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He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.’’ 

Sun Tzu


In a battlefield stands a man who just won the victory. He holds three swords, two of them pointing upwards. He has a smirky look on his face as he watches two defeated opponents walking away, leaving their swords on the ground. The fact that the others got discouraged and withdrew suggests a foul play. Above them the storm clouds are gathering, which means the conflict is not over.

The Five of Swords represents confrontation, surrender, deceit and lies. In future position, it is a warning to be prepared for an upcoming challenge where selfish or malicious intents are involved.

The card shows a victor in the end, but it wasn’t a fair fight. This is why it is important to pick your battles wisely. Retreat does not always mean defeat. To have a position of advantage and power over hostility, you must first know your weaknesses and strengths.

On a more personal level, the Five of Swords talks about defeated or victim mindset. Before you charge in the battle ahead, you should resolve your internal battles first. Our reality is a reflection of our beliefs and thoughts. Sometimes you can choose to walk away from a no-win situation, but you should never give up on your willpower and hope.

Number 5 represents flexibility, unpredictability and desire for change.


Five of Swords Keywords

  • Defeat
  • Sneakiness

  • Conflict

  • Manipulation



  • Resentment
  • Reconciliation
  • Acceptance

Upright Five of Swords

Guidance: The Five of Swords represents a challenge won through unfair means and now you face a choice: walk away or fight back. Both takes courage and strategical approach. If you have more to lose than to win, it is wiser to withdraw. Perhaps you are the one that wants to win at all costs, sometimes at the cost of hurting others. Whatever conflict is at hand, you must be honest and realistic about your part in it.

Love: In relationships, the Five of Swords is a card of dishonesty, conflict and spite. There are no winners and losers when it comes to love. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t defend yourself when you are being hurt by any means. If your partner is unwilling to show equal honesty and respect, just walk away. On the other hand, if you are the hurtful partner, you need to choose your words carefully. For singles, this card can be a warning to stay away from a potentially unhealthy relationship.

Work/Finances: The Five of Swords represents unfair competition, defeated mindset and hostility. When this card shows up, you need to carefully assess the damage before you dive into a risky or dishonest situation. Keep in mind that you don’t have to show up to every conflict you are invited. Know when it is time to cut your losses and move on. Alternatively, you may be dealing with workplace bullying. If this is the case, you should never tolerate such behavior. Instead of bottling up resentment, protect your rights and learn to be assertive.

Health: You may be battling with stress, anger and exhaustion. When this card shows up in a health reading, it is likely that you are trying to cope with negativity in unhealthy ways such as drinking, over-eating or smoking. Especially when you are stressed it is easier to resort for a temporary relief, however these behaviors can also have unpleasant consequences in the long-term.

Spirituality: The Five of Swords holds the lessons of resilience, adaptation and willpower. Lessons such as how to overcome hostility, how to get past the unfairness and how to stop victimizing yourself. When there is too much conflict going around and inside you, you need to first figure out what makes you feel ‘defeated’ and learn to empower yourself.

Guidance: When this card is reversed, usually it means that you dropped your sword in a battle with the realization that you can’t win. This can have positive and negative connotations. You either got discouraged and lost your willpower over the hostility you faced, or you decided to remove yourself from the conflict and pain. In any case, you cannot truly move on unless you release all the negative emotions that are attached to you.

Love: A recent conflict is coming to an end. You were both emotionally charged; hurtful words had been exchanged. And after the initial shock of the crisis, you will either choose to move on or reconciliate. In any case, you will gain a new peace of mind once you forgive and forget. If you choose to find a middle ground with your partner, it is important for you to take some time to recover before you start communicating again. If you are single, it means that you are moving on for something better. You are letting of an old wound, ex-partner, or a recent love interest that wasn’t working out.

Work/Finances: After a period of tension, betrayal and conflict, you are giving up the fight. This is a good thing if you are moving on from a toxic situation to something much better. But if the reason you are walking away is self-defeat, you are only avoiding the problem temporarily. The Five of Swords reversed advises you to release yourself from counterproductive situations and thoughts; while you build your strength, skills and defenses to help you achieve your goals in the long term.

Health: The Five of Swords reversed may indicate a problem or behavior that you shouldn’t be ignoring. Alternatively, you may be ignoring medical advice or treatment. In order to restore your wellbeing, first you need to acknowledge what you need to let go and what changes you need to implement. The cause of your problem may be emotional or behavioral.

Spirituality: According to this reversal, you are seeking resolution for an ongoing internal conflict. When you experience hurt, betrayal or grief, is your first usual reaction is to blame yourself? If your answer is yes, you are on your path to learn self-empowerment. These are very difficult experiences and it will take time and courage to heal. But once you are willing to take charge of your life, they are going to show you how strong and capable you are inside.

Reversed Five of Swords

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