeria.

Attribution: All images used in the keyword cards are from the Shadowscapes Tarot deck by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law. 





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