Five (V) of Swords b

 Five (V) of Swords

5 of Swords Upright


Change, No-Win, Lose All, Defeat, Surrender, Walk Away, Battle Weary, Loss,  Sacrifice, Self-Sacrifice, Breakdown in Communication, Non-Negotiable, Bully, Intimidation, Forcefulness, Aggressive, Attack, Battle, Serious Conflict, Hostilities, Abuse, Stress, Vicious Arguments, Smugness, Gloating, Looking After Number One, Self-Serving, End Justifies the Means, Destruction, Ruin, Repossession, Receivership, Standing Up For Yourself, Fighting Your Corner, Fighting Back, Overcoming Personal Challenges, Anti-Social, Lack of Conscience/Morals, Integrity, Underhand Behaviour, Threatening, Villain, Mercenary, Violence, Crime, Theft, Trickery, Deceit, Lies, Rape, Murder, Mugging,



As previously discussed, there are many ways to interpret this card as we know it can be quite tricky.  You will need to take into consideration, several different areas before attempting to interpret its relevance in a Reading. The final interpretation will ultimately come down to :

  1. The Querant
  2. The Question
  3. The Position
  4. The Surrounding Cards
  5. The Figure Identified With
  6. Your Intuitive Response

So let us look at the various ways the Five of Swords could be reflecting our life, situation and the people around us.

When the Five of Swords appears in the Present or Future position in a Reading then you best prepare for some stiff challenge if not a strong battle.  If in the Past position then it will already have happened and you or the Querant will know exactly what it is about for there is no mild or easily missed energy in this card.  It is full-on and forceful so you will need some stamina to withstand it.  The Five of Swords appearing in a Reading asks you to think long and hard before entering into a battle or engaging in hostilities with another for you have little chance of winning this one.  Defeat is almost guaranteed and you may have to sacrifice a great deal. It would be best to cut your losses now and walk away, back out or surrender as the defeat experienced may very well be personally destructive.  You are up against someone stronger than you who is better equipped when it comes to tactics and strategy. They are used to this scenario and you not.  They hold all the cards right now and you would be wise to acknowledge it, even if it dents your pride.  This is a no-win situation you are involved in.  In fact you stand to lose more than you could ever possibly gain by continuing on this course of action. Surrender is not always a sign of weakness but rather being wise enough to know your limitations in a particular situation. You have wasted enough time and energy already so find a new direction to take and one that will move you as far away from this unhealthy environment as possible.  Distancing yourself from the battlefield now will give you time to reflect on where you go from here.

Regardless of what the Five of Swords represents in an individual Reading, you will find that communication or negotiation issues will be present. It is usually a sign that you need to tread carefully with what you say as you may shoot yourself in the foot in the process regardless of how strong a position you see yourself in.  The door may be closed on discussion or compromise right now so you may feel as though you are talking to the wall.  Knee jerk reactions and explosive outbursts will only set you back.  Back off and think carefully about how you vocalise your issues as your current methods are getting you nowhere.

If you are involved in a battle at the moment, then The Five of Swords often indicates it is more than likely nearing an end. There will be a victor when it does end, but when you assess the damage and fallout you will have to ask yourself if the battle was really worth it? The Victor may have won the battle or some ground but it may not have been taken fairly.  Are you prepared to win at all costs? How low are you prepared to stoop? How many backs are you prepared to leave your Sword stuck in or footprints on? How many lives are you happy to destroy?  You may do all this and more and still end up losing.  If you are contemplating entering a battle, be sure you are prepared to accept loss and all that goes with it even if you do think it will be a walk over. You may alienate yourself from all around you in the process.  You may have lost your moral compass and your integrity.

Are you unnecessarily drawing battles to you? Is there a pattern of constant conflict or hostilities in your life.  Do you feel you have to act superior to everyone else or outdo their best efforts. Why do you feel you must always get your own way? In what way are you forcing your views on others?

The Five of Swords is very often associated with Bully Personalities, Bully/Intimidating type of Behaviour or Hostile Environments. Therefore, there is very often a strong sense of somebody getting their own way or what they want at all costs. They really don’t care who gets hurt or destroyed in the process as long as it furthers their aims.  Someone may see themselves as all Powerful and in a situation where they can control others as they please. They may be clinical, sterile and unsympathetic to others unless they can gain out of it.  It is a Self-Serving and Self-Interest Card and can represent a situation where the concerns and welfare of others are not taken into consideration.  Thinking only of Number One, selfishness and power trips will also be evident.  Once you give your power away (the Swords) to someone like this, then it will take a lot of effort on your part to get it back.  You will need to change your game plan and approach with a whole new mindset and attitude for they have you weakened and where they want you at this moment in time.  You really need to get your Swords back but they are never going to let you just walk up and take them. You will have to catch them off guard and then make your move but you have some way to go before you can do that. Unfortunately, they have the upper hand at the moment.


