Tarot Swords According to A. E. Waite
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.
A hand issues from a cloud, grasping as word, the point of which is encircled by a crown.
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.
Great prosperity or great misery.
Reversed: Marriage broken off, for a woman, through her own imprudence.
A hoodwinked female figure balances two swords upon her shoulders.
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.
Gifts for a lady, influential protection for a man in search of help.
Reversed: Dealings with rogues.
Three swords piercing a heart; cloud and rain behind.
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.
For a woman, the flight of her lover.
Reversed: A meeting with one whom the Querent has compromised; also a nun.
The effigy of a knight in the attitude of prayer, at full length upon his tomb.
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.
A bad card, but if reversed a qualified success may be expected by wise administration of affairs.
Reversed: A certain success following wise administration.
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.
Degradation, destruction, revocation, infamy, dishonour, loss, with the variants and analogues of these.
Reversed: The same; burial and obsequies.
An attack on the fortune of the Querent.
Reversed: A sign of sorrow and mourning.
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.
journey by water, route, way, envoy, commissionary, expedient.
Reversed: Declaration, confession, publicity; one account says that it is a proposal of love.
The voyage will be pleasant.
Reversed: Unfavourable issue of lawsuit.
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.
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.
Dark girl; a good card; it promises a country life after a competence has been secured.
Reversed: Good advice, probably neglected.
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.
Bad news, violent chagrin, crisis, censure, power in trammels, conflict, calumny; also sickness.
Reversed: Disquiet, difficulty, opposition, accident, treachery; what is unforeseen; fatality.
For a woman, scandal spread in her respect.
Reversed: Departure of a relative.
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.
Death, failure, miscarriage, delay, deception, disappointment, despair.
Reversed: Imprisonment, suspicion, doubt, reasonable fear, shame.
An ecclesiastic, a priest; generally, a card of bad omen.
Reversed: Good ground for suspicion against a doubtful person.
A prostrate figure, pierced by all the swords belonging to the card.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An indiscreet person will pry into the Querent's secrets.
Reversed: Astonishing news.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Widowhood, female sadness and embarrassment, absence, sterility, mourning, privation, separation.
Reversed: Malice, bigotry, artifice, prudery, bale, deceit.
Reversed: A bad woman, with ill-will towards the Querent.
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.
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.
A lawyer, senator, doctor.
Reversed: A bad man; also a caution to put an end to a ruinous lawsuit.
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