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The Ace of Swords in Tarot and How to Read It

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

You cannot simply enter into the Suit of Swords; you must be initiated to serve as a knight. Your role is one of choice, sacrifice, and honor. The sword weighs heavily on your mind, as all decisions are final.

You cannot simply enter into the Suit of Swords; you must be initiated to serve as a knight. Your role is one of choice, sacrifice, and honor. The sword weighs heavily on your mind, as all decisions are final.

The Card of Breakthroughs

The most challenging suit of tarot begins with the Ace of Swords. On this card, a hand emerges from the sky holding a double-edged sword. The weapon carries a golden crown with laurels hanging off it.

Swords represent the element of air, which has to do with thoughts. The swords indicate the gravity of decisions and deal with matters of life and death. It is the most realistic of the suits, and it does not shy away from difficult challenges.

Those who are destined to wield a sword must recognize the seriousness of the occasion and the power they have in their hands. If they don't respect that power, ruin will follow.

Mastering your thoughts will lead you to a position of power and will help you become a strategist. To find a happy resolution in this suit, you must look beyond the numbered cards and instead look to the court cards.

The Suit of Swords

The Suit of Swords has 14 cards: 10 numbered cards and four court cards (page, knight, queen, king).

The suit is one of four in the Minor Arcana along with:

  • The Suit of Wands (Fire)
  • The Suit of Pentacles (Earth)
  • The Suit of Cups (Water)

The Suit of Swords has a special element attached to it—it represents the Second Estate (The Nobles).

The estates of the realm (three estates) defined the social hierarchy used in Christian Europe from the Middle Ages to early modern times.

The Old Regime went as follows:

  • The First Estate: The monarchy, kings and queens, and high clergy.
  • The Second Estate: Nobles and knights.
  • The Third Estate: Peasants and bourgeoisie.

The Suit of Swords is associated with masculinity, intellect, and misfortune. The numbered finale in the Suit of Swords is far more grim compared to all the other suits. It represents death, defeat, and divorce.

To become the King of Swords, you must focus on integrity and ethics; otherwise, you'll turn into a dictator or despot.

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Card Alignments

Upright

New ideas, mental clarity, success, epiphanies, breakthroughs, new information, new investigation, focus, intelligence, logic, consideration, forward movement, and consequences.

Reversed

Rethinking, clouded judgment, inner clarity, failure, setbacks, delays, confusion, muddled, bad sources, instability, poor communication, aloofness, oversaturated.

Mental clarity is something you must desire, cultivate, and protect. If you want to grow in the Suit of Swords, you must become aware of your thoughts.

Mental clarity is something you must desire, cultivate, and protect. If you want to grow in the Suit of Swords, you must become aware of your thoughts.

Card Description

A hand emerges from the clouds and grips a double-edged sword. A golden crown with laurels flowing out of it hangs at the top. Yellow leaves float above the sword's hilt.

The sky is a pale gray—it could perhaps be foggy. There are no buildings in the background, but there are mountains and ocean waves in the distance.

Card Symbols

The Ace of Swords is not a complicated card and doesn't have too many images. However, the following symbols make an appearance:

  • The wreath or laurels are associated with victory and success. Heroes in other cards wear or carry a wreath.
  • The crown is a symbol of royalty, power, and the mind. The crown is yellow, which is the color of air. The crown also represents thoughts and indicates a breakthrough or epiphany. It is considered divine to wear the golden crown; people will seek your opinion on important matters.
  • The mountains represent tangible and abstract obstacles you will run into along your journey.
  • The ocean represents the emotional challenges on your journey.

Tarot Suits

CategoryWandsPentaclesSwordsCups

Represents

Free will

Physical Manifestation (The Body)

Thoughts

Emotions

Element

Fire

Earth

Air

Water

Elementals

Salamanders

Gnomes

Sylphs

Undines

Colors

Red

Green

Yellow

Blue

Numbers

1, 5, 9

2, 6, 10

3, 7, 11

4, 8, 12

Animals

Land Mammals

Reptiles

Birds

Fish

Music

Percussion

Brass

Woodwinds

Strings

Directions

South

East

North

West

Seasons

Summer

Spring

Winter

Fall

Four Humors

Yellow Bile

Black Bile

Blood

Phlegm

Body Representation

Head, Heart, Thighs

Throat/Neck, Chest, Legs/Shins

Arms & Shoulders, Belly, Ankles

Hands, Root Chakra (Spine Base), Feet

Ruling Planets

Mars, Sun, Jupiter

Mercury, Venus, Saturn

Mercury, Venus, Uranus

Moon, Pluto, Neptune

Western Astrology

Aries, Leo, Sagittarius

Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn

Gemini, Libra, Aquarius

Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces

Chinese Zodiac

Dragon, Monkey, Rat

Snake, Rooster, Ox

Horse, Dog, Tiger

Sheep, Pig, Rabbit

Yin and Yang

Yang

Yin

Yang

Yin

Court Cards

Knights

Pages

Kings

Queens

Poker Equivalents

Clubs

Diamonds

Spades

Hearts

Air is the fastest of the four elements when comparing them in their natural forms. Air doesn't stay in place and is constantly shifting and adjusting. It can't be tamed, so it's not always clear where it's going.

Air is the fastest of the four elements when comparing them in their natural forms. Air doesn't stay in place and is constantly shifting and adjusting. It can't be tamed, so it's not always clear where it's going.

