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The Meaning of
the "Five of Swords" Tarot Card

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What is the inverted meaning of
the "Five of Swords"?

The Meaning of the "Five of Swords"
Tarot Card

The Symbolism of the Five of Swords

A man picks up swords from a field of battle. On his face he has a slight smirk, as he watches his defeated opponents stumble off the field. The man in the distance appears to be weeping.

The winner, gloating in the foreground, is clad in red, signifying war and conquest. His two opponents wear yellow, signifying cowardice and defeat.

The sky above looks troubled and is streaked with clouds. In the distance rests a calm shoreline with mountains rising beyond it.

The man has three swords in his hands, and prepares to collect two more from the ground — presumably once belonging to his defeated opponents.

Aside from the confident air of the victor, the entire card has a very troubled feel to it.

Aside from the confident posture of the victor, the entire card has a very troubled feel to it. Only the winner seems content. The other men and the sky above them seem ill at ease.

Note the positions of the five swords: Two point up. Two point down. One is neutral. The suggestion here is that while the man in the foreground considers himself the winner, the actual score may be less clear than the winner thinks.

NOTE: As with the Two of Swords card, there is a significant amount of water visible in this card, despite the suit of Swords being associated with the element of Air. The water here symbolizes the emotional torment of the defeated opponents, who are clearly grief stricken by what just transpired on the field.

How to Interpret the Five of Swords

There's a point at which winning just isn't worth it. The costs of victory are just too high; Even if you win you'll feel like you lost somehow.

The Five of Swords suggests that the prize might not be worth the pursuit. If someone is investing time, money or labor to win a battle, and the battle isn't going well — it might be better to pick another fight.

What's the point of winning if it causes strife, costs you friends or sours your relationship in the process?

... pick your battles wisely. Remember that's it's possible to win the battle and lose the war.

When the Five of Swords appears in a reading, it might be a gentle suggestion to pick your battles wisely. Remember that's it's possible to win the battle and lose the war.

In some cases the Five of Swords is also an indication that someone's waiting for an apology. It can help to examine the surrounding cards in your spread or draw a clarifying card if you need some clarification.

The Five of Swords Inverted

The reversed Five of Swords usually suggests a truce after a hard fought struggle. There are times when both sides realize that fightig just isn't worth it, and the time has come to bury the hatchet.

When Five of Swords appears reversed in your readings it not only references an end to conflict, but the beginning of a time of healing and new alliances.

Even when a conflict has been defused, one party may still hold a grudge ...

In some cases though, the Five of Swords may signify an end to conflict but an inability for one party to let things go. Even when a conflict has been defused, one party may still hold a grudge for a longer than expected time.

If old conflicts have left lasting scars, the inverted Five of Swords reminds us of that there are opportunities to make amends and make things right.

The Five of Swords in its inverted position is a mostly positive card with overtones of healing, understanding and distant communication.

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