card meanings & reading

By Stefan Stenudd
Stefan Stenudd
About me
I'm a Swedish writer. In addition to fiction, I've written books about the Tarot, astrology and other metaphysical traditions. I'm also an historian of ideas, researching the thought patterns in creation myths. My personal website: stenudd.com

Tarot Online Reading
Free Celtic Cross card reading.

Major Arcana
The 22 Tarot trump cards and their meanings.

Minor Arcana
The 56 suited Tarot cards and their meanings.

The Celtic Cross
The most famous and used Tarot card divination spread explained.

Tarot Card Decks
Some of the Tarot designs through the centuries.

The Rider-Waite Tarot
The most famous Tarot card deck.

Tarot vs. Playing Cards
The same ancestry but evolving for different purposes.

What to Make of It
Is Tarot divination accurate, and if so - how?

Tarot Archetypes
The symbolic ingredients in the cards.

Tarot Speaks to You
The cards mean what they mean to you.

Tarot Copyright
The Tarot in the public domain.

Tarot Unfolded
My book on the Tarot and its symbolic imagery.

How to get in touch with me.

Major Arcana
Click the image to get the card reading.

The Fool Tarot Card The Magician Tarot Card The High Priestess Tarot Card The Empress Tarot Card The Emperor Tarot Card The Hierophant Tarot Card The Lovers Tarot Card The Chariot Tarot Card Strength Tarot Card The Hermit Tarot Card Wheel of Fortune Tarot Card Justice Tarot Card The Hanged Man Tarot Card Death Tarot Card Temperance Tarot Card The Devil Tarot Card The Tower Tarot Card The Star Tarot Card The Moon Tarot Card The Sun Tarot Card Judgement Tarot Card The World Tarot Card

Complete Horoscope
Complete Horoscope
How predictions are done by classical astrology and the complete horoscope, with many examples.

I Ching Online
I Ching Online
The 64 hexa­grams of the Chinese classic I Ching and what they mean in divination. Try it online for free.

Book by Stefan Stenudd:

Your Health in Your Horoscope, by Stefan Stenudd.

Your Health in Your Horoscope
This book shows you what your horoscope says about your health, according to the old tradition of medical astrology. You learn what the planets, the Zodiac signs and the other ingredients of the horoscope reveal about many health issues. Click the image to see the book (and Kindle ebook) at Amazon.

Life Energy Encyclopedia, by Stefan Stenudd.
Life Energy Encyclopedia
Qi, prana, spirit, ruach, pneuma, and many other life forces around the world explained and compared, by Stefan Stenudd. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.

Tarot Swords

The Swords Tarot Suit.

The 14 Cards of the Tarot Swords Suit and Their Meanings

Swords correspond to Spades in a regular deck of cards. Their Greek element is fire. They stand for forceful action, power, and firm decision. In the four classes of feudal society, this suit is linked to that of the aristocracy, the warriors and rulers.

     When a Swords card appears in a reading, its message is about action needed or already commenced, drastic change because of necessity or circumstance, ambition, competition, defense, and other things that demand resolve and bold activity.

     Here are the 14 cards of the Swords suit and what they mean in Tarot card divination:

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Ace of Swords

Ace of Swords

This is an exclamation mark, here for the principle of stern action. There is imminent need of it. Do something.

A. E. Waite's description:
A hand issues from a cloud, grasping as word, the point of which is encircled by a crown. Divinatory Meanings: Triumph, the excessive degree in everything, conquest, triumph of force. It is a card of great force, in love as well as in hatred. The crown may carry a much higher significance than comes usually within the sphere of fortune-telling. Reversed: The same, but the results are disastrous; another account says - conception, child­birth, augmentation, multiplicity.

Waite's additional meanings:
Great prosperity or great misery. Reversed: Marriage broken off, for a woman, through her own imprudence.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Two of Swords

Two of Swords

Where to go when both directions are risky and still haste is called for? You must decide although you can't be sure.

A. E. Waite's description:
A hoodwinked female figure balances two swords upon her shoulders. Divinatory Meanings: Conformity and the equipoise which it suggests, courage, friendship, concord in a state of arms; another reading gives tenderness, affection, intimacy. The suggestion of harmony and other favourable readings must be considered in a qualified manner, as Swords generally are not symbolical of beneficent forces in human affairs. Reversed: Imposture, falsehood, duplicity, disloyalty.

