Five of Swords tarot card

Five of Swords Tarot Meanings

The card of conflict, loss, & tension.

Last Updated: April 16, 2024.

The Five of Swords is the fifth card in the Suit of Swords (also known as the suit of blades) and one of the fifty-six suit cards from the minor arcana. In divinatory tarot, the Suit of Swords is associated with thought, intellect, mental strength, and integrity. They can also represent conflict, hardship, and misfortune.

Divination practices such as cartomancy can help us make decisions, offer guidance, and help us tune into our intuition when we are at a crossroads in our lives. Understanding the meanings of each tarot card can help you sharpen your interpretative skills so you can get the most out of your readings.

The suit of swords is always associated with logic and decision-making. Querents who pull a sword card should heed its warning against negative thoughts and irrationality. The Five of Swords in particular warns of confrontation that will need to be addressed or how to deal with conflict after it has wreaked havoc upon your life. The Five of Swords doesn’t have to always spell disasters. Conflicts come and go like the shift winds of each season. If you pull this card, prepare to weather the upcoming storm, and your patience and resilience will be rewarded!

In this article, we will discuss the meanings of the Five of Swords in various tarot reading contexts as well as the different symbols and nuances that can be found within this court card.

Table of Contents

Pictorial Symbolism in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck

The artworks from the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck contain deeper esoteric meanings that tarotists love to decipher. In the traditional Rider-Waite-Smith illustration for Five of Swords, the viewer’s eye will be drawn to the subject on the right side of the illustration carrying three swords. 

Two more swords lie at his feet. The subject looks back on two others, presumably ones he has defeated, and their backs are turned to the viewer.

Five of Swords Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck

The contrast between our subject and his foes can be detected in their colours. Our primary subject sports bright colours of green and red, while those he has defeated appeared drained of their vibrance. This suggests the nature of their relationship, their loss at the hand of the primary subject in the illustration, the victor who carries the swords. Whatever the altercation here, someone suffered loss, which is emphasized especially in how the looming grey clouds overhead remain even after the conflict is over.

The Five of Swords key correspondences

Upright keywords

Defeat, argument, conflict, violence

Reversed keywords

Despair, resentment, compromise

Yes or No






Ruling Planet

Uranus, Saturn, Venus

Astrological Sign

Aquarius, Venus in Aquarius - astronomical timing January 20th to 29th

What does the upright Five of Swords mean in the Tarot?

The Five of Swords usually represents a warning of disagreements that are likely to occur, or are happening. Perhaps the obstacle has not been confronted and looms over the querent. It is also possible the confrontation has already taken place. In such a case, this card could indicate that you must move past and release the negative energies you hold on to in order to escape the pain this conflict has wrought.

Upright Five of Swords

When pulled in the upright position, the Five of Swords is associated with defeat, argument, conflict, and violence.

What does the upright Five of Swords mean in a love reading

In a love and relationships reading, the upright Five of Swords spells quarrels and hostility. The five of this suit especially indicates abusive or confrontational behaviours that are self-sabotaging or self-inflicted. If you see this card in a love reading, take the opportunity to reflect on your actions in the relationship. Do you initiate every argument? Do you listen to your partner’s needs? Is your mind wandering (or has wandered) towards infidelity? This card doesn’t have to be all bad, but see the moment as a chance to practice self-awareness and heal any destructive behaviours you are responsible for in the relationship.

What does the upright Five of Swords mean in a career reading?

The upright Five of Swords warns of tension lingering in your workplace. You may not necessarily be the target of this tension, but be wary of the motives of others. Your work may be called into question, but do not respond with irrational emotion. Be calm, use facts as a foundation and firm in the face of those who would be your rivals.

The Five of Swords as feelings/emotions

If you’re asking the tarot how someone feels about you, pulling the 5 of Swords means that they see you as an opponent or a manipulator. If this is a person you wish to be on good terms with, consider showcasing your gentler side to show you are approachable. Lay out the facts, do not seek conflict, and don’t make their connection with you a priority in how you see yourself.

The Five of Swords as a person

As a personality archetype, the 5 of Swords represents someone who is possesses a lot of confidence that may be perceived as arrogance by others. They do not shy from conflict and typically find it necessary to “win” in every confrontation or aspect of their life, perhaps even at the risk of spurning others.

The Five of Swords as advice

If you are asking the tarot for advice regarding a specific situation in your life, pulling the 5 of Swords means that conflict is near. Someone near you may have betrayal on their mind. Be careful of those who enter this stage of your life; it is worth looking at whether these people have your best interests in their heart. If you are the origin of this conflict, this may be a sign to start the conversation in question to gain the advantage of your situation and to progress forward without petty, or violent ends.

What is the zodiac or astrological sign associated with the Five of Swords?

