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Ace of Swords

Key Word: intellect

The ace of swords is the root of the powers of air. In Celtic legend, it is the magical weapon brought from the mystical city of Gorias, which no eye has seen but the soul knows. It appears in various guises as the sword Excalibur, the athame, and the curfane.


The suit of swords corresponds to the element of air, the season of spring, the dawn and the direction of the east. Its station on the wheel is the spring equinox, which we call Ostara, when new life germinates and emerges with the increase of light and warmth. Magically, air rules all mental activity, from the inception of an idea to abstract knowledge, and the questioning of established theories. Air is the inspiration of breath, the gentle breeze on the plain, the rushing wind on the mountain top and the destructive hurricane. It is the power of sound, the vocalisation of ideas and the communication of knowledge.


Divinatory Meanings:

All of the aces represent powerful bursts of raw energy. Here the Ace of Swords indicates an awakening of mental powers, a surge of new ideas and concepts which will change your view of the world and your life forever.


However, the sword can be a ruthless weapon: it can cut away dead wood or living flesh and it can be used as a force for good or ill.  The irresistible power of the Ace of Swords is bound to lead to some conflicts with those around you who are not willing to change so quickly, if indeed at all. History shows us that new ideas have often lead to terrible wars and conflagrations, though it is sometimes out of adversity that the most creative ideas arise, and it is possible that out of present disagreements something better will be forged.


The Ace of Swords shows that you have great personal reserves of strength which you can call on to see you through present difficulties. You have the power to acquire knowledge and shape your world with your intellect.

Reverse Meanings:

The Ace of Swords reversed indicates that someone is misusing their power in an attempt to hurt you, either with machinations directed at some cherished project that you are working on, or you personally. You may even be the victim of violence. Try to discover who and why and reach a peaceful compromise.

Two of Swords

Key Word: opposition

The two identical bronze swords which oppose each other are equally balanced - neither has any advantage which would enable it to overcome the other, but neither will back down and thus a perpetual state of warfare is maintained.


Divinatory Meanings:

You can neither move forward nor retreat, but find yourself in a stalemate situation.  Any quarrels you have been involved in may have been glossed over, but resentments and tensions still lie under the surface. However, any effort to resolve the situation will be frustrated at the moment, so it is best to wait for things to blow over.


Reverse Meanings:

The Two of Swords reversed indicates that you have been given bad advice from a source that is either misguided or actively malicious.

Three of Swords

Key word: discord

The card shows the mountains of Snowdonia, where King Arthur is said to have died after the last battle with his bastard son Mordred, who fomented mistrust and dissatisfaction amongst the knights of the Round Table, and brought about the end of the Golden Age of fellowship.

Divinatory Meanings:

Your life is taken up with quarrels and upheavals. Friendships dissolve and marriages may end. Magical and spiritual groups break up. Do not despair, the relationship was flawed and could not go on forever on forever as it was.   

Reverse Meanings:

The Three of Swords reversed indicates that you have been the victim of treachery. Do not give this person the opportunity to hurt you further: there are some people and situations you are better off without.

Four of Swords

Key Word: rest

The swords depicted in this card are decorative or ceremonial, rather than weapons of war. They indicate that conflict has ceased and the time has come to rest after struggles.


Divinatory Meanings:

You have gone through a period of great difficulty. Perhaps you are recuperating after an illness, or maybe an important relationship has ended.  Whatever it is, you need time to rest and rebuild your inner reserves before you are ready to go out into the world again. Now is not the time to make any definite plans.


Reverse Meanings:

The Four of Swords reversed indicates an enforced seclusion, rather than a voluntary one.  In rare cases it can mean imprisonment, but more usually it means that you have been excluded from some social group that you were once a member of. You will have to accept that this phase of your life is over, and start to look forward to the new opportunities that will come in the future.

Five of Swords

Key Word: defeat

In this card two broken swords face three whole ones, which they have no chance of defeating.

Divinatory Meanings:

This card calls upon you to recognise that you have taken on something beyond your present capabilities. Accept your limitations and make an honest assessment of exactly what is possible.   


Spiritually, you are forced to accept that you are trying to race too far ahead. You need to assimilate what you have learned before you move on. Perhaps you are trying to impose your half-digested ideas on other people? At the moment you do not have the learning and authority to do this. Accepting this is a step on the road to knowledge. Knowing who you are, where you are and what you are capable of at the present time is true wisdom.

Reverse Meanings:

The problems you are experiencing are caused by your unwillingness to act. Only when you take responsibility and stop blaming others for your failures can you begin to succeed.

Six of Swords

Key Word: solace

The card shows six bright swords in a sunny, peaceful scene. They seem to travel over a gentle stream towards the lush woodlands in the distance. The landscape depicted is an inner one, the serenity that can be achieved with the right metal attitude, represented by the swords.


