Five of Swords

Element: AIR

Upright: Hostility, Defeat, Winning at all Costs
Reversed: Reconciliation, Communication / Escalating Violence

Symbology, Meaning and Interpretation


Hostility, Defeat, Winning at all Costs.

This card is considered by many tarot experts as one of the most dramatic in the entire deck, especially if you are using the Rider-Waite deck or variants, such as this one.

It illustrates a real situation all of us experience at some point in our lives – defeat, loss and spitefulness. It can also represent serious conflict, stress, and lack of communication.

The two people in the background exhibit more perfectly these concepts of failure or losing a battle. Both look lost and weak in the middle of a very stormy and gloomy atmosphere. Some tarot readers identify a feeling of humiliation connected to them.

The main figure can represent our opposers. He seems to benefit from our losses, taking our broken swords from the ground, as a symbol of our defeat. He is compared to a vulture (like the ones far in the background): a person that is eager to win an advantage from other people’s difficulties or problems.

In some contexts, the malevolent character is a portrait of ourselves, wanting to triumph at all costs. That means that you may win the conflict, but it also means that you have been a little despicable. You may have found the taste of victory, but it is not healthy to keep that hateful behaviour.

It is time to apologise and make peace, otherwise you will feel the heavy dark clouds following you wherever you go.


Reconciliation, Communication / Escalating Violence.

The Five of Swords in reverse is generally a good omen as it can signify a peaceful resolution of conflicts.

It represents a period in which you will feel more capable to forget and to forgive, starting to understand that winning is not the most important thing. This is a card of communication; and it is through the power of that communication that you will find the way to settle your disputes.

Another interpretation of the Five of Swords in reverse is that your conflicts are going deeper and are more damaging. You may see things escalate, creating more stress and anxiety in your life.

Different feelings such as regret, remorse or sometimes fury and retribution might come to you. Try to control your own impulses and realise that winning is not everything. Have a deeper study of the current situation and possible outcomes and remember to communicate.