The Suit of Swords is representative of the element of Air. The Suit of Swords Tarot card meanings are associated with action, change, force, power, oppression, ambition, courage and conflict. Action can be both constructive and/or destructive, sometimes resulting in violence. This suit can also mean hatred, battle, and enemies, and of all the suits, this one is considered to be the most powerful and dangerous.
The Suit of Swords deals with the mental level of consciousness that is centred around the mind and the intellect. Swords mirror the quality of mind present in your thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs. Swords themselves are double-edged and in this way the Suit of Swords symbolises the fine balance between intellect and power and how these two elements can be used for good or evil. As such, the Swords must be balanced by spirit (Wands) and feeling (Cups).
Swords represent thought, which can be expanded to intellect, beliefs — any and all mental processes. Whenever mind has a hand in anything, Swords are present. Like all of the other cards in the minor arcana, each of the Swords cards will never deal exclusively with the qualities of its suit. The tarot is holistic; nothing exists in isolation. A tarot deck might be divided into three main sections — major arcana, minor arcana ‘pip’ cards and the court cards — but even these are never separate and linear. Each overlays the others, telling stories, streams feeding into the narrative, referring to different levels, qualities and experiences in our lives.
In the same way, Swords, as the ‘mind cards’, will impact and be impacted by the other three suits, but the Sword energy will be the prevailing one. For example, the Three of Swords deals with emotions — how can it not with that heart dominating the picture? — and with how that manifests in the outer world, all underpinned by the flow of energy/libido. But it is the mental processes surrounding the Three of Swords that are what we are being called to focus on. What is it about our attitudes or beliefs that is creating or precipitating the experience of the Three of Swords? How is it that our thoughts about the situation it describes are affecting our feelings, our environment, and our creative drive?
Swords have a way of eclipsing our focus on the other factors at play in a layout: We spend so much time caught up in what they could mean for us that we forget that Swords are not dominant — they are simply one of four key players in life. This mirrors the importance that we tend to give our thoughts over any other experience that we might have, inner or outer. Swords, like our thoughts, seem to be the ‘trump’ factor, negating any other cards that they are partnered with. True, their keenness is a little hard to ignore given that we all know what happens when we’re at the sharp end of any situation. But when we plunge into Swords territory at the cost of all other experience — when we let them, like our thoughts, get the better of our good sense — we forget how powerful the other suits can be for us: consuming erotic energy, deep love, a profound sense of security. When we can temper the presence of Swords with the knowledge that every other suit can be as influential, then we can start to work with them constructively.