Five of Swords Tarot Card Meanings

Five of Swords Tarot Card Meanings

What does the Five of Swords card mean in a Tarot Reading?

The Five of Swords of the Tarot is a difficult card to understand. Its essence is victory, but this victory is either not entirely honest, or only brings problems and sadness. It’s too early to rejoice in success. You need to pay attention to what price it costs and whether you need to fight for it at all.
It seems that the point of the card is to win, but the cost of success is very high and the consequences are often devastating.
This card is charged with negative energy. Minor Arcana Tarot card Five of Swords, appearing in the spread, usually does not bode well.
The Five of Swords is perhaps the most “harmful” card of the Minor Arcana Tarot. It means an aggravation of the conflict, a vile scandal, “blows below the belt”, baseness and meanness. At the same time, the card does not indicate whether all these harmful actions come from ourselves or, on the contrary, we were drawn into this unseemly story as a victim. Only the rest of the cards in the spread can report this. However, in any case, the Five of Swords means “Pyrrhic victory”, which will not please the winner for long.

Goal: Watch out – there’s a trap ahead.
Element: Air
Planet: Mars
Astrological sign: Aquarius


In the foreground is the winner, holding one sword in his right hand and two swords repulsed from opponents in his left hand. Two more swords lie right there on the ground. In the distance, two defeated enemies are leaving towards the sea. Wraps of dark clouds rush across the sky.
(For a detailed depiction, analysis of the Symbols and all Elements of the Five of Swords Tarot Card, click here)

The Main Meanings of the Card In an Upright Position

Key Words and Phrases

Injured pride, humiliation. Disputes. False pride. Ridicule. Jest. Embarrassment. Cunning. Secret gloating. Intrigue. Confusion. Backroom affairs. Betrayal. Spiteful gossip. Discussions. Hostility.

Five of Swords

Anger. Sabotage. Gossip behind your back. Insincerity. Restrictions. A loss. Tightening restrictions. Failure. Bad luck. Defeat. Loss of face. Cowardice. Negative thinking. Unclear thinking. Theft. Unwillingness to consider the consequences. Manipulation. Selfishness. Dominant attitude. Indiscretion. Tactlessness. The accusation. Destructive behavior. Revenge. Betrayal. Funeral. It’s not fair. And it’s all? What matters is whether you win or lose, not how you play. Caution: you can get exactly what you want.

The main meanings of the card in an upright position

end of a difficult battle / upcoming battle;
obvious losses and questionable gains;
degradation, destruction;
aggravation of the conflict, scandal;
baseness, meanness;
slander, insults;
the collapse of previous ideals;
shame, bereavement;
disbelief in oneself;
confrontation with others;
encroachment on the property of the fortuneteller;
damage, distortion, exhaustion, damage;
losses, blunders, harm, stinginess, decline of business;
misfortune, failure, overturning, ruin;
death, flight;
shame, insult, disgrace, ugliness;
contempt, depravity, debauchery, temptation, debauchery;
dishonor, desire to hurt, settle scores;
low self-esteem.

Five of Swords. Witchcraft Tarot by Ellen Dugan
Witchcraft Tarot by Ellen Dugan

Situation and Advice

The Five of Swords indicates that your behavior or the behavior of someone in your environment is regarded as negative or destructive. You will need to suppress your pride and accept some limitations, only then can you continue your plan. Your selfishness makes it difficult to admit that you have bitten off much more than you can chew. Perhaps you blame others for your mistakes.
It is so important for you to win that you do not consider the consequences of your behavior. Perhaps you will get what you wanted, but finally you will realize that this cannot fully realize your desires. Aggressive actions will also not help you achieve the desired result. Perhaps you are listening to too many people instead of drawing your own conclusions. You need to be wise enough to accept what you cannot change and admit defeat. Only then can you move on. You may have won the battle, but at what cost? Once you feel like a winner, ask yourself the question, “What did it cost me?”. Victory will not bring satisfaction.
Keep in mind that someone in your environment does not deserve your trust. Perhaps you have become a victim of dirty gossip or behind-the-scenes intrigue. Someone is acting against you out of jealousy or anger. The figured card in the spread will tell you who is sabotaging your plans and undermining your reputation.

Persons designated by Upright Five of Swords Tarot Сard

Lost their face. People who lose all the time. Spiteful gossips. Saboteurs. Those who create problems.

The Main Meanings of the Card In a Reversed Position

Key Words and Phrases

Positive values
Exemption from charges. An end to malicious gossip and slander. The betrayal is revealed.

Negative values
The assignments of the card are very similar in the correct position, but have an even more negative connotation. A loss. Failure. Intimidation. Manipulation. Humiliation. Dishonesty. Illegal receptions. The pursuit. Anger. Deception. Weakness. Defeat Selfishness False pride. Intrigue. Despair. Aggravation, suspicion. Paranoia. Bad relationship. All strenght is directed to winning. Mine, all mine!