The Five of Swords, depending on surrounding cards, can also suggest criminal violence and sometimes in the extreme. Traditional meanings associated this card with kidnap, theft, rape and murder. This is certainly a dangerous adversary and one would be advised to distance themself from the situation as their personal safety may be at risk.  When this card appears it is would be advising caution and the need for self-protection when out and about or travelling alone for you may be vulnerable.  There could be the risk of attack or mugging so guard your valuables and don’t leave your possessions in the open where they may be a temptation to thieves or opportunists.  Trickery, deceit and lies all accompany this Card so don’t become a willing victim.

The Five of Swords often represents an unsavoury character, group or organisation who gain or profit from the misery and suffering of others.  Like vultures hovering over an injured or sick animal ready to swoop even before the final breath is taken, they prey on the weak and vulnerable.  I can’t help but think of the hundreds of thousands of homes being repossessed by banks and building societies around the world at this very moment in time, due to recession, bad government decisions and corrupt banking systems.  Instead of supporting and assisting people who are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table, they make the already miserable and downtrodden even more desperate and bereft by repossessing their homes and throwing them out onto the street. Instead of helping them restructure their mortgage or take a break from it, they prefer to take back what they consider to be theirs (the Swords).  Greedier still, not only do they want the house back and the family on the street, they still insist on haunting the people for the original debt.  They want it all and to lose nothing.  They care less what the ordinary people in the street have to live on as long as they are making their massive billions of profit each year and getting their fat salaries and pensions.  This is truly a Self-Serving situation.  The Banking systems around the world are all guilty of mis-trading and mismanagement, but instead of making amends for what they have done, they seem to get away with it and continue to exert power and control over us. Up against the System and Establishment, the ordinary person in the street would stand little or no chance of ever defeating them. It is a no-win situation whichever way you look at it and those who make a stand or protest, eventually wear themselves out and walk away just like the retreating Figures we see in the Card.

The Five of Swords can sometimes symbolise the overcoming of inner demons and negative mindsets.  The battle fought for personal freedom would not have come quickly or easily.  Time would have been spent in the scenario of the Four of Swords, resting and strengthening the mind. This battle may have been a personal challenge for you and one that others believed you could not succeed in.  However, not only have you proved to yourself what you can do when you put your mind to it but also others who may have put you down or humiliated you in the past.  You can now hold you head high and own your own Power.

In a relationship spread the Five of Swords would be a card for disagreement, dreadful rows, separation and divorce. Swords are crossed and a parting of the ways may be inevitable. The conflict in a relationship represented by this card is pretty serious and certainly not just a superficial argument. In fact, there may be a pattern of conflict in the relationship with bullying being an issue as one partner forces his/her way on the other. Abuse of all kinds in the relationship may be a regular occurrence. One person has caused a lot of pain and hurt. Taken to its extreme the Five of Swords can suggest a person who is not afraid to inflict physical pain or injury and could very well be a dangerous character especially as a spouse or partner. This person rules the roost through intimidation, fear and possible punishment.

On another level, the gloating main Figure in this card could be responsible for breaking up or interfering in your relationship.  This is the archetypal third person in a relationship who sets out to turn one against the other and then collect the spoils or a spiteful person who is jealous and envious of your happiness.

With regards to Career, like the Five of Wands, this is again a card of conflict in the workplace and very much on a mental  and verbal level this time.  Arguments and tension abound.  Angry words fly and bitterness and resentment released.   The Five of Swords can represent a group or team who cannot work together or have personality clashes. However, there is usually one person who is the ring leader and uses manipulation, cunning or brute force to take what he wants.  He or she can play mind games with their work colleagues and be the instigator of discord or encourage negative attitudes about other staff members or the boss.   This could make for a very intimidating and threatening work colleague or boss.  With the Five of Swords in the workplace, we find an environment where people get set against each other. Employees take pleasure in seeing another colleague make a mistake and will happily bring it to the attention of their superiors.  If ambitious enough they may even encourage their colleague’s mistake before drawing attention to it in order to showcase their own superiority.  There may be a boss who delights in humiliating their staff in front of others or is unapproachable and dismissive of your concerns.

