The swords relate to the element of air and the numbers 4 and 6 on our circle. The symbol of a sword is a powerful one and in all traditional Tarot packs you will see the sword depicted as having a dark side and a light side and with a line running up the middle that splits the blade in two. This shows us the sword relates to the ability for our mind and speech to be used for good of for bad, true and false and opposites in general. There are always two edges to the sword which can be used in battle to attack or to defend. Hopefully our sword (mind) is sharp and well crafted and we are able to use it well in battle to win against the opposition.
In the major cards we first find the sword on the magicians table symbolising the facility discrimination and the mind. Next we find the sword held upright in the hand of Justice, symbolising the discriminatory nature of truth and on a mundane level is used to indicate a judges ability to dispassionately weigh up two sides of a story and make a just decision.
On the wheel of fortune often the figure sitting on top of the wheel is seen holding a sword to indicate the observer within us all watching events with an objective eye and choosing right action to steer us away from repeated karma and towards a new way of thinking / being that will move us forward into enlightenment. We have already seen in the major arcana how the the emperor at number 4 relates to the feeling of I am and across the circle to the lovers at 6 representing the ability to clearly discriminate both related to air and the mind. The ego creates separateness and when we experience the pain of our attachment to ego (the tower at 16) we see that on the first cycle we lacked discrimination.
The sword represents our ability to discriminate and the mind itself. Clarity of mind represents clarity of judgement, but when the mind is clouded by illness, emotion or stress we cannot discriminate and experience suffering form a poor sense of self and our ego is bruised. Air is the very life force within us, if we don’t have enough air we can feel stressed or tired and so on, if we have a panic attack it’s a desire to get in as much air as possible, we have sayings such as the pen is mightier than the sword and if we are in a situation that feels stifling we might say that ‘we can’t breathe’ or need ‘breathing space’ from something, or we are in ‘two minds’ about a decision, People find wars over what are really just beliefs and so on.
And so we see how air, the mind and ego are intrinsically linked. The Ace of swords encompasses all of these facts and in a reading it is interpreted as the truth.
The upright card means the querant is seeking the truth, or knows the truth or will not be moved from the truth. Honesty and integrity are prevalent and it shows that the querant has a clear, sound mind and is discriminating well. A life changing decision might also just have been made depending on the position of the card and intelligence is also suggested.
When reversed, it indicates the opposite in that someone is lying or being dishonest or that they are having trouble discriminating and making a decision as judgement is overshadowed by ego desire. The Ace of swords on the line of the mind indicates the querant knows the truth of a situation, whilst the judgement card shows a breakthrough in mental patterning and deeper insight into ones mind and actions.
Truth, honesty, discrimination, the mind
Writers, surgeons, anyone who works with sharp instruments and tools
Dishonesty, lies, deceit, lack of discrimination
Inability to accept the truth of a matter