The Swords in Tarot: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Updated: Sep 8

Tarot Swords have a bad rep. A hard rep. Sorrow, jealousy, break ups, accidents and bad news of any kind can be announced by the Swords. It's not untrue. But as always with Tarot, it's not that simple. There is a lot of good and important messages brought by the Swords as well.

"Beautiful things are hard"

THE GOOD IN SWORDS

There is a strong polarity in the suit of Swords. There is polarity in all cards of course, but not all of them take it quite as far as they do. All the scariest cards of the minor arcana are Swords. Some of the most famous too, like the 3 of Swords, now a common image in pop culture. But does that card really mean? A break up? Jealousy? Maybe. But what about liberation, transition and revelation? That too.

The Swords make the suit of Air and therefore intelligence and rational thinking. No message and no truth is too harsh for them: Swords are all about facts and not about feelings. It can be hard to accept the whole truth sometimes but it is also the best way to progress and achieve growth.



Yes there is danger and violence present in the suit of Swords more than anywhere else in the deck. Some of these warnings are not to be taken lightly. But every warning is also a blessing: it is a chance to understand and possibly avoid hardship.

Nowhere in the deck is there so much clarity, courage and opportunities for growth.


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Ace & Royal Figures

The Ace of Swords and the royal figures are usually less feared than the 3 or 10 but they remain impressive cards and can be misunderstood.


The Ace of Swords is often a very beneficial card, which announces a good decision made and a victory to follow. It's not an easy decision but it is often a reasonable one, which will lead to progress and growth. In a conflict, it announces a clear victory for the sitter.

The Royal figures are mostly reflections of our intellect when they do not represent someone in particular. The Queen speaks of resilience. She is the ultimate survivor of our deck. She has endured more than anyone else. As a result, she keeps mostly to herself and does not trust easily. She is a fantastic ally and a terrible opponent.

The King of Swords speak of pure logic, he is a cold, unemotional figure and can represent the law or a higher authority.


The Knight of Swords is the most problematic and aggressive of all royal figures in the deck. Depending on your reading, he may be defending the sitter but he mostly carries warnings and potential for danger. He is the one figure of Swords whose reason and logic were defeated and whose anger took over. He is the mean words, the ugly fights, the things we can't take back. That's why he is a powerful warning.


2 to 10 = 9 Scary Cards

Most people dread the 3 and 10 of Swords like they would Death or the Tower. And let's be honest, these cards are never easy and don't announce the smoothest ride.

But we're not here to fear Tarot or paint an entire suit black. Swords have a message for us and yes sometimes it's going to be hard. Swords speak of hurt and growth. Because it is the suit of intelligence and clarity, it brings us answers and lessons to help us close a chapter and understand the meaning and value of a cycle in our life.

From the 2 of Swords telling you it is time to make an important decision and let go of denial or confusion to the 8 of Swords helping us realise we can choose to stay or leave (hello empowerment) to the 10 of Swords announcing the end of a difficult chapter, they all have something crucial we need to acknowledge.


Think of the suit of Swords as the really good friend who loves you, has your back and will not be afraid to tell it to you like it really is when you need to hear it. Sometimes you need to hurt someone's feelings a little bit to save them from further heartbreaks. That's what the Swords are for.

Want more about the Minor Arcana? Cups and Wands will follow soon. But the Pentacles are already waiting for you.


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