Five of Swords Tarot Card Meaning

Five of Swords


defeat, cowardliness, empty victory, dishonour


unfairness, defeat, loss, burial

Visual Description of the Five of Swords:

An eerie scene depicts a man grabbing three swords from a battlefield. He is sly and cunning. Two more swords remain where a battle was lost. The two men in the background walk away looking defeated after their loss. The gloomy weather shows that even though the battle is over the consequences will remain lingering in the air for some time to come.  The thief is making the best of what is left, but in a cowardly manner.

Divinatory Meaning of the Five of Swords:

Upright Meaning of the Five of Swords Tarot Card:

Upright the meaning of the Five of Swords is one of dishonour and disgrace. Even though the querent may have survived a battle of sorts, even reigning victorious, their fight was not an honorable one. They may be picking up the pieces, but they are being crafty about it, ensuring that others don’t see them reap the reward. There is also a strong sense of unfinished business accompanying the struggle that just passed.

“You may have won the battle, but the war isn’t over yet… Victory may be yours, but doesn’t it feel a bit empty? You have reaped some rewards, but to a degree you’ve had to keep them secret. And there is no honour in that. On the other hand you may be the one who was defeated, but by the same token, there was no real victory, and the war is far from over…

You may be feeling like you just want to hide out until things settle down for good, but that isn’t the way to overcome the situation. Instead of being cowardly, try a bit of courage. Face those that pose a threat or were defeated by you and try to smooth things over. This turmoil won’t dissipate overnight, but at least you can restore some honour to your life.”

The querent may have done some things they are not proud of. If this is the case an apology is in order to set things right. Force should however be avoided as this will only lead to more quarrels and unrest. It’s best to play things safe at this time and for the querent to keep their slate clean.

Reversed Meaning of the Five of Swords Tarot Card:

Reversed the Five of Swords indicates that the querent is indeed the one that lost the battle. They are defeated and consequently they are in low spirits. Their morale is broken by a sense of unfairness and the loss is affecting them adversely.

“You put in your best effort and if only the world was fair you would have won. Unfortunately it isn’t and now you have to accept the fact that you can’t win every battle. Admitting defeat is the first step in overcoming the sense of loss you currently feel. The gloomy feeling will linger for a while to come, but there isn’t much you can do except move on.

Moving on doesn’t mean that you’re implying that you think the situation was fair, but it does show that you are the bigger person with enough maturity to overcome even the unfairest of situations. If anything, you’ve learned not to make the same mistake again.”

In this case loss could also mean the loss of a loved one. In this case the querent will be struggling with intense emotions of regret and anger at the “unfairness of the world”. It’s best that they grieve their loss in their own time and process it in a healthy way.