When I first started teaching Tarot I thought about what my personal take on tarot was going to be. I decided I wanted to teach the best and worst of every card, and to help people find their personal connection with the imagery.
So my personal take on the 5 of swords reflects that.
I am not going to explore here how this card can mean losing, slander or a verbal attack. Rather I am going to explain why I am often (not always) glad to see this for my clients, and myself.
When you look at the card it seems to be that tempers have been lost, harsh words shouted, emotions hurt.
I love the jagged clouds, the rough waters and the wind whipped hair of the main character.
I find it fascinating how the main character makes people feel. Especially people who have no pre-conceptions about the card.
He is clearly the winner. He has many swords, and seems jubilant about his win.
If we look at the card as a snapshot of a moment- we do not know what happened before this. Importantly we do not know if the main character has won fairly, if he was attacked first and in-fact simply defended himself.
He is the winner, does he deserve to be the winner?
Arguably he has not killed the other two people we can see. If he was that vicious would we not see him chasing them, at least one sword in hand?
Determined to bring his victory to a bloody end.
A big part of me thinks it is O.K. that he has won, success is his. And I respect him for not needlessly destroying the others.
I associate swords with communication.
Now if I play this scene out replacing the swords for words I feel that the other people have verbally attacked our main character, and because of his self-belief their words have not harmed him emotionally.
When we feel vulnerable others harsh words can hurt deep, even if we know them to be untrue. In this case we would see the swords cutting deep, wounds and blood.
When we have a good level of self-esteem we hear others insults, and can brush them off if they are untrue. The swords do not cut us, as with our main character.
He has looked at their insults, shrugged his shoulders with a disrespectful “huh” and their words (or swords) have fallen flat. Leaving them feeling fairly stupid, and our main character unhurt.
So, one of the reasons I love this card is it can represent some- one who is no longer regularly “triggered” into anger, or despair, by another’s verbal attack.
On a more personal note, the main characters face has always seemed very familiar to me. I practice shamanism, and work specifically with the Nose Gods and I have seen that face, and that look before. It is Loki, our trickster God.
Loki is the God that brings a little “colour” into life, the red passion that can bring so much enjoyment.
When we feel passionately engaged with a project we can carry on, even if the rest of the world does not believe in us, yet.
If J.K. Rowling had listened to the first publisher she sent her book to, she may well still be on benefits now. She had a passion, and a level of self-belief that allowed her to keep approaching publishers, keep dealing with rejection, until finally that sweet moment when some-one else recognised the potential of her book.
I find the 5 of swords inspiring, engaging and energising. It reminds me that a little passion goes a long way when mixed with self-belief.
It reminds me not to let other people's barbed comments hurt me, and perhaps most importantly not to engage with others who are deliberately trying to hurt me.
You see I think that smile is a knowing smile.
He knows they want the last laugh, to see our main character running after them, madly trying to cut them down to size with his harsh offensive words. And our man is just standing, laughing at them.
Isn’t that the just the best thing you can do when someone has verbally attacked you? Ignore everything and laugh.
When I see this card in a reading, in a positive position, it speaks to me of passion and self-belief.
That is one powerful combination.