When the Five of Swords appears in a career reading then one would usually prepare to be leaving their job due to conflict in the working environment. You or someone you know may be the bully and are discovered, forcing dismissal and humiliating circumstances. If you are in negotiations regarding a promotion or pay rise then prepare to be dreadfully disappointed.

If in business, the Five of Swords may indicate the ruin or loss of it.  The Receivers may have moved in and are seizing all your assets or possessions. You may be left with no choice but to walk away from everything you have worked so hard for.

With the Multi-aspect layers of the Five of Swords, you may just be standing up for yourself or standing firm on an issue that you believe is right.  If you have given your power away to others in the workplace, then it can symbolise the need or act of taking it back.


5 of Swords Reversed


Communication, Compromise, Resolution, End of Conflict/Hostilities/Stress, Ceasefire, Peace-Talks, Negotiation, Moving On, Burying The Hatchet, Volatile, All out War, Entrenched, Relentless, Throwing Caution to the Wind, Not Heeding A Warning, To The Bitter End, Gambling Everything, Loss, Major Sacrifices, Blood Shed, Sabotage, Dismissals, Exposing Criminal Behaviour, Disarming, Surrendering, Arrests, Courts, Shame, Humiliation, Regret, Remorse,  Feigned Remorse, Burials, Mourning, Overcoming Major Challenges/succumbing to Major Challenges, Mentally Dysfunctional, Personality Disorders, Serious Violence, Brute Force, Domination/Submission, Abuse, Revenge

When the Five of Swords Reverses arguments, hostilities and conflict begin to slowly resolve or brutally intensify. 

If supporting cards agree, then the Five of Swords Reversed can suggest a laying down of Swords (weapons) as the battle comes to a halt or at the very least, a ceasefire is called. The clearing skies and opening minds of the combattants allow communication, compromise and solutions to become a real possibility. For the moment, the Swords are laid aside but probably still within arms reach, and those involved in hostilities are prepared to listen to the views of others.  This does not necessarily mean that they will agree on matters and happily shake hands, but it has taken quite some effort to bring it to this stage of negotiation.   If you are involved in this scenario then you would be wise to take this brief window of opportunity to sort the situation out as peacefully as possible before it goes beyond the point of return.  You are probably still stinging from the actions, attitudes and accusations of your opponent or opponents but you may have to be prepared to let that go if you want to find a solution.  You may have to make some personal sacrifices here in order to retain your integrity. It might be your only option at present, if you want to put this sorry mess behind you and move on. The alternative is too awful to think about.

So, with the above scenario we may have battle weary warring couples prepared to “bury the hatchet” and learn to communicate their problems and issues in a calm and controlled manner.  Professional help, such as counsellors or mediators may have to be called in to facilitate this.  However, this is still an extremely volatile situation, a ticking time bomb, which could blow at any moment over the slightest comment or poorly chosen words. Only the strongest and most determined couples will come out the other side of this with their relationship intact as there is only a small chance it can be turned around. The Five of Swords, whether Upright or Reversed, will make complete reconciliation very difficult to achieve due to the nature of the people and issues involved.  No one will win out of this situation, even if one does seem to get more than their fair share or feel they have emerged as the Victor.  A parting of the way for couples may indeed be on the cards, but the break needs to be clean and the  Sword, now used to sever all connecting cords in a manner which takes everyone’s feelings and needs into concern.  They may never see eye to eye again, call each other fondly or have anything left to say but they can learn to tolerate or at least be indifferent.  They can acknowledge their clash of personalities, different mindsets and attitudes that were worlds apart and accept them for what they are.  They can also begin to appreciate that by trying to force someone to bend to your will and ways only antagonises and drives them the other way.  If the couple involved can use their Swords wisely now, this will allow them to move on and go their separate ways.

However, The Reversed Five of Swords appearing in a Relationship Spread can act as a Red Flag if the couple involved are not seeking to resolve issues.  The surrounding cards would definitely need to support this but we are more than likely looking at a very  abusive relationship. One of the partners may be a dangerous bully and uses brute force to control or get their way.  There is bound to be psychological abuse and the possibility of physical force. This person rules their partner through fear, intimidation, threat and punishment.  It will be an extremely dominant/submissive arrangement.  The submissive partner will probably try to hide the abuse from family and friends out of fear and shame.  However, those close enough should have spotted the obvious signs and sensed the tension and control in the air.  It may be hard to get them to confirm your suspicions or speak out against their partner. There would be much concern for your Querant if surrounding cards included a few of the following: Reversed Swords Court Cards, Four, Eight, Nine and Ten of Swords. Also look out for the Devil Upright or the Magician Reversed. 

