Seven of Swords | Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

7 of Swords

Keywords for the Seven of Swords 

INDIVIDUALITYDECEIT
INDEPENDENCEBETRAYAL
PUTTING YOURSELF FIRSTDISHONOR
LONE WOLFLIES
REBELLOSS

Looking at the image on the car we are taken into a scene of a lone man at a campsite, with many tents in the background to the right.

On the left, we see a great cloud of smoke along with a crowd of people gathered around what appears to be a campfire. 

While everyone is away from the scene, a man appears in the foreground carrying away five out of the seven swords. These had been placed standing in the ground, left behind while their owners were busy with their evening meal. 

The man who now possesses five of Seven Swords is tiptoeing away quietly.

This is not an accidental injury, but premeditated theft. He is well aware that what he is doing is wrong, but that doesn’t stop him. 

In fact, the man even seems to take a perverse pleasure in his misdeeds, as evidenced by the slight smirk on his face at the moment of the crime.

Interpretation of the 7 of Swords in a Reading

When this card comes up in a tarot reading, it often asks us to pay very close attention to the situation at hand. It can indicate that we’re being lied to, cheated or fooled. 

There may be something about our situation that is not what it seems, and we would be wise to inquire further before proceeding. 

However, this card does not only come up when we are the victim of a betrayal or theft. 

There are times when this card seems to call us out, asking to take a look at our own behavior. It wants us to consider if we are truly being ethical or fair in a given situation. Are we acting in ways that are dishonorable, or that go against what we know to be right?

If so, the Seven of Swords asked us to reconsider and perhaps change our course of action. It may be momentarily satisfying to try to get the upper hand, however, in the long run, this way of interacting with the world is ultimately damaging to ourselves. 

The consequences of unethical or manipulative behavior, such as that seen in the 7 of Swords, often diminishes what we would consider to be in our own best interest in the long term.

Six of Swords | Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

6 of Swords

Keywords for the Six of Swords

SORROWQUIET PASSAGE
MOURNINGSADNESS
CALMRECOVERING
PEACECOPING
TRANSITIONNEW HOPE

We see before us three travelers undertaking a journey at dawn. A mother and her child sit in the front of the boat, along with six swords standing upright, sustained by their sharp points piercing the bottom of the boat.

Having escaped in the darkest hour of the night, they now allow themselves to be guided from turbulence into calmer waters. 

The pain of the past is present, but not pressing. They are conscious of their grief, but take refuge in knowing that the worst is over now. The waters behind them are clearly disturbed, but the path ahead of them is all smooth sailing.

Interpretation of the 6 of Swords in a Reading

When the 6 of Swords comes up in a tarot reading, it often refers to a situation in which we are leaving certain sorrows behind us. 

We may have recently had a breakup, or left behind certain difficult family dynamics at home. We might be ending a painful relationship or friendship that ultimately was causing us more harm than good. 

This card indicates that we have now taken an important step forward towards a healthier and happier new future.

Although we may still carry with us a certain amount of sadness from our past experiences (as symbolized by the 6 upright swords on the boat), we know we can now trust that the worst is over.

We may still be sitting with our tears, and this process of grieving could well continue for some time. But there is a part of us which is at peace, for we know that we are moving forward towards a better future. 

Five of Swords | Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

5 of Swords

Keywords for the Five of Swords

DEFEATHUMILIATION
LOSSCONQUEST
BETRAYALHOSTILITY
SELFISHNESSDESPAIR
DISHONORBETRAYAL

In the image on this card, we see three people arranged in a disturbing scene. 

Dark storm clouds streak the sky over troubled waters. Nearest to us we see a cruel-looking man displaying a savage grin on his face. He seems proud of himself, gloating about his recent conquests, clearly proud of his acts of violence.

In his hands he holds three swords, while two more lay strewn on the floor by his feet.

Behind him, we see another man walking away with a defeated look on his face. Beyond him is yet another, who stands facing away from us, his head in both hands in a gesture of sorrow and deep grief.

Interpretation of the 5 of Swords in a Reading

When the 5 of Swords appears in a tarot reading, it can signal the experience of loss or defeat, one where we may have lost out against a stronger or more cunning opponent.

However, it often speaks to a more disturbing dynamic at play than a simple loss. It is usually more concerned with losses that result from unethical or even criminal motivations. This card also refers to circumstances filled with betrayal, open dishonor, outright aggression and hostility.

It is what results when one (or more) of the parties involved have lost their moral compass, and instead determined that the ends justify any means used to obtain them.

