The Minor Arcana: The Intellect of the Swords


Now that you’ve got the Major Arcana under your belt, it’s time for the Minor Arcana (sometimes referred to as ‘pips’). These are broken up into four suits – swords, cups, wands, and pentacles – and comprise most of the Tarot deck with 56 cards. As opposed to the Major Arcana, which are representative of the milestones in our lives, the Minor Arcana deal with the smaller, everyday events. Included in this category are the Court Cards, which consist of the page, knight, queen, and king. I’ll be honest, a lot of people hate these guys because they can be difficult to interpret. They signify people that influence our lives, and just as rank determines an individual’s achievements and degree of importance, so too can it determine how heavily their actions influence our lives in the Tarot (and how easily we in turn can influence them back).

Depending on the deck, these suits can have alternate classifications: for instance, wands are sometimes known as staffs, and pentacles deemed coins. Keep in mind that this is just the preference of the creator of the deck, and doesn’t change core qualities of the suits themselves.

First on the list of the Minor Arcana is the suit of swords. Swords are associated with the element air and can be tied to the following: action, intellect, change, power, ambition, and sometimes conflict. Because the swords exemplify such active and strong attributes, it is important to find balance with this suit.




As it shows in the image, the Ace of Swords is a gift or opportunity that appears seemingly out of nowhere (this quality is typical of all the Aces as well). It signifies that now is the time to take action, and quickly, because the moment is fleeting. It favors any situation which deals with logic or problem solving.








This card represents a stalemate between the individual’s head and heart. Until one side breaks, the only option is to maintain the status quo. Though the Two of Swords cannot say which side will triumph nor how long the stalemate will endure, you can note that as the sword suit embodies intellect, the head is the favorite in this stand-off.









Well, it’s often said that the truth can set you free. But it can also be extremely painful and difficult to accept. The Three of Swords signifies that an exceedingly hurtful truth has been revealed (many times betrayal) and now the individual is dealing with the aftermath.









The Four of Swords is a logical card to succeed the Three because it is about hitting pause on a difficult situation and taking time for yourself. When a tough problem calls for action, sometimes it’s best to take a step back and collect yourself. Many times it is through this way we arrive at solutions.








five_swordsThe Five of Swords is demonstrative of a victory won, but at such a great cost, it is sometimes still considered defeat. The individual may or may not be immediately aware of the loss endured, but when it is realized, it is felt deeply.









The Six of Swords is indicative of leaving behind a difficult situation. It may be saddening and seem like giving up, but if it is a toxic scenario the choice to leave it behind is actually the strongest one. When faced with such a decision, most people seek out counsel from loved ones, and this card also includes that.









STOP, THIEF! As clearly depicted, the Seven shows something being stolen. This burglar may see justice, but it may be more in the way of spiritual vindication (i.e. Karma), not literal punishment. Rarely does this card point to something physical being taken, moreso the intangibles – ideas, concepts, self-worth.









The Eight of Swords shows a precarious situation. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, the individual can feel as though any choice they make will lead to something just as bad or worse. In addition to this, you may feel as if you cannot perceive the situation in its entirety to make the best decision.









Though the Nine of Swords looks particularly dark, it actually carries a positive message. The majority of people have a lot on their plates – maybe more than they can deal with – and it’s easy to let stress, doubt, and worry cloud your mind. However, if you let these thoughts become obsessive it is just creating more of a toxic atmosphere. This card may show that the individual is allowing the negative thoughts to get the best of them and they should go easier on themselves.








It can be hard to accept and the natural instinct is to rail against a conflict or problem that is beating you down, but sometimes it is what it is. This card is about the decision to stop all efforts and accept the unfortunate occurrences. While this is very sad in obvious ways, it is also indicative of a sense of relief and peace that goes along with letting go.









The Page of Swords has stumbled across a new way of thinking and is exploring all of its possibilities before accepting or rejecting it. In true sword character, he first weighs its efficacy, practicality, and usefulness before choosing what to ultimately do. 









The evolution of the Page, the Knight has accepted an idea and is now using as his mantra. He’s now utilizing his strengths in communication and rationality to carry his beliefs to others. He is sometimes brash and reckless, but his determination and focus make him extremely powerful.









The Queen of Swords brings to mind the Greek goddess Athena. She is brilliant at strategizing, forming plans, and communicating with great clarity. She has seen it all and is therefore an invaluable resource to reference when working towards a particular goal. However, she can also surreptitiously include advice to further her own agenda and it is important when dealing with someone of this nature to use your own logic as well.







king_swordsThis card has very similar features to the Queen, only even more exemplified. The King of Swords revels in reason and logic and can be manifested in the form of a savvy businessman. His key word is ‘conviction’ and it drives him to great accomplishments. He appreciates calm, collected logic and is in no way moved by poignant emotional tales or appeals to his heart.


TA-DA! The swords. As always, there is an abundance of information both in the literary and online community to reference if you’d like more detail/interpretations. The swords overall seem very gloomy and ominous, but given that they represent the more cerebral aspect of the Tarot it makes sense. There will always be negative and positive aspects to a situation. The beauty the Tarot offers is the gift of noticing these things ahead of time or putting them into perspective so you can see what you need to do to change them.


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