Waite's additional meanings:
Gifts for a lady, influential protection for a man in search of help. Reversed: Dealings with rogues.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Three of Swords

Three of Swords

Does everything work against you, is there no way to go without getting hurt? Take no step before heeding the warning.

A. E. Waite's description:
Three swords piercing a heart; cloud and rain behind. Divinatory Meanings: Re­moval, absence, delay, division, rupture, dispersion, and all that the design signifies naturally, being too simple and obvious to call for specific enumeration. Reversed: Mental alienation, error, loss, distraction, disorder, confusion.

Waite's additional meanings:
For a woman, the flight of her lover. Reversed: A meeting with one whom the Querent has compromised; also a nun.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Four of Swords

Four of Swords

Not every hero won the battle, but it's still heroic. Treasure how your action will be remembered.

A. E. Waite's description:
The effigy of a knight in the attitude of prayer, at full length upon his tomb. Divinatory Meanings: Vigilance, retreat, solitude, hermit's repose, exile, tomb and coffin. It is these last that have suggested the design. Reversed: Wise admini­stration, circumspection, economy, avarice, precaution, testament.

Waite's additional meanings:
A bad card, but if reversed a qualified success may be expected by wise admi­ni­stration of affairs. Reversed: A certain success following wise administration.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Five of Swords

Five of Swords

Betrayal when the battle is over. Time to ask what the battle was really for.

A. E. Waite's description:
A disdainful man looks after two retreating and dejected figures. Their swords lie upon the ground. He carries two others on his left shoulder, and a third sword is in his right hand, point to earth. He is the master in possession of the field. Divinatory Meanings: Degra­dation, destruction, revocation, infamy, dishonour, loss, with the variants and analogues of these. Reversed: The same; burial and obsequies.

Waite's additional meanings:
An attack on the fortune of the Querent. Reversed: A sign of sorrow and mourning.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Six of Swords

Six of Swords

A most costly outcome of a big venture. Either bitter defeat or a Pyrrhic victory. Still, you will persevere.

A. E. Waite's description:
A ferryman carrying passengers in his punt to the further shore. The course is smooth, and seeing that the freight is light, it may be noted that the work is not beyond his strength. Divinatory Mea­nings: journey by water, route, way, en­voy, commissionary, expedient. Reversed: Declaration, confession, publicity; one account says that it is a proposal of love.

Waite's additional meanings:
The voyage will be pleasant. Reversed: Unfavourable issue of lawsuit.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Seven of Swords

Seven of Swords

Betrayal right before the decisive battle. It may not lead to defeat, but victory is suddenly more distant.

A. E. Waite's description:
A man in the act of carrying away five swords rapidly; the two others of the card remain stuck in the ground. A camp is close at hand. Divinatory Meanings: Design, attempt, wish, hope, confidence; also quarrelling, a plan that may fail, annoyance. The design is uncertain in its import, because the significations are widely at variance with each other. Reversed: Good advice, counsel, instruc­tion, slander, babbling.

Waite's additional meanings:
Dark girl; a good card; it promises a country life after a competence has been secured. Reversed: Good advice, probably neglected.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Eight of Swords

Eight of Swords

Helplessly in the hands of others, who seem to show little compassion. Cause for apprehension, but not panic.

A. E. Waite's description:
A woman, bound and hoodwinked, with the swords of the card about her. Yet it is rather a card of temporary durance than of irretrievable bondage. Divinatory Meanings: Bad news, violent chagrin, crisis, censure, power in trammels, conflict, calumny; also sickness. Reversed: Disquiet, difficulty, opposition, accident, treachery; what is unforeseen; fatality.

Waite's additional meanings:
For a woman, scandal spread in her respect. Reversed: Departure of a relative.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Nine of Swords

Nine of Swords

Regret of choices made and anxiety of choices urgently needed to be made. There's no way out of responsibility.

A. E. Waite's description:
One seated on her couch in lamentation, with the swords over her. She is as one who knows no sorrow which is like unto hers. It is a card of utter desolation. Divinatory Meanings: Death, failure, miscarriage, delay, deception, disap­pointment, despair. Reversed: Imprison­ment, suspicion, doubt, reasonable fear, shame.

