SWORDS tarot cards
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...The Swords are associated with conflict and strife -- both external and internal. These cards cut to the heart of a matter, revealing challenges such as illness, heartbreak, war, loss, and death. But they can also reveal truths we need to face in order to overcome obstacles and move forward, which is ultimately a positive thing.
When a Swords card turns up in your Tarot reading, it's likely you are facing a challenge, or will come into contact with a forceful person or situation. You may be on the verge of an argument or heartbreak, or you could be wrestling with the truth, mired in a legal battle, or stuck holding on to a rigid viewpoint. If you let them, the Swords cards can rid you of your denial and teach you valuable lessons.
The Swords cards are associated with the fall season and the Air element. They enhance the realm of the mind, of clarity and consciousness, and the sharp edge of truth. Because of their strong connection to truth, the Swords are also heavily associated with justice and fairness.
The suit of Swords in a classic Tarot deck consists of 14 cards, beginning with the Ace of Swords and progressing upward through the 10 of Swords, then concluding with the four Court cards, the Page, Knight, Queen and King of Swords.
This suit represents the rational mind and its ability to discriminate. Swords cut through things in order to pierce illusion, to differentiate between fantasy and reality.
In the image of this Ace, a single upraised sword represents your prime motive or guiding ideal -- the vision that guides you through life's changing fortunes with single-minded clarity.
The sword is sometimes shown piercing a silver and/or laurel crown, a symbol of optimism implying evolution, progress, a sense of hope and victory. It is occasionally shown pointed downwards -- a darker message, which refers to sacrifice, challenges and a critical environment.
...The Ace of Swords reversed suggests that you are not allowing yourself to see the one thing that matters most. You may be using reason to create rather than cut through obstacles.
Stop clinging to illusions. Look again at your biases, the preconceptions you bring to situations. Ask yourself how you could represent circumstances in a less self-serving manner and perhaps get a better outcome. Reexamine your perspective so you can help break down barriers.
The Two in this suit usually represents conflicting ideas or visions. These must be reconciled by communication in order to arrive in a harmonious place or to complete strategic negotiations. Mixed signals prevail.
While they may be appearing to try to communicate, opposite sides are missing each other entirely, with possibly drastic consequences. In the best case, a frank discussion would clear the air and serve both sides, but one cannot expect that in every instance where this card appears.
Traditionally, the Three of Swords signified separation or the breakup of a significant relationship, including the tragic emotions that come along with such an event. Some cards show the horizon filled with storm clouds and flashing lightning.
The positive side of this card would be the ending of draining or frustrating associations, to become free again. One message this card brings is to cut some things loose. In spite of sentimental memories and emotional attachments, we need to let go of relationships that either cannot live up to their promise or have outlived the pleasure and support we once found in them.
...The Three of Swords reversed suggests that a storm is clearing, feelings are mending, communication skills are improving, accusations and paranoia are diminishing. The necessity of conflict seems to be draining away, a change that is worth being grateful for, even though some challenges may still arise from this episode.
A Four in this suit sends a message to take some time out, surrendering worldly concerns and retreating to a sheltered place of serenity away from the hustle and bustle. The oldest Tarot card images suggest a visit to the tombs of our ancestors, a place to contemplate your mortality and breathe in the dust of those who brought you here.
A vision quest or pilgrimage to one's own center allows us to contemplate our roots, values and goals. Here you will see your place in the flow of time ... and unfolding generations.
This suit, most often called "Wands" and sometimes called "Rods" or "Staves," represents initiative, ambition, drive and desire. This is the suit of enterprise and risk-taking.
The Five of this suit symbolizes struggles caused by ambitious maneuvering and a competitive urge. This could be about someone who is pushing his or her agenda forward at the expense of others.
There can be a fine line between demonstrating personal excellence and making others feel like losers. It may be necessary to ask yourself, who is it that really benefits when we all fight so hard for such small rewards? Am I serving a negative, manipulative agenda when I start applying battle metaphors to business?
Even when your only motive is to be the best you can be, it is understandable to want recognition for what is fine and unique about you. However, minimize the number of egos bruised in the process or your success will be celebrated alone.
The Six of this suit has generally been associated with the objectivity of scientific method, employed through the generations to sift fact from superstition, build facts into theories, and theories into laws which we can trust and use to improve our lives. One early title for this card was The Navigator -- one who has learned enough about the relation between the Earth and the heavens to be able to set a course across trackless oceans and arrive at a chosen spot on distant shores.
At the time of the first Tarot decks, this skill was considered akin to magic, so few were the individuals who understood the principles involved. So the person who draws this card is being typified as a person with special knowledge, an insight into sophisticated techniques that may be powerful enough to effect a rescue in a dangerous time. Other related titles that are common to this card are The Path (out of danger) and The Way Through.
The Seven of this suit typically refers to mental preparedness, acquired through the use of imagination, including the rehearsing and visualizing of desired results. This card represents the positive mental habits of a natural winner. The image most often associated with this card is that of a canny warrior who has infiltrated into the enemy camp on the eve of a fateful battle, checking out their preparations and stealing their swords. Such a move is guaranteed to demoralize the enemy and undermine their performance in the upcoming confrontation.
Putting it in modern terms, one who draws this card needs to work smarter, not harder. Think long and deep, study all the angles and put yourself in the shoes of your competition. As a result, you will have such a thorough grasp of the whole situation that there will be no surprises -- and no excuses for anything but success. Skillful preparation justifies the optimism of the natural winner.