The 5 of Swords works well with various air signs. Note the sky in the Rider-Waite-Smith illustration; storm clouds and brewing tempests are the telltale conditions invoking the air element. Therefore, the more diplomatic zodiacs may be better equipped to handle the drama looming nearby. The innovative and artistic Aquarius may find the upcoming storm a welcome challenge to solve. Charismatic Libras are naturally skilled at peacefully settling disputes, which may see them through the storm more quickly, which Venus rules.

Is the Five of Swords a yes or no card?

Typically, the 5 of Swords is a “No” card since it speaks of conflict and defeat for certain parties. However, if you are a natural, confident leader, eager to take on obstacles, this card may be the sign you need to pull the trigger where you may be uncertain. Like with all means of divination, readings may not be inherently clear, and the basis for interpreting this card lies in the querent.

Determine your station in life and your confidence level. If the suit of swords creates anxiety for you, perhaps the 5 of Swords warns you against a conflict you are not yet prepared for. If you feel confident and prepared to take the next step, the 5 of Swords may indicate that victory is possible at the risk of an extensive struggle. Prepare yourself for facing uncomfortable situations. 

Below are various interpretations based on example yes or no questions:

  1. “Will I get the job?” Because of the nature of conflict, someone is likely petitioning against your efforts here. If you are seeking a new position with a new employer, it may be difficult to establish yourself at a first impression interview. If you are seeking advancement or transfer with you current employer, you may be better positioned to advocate for yourself.
  2. “Is this new person in my life good for me?” This new person may create conflict or bring conflict with them in the form of a friend or family member. 
  3. “Will I achieve my current goals?” Determine your level of readiness for this goal. Do you have the resources, time, and energy to devote to the hard work to make it possible? Something will obstruct your path, so the yes or no depends on your ability to overcome struggle.
  4. “Should I start my own business?” Starting a business is wrought with hard work and conflict. It is likely an unusual burden delays your business efforts, so it might be worthwhile to use this time to build your assets until the time is ready and the skies clear.

What does the reversed Five of Swords mean in the Tarot?

Reversed, the Five of Swords might indicate a recent victory instead of a loss. However, the victory is not always a sweet one. The Swords may warn you against gloating too much of a victory. Your actions might cause further divisions or rifts with your relationships, or you hold onto the past as a point of pride or as a trophy. Continuing to devote energy to this conflict, especially after the outcome is decided, will only prove poisonous. In the end, a reversed Five of Swords indicates your victory is a hollow one, and that there are feelings of regret.

Reverse Five of Swords

When pulled in the reversed position, the Five of Swords is linked with despair, resentment, compromise

What does the reversed Five of Swords mean in a love reading?

The reversed Five of Swords in a love spread can be taken as a good sign. You and your partner have put to rest conflict troubling your relationship. You have buried the hatchet, and you are headed in the direction of healing. Continuing to exercise forgiveness and self-improvement is crucial at this stage, but do not forget trespasses – prioritize your well-being.

What does the inverted Five of Swords mean in a career reading?

For a career reading, the reversed Five of Swords might also signify the end of a conflict at work. Issues in finance are at or near their conclusion. Perhaps a troublesome coworker was reassigned or found employment elsewhere. A dispute might have ruled in your favour, but colleagues and supervisors are still watching closely to determine if the victory was earned. Proceed with caution.


In conclusion, the Five of Swords tarot card is a powerful symbol of defeat, argument, conflict, and violence. When this card appears in your reading, it is often a sign that you are stuck in a cycle of despair and defeat. The card encourages you to take a step back, assess the situation objectively, and look for diplomatic solutions. With some hard work and determination, you can restore balance to your life and create harmonious change.

Despite its association with mysticism and occultism, the tarot has grown to become much more than a simple “fortune-telling” tool. For many tarot practitioners, it is a complex system made of symbolic imagery and psychological considerations (Jungian archetypes for example) that can be used for self-exploration, meditation, and personal transformation.

The 56 lesser arcana cards relate to the day-to-day events of our lives, the more mundane aspects of our existence. Even though that part of the tarot is about the “smaller picture”, it symbolizes the constant choices we make that shape our lives, our characters, and ultimately our destinies.

Have you ever had a reading where the 5 Of Swords appeared? What was the outcome? What does that card mean to you personally? How do you interpret this card in your own tarot practice?

Share your thoughts and experiences with me in the comments below.

Additionally, If you want to know more about the different tarot cards, feel free to check out my complete list of all 78 tarot cards and their meanings.

Seluna Drake

Written by Seluna Drake

Seluna Drake is a southern writer from the US, as well as a teacher, poet, and occasional artist. Her work primarily spans the speculative realm. Website:

Learn more about the Suit of Swords

This page is part of our comprehensive list of the 56 minor arcana tarot cards & their meanings. If you enjoyed the read, then you’ll love the following articles.