The 5 of Swords in a reading can also indicate power plays motivated by selfishness and a desire to “win” at all costs, without any regard to ethics or integrity.

It is motivated by a desire for dominance that often has little to do with the value of whatever object or material benefit is obtained by use of force. Here, a logic of cruelty and ruthlessness rules the day.

If you look at the image on the card, you will see that the victor now possesses five swords, more than he is even capable of holding himself. We see in evidence here the logic of exploitation, which seeks to amass power and wealth above all. 

It is done for the sake of meeting the ego’s needs, rather than to alleviate any true material deficiency or want. It displays a “survival of the fittest” and “winner take all” mentality that we are only too familiar with in this era of late-stage capitalism.

Finally, it must be noted that this card does not only refer to the devious acts of other people. At times when this card appears, it may be we ourselves that have been acting dishonorably. 

We should always consider the option that we have not been acting with integrity, and if so, resolve to more clearly examine our behavior and make whatever changes may be necessary.

Four of Swords | Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

4 of Swords

Keywords for the Four of Swords

RETREATMEDITATION
WITHDRAWALCONTEMPLATION
RESTCONSERVING ENERGY
RECOVERYDEVELOPING INNER STRENGTH
TIME OUTHEALING PAST WOUNDS

In the image on this card, we see a person laying down flat on his back in what appears to be the inside of a church. He holds his hands up together in prayer, letting us know that he is in a kind of meditative state here. He embodies a spirit of rest, withdrawal and deep contemplation.

This is reinforced by the stained-glass window we see above him. It shows an image of Jesus giving a healing blessing to a supplicant at his feet. From this, we can know that this withdrawal is intended to be only temporary. 

It indicates a period of rest, recovery, of gathering strength and healing from any past wounds we may have sustained during the course of our lives.

This window scene is also the only source of light in this darkened room. Even though he has removed himself from the regular course of daily life, these outer circumstances still concern him, and it is only a matter of time before he returns to them.

Interpretation of the 4 of Swords in a Reading

When the 4 of Swords appears in a reading, it can indicate a time of withdrawal from our typical engagements in the world around us.

We may feel compelled to take time apart from our everyday concerns in order to rest, reflect and prepare for what comes next.

This card indicates that this may be a useful time to engage in quiet reflection, meditation or other contemplative practices. These can help us gain clarity on the events and experiences which have transpired in our past. We may then be able to address certain areas of inner wounding, and develop a new vision which can carry us forward into a new future.

It is important to remember that the withdrawal we see in this card is meant to be only temporary. The energy of the 4 of Swords can be thought of in terms of the concept of the “therapeutic isolation” of psychological healing. 

It is a place where we go to develop strength, not to escape or avoid the troublesome outer world.

We should be careful not to remain in this state longer than necessary. Instead, we must remain only as long as is required for our inner transformation and healing to take place.

Three of Swords | Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

3 of Swords

Keywords for the Three of Swords

HEARTBREAKLONELINESS
SORROWBROKEN TRUST
BETRAYALLET DOWN
ANGUISHSEPARATION
DISAPPOINTMENTREJECTION

The imagery on the Three of Swords is quite simple: amid a background of dark gray storm clouds and bitterly cold rain, a single blood red heart is pierced through its core by three shining steel swords.

Interpretation of the 3 of Swords in a Reading

When the 3 of Swords comes up in a tarot reading, it often indicates an experience of intense emotional pain. It can speak to the feeling of being hurt or betrayed by the ones we love. 

We may feel heartbroken or betrayed after discovering an unpleasant truth about someone we care about and thought we could trust.

The experience represented by the 3 of Swords is not an intellectual one, but rather a visceral emotional experience stimulated by the pain of knowing a difficult truth, one which often cuts to the very core of who we are.

When the 3 of Swords appears, it can refer to feelings of rejection, abandonment or isolation. We may feel that we have been left out in the cold, helpless in the dark, stormy night we see depicted here on this card.

Two of Swords | Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

2 of Swords

Keywords for the Two of Swords 

BLOCKEDIMPARTIAL
STUCKUNEMOTIONAL
IN DENIALSTALEMATE
GUARDEDAT AN IMPASSE
BLINDCONFUSED

In the image on this card, we see a waterfront by night, lit by a sliver of a crescent moon. The night is quiet, you can almost hear the soft waves whispering to each other as a lap against the rocky shore in the middle of the night. 

In the background, a green coast appears in the distance, only just visible to us from where we stand.