Often called "The Test," the Eight of this suit usually pictures a warrior running the gauntlet, subjected to harsh examination, who finds out just how tough he or she is (or isn't) in the process. Life provides us with plenty of experiences that put us in situations of close scrutiny -- whether it's an entrance exam, a decisive job interview or even the tough conversations that follow upon a breach of trust in a close relationship.
Sometimes the challenge or obstacle course has nothing to do with other people, as when an inventor has to face the question "Does it really work?" or when the aspirant has to decide how badly he desires to go through some sort of initiation. This card shows what happens to that great idea in real time, where the rubber meets the road. The Test represents your chance to vindicate the time and energy spent in getting ready for a big moment. In most cases, you will either pass or fail, with little in the way of available middle ground.
The Nine of this suit has a special resonance with the Middle Ages, because it figures the plight of a woman who is alone in the world, during the centuries when women had no personal rights, no ability to inherit property or use the law in their own defense. We generally see her sitting up in bed weeping, grieving and in fear of abandonment because of her vulnerability, wondering what will happen to her now that her protector (father, brother, husband, or son) is gone.
The swords above her head may indicate that the loss has come through some cruel conflict, the outcome of which has left her behind as chattel, the spoils of war. Really what we are looking at is the price of pride, which creates losers as a side effect of glorifying winners. The woman in the picture represents the concerns of the heart, the damage to the soul and to vulnerable ones, when the ego-mind becomes so invested in control and domination that it does not count the human costs. A sensitive, subtle, heartfelt approach to nature (the "feminine") is trampled and thrown aside in service to a "winner takes all" mentality.
The Ten of this suit represents finality, the end of something. As is easy to grasp from the picture in many decks, there is no hope for revival here. A limit has been reached, a line has been crossed and there is no turning back. In some situations this may be felt as a tragic loss, but it often brings with it a paradoxical sense of release and closure. The waiting and wondering are over. There is no more ambiguity. You can rightly let go and move on, as there is no more progress to be made here.
Emotionally and psychologically, this card appears when one is exhausted and used up, burnt out by the effort of caring and responding and trying to make a difference. When a person feels this way, they have reached burnout and can no longer be held responsible for anything, and therefore can be forgiven for caving in or ceding the fight. The simple instructions are: "Go no further along these lines!"
This card is traditionally entitled The Page, but in some modern decks appears as a Princess. The traditional interpretation is about a messenger, an emissary or liaison between separate camps, charged with faithfully representing one side's communications to the other. Because of this role, we do not think of this person as a servant, but rather as a diplomat, facilitating sensitive negotiations, often under difficult conditions.
This person is acting as the eyes and ears of her patron, and so she is sometimes referred to as The Watchman. Even kings are powerless if this messenger chooses to use her access to sensitive information for her own gain, as is implied by her other name, The Spy.
She could even be working as a double agent, playing both sides against each other to serve her own agenda. Her title is really camouflage in itself, serving as protective coloration so she can move among the people unrecognized, collecting information anonymously. Her vigilance often conceals an ulterior motive. She is a watcher who must herself be watched, because she dreams of someday taking matters into her own hands, preempting the plans of her employers.
This card is traditionally entitled The Knight, but in some modern decks appears as The Prince. Traditionally, this card portrays the restless mind, aroused by thoughts of offense and defense, storming around searching for a target to pounce on. He often feels slighted, has a chip on his shoulder and bristles with a hostile attitude. His usual method is to look for someone to blame for his irritation.
Furthermore, in an attitude of righteousness, he may assign himself the job of correcting the offender. Jumping easily to conclusions, he shoots first, asks questions later and is therefore often guilty of overkill. This is not to say that he does not have his heroic side; a single-minded combativeness can have its value. However, even when he is doing the right thing, he is likely to be doing it for the wrong reasons. Apt advice for this card is to deeply question your motives for what you are thinking about doing. Forethought will assist you in discriminating between righteous and unrighteous causes. Control any traces of impulsive judgement!
Representing the energy of a Queen, this feminine power was traditionally known as a widow, crone or divorcee. In modern times, she can be viewed as a model of self-sufficiency, independence and intelligence. She often has extremely high standards due to her subtle sensitivities, which can be perceived by those around her as being critical or hard to please. Her true motive is to refine the world, to upgrade peoples' understanding -- so that everyone can have the space they need to become fully themselves.
She is not interested in conforming. She is too intelligent to be confined to the role of housewife or nursemaid, although she is perfectly competent in those areas. She chooses her associations (or her solitude), and is seldom caught up in dependent relationships -- at least not for long. Her intelligence is not always the most comfortable to be around, but she can be counted on to see through superficiality and point to the truth of a situation.
Traditionally, representing the energy of a King, this masculine energy form is The Adjudicator, the wise judge or mediator. He helps parties in conflict discover common ground and build upon it, and guides societies to see their greater good. His archetype is Solomon, ancient lawgiver and philosopher of the Old Testament. Sometimes appearing cool and detached, he can be misunderstood as not caring.
But emotional displays are just not his medium, nor is he moved by appeals to sympathy or pity. With the philosophical overview that comes from long experience, he listens deeply, watches closely and speaks last. In the end, his even-handedness and objectivity earn him the respect he receives from his community, and those who cannot work out their problems come to him voluntarily for advice.