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What Are the Meanings of Tarot Cards in the Suit of Swords?

Andrea has a background in Myers-Briggs and Western astrology. She mostly writes about relationships.

The Suit of Swords has to do with thoughts.

The Suit of Swords has to do with thoughts.

The Suit of Swords

The Suit of Swords is about thoughts and their consequences, intelligence, decisions (both good and bad), and learning how to deal with the blade.

The Swords suit also deals with the Divine. Many of the cards are surrounded by clouds and storms. Figures related to the supernatural appear in these cards, and a civilized reality of the highest power becomes clear—heaven. The brain is seeking to connect with something bigger; it has the power to interpret and produce language and to imagine immortality.

There are four suits in Tarot that make up the Minor Arcana.

  • Wands = Fire
  • Pentacles = Earth
  • Swords = Air
  • Cups = Water

A common deck of playing cards is based on the Tarot pips. The suits of playing cards are commonly referred to as clubs (wands), diamonds (pentacles), spades (swords), and hearts (cups). The attack and power cards (wands; swords) are black. The resource cards (pentacles; cups) are red.

  • Wands = Powers of Vitality
  • Pentacles = Manager of Resources
  • Swords = Powers of Thought
  • Cups = Matters of the Heart

Tarot and the Element of Air

The Major Arcana

The Major Arcana is composed of 22 cards. 21 of those cards are numbered. The Fool can be used for the number zero or 22. The Major Arcana has scenarios in it that are mysterious, powerful, and game-changing. The Major Arcana is said to belong to the element of ether; however, the cards can be broken down to fit one of the four main elements.

Five cards from the Major Arcana belong to the element of air: Fool, Magician, Lovers, Justice, and Star. It is worth considering how these five cards fit into the realm of air.

  • Many of the Minor Arcana cards have to do with Fools and making less informed decisions. When they accept the truth, the Fool can transform into the hero. Tarot, in a way, is about the hero's journey.
  • The magician seeks to be enlightened. This is someone who wants to manipulate the elements around them. This is a spiritual person who wants to go beyond their mortal confines. The magician can also represent a scientist, a great thinker, or a philosopher. Anyone who directly deals with energy is a magician.
  • The Lovers show the power of decision when it comes to romance. They are about matters of the heart and mind. This card is similar to the Two of Cups. The lovers are bound to each other through communication, one of the powers of air.
  • Justice seeks the truth. Justice is about answers, fighting for equality, punishing those who have done wrong to others, creating balance, and restoring balance. Justice is about the power of air to help us come into progress. The Swords cards relate more to liberals and progressives. The Pentacles relate more to conservatives and moderates.
  • The Star is the highest numbered card for air. The card hints that there is more beyond earth; there is something out there in space that is intelligent. This card connects to angels, heaven, god, and the supernatural. Air is seeking higher and higher communication; it is looking for epiphanies in language.

The face cards also have elemental energies.

  • Page = Earth
  • Knight = Fire
  • Queen = Water
  • King = Air

Western Astrology

There are three Zodiacs in Western astrology associated with the element of air: Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius. Gemini dominates at the end of spring, Libra is in control at the beginning of fall, and Aquarius rules mid-winter. No air Zodiac is assigned to summer.

Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac doesn't have an air element. The elements it follows are fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. Since the other three elements in Western astrology have counterparts, let's look to the Chinese elements of wood and metal for air. The Tiger and Rabbit are wood, and Monkey and Rooster are metal. Wood relates more to spring, while Metal relates more to fall.

Again, there is no perfect air element match in the Chinese Zodiac.

Air Tarot Cards

Ultimately, when dealing with air cards in Tarot, you're dealing with thoughts, wisdom, foolishness, military campaigns, logic, decision-making, and the divine. Swords are pointed and deadly, but they can also be used to defend. Some of the best fighters know how to trade in their swords for pens and prefer legislation over bloodshed.

