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Tarot Swords According to A. E. Waite

The Swords Tarot Suit.

The 14 Cards of the Tarot Swords Suit in Divination

Here is what the occultist Arthur Edward Waite, co-creator of the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, had to say about the Swords Minor Arcana suit in divination.

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Tarot Minor Arcana card: Ace of Swords

Ace of Swords


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.

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

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 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.

Additional meanings:
The voyage will be pleasant.

Reversed: Unfavourable issue of lawsuit.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: Seven of Swords

Seven of Swords


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.

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

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


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.

Additional meanings:
A widow.

Reversed: A bad woman, with ill-will towards the Querent.

Tarot Minor Arcana card: King of Swords

King of Swords


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.

Additional meanings:
A lawyer, senator, doctor.

Reversed: A bad man; also a caution to put an end to a ruinous lawsuit.

More about the Swords Tarot suit

The Tarot Minor Arcana According to A. E. Waite

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