five of swords meaning

Five of Swords Meaning: Upright and Reversed

The Five of Swords is a struggle card concerning the aftermath of a fierce confrontation. You may have won the argument, but the costs for that win are dire.

This is a tough card in the Tarot deck, it is one of conflict and struggle, particularly when it comes to your higher consciousness—gear up for some harsh reflections.

Five of Swords Upright and Reversed Keywords

Keywords for the Five of Swords Upright

  • Struggle
  • Confrontation
  • Loss
  • Grief
  • Winning at all costs
  • Mental anguish
  • Dishonor

Keywords for the Five of Swords Reversed

  • Amends
  • Reparations
  • Old wounds
  • Old resentment
  • Apologizing
  • Admitting wrongfulness
  • Taking the high road

The Suit of Swords

The suit of Swords is connected to the element of air which makes the suit relate to the higher consciousness. The element of air also carries into the zodiac signs, meaning that the suit of Swords is associated with Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius in the astrological calendar. If you pull a Sword, consider if any of these signs are involved in your question or answer.

If you pull the Five of Swords,  consider any Aquarius specifically who might be involved. The Five of Swords is aligned most closely with the sign of Aquarius. Aquarius is a fixed sign, making it stubborn. This adds further difficulty to this already difficult card.

Swords as a whole tend to be the most difficult suit of the Tarot. Where Cups consider the subconscious and the heart, Swords value calculation over empathy. This makes them a tough suit to see or work with, but sometimes these values are necessary and important, depending on the situation.

In short, Swords can be a bit harsh, so get ready.

The Fives in Tarot

More bad news if you’ve pulled the Five of Swords. Fives correlate to struggles, no matter the suit. This five in the Swords is no different.

Pulling a five means you will be overcoming something traumatic, something difficult, something that may change you for the better or worse. How you respond is up to you and will be indicated by the cards following whatever five you’ve pulled.

No matter where you pull this card and no matter which Tarot spread you use, this is going to point to a negative, difficult moment.

Symbolism and Imagery in the Five of Swords

A man stands on a beach, victorious. He looks at the people he’s defeated with disdain as he holds his three swords. At his feet, two more swords lie discarded for him, the victor, to take with him.

The man wears orange boots, the color of challenge, which keep the green of his cloak from the earth. The green wants to be grounded or touching the earth, as it is a symbol of the element of earth. The green which can ground this man is separated from the earth by red, the color of fiery ambition, and orange. This indicates the man is losing touch with Mother Earth because of his own hubris.

The two defeated men have their backs to him, heads down in grief. The victorious man has caused this grief with his victory. It’s not that he’s won, it’s how he’s won that has caused the damage.

This man has won at all costs and is soon to find that the costs were too great for him. His own mental anguish is on the horizon, which is symbolized by the grey clouds breaking up the blue sky. We can read those as the storm brewing over his head while he enjoys his short-lived victory.

The defeated men both wear yellow, and one has a green sleeve as well. Yellow connects us to the higher consciousness, correlating to the element of air once again. The victorious man wears no yellow, proving that those with the higher understanding are the ones walking away from him. This is a huge negative for him.

The water matches the sky in mixes of grey and blue. Blue, the color of the subconscious, is being blurred by the stormy seas which this man has brought on himself.

Upright Five of Swords Meaning

If you pull the Five of Swords upright, you have had or will have a big confrontation. You won or will win the argument, but you will soon also be the loser because of how you handled yourself during the argument.

This is likely a result of being like the young man in the picture: impatient, quick to aggression, believing that winning is what’s most important. It is rare that an impatient young person gets anything done correctly or efficiently, so why would an argument be any different? Stop and take a deep breath before you lose your cool. The Tarot is warning you with this card.

This card is telling you that to win at any cost is no win. You will push yourself to win for the sake of winning, which will cause you friendships, family, or even your own morality. Soon you will find yourself wanting to take back things you said, but you can’t. All you can do now is apologize and work to rebuild the trust you broke.

I know it’s tough because a lot of times, we see upright cards as positives. Well, fives and Swords don’t get down like that, I’m sorry.

Reversed Five of Swords Meaning

The booklet that accompanies and briefly explains The Rider Tarot Deck makes little differentiation between the Five of Swords upright or reversed. Eek! So even if this card is reversed, it’s a conflict, whether old or new.

Reversed could mean you’re ready to admit you were wrong and begin making amends. If you’re feeling that way, definitely apologize. This card is telling you that you were wrong in how you acted and you need to make things right. (“Telling” isn’t quite the right word here though, I’d say that “yelling” is much more accurate.)

Another way to interpret this card is if you’ve found yourself in an argument where your point is falling on deaf ears. Is there a point you’re always trying to get across to a certain person or group of people, which, no matter how many good points you make and references you have, never lands?

If so, this card is telling you that it’s not on you to change every single mind; you need to take the loss and move on.  In short, choose your battles. This one you’re in isn’t worth it, so walk away.

Pulling the Five of Swords reversed may be pointing to an old argument that was “over” but not settled and is showing you its ugly head again. Once again, this card is telling you to make amends. Most grudges aren’t worth holding if you really think about it.

Five of Swords in a Love Reading

You’re not going to like this card no matter where it shows up; I’m sorry. The Five of Swords in a love reading is negative, of course.

You may be in an argument, are about to have an argument, or maybe you’ve already had it — with your partner. This is going to be a big one for your relationship. You may have come out the winner in the argument, but you’ve lost a part of your partner’s trust, respect, or love in the process. You probably said or did things you’re not proud of to prove a point. You realized this fact immediately, but you haven’t apologized yet. Apologize or regret it.