Waite's additional meanings:
An ecclesiastic, a priest; generally, a card of bad omen. Reversed: Good ground for suspicion against a doubtful person.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Ten of Swords

Ten of Swords

Utter defeat, probably because of betrayal. You may suffer, but you're not to blame.

A. E. Waite's description:
A prostrate figure, pierced by all the swords belonging to the card. Divinatory Meanings: Whatsoever is intimated by the design; also pain, affliction, tears, sadness, desolation. It is not especially a card of violent death. Reversed: Advantage, profit, success, favour, but none of these are permanent; also power and authority.

Waite's additional meanings:
Followed by Ace and King, imprison­ment; for girl or wife, treason on the part of friends. Reversed: Victory and consequent fortune for a soldier in war.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Page of Swords

Page of Swords

Bravery to the point of being foolhardy, but there's so much more to win than to lose.

A. E. Waite's description:
A lithe, active figure holds a sword upright in both hands, while in the act of swift walking. He is passing over rugged land, and about his way the clouds are collocated wildly. He is alert and lithe, looking this way and that, as if an expected enemy might appear at any moment. Divinatory Meanings: Autho­rity, overseeing, secret service, vigilance, spying, examination, and the qualities thereto belonging. Reversed: More evil side of these qualities; what is unforeseen, unprepared state; sickness is also intimated.

Waite's additional meanings:
An indiscreet person will pry into the Querent's secrets. Reversed: Astonishing news.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Knight of Swords

Knight of Swords

Charging right ahead, whether that's wise or not. That's the spirit by which many battles are won - and lost.

A. E. Waite's description:
He is riding in full course, as if scattering his enemies. In the design he is really a prototypical hero of romantic chivalry. He might almost be Galahad, whose sword is swift and sure because he is clean of heart. Divinatory Meanings: Skill, bra­very, capacity, defence, address, enmity, wrath, war, destruction, opposition, resistance, ruin. There is therefore a sense in which the card signifies death, but it carries this meaning only in its proximity to other cards of fatality. Reversed: Imprudence, incapacity, extravagance.

Waite's additional meanings:
A soldier, man of arms, satellite, sti­pendiary; heroic action predicted for soldier. Reversed: Dispute with an imbecile person; for a woman, struggle with a rival, who will be conquered.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Queen of Swords

Queen of Swords

Mighty power and the knowledge of how to use it. Victorious even without going to battle.

A. E. Waite's description:
Her right hand raises the weapon verti­cally and the hilt rests on an arm of her royal chair the left hand is extended, the arm raised her countenance is severe but chastened; it suggests familiarity with sorrow. It does not represent mercy, and, her sword notwithstanding, she is scarcely a symbol of power. Divinatory Meanings: Widowhood, female sadness and embarrassment, absence, sterility, mourning, privation, separation. Re­versed: Malice, bigotry, artifice, prudery, bale, deceit.

Waite's additional meanings:
A widow. Reversed: A bad woman, with ill-will towards the Querent.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: King of Swords

King of Swords

The power of what can't be changed, regardless the outcome of battles. Some things one must accept.

A. E. Waite's description:
He sits in judgment, holding the un­sheathed sign of his suit. He recalls, of course, the conventional Symbol of justice in the Trumps Major, and he may represent this virtue, but he is rather the power of life and death, in virtue of his office. Divinatory Meanings: Whatsoever arises out of the idea of judgment and all its connexions-power, command, autho­rity, militant intelligence, law, offices of the crown, and so forth. Reversed: Cruelty, perversity, barbarity, perfidy, evil intention.

Waite's additional meanings:
A lawyer, senator, doctor. Reversed: A bad man; also a caution to put an end to a ruinous lawsuit.

The Tarot Minor Arcana

The Book

Tarot Unfolded, by Stefan Stenudd.
Tarot Unfolded

This book by Stefan Stenudd presents an imaginative reading of the divination cards, i.e. focusing on what impressions the images and their symbols give. Several spreads are introduced, as well as the meanings of all the 78 cards and their pictures. Also, it gives many examples of symbolic and allegorical imagery within and beyond the Tarot. This book will help you find your own intuitive way of making inspired Tarot card readings. Click the image to see the book at Amazon.