The main meanings of the card in a reversed position

the outcome for the questioner is bad;
the loss is not as serious as when the card is in an upright position;
dishonesty in business relationships;
all negative values ​​of the card in an upright position, but with an even greater negative;
deception, fraud;
self-doubt, retreat;
conflict, dishonest, aggressive behavior;
failure, anxiety;
mourning, discouragement, affection, sadness, suffering.

Situation and Advice

The positive aspect of the Five of Swords:
an end to the attacks and slander that the card predicts in the upright position.

Negative aspect:
the Five of Swords in a reversed position says that you are in a situation where you feel humiliated, or you feel that you are being pursued. Your self-esteem may be low due to being humiliated or defeated repeatedly. Someone instigates you or attacks you openly and viciously.

Five of Swords. Black Grimoire Tarot
Black Grimoire Tarot

Persons designated by the Reversed Five of Swords Tarot Сard

Provocateurs. Evil enemies. Backstage schemers.

In the Spreads

The Five of Swords in the most general sense is success or victory, but requiring such sacrifices that perhaps losing would be even better. Having received something now, it will result in losses in the near future or mental disorders for you. If you have this Arcana, consider whether the game is worth the effort.
Drawing of this card in a spread should be feared. Its main feature is immorality. Perhaps it is the most cruel card in the deck. In some ways the Five of Swords of the Tarot is worse than Death, Tower, Moon or Ten of Swords. One of the associations with this card is the thirst for revenge. Here everything is flooded with revenge. And only if positive cards have gathered around, you can move on to other interpretations.
Both upright and reversed positions have almost the same meaning. However, there are still some small differences.

In an Upright Position

The Five of Swords directly predicts a difficult situation in which the questioner will experience stress or negative emotions. It can be conflicts, quarrels, struggle for something, loss of oneself, aggression, unethical behavior. Even if the querent wins, it will not bring him joy.
The meaning of the five of Tarot swords: grief, grievous loss, tragic situation. Decline, destruction, dishonor and loss await the questioner. Latent as well as foreseeable dangers are possible. Discouragement and defeat.
In an upright position, falling out in fortune-telling and spreads, the Tarot card Five of Swords means an aggravation of the conflict, a vile scandal, “blows below the belt”, baseness and meanness, humiliation. At the same time, the card does not indicate the causes and consequences of the problems that have arisen, does not say whether all these harmful actions come from the fortuneteller himself, or, on the contrary, the person was drawn into this unseemly story as a victim. The card directly and unambiguously predicts a black bar in life, stressful conditions, conflicts. Moreover, all these phenomena, problems and situations are not fleeting, not situational, but have a sufficient duration in time and, most likely, will have a strong impact on a person and his future life.
The presence of this Arcana in the spread suggests that a dangerous or very difficult situation awaits you ahead, from which you are unlikely to be able to emerge victorious. It could be a serious conflict, a dispute, or even a lawsuit. Having failed and retreating, you will have to regain the lost ground for a long time to come.
However, the Five of Swords indicates that much in this unpleasant situation will depend on your stamina and fortitude. Perhaps courage will not save you from defeat, but it will allow you to avoid large losses and quickly gather strength to rush into the attack again. Even defeat can be beneficial to a strong and courageous person. In other words, even after losing one of the battles, you still have a chance to win the war.
When the Five of Swords appears, it immediately becomes clear that trouble lies ahead. Obviously, this will not be a white streak of life. These problems cannot be easily avoided. Frustration, stress, loss, struggle with fate cannot be avoided. It will be clear from the surrounding cards whether there is an option here to go aside. Maybe it’s time for you to take time out. There is no point in fighting what cannot be avoided. It is better to save your strength until the right moment.
The value of the Five of Swords Tarot card often indicates a worsening scandal, unexpected blows from the back, carelessness, low deeds, intrigue, dislike. The most interesting thing is that the card does not show from whom all the negative energy is coming. It can be the questioner himself, his friends, relatives, partners, colleagues. You need to carefully study the whole alignment in order to understand who you are in the role now: a cat or a mouse.
But whatever one may say, the card brings a useless victory. Maybe remember this phrase – “Pyrrhic Victory”. It means victory equal to defeat. Too much effort was expended on it. You can’t get a sense of satisfaction and triumph here. The winner will have no joy. The meaning of the card varies greatly depending on the questioner: if he is a strong, aggressive person, then most likely he will be the offender, and not in the role of the beaten one.
In the old days, the card was read as – “useless victory”, “unsweetened joy”. One of the old meanings is “empty victories”, “bitter successes”. Moreover, these were the best of the options. They also talked about such meanings: “collapse, loss, shame”. In modern times, the meaning of the Five of Swords is also not good: “sadness, bitterness, tragedy, loss, black dossier, extortion, shame, humiliation, dishonor”.
The card shows that the person is in a difficult situation. He is torn from his usual habitat and placed in a foreign one. These are different classes. And it doesn’t matter if you are higher or lower than these people, it is still difficult to adapt. There is opposition here. And the end of this war is unknown to anyone, but there is no chance of victory. This is a fight that was initially lost.
Sometimes the Five of Swords says it’s time to stop, give up the fight. Perhaps this is a temporary lull. But it is necessary. If the card fell out last in the spread, then it indicates a refusal. If a question was asked, the answer is no. At the moment, a person begins to understand that “the end is not worth the money”. The meaning of “Pyrrhic victory” reaches his consciousness.