Swords cut. They change reality radically. They have the power to make solutions to problems. They also have the power to kill and end things altogether. They have a great deal of power. Because of this, people fear the swords.

People are jealous of the swords. People worry that the swords will come for them. Only a select few are allowed to handle the swords and master them. Intelligence and the steady climb to wisdom isn't easy. It takes great care, skill, and understanding of what using a sword can do.

Some of the other Zodiacs turn to the swords in wild ways. Aries picks up the sword for battle, Taurus uses the sword to cut the wood, Cancer uses the blade of the sword to see her reflection, Leo trades in the sword for the scepter, Virgo uses the sword to cut brush in her way, Scorpio uses the sword to betray and kill, Sagittarius uses the sword as a relic and piece to study, Capricorn uses the sword to fend off people from following them, and Pisces breaks the sword and shares the shards with the others.

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

I didn't mention Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius because the Tarot of swords belongs to them. Their story is in the suit. They must learn to use the blade in order to grow and push forward. They can only use wands, pentacles, and cups so far before they're not really in their element.

Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius have to rise to the occasion, they have to show their intelligence, they must become leaders, and they need to be masters of the mind. Through these three we can find utopia, we can find heaven, we can find the enchanted.

Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius all tend to have issues with anxiety. They have restless thoughts and often have trouble sleeping at night. They embrace words. They're obsessed with language. They're privy to conversation.

The Three of Swords is one of the saddest cards. It relates to heartbreak and grief.

The Three of Swords is one of the saddest cards. It relates to heartbreak and grief.

A Quick Glance at Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius



May 21 and June 21

September 23 - October 22

January 20-February 18


Late Spring

Early Autumn

Mid Winter


The Twins

The Scales

The Water-bearer

Ruling Planet



Saturn, Uranus

Represented by

Arms, Shoulders











Opposite Sign






Pink + Blue



Lavender and Lily of the Valley

Blue Flowers, Roses


Minor Arcana

Ace of Swords

Description: A hand reaches out of the clouds with a sword in it. The hand is offering intellect. The clouds represent the divine. The sword has a laurel around it, representing victory. There are jagged mountains in the background: the road to success will come with obstacles. To navigate the path, you'll need mental resilience.

In the reversed position, it looks like someone is trying to pull the sword out of a rock or other surface.

Upright: new ideas, resilience, mental clarity, epiphany, intuition, focus, success, victor, new beginnings, accuracy

Reversed: inner clarity, re-thinking, clouded judgment, brain fog, unease, upending, force, destiny, pulling the sword from the stone

Two of Swords

Description: A woman has a sword in each hand. Her arms are crossed over her chest. There is a blindfold over her eyes. A crescent moon hangs over her head. The woman wears a white robe. Behind the woman: a body of water dotted with rocky islands. Water represents emotions; the woman ultimately must use both her heart and her mind to make a decision.

She is missing relevant information because her eyes are covered. The swords she holds are in balance. Before resolving the issue, she must weigh her decisions and thoughts from both sides.

Fire and the powers of vitality are supported by the earth and physical resources. Air and the powers of the mind are supported by water and matters of the heart.

Upright: an impasse, stalemate, indecision, re-thinking, blinded discernment, crossroads, balancing mind and heart, diverging paths, binary, a problem of two

Reversed: information overload, overwhelmed, dangerous situation, haphazard, blind defense, meditative, unflattering choices, the lesser of two demons

Three of Swords

Description: A giant heart has three swords going through it. The swords cross paths in the heart. Dark clouds gather in the background. The card is about pain, heartbreak, and sorrow. All paths will eventually lead to grief. Tragedy is a fabric of our lives. You are required to go through it and process it. You cannot escape grief.

The powers of the mind have attacked the matters of the heart.

This is one of those cards where the upright position is worse than the reverse position. In reverse, the card signals healing and release. In reverse, the swords would be coming out of the heart rather than going into it.