As we have just read above, The Reversed Five of Swords can bring the extreme energy of this card come into play.  If the opportunity for resolution and peace talks have not been taken or failed, then we may very well see an escalation in battle.  All out war has now been declared and you may have got too entrenched in the situation to get out of it now.  You are stuck in hostilities and will have to battle on to the bitter end.  You may have to pay a very high price for your part in this because of the pride that would not let you walk away.  Any loss of defeat now will be immense. You have entered an all or nothing in this win/ lose disaster.  You have not listened to the advice of others who told you to get out when you could or that you would lose the support of friends and family should you continue on your course of action.  Red hot angry blood surges through your veins and there is no stopping you now. As Swords are sharpened on both sides there is bound to be a lot of blood shed.  You are taking a massive gamble as disaster and ruin could be waiting for you around the next corner. However, you may be driven forward by the refusal to give in and accept defeat.  You would rather die than surrender your beliefs and principles. This may be seen as either a Heroic move or total insanity.

Linking the associated violence of The Five of Swords to the Reversed aspect highlights the aftermath of battle. In the cold light of day, there is no escaping the damage that has been done. The fallout comes home to roost and you may be shocked into realising that you are directly responsible for the disaster and misery that surrounds you.  Take a good look around you, for what you will see is the consequence of your action.   You should be feeling deep regret and intense remorse for what you have done as you clearly see the error of your ways.  Shame and humiliation can follow.  You may have no one to stand by or support you.  You will have to confess your part in this mess to those you have brought hurt or injury to.  If you have broken the law then you will have to do the right thing and turn both your Sword and yourself into the police.  If criminal behaviour has been involved, then arrests and courts may be involved.

However, remorse may be feigned as problems are buried deep in the subconscious, causing mental imbalance. The person involved probably endured a dysfunctional childhood and upbringing.  He or she may have a severe personality disorder which more than likely came from an abusive background.  Serious professional help is needed here.  If you or someone you know has been the victim of violence, then revenge may be indicated. The Five of Swords Reversed can also represent the exposure of criminal activity.  The culprits may have been caught and disarmed by the law.  They may also have been found with stolen good on them. If you have been the victim of theft, then you may get your possessions back.

The struggle to find mental balance by cutting out and ridding the negative influence of inner demons and mindsets in the Upright Four of Swords may have failed when The Five of Swords Reverses.  Mentally you may never have regained your strength and are too weak to deal with what is expected of you and any stress that surrounds you.  Paranoia and suspicion may find you triggering rows and causing discord wherever you go. Entrenched psychological conditions may be diagnosed with the need for constant monitoring or medication.

The Five of Swords is also traditionally associated with funerals, burials and mourning. It is a time of sorrow and loss and knowing that nothing will ever be the same again. If a death (surrounding cards or the Querant would need to support this) has occurred, there may have been an accident or violence involved. Regret and remorse may be evident as the one responsible realises the damage they have caused.  However, this remorse may be feigned if the person has psychological imbalances or criminal tendencies.

In the workplace, any conflict or hostility begins to resolve as workers come to the table for talks and everyone gets a chance to air their grievances.  If there was a disturbing and negative personality influencing staff or making the work environment unpleasant, then it may have been brought to the attention of Senior Management.  A warning, demotion, move or dismissal may have occurred.  On the other hand, there may be multiple job losses or sacking of work colleagues. This will more than likely done in a cold and callous manner.  Jobs could be lost overnight. With little notice, staff may be asked to clear their desks, hand back their swipe cards or keys and leave the building.

Someone’s blind devotion to the company may be causing distress for others as they fail to see any faults or refuse to listen to staff problems. You may feel that someone is trying their best to sabotage your advancement.  There may be someone promoting them self to the boss by running down your work or bad mouthing you.

All in all, The Five of Swords, whether Upright or Reversed can be difficult and disturbing whichever way you view it. It is wise to extricate yourself from its energy as soon as you can.

Brief VersionsAce of Swords   Two (II) of Swords  Three (III) of Swords   Four (IV) of Swords  Five (V) of Swords        Six (VI) of Swords  Seven (VII) of Swords  Eight (VIII) of Swords  Nine (IX) of Swords  Ten (X) of Swords

Brief VersionsWands  Cups  Swords   Pentacles

Back to 78 Cards – Brief Page

The 78 Cards – Detailed Study Version (Card Description, Keywords, Upright & Reversed Meanings)

The 78 Cards – Shortened Version (Keywords, Upright & Reversed Meanings)


Copyright © 2006-2013 Vivien Ní Dhuinn

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.