The ground in front of us is made of smooth, unbroken gray stone. Here we see a woman in front of us seated on a stone bench. She is dressed in a robe made of similarly light gray, and she has a blindfold over her eyes. 

She bears a sword in each of her hands, holding them tightly across her chest. The swords, as a symbol of the Air element, represent the forces of reason and logic. 

She covers her heart with these weapons, in effect blocking access to her feelings and deep intuitive knowledge. Each sword points in a different direction, similar to the way in which her mind is divided. Each conflicting train of thought she follows leads to an unclear or undesirable outcome. 

This card often appears when we have reached the limits of rational deliberation. When the Two of Swords shows up in a reading, it is evidence that we may be rationalizing, overthinking, or confused, and unable to come to a clear and decisive conclusion.

Interpretation of the 2 of Swords in a Reading

When this card comes up, it often means that we have reached an impasse in our current situation. We may have turned the issue over and over again in our minds, only to remain unsure and undecided. 

It may be that we are rationalizing away someone else’s questionable behavior (or our own). 

Like the woman in this card, we may simply be unwilling to see the truth. Rather than using logic and the mind as a tool to arrive at truth, we may be using the powers of the intellect to make excuses for what we already intuitively know.

Notice the woman’s blindfold: if you look closely, you can see the bottom edges of her eyes peeking out from under the bottom of the white fabric. This is an indication that she has seen, and knows, but is unwilling to acknowledge the truth. 

The 2 of Swords is clearly reminiscent of the High Priestess of the Major Arcana. In some ways, she is her opposite, as she shows what the opposite of vision is. 

We know that the High Priestess is deeply connected to the waters of the unconscious and the intuitive wisdom that arises from it. In contrast, the woman here is disconnected from her truth, and unable to access her inner knowing. 

When this card appears it is asking us to put our swords down, and to drop our intellectual defenses. The Two of Swords asks us to be still and go within to find the truth that is always already available to us if we should become willing to see.

Ace of Swords | Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

Ace of Swords

Keywords for the Ace of Swords

TRUTHINTELLIGENCE
LOGICRATIONALITY
REASONOBJECTIVITY
CLARITYPROBLEM-SOLVING
HONESTYCRITICAL THINKING

In the image on this card, we see a dark gray cloud in the sky, from which a hand emerges holding a single sword. This sword represents the logic, rationality and truth of the Air element in its purest form.

The mountains in the background appear distant and small, like an allusion to the more abstract and elevated forms of reasoning and objectivity which this card represents. These are the same mountains upon which the Hermit has traveled in his quest for knowledge.

Interpretation of the Ace of Swords

When the Ace of Swords appears in a tarot reading, it often speaks to the potential brought about by the pure energy of the element of Air. It signifies new beginnings in terms of truth, reason, logic, and the intellect.

It can indicate that the use of the objective powers of the rational, conscious mind are coming into expression within the situation at hand.

The Ace of Swords calls on us to be scrupulously honest with ourselves and others. It often requires us to face up to the facts and get real about what has actually been going on in our lives.

It asks us to use our capacity for clarity and discernment associated with the thinking mind. If we have been lacking in honesty or evading truth and justice, then the Ace of Swords calls on us to take a closer look at our own actions and behavior. 

Ultimately, we must face ourselves and the circumstances of our lives directly and honestly if we hope to live a life of integrity.

The truth, logic and sense of justice symbolized by the Ace of Swords can help ground us in what is real, in order that we may live our lives both ethically and effectively.

King of Cups | Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

King of Cups

Keywords for the King of Cups

UNDERSTANDINGCARING
WISEHELPFUL
TOLERANTRESPONSIBLE
COMPASSIONATEPATIENT
DIPLOMATICETHICAL

In the image on the card, we see our King seated before us on a plainly carved stone throne that seems to be almost floating on the surface of the choppy ocean waves.

It is quite the contrast to the Queen of this suit, who seems almost to blend in with the gentle waves lapping against the shore in front of her.

In fact, the King seems to be quite far out to sea. A large ship is seen riding the crest of a high wave to his right, as a single fish appears to jump up above the surface from the depths of the sea.

Interpretation of King of Cups in the Reading

Like all of the court cards, this can represent someone in our outer environment that shows the same qualities and characteristics of the King of Cups. Alternatively, in some instances it can also refer to how we ourselves are showing up in a given situation.

The King of Cups represents a man who is a wise and caring leader. He is a person who cares deeply about those around him. A patient and attentive listener, he seeks to understand the perspectives of other people. 