Divinatory Meanings:

The Six of Swords indicates moving away from difficulties, either physically or mentally. It can be a card of travel, journeying to a place where you can get away from your worries. On this other hand, the card can mean that move away from your problems by you gaining an insight into their nature: you can see how they have arisen and devise methods of coping with them. Though this is not an unadulterated card of happiness, things become much easier for you, particularly in the area if relationships.


Reverse Meanings:

You that you can get away from your problems temporarily, perhaps by taking a holiday, but they will still be there when you get back.

Seven of Swords

Key Word: diplomacy

The swords of this card are not slashing around the air in opposition, but lie peacefully together with their points touching, demonstrating that this is not the time for battles but for conferences and treaties.


Divinatory Meanings:

Co-operation is required in dealing with the present situation; you cannot achieve what you want alone. Any quarrels now will lead to further problems, so you must be diplomatic and tactful in your communications with friends and colleagues, even if you have to bite your tongue.

Reverse Meanings:

You can’t seem to summon up the energy to finish what you have started and have lost sight of the reason why you should. Perhaps you have slipped into doing something you don’t really want to do because it was easier than saying ‘no’.  This is your life and you must decide what you want and what you don’t. You may find it a relief to simply abandon things you have lost interest in.

Eight of Swords

Key Word: bondage

In this card there are eight swords. It is easy to get caught up looking at the details of the seven small swords and miss the threat of the large one.


Divinatory Meanings:

The Eight of Swords is a card of bondage and restriction, whether the cause of this is an illness, a disability, family or financial circumstances. You face a difficult choice- it is too late to go back and it seems that to go forwards will bring you pain; any action appears to have unpleasant consequences. However, this dilemma is largely self-created, as the restrictions lie in your own mind: the bondage is your own fear.


Reverse Meanings:

The Eight of Swords reversed indicates that you can gain temporary relief from your problems by distancing yourself from them, rather than trying to solve them at this time. It may be that this period of respite will enable you to gain a better perspective of what faces you, which may not be as bad as you fear.

Nine of Swords

Key Word: suffering

The swords in the picture have been abandoned, probably after some lost battle. They are red with rust and wild nettles have grown up around them, which will sting anyone who tries to retrieve the weapons.


Divinatory Meanings:

The Nine of Swords indicates a time of misfortune which will cause you great pain and unhappiness. This may relate to the end of a relationship, the loss of a loved one, money troubles or illness.  Whatever happens, you will feel oppressed by your troubles. The events indicated by this card can lead to despair and deep depression: any action seems futile, and there seems to be nowhere to turn for help. Your thoughts revolve in fruitless circles and you are tormented by fears of all kinds. You may be plagued by nightmares and evil premonitions.


However, it is those experiences that are most difficult and testing which are the ones that make you grow most. The swords of this suit are tempered by fire and this makes them stronger. Though it may not seem possible at the moment, the break-up of a relationship may resolve itself in a new independence and confidence, the loss of possessions may result in a freedom from burdens and illness may lead to self-discovery.

Reverse Meanings:

Your fears have reached hysterical levels and you have lost all sense of proportion. You need the help of a sympathetic counsellor or therapist to help you work through your problems and put your fears into perspective.

Ten of Swords

Key Word: disillusion

Nine swords are threatened by one larger one, which may or may not be real. In the background is Carn Kenidjack, which the Devil is said to haunt at night, searching for lost souls.  

Divinatory Meanings:

You are now beginning to see a dream for what it really was - an illusion.  Unsurprisingly, everything you have built on this illusion is collapsing. Whether this relates to an unrealistic project, a destructive relationship or a get rich quick scheme can be discerned from the surrounding cards. At the moment it seems as though there is nothing left, that all hope has been snatched away. However, an inevitable ending has taken place, because it was based on a false premise. It is best that it is over, however painful that is.

Reverse Meanings:

The Ten of Swords reversed heralds a sudden, extreme and violent change in your life. If you have been involved with untrustworthy people or have been dabbling in shady areas, the advice of this card is to get out now, or you will pay a heavy price.

Page of Swords

Key Word: thought

Clouds gather above the head of the young Page, who represents the first impulse of the element of air, the power of independent thought. In this card we encounter the first impulse of the powers of air; the beginning of independent thinking, rather than accepting the ideas of others.  This mental capacity does not leap into being fully formed, but must be developed.

Divinatory Meanings:

Thought is a powerful force and it may be that you need to utilise your analytical skills develop your own ideas, rather than merely accepting those of others.

All of the court cards can represent actual people who are influencing your life. The Page of Swords may appear as a young man [or woman] with a sharp, analytical mind, eternally curious and always trying to get to the bottom of a situation or person. Once he has, he will get bored and move on to the next mystery. The Page of Swords is a rather detached and impersonal individual, who likes to be surrounded by people, but rarely gets close to any of them: he hates to feel pinned down and commitment is not a word he likes. He rarely involves himself with grand causes, but lives by his own set of ethics, which might be quite revolutionary. No amount of argument or logical persuasion will shake him lose from them. He is a visionary with his own ideas and practical matters do not interest him very much. Though he is always polite and kind, he may sometimes try to shock people, just to see their reactions. . He has a sharp mind and misses very little. He is very useful to have on your side, but in opposition he hates to lose and is capable of using all the tricks in the book to win.  

