Five of Swords Tarot Card Meaning

By Charrette Vachon

The Five of Swords is a very revealing card which represents deeply rooted conflict coming to light. This conflict begins with a tendency to pass blame onto others rather than taking responsibility for your own actions and mistakes.

You have an opportunity to handle this situation with grace and move forward towards great accomplishments. Ignore this opportunity, and you’ll find yourself immersed in a cycle of hate.

  • Element: Air
  • Planet: Venus
  • Astrological Sign: Aquarius
  • Key Dates: January 20 – 29

Visual Elements and Symbolism

In the Rider-Waite deck, the Five of Swords card shows a man looking over his shoulder as he picks up three swords from the ground. Two men are striding away from him. An additional two swords remain on the ground as if left behind from a lost battle. Off in the distance, the sky appears cloudy and gray – a threatening sign of things yet to come. The battle may be over, but the hardship has not yet passed.

The Five of Swords as a Person

The Five of Swords is a person who has become so intent on winning that they will do so at any cost. They are not bothered by their success leading to others’ failure – and in fact, they may take pride in it. This is a person who is ruled and driven by conflict. They quickly identify others’ weaknesses and manipulate them to suit their own goals.

Defeat others before they defeat you. Such is the mindset of the Five of Swords. This type of person has deeply rooted, narcissistic, and self-serving tendencies to the extent that they could be called delusional. They struggle to acknowledge or admit their own shortcomings.

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The Five of Swords Upright: Positive Meanings

When revealed in the upright position, the Five of Swords represents loneliness – but not just any loneliness. This is the sense of loneliness you feel when the conflicts you’ve created have chased others away and left you isolated. Perhaps others have shared their side with you, but you’ve failed to listen. Your objective was always to be right, and you made no space for others’ views. The revelation of this card means it’s time for you to pick up the pieces, mend fences, and make a change.

Love and Relationships

When drawn in a love reading, the Five of Swords represents a cycle of conflict within your relationship. This conflict began with your own struggle to let things go. Perhaps you were so intent on proving a point that you did not make space for your partner or their feelings. This pattern has perpetuated in your relationship, but you’re blind to it. You’ve failed to understand that relationships must allow each partner to express themselves openly, even when they disagree.

If you’re single, the Five of Swords suggests that you have yet to learn from mistakes made in past relationships. If you want to enjoy more successful relationships in the future, you’ll need to admit your faults and focus on self-improvement. Nobody is perfect, not even you.


You have a tendency to gossip and take on a negative mindset in the workplace, and it’s catching up with you. You’ve allowed workplace drama to grow out of control, and you’ve been central to its cycle. This entrapment is beginning to affect your performance, and your supervisors are beginning to notice. It’s clear to everyone else that you are at the center of the drama, even if you’re struggling to admit it. Your chance to escape the cycle may have passed this time, but you must learn to separate yourself from the drama before you’re able to achieve success in the workplace.


The Five of Swords can symbolize deception in the realm of finances. If you’ve entrusted someone else with your money, such as a partner or investor, that person may be giving you poor advice or leading you down an unwise path. It’s possible that you’re also lying to yourself about your financial position or struggling to make adjustments to recent changes in your wealth or budget.

You’re sabotaging your own financial stability, but it is not too late to make a change. Get back to basics – audit your funds and make a budget.


You’ve been challenging yourself lately. While you think you have a good reason to challenge yourself, it has actually been sapping your energy and health. This is a form of self-sabotage, and it’s starting to impact both your mental and emotional wellness. Consider the Five of Swords a warning that you need to take care of yourself and get back on track before the consequences become dire.

The Five of Swords Reversed

When the Five of Swords reveals itself in the reversed position, it is a sign of upcoming peace. Perhaps you’ve been in conflict, but you have an opportunity to resolve the situation in a kind and loving way. Of course, you can choose to ignore this opportunity. In that case, it may be too late to patch things up, and the people around you will start holding you accountable for your role in creating conflict.