In a Reversed Position:

A reversed card is similar in meaning to an upright card, but even darker. It also means conflict situations, losses, rejection of morality, experiences, etc., only in a more serious form.
Five of Tarot Swords in the wrong orientation means unethical, vicious, contentious behavior either towards the Client or on his part. If he is a victim, the feeling of defeat will be strong; if he is the instigator in intrigue, then any luck he has will be a Pyrrhic victory.
The reversed Five of Tarot swords has the same negative meaning as in the upright position.
In the reversed position, the Five of Swords does not lose its purely negative aspect. On the contrary, all the events and phenomena described by this card acquire an additional shade of grief and mourning. The Arcana is interpreted as an irresistible desire to return something, to restore something, to glue it from the fragments, but this desire cannot be realized, and that is why the Five of Swords is so tragic. This also includes remorse, regret, rethinking your actions, and making amends.
In a reversed position, the Five of Swords Tarot warns the fortuneteller about strife and conflicts, as well as that someone from his environment (or even he himself) seeks to achieve his goal by not the most honest means.

Five of Swords. Mirage Valley Tarot by Barbara Moore
Mirage Valley Tarot by Barbara Moore

Depending on the alignment, the card can mean such events in the life of a fortuneteller as a confrontation with colleagues or partners, a conflict with a loved one, fraud, theft of property or money, the need to defend one’s interests – including in court.
At the same time, the reversed Five of Swords of the Tarot, unlike the upright card, does not exclude the possibility of your victory – especially if you play dishonestly, not according to the rules. But even if this happens, the victory is unlikely to bring you satisfaction and may well turn out to be Pyrrhic.

In the Spreads for Different situation

In an Upright Position:
The Five of Swords predicts difficult, problematic circumstances, conflicts, opposition of the parties, negative emotions. Think again if you really need to win and get what you want. Perhaps you should tame your pride and selfishness.
In a Reversed Position:
The card that fell on a specific situation means conflicts, problems, struggles and disputes, dishonest acts. But, unlike the upright card, you have almost no chance of avoiding participation in this. Therefore, pull yourself together, act rationally and thoughtfully.

In the Spreads for Relationship

In an Upright Position:
In love, as a rule, it is a struggle for power, confrontation, a desire to dominate a partner, to show who is in charge. On this basis, quarrels, conflicts, attempts to hurt each other for a living, cruelty on the part of the chosen one / chosen one, emotional violence is possible.
In the field of relationships, the upright card Five of Swords speaks of a period of heartlessness, hatred, all sorts of meanness and a thirst for revenge, when partners inflict the most cruel and merciless blows on each other. This happens in those unions that either have already disintegrated, or they will soon have to. In addition, Arcana clearly indicates the dishonesty of one partner in relation to the other, treason.

In a Reversed Position:
In a relationship, a reversed Five of Swords has the same meaning as an upright card. This is a confrontation, a desire to suppress a partner as much as possible, humiliate, crush. Attempts of moral or even physical violence are possible.
In the reversed form, the Five of Swords further aggravates the interpretation of its upright position. Only here we are already talking about the fact that it is practically impossible to somehow change or turn the situation in the other direction. In order to turn something in your favor, you will have to not only make a titanic effort, but also sacrifice something important and significant for this.

In the Spreads for Dates

In an Upright Position:
You are dating someone you dreamed of, but is this person really as you think of him?
In a Reversed Position:
The relationship may have ended. Your feelings now are a mixture of sadness and relief.

In the Spreads for Family

In an Upright Position:
The end of family strife. Let go of what you have lost, humble your pride.
In a Reversed Position:
You are opposing the family in every possible way. Does it really bring you joy?

In the Spreads for Friendship

In an Upright Position:
Parting may happen, your friend may go (maybe to another country), but the card also shows a new friendship.
In a Reversed Position:
Be on the lookout: troublemakers have appeared in the circle of friends. Cruelty, violence, or at least violent arguments are likely.