Upright Ace of Swords

In the upright position, the Ace of Swords indicates a mental breakthrough and a new beginning. The sword represents the power of intellect to cut out a path. However, the sword is picky about who wields it. It goes to people who have a particular mindset. If you select this card, you're likely someone who can't sit still with pleasantries and home life. Perhaps you want adventure, or the truth, or maybe, even, a better life. The sword goes to those who are noble in heart and mind.

You're Embarking on a New and Long Journey

The card predicts a new and long chapter and is a sign that you might be embarking on a quest for truth. You might be instructed to go on a mission to learn more about something, perhaps as an investigator or detective. You could also be at a turning point where you need to seek a new education.

The breakthrough this card alludes to is intended to change your point of view. You'll recognize new possibilities or discover critical information for your research. The Ace of Swords encourages you to go forward and to stay focused. Consider the ace a powerful lantern in your hand that will illuminate your path.

You Are Advanced or Gifted

The card indicates a high rank. The places you must go will require a great deal from you, and in order to succeed, you will need to carry yourself with a level of sophistication. You may have different expectations placed upon you than on others because you are considered a gifted mind. You have privileges that others may not, and this can be overwhelming.

The card is an invitation to use what you have to the best of your abilities. But always remember that your choices have consequences. This card is a suggestion that you not mess around with instinct—after all, you have knowledge on your side.

A wave of intelligence will guide you if you let it. Stay open-minded, flip over unturned stones, and be patient. You will soon find the answers to your questions. Be prepared because a new chapter is about to open, and things won't be the same anymore.

The card is an encouragement to expand and free your mind. It is a reminder that you have more intelligence than you realize, and you only need to apply yourself. Your mind is a garden that needs attention and care. The Ace of Swords invites you to draw strength from your creativity and intelligence.

If this card shows up in your reading, it could be a sign that you want something more or have a new desire to apply yourself to activities that demand brainpower. Whatever the case, stay curious, like Alice in Wonderland. Alice is essentially the Ace of Swords. She goes through a wild mental breakthrough when she falls into the rabbit hole.

Final Takeaways

Swords represent power. You have a choice: will you be creative or destructive? You get to decide whether you will be charitable or selfish.

The card represents initiation into knighthood. You're leaving peasantry for a path to nobility.

The swords can also be referred to as lanterns. Lanterns represent illumination and they light the path ahead of you.

The swords can also be referred to as lanterns. Lanterns represent illumination and they light the path ahead of you.

Reversed Ace of Swords

In the reversed position, this card indicates a downfall. You may lose your rank as part of the upper class. Perhaps you got lofty with your goals or you risked too much and put your blinders up at the wrong time.

Delayed Plans

A new idea could be emerging from within, but you may not be ready to share it with the public. Instead, maybe you're letting the idea simmer and prepare itself. This idea is sacred to you, and you want to have greater clarity on it before you express it.

If this is the case, it's a good idea to give yourself time and space to explore the thought. This enhances your chances of bringing it to successful fruition. The reversed Ace of Swords is an encouragement to meditate, pray, and be still. It is an invitation to step away from others, so you can think and not be distracted. You're likely having too many social interactions if you're struggling with clarity. You may also want to tidy your home if you feel you have too many material distractions.

The reversed Ace of Swords challenges you to focus on the basics and make sure your idea is stabilized with sensible goals. You want measurable and achievable goals with realistic deadlines. Be clear with your intentions. What is your desired end game?

The card could also indicate that you are missing key information. Until you have the required knowledge, you can't go forward. This means you have to be patient. Remember that things will take place in their own time, and you can't force something to happen before it's ready.

Are You Losing a Job or Failing a Class?

The reversed Ace of Swords can also indicate a personal loss. It is a sign that you are losing your rank to some degree, so this could mean you're losing your job. You could also be struggling in a class—perhaps you're about to fail. One way or another, this card is a sign you're going backward.

You may have been the cause of your downfall, or perhaps it was purely situational. Either way, this card is an invitation to rethink your strategies and decide whether a different job is a better fit or if a different educational path better suits your strengths and abilities.

The Ace of Swords in a Love Reading

Upright

The card in this position describes someone who loves to talk. They love words and are likely either talking or writing to you frequently. Expect long novels from this person. This person really likes to communicate and to do so fairly. They prioritize honesty and like stimulating environments. They want to be somewhere that makes them ponder.

This suitor might like trips to the museum, science center, or concert hall. They're looking for places that inspire new and exciting thoughts. They're also attracted to people who similarly inspire them.

This is someone who wants an eclectic space, not one that's more minimalistic and restful. This suitor thinks rationally and puts emotion on the back burner. They may struggle to open up and be vulnerable; however, they're an amazing problem solver. With a little bit of nudging, they can be warmer and more nurturing.

Ultimately, a person who identifies with the Ace of Swords has a drive for solving problems. They don't like to just sit and listen to people vent and they can really get bent out of shape if they can't fix something. They may come off as somewhat immature if they can't solve a problem.

Reversed

In this position, this card signals that this person might be terrible at communication—you may experience constant communication breakdowns. This person might also do things in an aloof manner that leaves you guessing. They may also have clashing perspectives in regards to you. Perhaps one of you is a Republican and one of you is a Democrat. You'll feel divided with this suitor and will likely fight with this person.

This person is often unable to express their thoughts clearly. They sound like they're trying to convey a message with marbles in their mouth. They ramble, they rant, and it can be annoying. They're also bored easily and disengage at the drop of a hat. This person can also sometimes be apathetic. This is someone who would prefer beige and gray walls rather than something more exciting. They're turned off by stimulating environments.

This is also someone who struggles to stay on top of details, meaning they're often terrible with money and documents. They could care less about these things.

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

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