Five of Swords Tarot Card Meanings

Pamela Colman Smith, 1909

Five of Swords Keywords: Conflict, Arguments, Defeat, Empty Victory

Five of Swords Tarot Card Description

A man with wild red hair, dressed in green and red, stands in the foreground. He is holding three swords. Two more swords lie on the ground at his feet. He is looking at two men walking away from him dejected. The water in the background is agitated. Jagged, grey clouds are looming overhead.

What the Five of Swords Means In A Tarot Reading

How you interpret this card will vary with each reading. Are you the man in the foreground holding the swords, or are you one of the dejected figures walking away? Don’t worry, this won’t be hard to figure out. Think about your situation, your question, and the surrounding cards to give you clues.

For me personally, this card invariably appears when I’m going to have an argument with my husband. It doesn’t matter which figure represents me in this situation as the message the card is conveying to me is that there will be no winner in this fight. Both of us are going to feel terrible afterwards. This is an argument that will not be worth having. There are times when it’s important to stand up for what’s right and for what you believe in, but this isn’t one of them. This fight isn’t important and who’s right or wrong isn’t important. If I’m the figure in the foreground, the one who wins the argument, I’ll immediately regret arguing with my husband when I see how awful and dejected he feels, and when I see how much he pulls away from me. If I’m represented by one of the figures walking away, I’ll feel that I need to put space between my husband and me, and I’ll regret the distance that is forming between us. Either way, we’ll both feel the strain on our friendship and closeness. This fight won’t clear the air. It’s a no-win situation.

Another reading of the Five of Swords is that you feel that others were born with more advantages than you. You believe that if you can just get what others have you will be happy. This leads you into conflict and disagreements. You overcompensate to hide your perceived deficiencies, but of course this alienates people, and you end up feeling even worse than before. This is the terrible sadness of the Five of Swords. On the one hand we see the man in the foreground almost smirking back at the retreating figures in the background, but we can also very strongly sense his regret that they are leaving him alone, that they have given up on him. We can really sense his desire to belong to the group and his regret over losing his friends. The message is the same as before – there can be no winners in this situation.

The worst outcomes of the Five of Swords aren’t inevitable, however. Take notice when this card appears. Remember that there will be no real winners in this fight. You have forewarning and can change the outcome.

Five of Swords Love and Relationships Tarot Meaning

As I said above, the Five of Swords often appears when my husband and I are going to fight about something that leaves both of us feeling dejected and depressed afterwards. These aren’t the sort of arguments that are resolved quickly, with one person perhaps conceding (usually reluctantly!) that the other person might have a point. In these arguments it doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, both parties suffer in the aftermath.

There’s also a small possibility that one person is cheating in the relationship. This should by no means be the first conclusion you reach when you see the Five of Swords in a relationship reading, but the possibility is there and it’s no harm to be aware of it.

Five of Swords Career Tarot Meaning

Expect conflict in the workplace. Someone isn’t playing fair. If this is you, then you need to consider your actions carefully or you risk alienating your colleagues. Or perhaps someone else in your workplace isn’t playing fair or is taking unfair advantage. Unfortunately, everyone is going to be left feeling bad after this episode, but it’s very possible that it’s a one-off and that all the people involved will find a way to move past it. Of course, if this card relates to bullying or harassment in the workplace, then that’s a different story. Bullying and harassment can never be tolerated. Follow whatever protocols are in place to get the issue resolved as soon as possible.

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