When we are children, the concept of “yours” versus “mine” isn't one we can differentiate between – everything an infant or toddler sees is immediately labeled as theirs. It's no surprise, then, we we see a kid toddling up to another and taking what they have. Crying begins, parents try to soothe the kids, and often they give what was taken back to it's rightful owner. What happens when the parents don't notice? The injustice flies under the radar – a young child has no words to communicate what happened, they can simply cry and understand that what occurred was wrong and unfair. The other child, of course, often doesn't even register that what they did was wrong at all. This is the energy of the Five of Swords.
Before us we see a distant body of water, an area of level ground, and a great, wide, open sky. In the foreground is a man, holding a total of three swords – two against his shoulder, and one propped up against the ground. There are two more swords on the ground at this man's feet. The man has a gleeful, almost smug look on his face. This man is looking to two other, distant figures... presumably the two men that he got his swords from. The one nearer man has his shoulders slumped in a sad fashion, the further one appears to be weeping.
There are two equal sides in this card when it comes to meaning – the man who holds all the swords, and the men who have lost theirs. As you go through your reading, try to figure out which side represents your own personal situation.
The Five of Swords is all about the winning and the losing sides. This card doesn't say which side you are on, but it expresses the situation fully and allows you to sort through the details. Often, this card signals that someone in your life (whether it is you or otherwise) has been being cruel in the way that they won, taking what doesn't rightfully belong to them, and perhaps even lording it over the losers. Over course, this means that you could be on the losing side as well, falling to that cruel person.
This card can also point to an injustice present somewhere in your life. You may have wronged someone, or been wronged yourself. Lastly, this card can signify the presence of selfishness and gloating. Take a step back from your own life, and see which side you stand on – are you suffering under the hand of selfishness, or have you been gloating yourself? Whatever the case, this card begs for balance and that all wrongs be put right.
Need answers? Here are a few questions to ask that will help you divine what this card can mean to you. Do you feel as if you are in the wrong, or do you feel as if you have been wronged? On which side do you stand – the side with all the swords, or the side with none? What can you do to bring balance back into your life?
There are only a few cards that can be linked with the Five of Swords, due to it's fascinating double nature – two of these are the Seven of Swords and the Five of Pentacles. The Seven and the Five of Swords share one thing in common: injustice and wronging. The Six of Pentacles may seem an odd card to parallel the Five of Swords, but it is their double nature that they share in common: both cards can equally refer to you personally representing either the giver or the taker, sometimes both simultaneously.