Upright: heartbreak, emotional pain, sorrow, grief, critical wound, hurting, break-up, major loss, heart attack, personal pain, loss of a parent

Reversed: negative self-talk, releasing pain, forgiveness, healing, cleansing, scar tissue, painful memory, recovery, reflection

Four of Swords

Description: A knight lies in a tomb. He is in full armor. His hands are in the position of prayer. A sword lies beneath the knight's body: he was slain. Three swords hang above him; they point downwards at his torso. A stained-glass window above him shows a woman and child together -- the man has died in battle and has left the people he loves behind him. His life was literally cut short. There is great grief in this.

Upright: rest, slumber, lost battle, crippling sorrow, drained, contemplation, recuperation, in the astral plane, funeral, funeral rites, ritual, military family, death on the job

Reversed: exhaustion, burn-out, deep contemplation, a spirit trapped, unfinished business, attacked, despondent, ghost

The Six of Swords is about transitions. Maybe you have to start your life over from scratch. There will be a place again for you to live your life.

The Six of Swords is about transitions. Maybe you have to start your life over from scratch. There will be a place again for you to live your life.

Five of Swords

Description: A man picks up three swords from the ground. He glances over his shoulder at two men walking away. The men who are walking away have slouched shoulders and expressions related to sadness and loss.

Two swords are in the grass. The sky is cloudy: a storm has taken place or is about to take place. A battle has been won: there is a victor, but at what cost?

Upright: argument, conflict, tension, competition, winning at all costs despite the results, defeat, gambling, betting loss

Reversed: reconciliation, storied past, brewing resentment, negative memory, lack of forgiveness, starting over from scratch

Six of Swords

Description: A woman and a young child are on a boat rowing across a body of water to nearby land. The woman's head is covered, suggesting sadness or possibly secrecy. Her child is close to her and comforts her during times of stress. They're on a journey together, and they're close to land.

Six swords stand on the boat: the mother and child are carrying memories and baggage from their past into their future. These two are trying to survive a terrible disaster. They're hoping that if they make it to another place, they can start again renewed.

The mother and child could be the ones seen in the stained glass window in the Four of Swords. They could be in transition as a result of losing the knight. Recovering from the death of a spouse and father or recovering from a divorce.

Upright: transition, change, a rite of passage, escaping a bad situation, recovering from loss, starting a new life, migration, divorce recovery

Reversed: unfinished business, resistance to change, trouble moving forward, turbulence, personal transition, bad emotional ties

Seven of Swords

Description: A man sneaks away from a military camp with five swords in his arms. He looks over his shoulder at the two upright swords he has left behind. The man is smiling. He is happy and proud of himself. He is way too jovial.

The man is leaving the area without no one noticing him. He could be a spy. He could be going AWOL. He could be a traitor. This card is very negative when it appears.

Upright: betrayal, deception, sneaking away, treachery, collusion, cunning, back-stabber, nefarious, naughty behavior, Ides of March

Reversed: imposter syndrome, keeping secrets, fool, self-sabotage, self-deceit, making the wrong enemies, Don Quixote

Eight of Swords

Description: A woman is blindfolded and bound. Eight swords surround her. She is trapped. She is afraid if she moves, she'll get cut by swords. If the woman could remove the blindfold, she could figure out how to escape. The pool of water at her feet suggests her intuition can see and understand things that her eyes cannot. The woman is a prisoner, she has been trapped, but not everything is hopeless.

The woman still has a chance to escape her predicament. She still has all her limbs, and she isn't injured.

Upright: trapped, negative thoughts, self-imposed restrictions, imprisonment, victim, constrained, terse situation, bound, fear, needing strategy, captive, kidnapping

Reversed: self-limiting, inner critic, releasing negative thoughts and feelings, open to new perspectives, taking off the blindfold, racing thoughts

Minchiate card deck (Florence, 1860-1890), Knight of Swords

Minchiate card deck (Florence, 1860-1890), Knight of Swords

Nine of Swords

Description: The Nine of Swords shows a woman in her bed. She has her head in her hands. Nine swords are on the walls. The handles are at her face. The blades point to the foot of her bed. It is dark: nighttime. The woman seems to have woken up from a really bad dream, or she can't sleep because of restless thoughts. Something from the day isn't resolved and is making it difficult for her to have healthy sleep.

