The Minor Arcana ~ Swords

Hover over the cards to read their properties.

Swords correspond to the element of Air – being invisible, it was believed to be the breath of spirit. Without air, we are not conscious and without consciousness, we have no sense of identity.


Air symbolizes the realm of the conscious mind, the faculties of abstract thought and conceptualization of ideas.


Swords represent the development of the rational faculty in both its light and dark forms – through quarrels, conflicts, and separations that thoughts and words can provoke, and yet also through the clarity and understanding that the mind can offer.


The Sword is a double cutting edge.  It can show the ambivalent power of the mind, which can pierce the most unfathomable object or situation with its discernment, yet it can also cut and sever with its inflexible edge.

Ace of Swords

Ideas; power of the mind.

New perception emerges out of a seemingly chaotic situation and may be accompanied by a strong feeling of mental anxiety.

The energy of discrimination and discernment.

The beginning of inevitable changes that will shake the complacency of any situation.

Old order is threatened which may cause conflict and separation.

2 of Swords

Beginning of analysis or the need to face an unpleasant reality of the situation.

An attempt to gain mental balance and peace of mind.

A truce to a previous conflict is established.

Polarized thinking; mine/yours, this/that, good/bad.

Avoiding the real issue by hiding behind the status quo. Clarification of something previously controversial or contradictory. Blocked emotions.

3 of Swords

Separation; lines have been drawn.

Painful perceptions causing feelings of helplessness or loneliness.

Suffering from a heartbreak and emotional upset due to disappointments in life.

Quarrels, separation, or end of a relationship.

Intellect that needs to be tempered with emotion.

Truth that pierces the heart. Self–pity. Jealousy.

4 of Swords

Peace; stable boundaries.

A pause in which nothing changes on its own. Good time for reviewing current status.

Peace of mind is needed; may need to calm the mind of mental chatter or seek the help of another.

Illness due to stress.

Trapped by rigid concepts or intellectual stagnation.

Acceptance of solitude is necessary to reorganize the thoughts and reflect on the past conflicts.

5 of Swords

Intellectual Crisis.

A passive endurance of a negative experience allows the acceptance of limitations.

The need to give aggressive impulses an appropriate form of expression.

Conflict with harsh words or power plays.

An empty victory using unfair means, no-win situation.

Swallow pride and proceed in a new direction. Defenses have been penetrated. Time to develop new means of action.

6 of Swords


New insights help to overcome old problems often leading to unconventional solutions. Feeling burdened with responsibilities, but doing the right thing to solve them.

A keen ability to analyze and objectify information in order to explain to others.

Solving problems by distancing one’s self in order to gain perspective and see both sides of the dilemma. A release of tension and anxiety after a period of strain.

A journey or short trip.

7 of Swords

Leap of Commitment

Inner doubt and indecisiveness cause the refusal to confront certain perceptions.

Shrinking away from conflict. Passive aggressive tactics.

Creating a plan of action using evasive tactics. Good time to use brain instead of brawn. May be in danger of being taken advantage of, or you might be the one using underhanded techniques.

Craftiness or cunning ability to get what is needed.

8 of Swords

Accepting Limitations – recognize blind spots.

Restlessness and confusion of thought distract and delay the course of action.
Bondage through fear of decision because the consequences of either choice do not want to be confronted.

Waiting to be rescued. Loss of power due to inner turmoil or depression.

Danger of getting stuck in old convictions, ideas, or self-denial.

The fear of fear is causing impotence instead of action.

9 of Swords

Self– made anguish. Nightmare card.

Negative thinking, feelings of guilt, fear, depression, and powerlessness cause one to brood rather than move forward.

Anger that leads to seclusion.

A sense of impending disaster which may be unfounded; the anxiety is far worse that the outcome.

Uncompassionate to the pain of another.

Too much thinking, which will either result in mental pain, illness, or insomnia.

10 of Swords

Resurgence of Intellect

An inevitable ending of a relationship, an attitude, or a false way of seeing a situation. Transcending old patterns of thought which have kept you stuck in a reality that no longer serves.

Feeling pinned down; the only escape is to resign and accept the change.

A struggle in which the ego has become too attached.

A new birth of hope born out of destruction.

Mastery of strife and division.

Page of Swords

Emerging Independent Understanding

Use of mental powers for clarity and objectification or impulsiveness and slander.

Warnings of jumping to conclusions or making rash decisions.

Experimentation or risk-taking that may lead to further difficulties.

A message of impending conflict, possibly due to gossip.

Knight of Swords

Vitality of Understanding

Erratic changes caused by sudden events that shake the complacency of any situation, usually to prove some point. Conflict centered on quarrels or differences of opinions.

Forcing ideas stubbornly, focused on intellectual pursuits while neglecting other facets of life.

In search of solutions to theoretical perceptions, however, without taking into account the feelings of others.

Ability to move in sync with changes and turbulence while allowing a broader concept of life to develop.

Queen of Swords

(Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)
An independent person who is intelligent, rational and tends to be cool in a crisis.

Experiences of sorrow lead to understanding the necessity of bearing pain silently and with courage. This allows for managing life’s difficulties.
Upholding the truth at the expense of others’ feelings.

Detachment from the emotions causes a feeling of frustration and isolation.
Clinging to an ideal that is too perfect for anyone to fulfill, while protecting vulnerability.

If the Queen stands for an event, there is a need to adopt strength during a difficult time by way of changing thoughts.

King of Swords

(Gemini, Libra, Aquarius)
An intelligent person in a position of authority who is wise and logical.

A calm person who dislikes displays of emotions or pleas for mercy; he judges harshly but with impeccable fairness.

Emotionally sterile with strong principles that lack any depth of feeling.

A tendency to be domineering, arrogant, and self–centered.

If the King stands for an event, one may be judged based on the facts of the situation and not the reasons why. Make intentional choices to ensure a positive outcome.