Reverse Meanings:

The Page of Swords reversed can indicate ill health or other unforeseen events which will cause changes to your plans. Beware of a deceitful person who is not what he seems.  

Knight of Swords

Key Word: change

The knight of this card is a capable young man, well used to combat. Ready for any eventuality, he carries his sword before him as he strides confidently over the terrain. He is on his latest quest and as soon as he has completed this one, he will look for another as he hates to be still. The sky in the picture is stormy, and demonstrates the nature of the element of air, always in motion, always changing.

Divinatory Meanings:

Air is a changeable element, and this card indicates that you must be prepared for sudden changes which temporarily throw your life into chaos. This may be because a new idea or vision throws you off your planned course although it can be the result of a sudden illness, accident or surgical operation.

The Knight of Swords may indicate the influence of an actual person who will initiate changes in your life. The Knight is a mercurial man with extreme, but changeable opinions. What he fiercely believes one day may be radically altered the next. He is clever and idealistic and loves to examine new ideas and new horizons, but lacks the persistence to fully pursue them. He gets bored very quickly and needs constant stimulation and excitement and will move from one thing to another in a short space of time. However, he is quite charming and very good with words, so he can probably talk you into anything. He could be a writer of a salesman. He abounds with nervous energy and is very impatient with people who are indecisive.


Reverse Meanings:

Beware of a clever liar who is deceitful and sly. He likes to provoke quarrels and may be manoeuvring you into a tricky situation.  

Queen of Swords

Key Word: imagination

The card shows the young Maiden of Spring whose regenerative powers bring life back to the earth after winter. She presides over the gifts of imagination and the inspiration of poets.


Divinatory Meanings:

The power of the Queen of Swords is the power of imagination. The way you think about things shape what they are. The ability of imagination and positive thought to bring things into being is one of the first principles of magic.

It is time to look forward and use the powerful creative energies that surround you to shape your future. The hare depicted in this card is touched by a divine madness in the spring, dancing and boxing. Theirs is the anarchy which overturns dogmatic tradition and restrictions and brings new ideas and inspirations. This can be a time of great energy and creativity, with inspiration coming from unexpected sources.

The appearance of the Queen of Swords in your spread may indicate that a woman will become important in your life. She is graceful and unconventional, quick witted and confident. She is artistic and loves music, poetry and beautiful things.  The Queen of Swords is totally honest and a seeker after truth, hating ignorant prejudice and blind faith. She sees beneath the surface of things and has an intense desire to see justice and fair play. Her nobility of mind can often mean that she is lonely: she is loyal and has the highest ideals and others often disappoint her by not measuring up.

Reverse Meanings:

You have got into the habit of looking at life in a negative way. You don't even enjoy the good things that come to you, because you are too busy looking for the catch. Do not be unrealistic in your demands of other people, it will create problems.

The Queen of Swords reversed may indicate the appearance of a woman in your life.  She has suffered great loss and her experiences have made her hard and bitter beneath an attractive surface. She can be cruel and deceitful, is easily offended and makes a very bad enemy.

King of Swords

Key Word: air

The King of Swords is Lord of the Powers of Air. Magically, air rules all mental activity from the inception of an idea to the gathering of knowledge. Air is also the power of the communication of ideas and knowledge through sound, vocalisation, music and writing. Air corresponds to the magical tool of the sword, the season of spring and the dawn. It is associated with the direction of the east and the festival of the vernal equinox, Ostara when new life gestates and grows with the increase of light and warmth. Air is inspiration, the breath of life, it moves and changes constantly. It can be the cooling breeze or the destructive hurricane.


Divinatory Meanings:

The King of Swords calls upon you to develop within yourself the qualities of the element of air, especially your intellectual powers. You have had some inspired and innovative ideas and it is time to move decisively and put them into action. Demonstrate the qualities of leadership, and others will follow.

When the card of the King of Swords appears in your spread it can indicate that a mature man is about to be influential in your life. He is a charismatic leader with great personal strength and dynamism, capable of instigating great changes around himself. He has very high ethical ideals and has formulated his own rigid moral code which doesn’t admit exceptions based on individual circumstance.

Reverse Meanings:

You have too much air in your make-up; for you theories and ideas are all important, not the application of them. Because of this very few of your ideas become realised and are ultimately wasted.

Beware of an obstinate man of impersonal and calculating temperament who can be cruel, unjust and malicious.

Sacred Circle Tarot Suit of Swords

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Sacred Circle concept and text - Anna Franklin, illustrations - Paul Mason