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Five of Swords Tarot Card Meaning

Five of Swords Keywords

UPRIGHT: upheaval | conflict | win at any cost | disagreement | bullying

REVERSED: contrition | penance | reconciliation | past resentment 

Five of Swords Description

The Five of Swords features a man with a cunning expression gathering three swords from the ground, symbolizing victory, but one gained through dubious means. His glance towards two dejected men walking away highlights their defeat and sorrow, indicating that the victory may be hollow or morally compromised. The scattered swords on the ground hint at a recent conflict and the negative aftermath of the struggle.

The overcast and stormy sky reinforces the theme of unease and turmoil, suggesting that the end of the conflict has not brought peace or resolution, but rather ongoing tension and dissatisfaction. This card reflects the consequences of winning at any cost, illustrating the potential for strife, ethical dilemmas, and the isolation that can follow contentious victories. It underscores the complex nature of conflict and the often-pyrrhic nature of aggressive triumphs.

NOTE: The tarot card meaning description is based on the Rider-Waite deck and Decoding The Cards

Wishing For A Deeper Tarot Connection?

Decoding The Cards goes further than keywords and traditional interprations by providing exercises for each card in the tarot.

The exercises this book are designed to challenge you to delve deeper into the meanings of each card, as well as consider your own personal experiences in relation to the traditional meanings.

Five of Swords Upright

When the Five of Swords appears in a reading, it is indicative that a conflict has arisen and resulted in hurt feelings, disappointment, and sadness. Underhanded tactics may have been employed to win the argument, so even if victory was achieved, there might be a price to pay.


This card could also be a warning to choose battles carefully, as not all are worth the pain and suffering that could result from fighting. It may also indicate that no matter what you do to combat a situation, you  may not achieve the desired outcome. 


When the Five of Swords appears, it can point to feelings of resentment toward others for having “unfair advantages.” It can also signify a desire to “knock them down a peg.” In this case, it is important to pause, take stock of the situation, and decide what is best for all involved, rather than indulge in petty power struggles.

Five of Swords Reversed

The Five of Swords reversed can indicate a futile argument, in which no matter how hard you try to argue your point of view and present your case, there is no guarantee that the other person will come around to see things from your perspective. 


This card can also appear when you want to end any harmful conflicts or animosity, make peace, and move on with your life. 


It can signal that it is time to accept defeat, put the past behind you, and focus on creating a more positive future. 

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