Love and Relationships

The reversed Five of Swords can be a positive sign if you’re in a conflicted relationship. This card shows your conflict soon coming to an end. This change is due to a shift in your own actions and priorities. You’ve made compromise and communication a greater priority lately, and it is paying off. This is difficult for you, but it is a change worth sticking with. Remain committed, and you’ll find growing love and success in your personal relationships.


In a career reading, the Five of Swords represents a workplace conflict that is coming to a head. When all is revealed, you may have an opportunity to compromise and work out a solution that preserves your reputation. This will be difficult for you, but if you’re willing to give a little, you can emerge in good standing.

This card could also represent a negative turning point in your career. If you have been gossiping about someone, they’re now onto you, and they may even be seeking revenge. Your supervisors may have noticed your reduced performance, and they’re considering letting you go.

Which of these paths are you heading down? The supporting card will give more insight.


You’ve been worrying about finances lately, but if you’re able to approach your money with more discipline, your worries will soon come to an end. Respect the opinions of others who are entrusted with your money. Their knowledge is valuable, and failing to respect them at this point could contribute to your downfall.


You’re on the path to wellness and recovery, but it will be important to stay the course in the coming months. You may face some hardships as you continue to pursue a healthy and active lifestyle, but it is important to overcome them with resolve and grace. Don’t let roadblocks derail you, but rather see them as obstacles that you have the power to overcome.

Your Past, Present, and Future

When the Five of Swords is drawn in the past position, this card represents all of the failures you’ve faced as a result of your own self-centeredness and inability to admit your faults. If you want to succeed, it’s time to admit your faults and weaknesses and acknowledge your responsibility for past shortcomings.

When revealed in the present position, the Five of Swords calls attention to your unrealistic beliefs that are contributing to your failures and conflicts. You’ve made mistakes, and they have left you disappointed, However, you now have a chance to move forward in a more positive way. If you’re able to learn from your mistakes and stop putting the blame on others, you’ll come to understand the best ways to improve.

In the future position, this card is an indicator of acceptance. You’ve suffered losses, but you’re prepared to face them and handle the situation with grace. It can be tempting to dwell on your failure, but you won’t give in to that temptation. Victory often follows defeat, if only you focus on learning from past failures.

Important Card Combinations

The cards revealed in combination with the Five of Swords will feed off of it and influence its traits. Certain cards, when paired with the Five of Swords, will soften or challenge its individual persona, sometimes also narrowing its perspective.

Five of Swords and Three of Wands

The Three of Wands is typically seen as a positive card. When combined with the Five of Swords, however, it represents a singular focus. Perhaps you’ve been entirely drawn into a project at work and have been letting all of your other responsibilities fall through the cracks. The negative effects of this singular focus are beginning to show, especially in your personal relationships. Move towards balance.

Five of Swords and Eight of Cups

The message of this pairing is a direct one. You’ve been selfish and have a tendency to pass blame onto others. This combination reveals that this tendency stems from a past of abandonment in your relationships. You may have felt emotionally abandoned by a former lover, a parent, or even a close friend. The Eight of Cups suggests that you look into these painful experiences and take time to process how they have affected your life. By working to better understand the origins of your nature, you can work towards self-improvement.

Five of Swords and Temperance

You feel a strong desire to assert yourself and pursue accomplishment in this world, but that desire has problematic roots. You are motivated by the desire to prove others wrong. All is not lost, so long as you work to understand this tendency. You cannot allow it to control you any longer. The Temperance card is a card of moderation and balance. It urges you not to give up on your pursuit of success, but to pursue success for your own happiness and not in an effort to put others down.

Five of Swords: Yes or No Questions

The Five of Swords is a very pointed card suggesting deep conflict, resentment, and pain. It shines a light on your own, self-sabotaging tendency to prove others wrong to boost your own low self-esteem. It shows how these tendencies perpetuate your own loss and loneliness. With such a negative persona, this card’s answer is always “No.”