In the Spreads for Money

In an Upright Position:
In finances it means losses, monetary losses, big expenses. Now is not a good time to invest or bet.
If you want to improve your ability to pay, look for a new line of business.
In a Reversed Position:
In terms of finance, the situation is unstable. When money seems to be there, but unforeseen expenses immediately arise. Sudden monetary losses are possible.
Beware of overwhelming yourself with work that is too much for you. Be vigilant, you can be robbed.

In the Spreads for Education

In an Upright Position:
You are aware of your problems, but you are determined to fight them and are determined to win.
In a Reversed Position:
The key word is bully. If this is about you, then leave people alone. If someone bullies you, tell the teacher about it (you yourself seem to be unable to cope).

Five of Swords. Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti
Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti

In the Spreads for Career

In an Upright Position:
In the career field, as well as in love, it is a struggle for power. And by any means, even the most dishonest. Deception, machinations, setups, manipulations, etc. If you have an opportunity not to participate in all this, it is better to take advantage of it now.
Here, the upright Five of Swords marks a difficult period of intrigue, slander and the lowest of insults, usually followed by dismissal, and often a dramatic continuation in court. But this card can also mean some kind of sensitive blow – a rejection of a project, a failure in exams. Arcana can also indicate an extremely unsuccessful course and business development, significant financial losses, bankruptcy, dishonesty and deception on the part of partners or work colleagues, fraud.

In a Reversed Position:
The reversed position of the Arcana means the collapse of plans, an unstable career, failed projects, unprofitable cooperation, uncertainty about the future. Victories may be followed immediately by defeats.
In the reversed form, the Five of Swords is a vain attempt to compensate for material damage, the desire to save at least something after a failure, confusion and perplexity after a defeat. But even if at least one of this succeeds, the damage turns out to be so global that all the positive moments seem completely insignificant.

In the Spreads for Health

In an Upright Position:
In the field of health, it can mean all sorts of illnesses and injuries. Diseases can be both physical and psychological. Do not delay with timely diagnosis.
In a Reversed Position:
The reversed Five of Swords Tarot indicates serious illness and damage to the body. If you are worried about something, you should immediately consult a doctor, otherwise there may be complications.

Answer to Yes / No Tarot Spreads

In an Upright Position:
In a Reversed Position:

Self-Development Lesson

If you have just emerged victorious from a conflict situation, what is the price of this victory? Is it achieved at the expense of others? If you are defeated, what can be done to ensure that you are not exploited in the future?

Type of person in an upright position:

The card means a spiteful, quarrelsome, vengeful person who commits fatal mistakes one after another. Unable to compromise in anything. Openly despises the weaker, has pronounced sadistic inclinations. Only fear can hold him back.

Type of person in a reversed position:

This card means a person with very low self-esteem. He is afraid of everyone and everything, seeks to get lost in the crowd. This creates for him the illusion of security. He would be glad to run away from any responsibility, but usually he does not have enough courage for this either. His spirit reflects complete resignation to fate.

Arcana’s warning

Watch your morality, stick to moral principles, regardless of the situation. Don’t lose yourself.

Final Advice of Arcana

Move as far as possible from a difficult situation, do not get involved in conflicts. Victory will not bring you anything good.

In an Upright Position:
Show disobedience if your interests are hurt. To fight the enemy with his own methods, leaving him not the slightest chance for maneuver.

Five of Swords. Celtic Tarot
Celtic Tarot

In a Reversed Position:
Track everything that happens around, prepare for departure, it is not far off. Remember that you can’t go far on an old horse.


The Five of Swords is a card of failure or defeat. It predicts the collapse of your plans, an unhappy or tragic situation and / or a huge loss. The surrounding cards (which depict other events and people) can mitigate this loss, but you are entering a very bad streak and can only try to get past it with the least amount of loss.

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Discover other Minor Arcana:

6 thoughts on “Five of Swords Tarot Card Meanings”

  1. For me the five of swords, whatever one may say, is the cards of deception, betrayal, treachery and humiliation. Here, from practice – the husband read his wife’s love letters – 5 swords!!! (in the bridge at the position – what is in the head, in the thoughts). That is, this is a major blow below the belt… a test of everything on the road, when the most important thing that you love and appreciate is under threat.

  2. An interesting card… :geek: It shows itself as perseverance and self-control. Shows a person who is ready to succeed in any business (to defend positions). In the personal, it brings an end to civil strife, but it is painful, you have to resign yourself. It also shows separation, the departure of a loved one… In a situation, circumstances rule. Any conflict has a ricochet effect. The ability to admit humiliation and defeat.

  3. One girl recently told me that she had 5 swords (which fell in her spread for a guy), the guy offended her with his actions – he pretended in front of his friends that he didn’t know her, and she was hurt! – here is the everyday meaning of the five of swords.

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