A sleep disorder could ruin her life if she can't get it under control.

Upright: anxiety, nightmares, sleep paralysis, unpleasant encounter, fear, depression, restless thoughts, insomnia, deeply concerned, paranoia, premonition

Reversed: secrets, releasing worry, piecing things together, separating from woe, releasing fears, epiphany, finding deep-rooted fears

Ten of Swords

Description: A man has ten swords in his back. He is dead. A red cape covers the lower half of his body as a sign of respect. He died outside. The sky is dark. The sun is rising: there is hope that someone will find out who murdered him. The man was young: he died violently rather through old age and disease. He was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Following a murder is an investigation, potentially arrests, trial time, and prison time. Nothing from the Ten of Swords is positive, especially in the upright position.

Upright: painful endings, deep wounds, betrayed, death, murder, crisis, turmoil, horror, violence, slain, sudden loss, disruption, pandemic

Reversed: resurrection, recovery, regeneration, premonition, avoiding death, profound healing, miracle, major surgery, acupuncture

Page of Swords

Description: A young man stands with a sword pointed to the sky. He is growing in skill and could soon become a knight. He wears sandals with emblems from Hermes. The clouds around him suggest divine intervention. The wind is blowing his clothes in one direction; his face is turned the other way. He is coming into a new understanding of himself, he has taken the sword and his destiny, and the stars align for him.

Upright: destined youth, curiosity, leveling up, new ways, mortal among the immortals, bravery, hero, transformation

Reversed: bumbling youth, bumpkin, all play no work, fool, fall from grace, an outcast from the heavens, lackluster

Knight of Swords

Description: A knight charges into battle. He is dressed in full armor. He comes into the battle dedicated to his mission. He is the warring spirit of Mars. The white horse symbolizes purity, intellect, and accuracy. A storm brews in the background. The trees bend from the wind. None of the elements can stop the knight who is eager to win on the battlefield.

Upright: action-oriented, instinct, unstoppable, quick-witted, ambitious, driven, forward-thinking, progressive, liberal, haste

Reversed: restless, impulsive, directionless, unguarded, not fully thought out, wrong target, shaken easily

Queen of Swords in Visconti Sforza tarot deck.

Queen of Swords in Visconti Sforza tarot deck.

Queen of Swords

Description: A woman sits on a throne among the clouds, as if she is in Mount Olympus. She holds a sword in her right hand. She has an open left palm and seems to be in mid-conversation. Butterflies are in the picture representing transformation. Her outfit is a perfect fit. She has wit, charm, and grace. She seeks solutions to difficult matters and speaks honestly with those who seek her aid.

Upright: direct communication, intelligence, wisdom, thoughtfulness, solutions with ease, pragmatic, devoted, concentrated, leadership, honesty, angelic, sage

Reversed: too emotional, rude, mean, judgmental, critical, bossy, biased, brazen, easily influenced, selfish, conceited, poor listening skills, copycat, has-been

King of Swords

Description: A king sits on a throne with a sword in his right hand. His left hand is open. He appears to be in a conversation. He has a long beard. He looks somewhat like Zeus in the clouds. He is focused, he is earnest, and he is the king of kings. He sits on the throne of the most civilized place in all of the universe. The angels come to him. He has command over the elements. He is the wisdom at the center of an organization.

Upright: highest power, king of kings, lord of lords, benevolence, mental clarity, intellectual perfection, authority, genius, truth, immaculate, amazing guide, sagacious

Reversed: quiet power, inner truth, manipulation, cowardice, mortal dealings, mischief not managed, sour relations, crude handling, misaligned

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2021 Andrea Lawrence