He remains patient even under stress, and is tolerant of diverse points of view and ways of being in the world.

Our King is deeply engaged with the world around him. While a practical and responsible problem-solver, he brings a deeply empathetic and emotionally intelligent way of responding to all of his concerns.

This card represents a man who can be trusted to act with a higher degree of integrity and care in all he does. His calm and peaceful demeanor inspires others to seek this King’s guidance and advice, while his diplomatic and often gentle nature is effective in helping him gain loyal adherents and allies. 

The King of Cups is someone who achieves his aims through the use of his powerfully calm and composed attitude towards the problems he must confront in the world. 

Queen of Cups | Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

Queen of Cups

Keywords for the Queen of Cups

LOVINGGENTLE
NURTURINGINTUITIVE
COMPASSIONATEPSYCHIC
CREATIVESENSITIVE
INTROSPECTIVEKIND-HEARTED

In the image on this card, we find ourselves down by the water’s edge early on a bright spring day.

To our right, we see yellow cliffs rise up in the background. On our left, we see water flowing gently up against the sand of the seashore.

Directly before us, we see a beautiful woman dress all in shades of blue. Her dress gently flows down to blend into the water at her feet, becoming at one point nearly impossible to determine the sea begins and she ends.

This speaks to how integrated this Queen is with the waters of the unconscious represented by the ocean.

This is the source of her vast creative powers. She draws easily upon the divine source for all of her inspiration and creativity. She easily receives guidance from the deeper waters of the greater unconscious depths.

Interpretation of the Queen of Cups in a Reading

The Queen of Cups in a reading can refer either to someone we know in our external world, or alternatively to ourselves and how we have been showing up in a particular situation. 

Either way, it indicates a woman who possesses a certain sweetness and sensitivity to her nature. 

She is caring and nurturing to those around her with an almost motherly quality that carries all the connotations of generosity and concern for those she loves, while retaining a certain youthful and spontaneous attitude. 

This is a woman who is very creative. She uses her visionary imagination to manifest art, relationships, and much more from the heart.

The Queen of Cups is also the most intuitive and even psychic of all the court cards. Her inner visions are not merely flights of fancy, but rather often intimations of a deeper truth. This is a queen who is grounded in reality, who has the capacity to utilize her inspired visions to make her dreams a reality. 

Knight of Cups | Tarot Card Meaning & Interpretation

Knight of Cups

Keywords for the Knight of Cups 

ROMANTICDREAMY
CHIVALROUSUNREALISTIC
POETICMOODY
IDEALISTICOVERDRAMATIC
QUIXOTICUNSTABLE

In the image on the card, we see what appears to be an arid landscape in the background. It appears to be high noon–the sun lights up the landscape, and amidst these intense solar rays one can almost [taste/feel] the dryness in the hot air.

A single quiet stream flows through the parched earth of this scene, snaking gently across the dry earth of the arid landscape. 

In the midst of this, we see a Knight on his horse. This horse bears a striking resemblance to the one pictured on Key 13, the red-eyed white horse ridden by Death himself.

He wears a tunic over his armor, decorated with images of red swimming in a blue sea. They are the only fish in sight on this card, in contrast to what we see with either the Page, Queen or King.

This speaks to the fact that the emotional energy of this Knight is not generative or creative. For as many beautifully inspired ideas as he may have, they tend to remain idealistic dreams unmanifest in actual reality.

Interpretation of the Knight of Cups in a Reading

Like all of the court cards, this can represent someone in our outer environment that shows the same qualities and characteristics of the Knight of Cups. Alternatively, in some instances it can also refer to how we ourselves are showing up in a given situation.

Either way, this court card will indicate a person who has a very idealistic, romanticized view of life. He is a dreamer, caught up in his fantasies and visions of an ideal love or ideal world. 

On the positive side, this Knight has a romantic and inspired sensibility, possessing the soul of an artist and the heart of a poet. His emotional depth and spiritual sensitivity are unequaled. 

When he loves, he holds nothing back. He is all in without reservations. He is someone who is proud to wear his heart on his sleeve.

On the negative side, this Knight can be a bit of a fanatic. He may be so enamored with his ideals that he may be willing to take dangerous actions to defend them–no matter how ungrounded or ill-conceived these may be.

His capacity for strong feelings also predisposes him to emotional volatility and extreme mood swings. As a result, he is not someone we can consider reliable, and we are not always sure we can count on him.