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Five of Swords - Tarot Card Meanings

Key Symbolism


selfish behavior, using power over others, being mean, being greedy, thinking of your own needs, acting on self-interest, power plays, gloating, betrayal, defeat, deceit, winning at all costs, hostility, acting immorally, letting ends justify means, doing the wrong thing, to avoid a conflict, to give up, winning by surrendering, being hurt or hurting others.

Five of Swords tarot

Description and Symbolism


We see a scene with three men. One of the men seems to have taken or demanded the swords of the other men. He is wearing red and green, the colors representing passion and strength. He stands in the foreground complacently looking back at the others. He has two swords in his left hand and holds a third sword in his right. Two more swords lay on the ground next to him. The other two men have their backs turned to him, sadly leaving the scene. One of them seems to be crying over the loss. They are dressed in yellow, the color of the spiritual and intellect. In this case force has won over the intellect and spiritual. The sky looks turbulent and gray. A feeling comes up that what happened here wasn't quite fair.


General Meaning


The number five points to a conflict here. Five of Swords represents an unfair situation and someone using their power over others and acting in their self-interest. This could be yourself or someone around you - like a boss, your partner, someone in your family or a colleague at work. As an advice it can ask you to just walk away from a situation and accept that you cannot win. 

Love Meaning


In a love reading Five of Swords can represent that a person is only thinking of themselves. Maybe your partner is using unfair power plays on you, acts in a manipulative way, is lying or deceiving you for their own benefit. Five of Swords can also represent someone who is very good with words, using them to get what they want. It can also symbolize an argument where one of the persons involved wants to be the ‘winner’ at all costs. This card might also ask you to walk away from a relationship where you are treated unfairly - just like the men in the background. Since Five of Swords also deals with a defeat and walking away, it can also indicate a breakup or divorce where one of the parties is using unfair means.


As Feelings


If you ask how someone feels for you the Five of Swords can indicate that the person in question either feels like the man walking away in the picture or the man holding the swords. If you had a fight recently, they might feel like they have won or they proved you wrong. Another interpretation is that they feel kind of superior to you. This person might even be aware that they don't treat you fair, but they just do it anyways. If the person in question feels like the other men, they might feel like 'just walking away'. They might think: 'I don't want to fight anymore'. They might also feel hurt or disappointed because of something you did.

© Illustrations from the Radiant Rider-Waite 2015 reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems Inc., Stanford, CT 06902. c. 2015 by U.S. Games Systems Inc. All rights reserved.

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