This could also indicate that lately, you and your partner have been bickering about little things. You should sit down and chat openly, letting yourself be vulnerable. Something bigger might be bothering both of you, but fighting won’t solve it; talking will.

The Five of Swords Reversed in a love reading is telling you to make amends. You’ve had a fight, it was bad, it’s time to come crawling back and apologize.

If you were not the victor, that means you were one of the people on the beach, walking away with your head down. This is not a great place to be either, as you’ve endured a great hurt from someone you love and trusted.

Can you forgive? That’s something only you can answer. Walking away might be the best option, and pulling the Five of Swords reversed in a love reading could be telling you that. Take into consideration the cards after the Five of Swords. Are any of them similarly telling you to leave? Reflecting on those will tell you if you should or should not leave.

The Five of Swords in a Career and Money Reading

The Five of Swords upright in a career and money reading isn’t good (shocking, I know). You are going to or have already had an argument with a coworker or partner. While you feel as though you’ve won, you’ve lost respect and a good working relationship with that person or people.

Swords are, of course, to do with air, so you haven’t lost anything financial (yet) but pay attention to the cards after the Five of Swords. If you see Pentacles, this argument will materialize quickly. It could mean a serious financial loss if you don’t recover well.

This card also indicates that you currently have arguments with your partner or work partner about money. Do not be so stubborn, be rational, be open to discussion, be open to change. This card is not to be taken lightly; it can ruin relationships forever.

The Five of Swords reversed in a career, and money reading is recognizing the current or past struggle with money or work decisions. It seems like you and your coworkers or partners have found common ground and are all working towards a mutual goal. Continue to tread lightly, keep communication open and respectful. You’re not out of the clear yet.

If you and your domestic partner have been arguing about money, this is also showing that you’re both working towards your common goals better now. Again, you’re not out of the clear, so tread lightly.

This card reversed in a career, and money reading is hopeful; breath easy but not too easy!

The Five of Swords in a Home and Family Reading

Pulling the Five of Swords in a home and family reading upright is telling me that you’ve been fighting with your family. Are you and your partner not seeing eye to eye? Are you and your roommate or relative butting heads at home? Whoever the person is, you will be the “winner” of these arguments in the end, but it will cost you your relationship with that person.

Pulling this card upright here is a warning: is losing this person worth winning an argument? If not, then sit down and do your best to have a productive conversation with them.

If the Five of Swords is reversed in your home and family reading, you’ve probably just moved past a big argument in your domestic situation. Things are calmer now, but feelings are very seriously hurt. You need to instigate an apology. Your roommate, your partner, your sibling, or parent may soon leave you or ask you to leave the home you share if you don’t apologize.

The Five of Swords in a Health Reading

Pulling the Five of Swords upright in a health reading is very interesting. Have you been ignoring doctor’s orders? This card in a reading like this can be an indication of self-sabotage. Whether it’s physical or mental health, you’re not doing your part to stay healthy.

The Five of Swords upright is also telling me that you’re battle-weary. Have you been fighting health issues for a while now? Is it exhausting you? Take some time to be good to yourself. Take a self-care day, relax; you deserve it.

If you pull the Five of Swords reversed in a health reading, it’s positive in that you will find a way to solve recent health issues, but it’s negative in that it will require a sacrifice of something you love in order to feel better.

For example, you may have to give up beer and bread if you find you have a gluten allergy. It won’t be easy, and you might not always do it, but you will find out the problem and know how to solve it. The question is, will you?

The Five of Swords FAQs

Question: I Pulled this Card Upright in a Love and Relationships Reading, but I Haven’t Had a Fight With my Partner Yet. Can I Avoid it?

Answer: It depends on the cards around your Five of Swords. Is something brewing that needs to be discussed? If so, I recommend nipping it in the bud and having a serious and sober conversation with your partner. It’s also possible this issue isn’t coming from you, so it’s not on your radar yet. If so, it’s up to your partner to bring it to light. Unfortunately, you can’t control how they do that.

Question: I Pulled this Card in a Home Reading, But I Live Alone. What Does that Mean?

Answer: This could be that you will have issues with a landlord, neighbor, or even maintenance person. Unfortunately, the argument will happen, and it will be big. Just try to keep your temper. There’s nothing worse than alienating someone in your home sector.

Question: If this Card is Reversed in my Future, Does that Mean I Will Avoid a Fight?

Answer: Potentially! But it more likely means that an old fight will resurface. The opening of an old wound is a very standard event for the pesky Five of Swords to foretell.

Question: I Pulled the Five of Swords Upright but I am Not Confrontational at all, Why Did I Pull this Card?

Answer: It’s important to remember that a Tarot reading, no matter the spread, is a psychic reading. You are not drawing cards randomly but receiving guidance from Spirit to choose them at a certain time and certain place in your reading. Just because you feel you don’t fit the bill of the Five of Swords, does not mean you won’t eventually.

Instead of denying this psychic reading to be true, make moves to keep your temper down the line, should you ever need to. Also, you may want to consider who you were in th past (were you that impatient young man?) as you may have amends to make.

Final Thoughts

The Five of Swords is daunting but important because it is a reminder that we are all human and we all make mistakes. We say things we don’t mean, especially when caught up in the moment.

The Five of Swords is a reminder to keep your cool and don’t say things you can’t take back. If you do, be sure to apologize or be left alone on a beach surrounded by swords but no one left to battle with.

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